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A Week of Wrestling, 2021 1224: Collegiate Duals Were Absolutely Excellent

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One fanboy’s thoughts on the wrestling week that was and the ones that will be.

Artwork courtesy of Penn State alumnus Ross Bendik, The Foundation for Wrestling Art & Innovation. You can follow Ross’ fun work on twitter @WrestleChicago.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.

Yesterday is History

A Friend in Need

Former Penn State Wrestling Director of Operations Matt Dernlan is recovering from blood sepsis and multiple extreme surgeries. After a month in the hospital, he is now home with his wife and three kids, trying to regain his motor function.

Gina Perry, who is familiar with the struggles related to traumatic recovery from helping nurse her husband Richard back to life after a horrific eye accident, has written a thorough and heartfelt plea to the wrestling community to help with Dernlan’s recovery costs:

Matt was told it may take months to a year before doctors will know just how much of a recovery he will make, yet, he continues to push himself forward and makes gains every day, committed to the best recovery he can achieve. His family and friends have come together to create a GoFundMe, to help mitigate the costs of his medical care and continued rehabilitation.

Matt Dernlan is well known in the wrestling community for many reasons. He was a great coach, acting as an assistant at Penn State and successful head coach at both Clarion and Binghamton before he joined Rudis as the Chief of Staff. You may have also heard him on the Rudis Wrestling Podcast with co-host Jason Bryant. Matt has long been a voice for wrestlers everywhere, helping them to perfect the craft in his 7+ years of coaching D1 athletes, and continuing to grow the sport and contribute to the wrestling community on and off the air. While he typically was the one to rally around his athletes, it is now our turn to rally around Matt and his beautiful family. All donations made to his GoFundMe will be used to help assist with medical bills and purchase items needed to make his home wheelchair accessible.

Gina opens her post with some thoughts—from experience—on perseverance and its presence as a foundational character trait in the wrestling community.

Perseverance; it’s a word that every wrestler doesn’t just cling to, but one that defines their very character, a word engrained in the very fiber of their being. Think I’m being dramatic - you must not be a wrestler.

According to Oxford Language, to persevere means, “to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.” Matt Dernlan, a fellow wrestler, coach, role model, father, husband and friend to many, is doing exactly that - he is persevering.

I’ll add some to the definition Gina cited above. Perseverare is an ancient Latin word that prepended “per”, meaning “through” or “by means of” to the word “severus”, which means “severe” or “harsh”. When combined, movement is implied. When we persevere, we move through harshness.

BSD Wrestle wishes Matt and his family a quick and full recovery as he continues to persevere through his current harshness.

Collegiate Duals

My eyes were fixed on “Lower Alabama” this week, so apologies to the rest of the country.

This event was superb.

I enjoyed everything about my viewing experience from home. I loved the diversity of the teams competing and the clever structure the organizers created to meet the business requirements of the coaches of those teams competing.

I thought the $20 cost was reasonable and the video stream across the Rokfin platform from Niceville, FL to my home in Virginia was nearly flawless.

And I enjoyed the variety of audio commentary I heard from volunteer announcers Cliff Fretwell and Corby Vandeventer, which a number of our BSD Wrestle members did as well, judging from the comments in our open threads. I’m grateful for all the people and organizations who worked to make it easy for me to spend my Wrestling Fan money on a fantastic product.

On to the results!

Final Pool Placements

Final Dual Scores

Penn State

Against #22 Northern Iowa, Penn State won 7 of 10 bouts, 5 of them by Bonus, and racked up a 25-3 takedown advantage in a dominating 29-9 win.

Against #8 Cornell, things got a little dicier. The Lions won 6 bouts, with only 3 by Bonus, and the takedown gap was much smaller, at 24-10 (4 of which came courtesy of Cornell’s 2x National Champion, Yianni Diakhomihalis).

Against #6 Arizona State, the recipe for victory called for more Bonus Points, especially from Nittany Lion upperweight National Champs, Carter Starocci & Aaron Brooks. They delivered in spades, earning a Tech Fall and a Pin, respectively. The team finished with 7 wins, 5 of them by Bonus, and won the takedown battle 21-12.

It was a fantastic and perhaps surprisingly dominant win over a strong and hopeful Sun Devil squad. In the 3 losses in which ASU was favored, Penn State limited Bonus like they needed to. Jakob Campbell held returning Finalist Brandon Courtney to a mere Major, and both Tony Negron & Creighton Edsell battled hard to hold their favored opponents, Jacori Teemer & Anthony Valencia to mere Decisions.

149-pounder Beau Bartlett did even more: he knocked off #5 returning All-American Kyle Parco with a gritty bear hug takedown in Sudden Victory.

Those team performances inspired the Top-5-ranked back half of the PSU lineup to close the door on the dual, and they all did so with Bonus flair.

The Nittany Lion dominance did cause one minor blemish on the otherwise excellent fan experience. When Max Dean cemented the team’s dual win by Majoring #8 Kordell Norfleet, Sparky Coach Zeke Jones decided to hold out a ready & willing-looking #3 Cohlton Schultz, depriving us of a matchup with #4 Kerkvliet. Reports indicate Schultz had gotten dinged up the day before, and caution was abundantly applied. Kerkvliet then battled through a nasty cut on his nose to finish with a Major Decision of his own.

Looking ahead, the win should be a confidence booster for Penn State fans as the Lions head into the even more brutal Big Ten schedule. Looming after Maryland, Indiana & #12 Rutgers (! I know !), are recently-bolstered new contender Michigan and returning National Champion Iowa.

Speaking of...

Iowa

I’ll borrow from our ole blog bro Ross from Go Iowa Awesome, for Iowa’s scoring charts, because they’re so colorful and concise.

Some Hawk Notes in bullet form:

  • The return of Spencer Lee, such as he is (both knees wrapped, no offseason surgery since announcing in March he had just won his 3rd National Championship with two torn ACLs), was successful. It’s pretty fascinating to watch someone of his immense skill work around impactful injuries like has. I wouldn’t project much from these performances (TF, MD, DEC in order) onto Spencer’s Bonus potential in the postseason, which is clearly his number one priority in wrestling through these injuries without surgery.
  • Desanto looks as ferocious as he always has. Can’t wait for Rounds 6, 7 & 8 between RBY & him. Bravo-Young leads the 5-bout series 3-2.
  • Jaydin Eierman looks like a guy who’s wrestling in college for his 7th year with perhaps a dash more YOLO than even he has employed in the past. He got down deep against CMU’s Simon, only to battle back for the dub, and against NC State’s Ryan Jack, he survived a timid ref who was understandably reluctant to call a defensive fall against him.

Quoth Ross:

I think I said not to worry too much about Jaydin Eierman’s performance yesterday? Uh, it might be time to worry at least a little bit, based on his showing here. Another bad start dug him an early hole and while he got out of it, he did so by the slimmest of margins (literally, a point) and he was in significant danger of giving up a defensive fall late in the match. Eierman’s funky style and risk-taking approach serve him well more often than not, so it would be a mistake to try to stop him from wrestling that way entirely. But he probably needs to temper that with a little more pragmatism at times and, at the very least, do a bit more to avoid going down five or six (or more!) points in the first period. We’ll see if these last few matches were just a small hiccup for him.

  • Murin & Kaleb Young both look to me like similar versions we’ve seen from them in the past: solid and vulnerable.
  • Marinelli looked, as Ross put it, “fairly workmanlike”. His relative ability to put up Bonus Points is something both Hawkeye & Nittany Lion fans should pay attention to for what could be extremely tight battles in the Dual, the B1G Tourney and the National Tourney.
  • It looks like Abe Assad has beaten out Nelson Brands for the 184-pound spot, and that Brands is keeping the 174 spot warm for the one-day returning Grandpa Kemerer. Here’s a nice scouting report from Ross after the CMU & Lehigh duals, and before the blanking at the hands of #3 Trent Hidlay:

The most pleasant surprise for Iowa from yesterday may have been Abe Assad, who finally made his dual meet debut (he’d wrestled in a tournament and some bonus matches previously) and wasted no time in staking his claim to be the starter at 184 lbs. He mowed through both of his opponents, downing his first opponent with a first period pin and his second with a comfortable major decision victory. There was a fire and an aggressive, attacking mindset in Abe’s wrestling that hasn’t always been visible in the past; here’s to hoping it’s a sign of good things to come for him.

  • Jacob Warner saved the NC State dual for the Hawkeyes and continues to survive tight battles, and Tony Cassioppi continues to be a beast of a finisher for a very tough and broad Iowa lineup.

Other Results

For the rest of the scores, check out the Tournaflex service Journeymen Wrestling apparently has been using for many years. It was my first time seeing it, and it performed really well, despite it’s initially-surprising rather old-looking user interface and recommendation to use it with an Internet Explorer browser.

Here are all the Red Pool team scores. Note that by clicking on the weight class, you get navigated to individual bout scores—super helpful & interesting!

Here are the Blue Pool team scores.

Apologies to ASU, NC State, Mizzou, Cornell, Va Tech, Lehigh, CMU, UNI, Binghamton & Hofstra for not digging in with results and analysis. I’ve just run out of volunteer time this week. You all wrestled really hard, and it was great fun watching you battle in this cool event. Good luck the rest of the way!

Another victim of my limited volunteer time: injecting this recap with the dope event photos shared by Sam Janicki. Check them out here!

Title Talk

We made it all the way through the final dual on Tuesday night without any distracting discourse about how it might be leveraged to edit the way we crown the team National Champion at the end of the National Individual Tourney every postseason.

Alas, with the event concluded, the trumpeters made their way back out of the woodwork.

This of course is a refrain of Ryan’s old attempts to somehow tie dual performance into the existing points-distribution in the National Individual Tourney, just more vaguely worded.

And, hey, fair enough.

Wrestling loves to explore solutions that may or may not have existing problems, and conversation not only doesn’t hurt, it’s an early step upon any path of progress, in any direction. So let’s take a new look.

Here’s past Northwestern 4x All-American (3-2-3-3) Mike McMullan proposing a solution to two perceived problems:

  • College Wrestling’s two-semester schedule
  • College Wrestling’s light emphasis on Dual Champions (Conferences have them, but a national title does not exist)

It’s been a long while since I dug into the weeds of the attenuated circumstances that create additional hurdles to some path forward like this, but I think I remember that the NCAA was one such obstacle—that they have not in the past been willing to sanction TWO championships for one sport.

But, hey, maybe some of the work we’ll watch in the next section can shed more light on that aspect and whether it’s a legit impediment or not, but as for a one-semester College Wrestling calendar that takes place all in the Spring (with the probable exception of allowable team practices), count me wayyy in!

Tomorrow is a Mystery

2021 Midlands

The Ken Kraft Midlands is canceled.

“The tradition of the Midlands is a major part of the wrestling community, however ensuring the health and safety of all participants, coaches, staff members, and fans is our top priority,” said Director of the Midlands Championships Tim Cysewski. “Given the evolution of the most recent COVID-19 variant and a recent surge in cases, we certainly understand the gravity of the situation and our responsibility to limit its spread. While we are disappointed that we do not get to host this year’s event, we fully expect the Midlands to be back and better than ever in 2022.”

But some wrestling organizers are scrambling to host a replacement or two. This is a fluid and fast-moving situation; we’ll have to keep an eye on both for emerging details and specifics.

Midlands II

Hawkeye Open

USA Wrestling shared this info:

(Coralville, IA) December 23, 2021 – With the Midlands Tournament canceling in the Chicago area, the Iowa City Area Sports Commission and Wrestle Like a Girl have come together host a new open tournament, the Hawkeye Open, at Xtream Arena in Coralville on January 1-2, 2022.

Recruiting

In my continued interest in showcasing some of the indie or lesser-known-to-me wrestling coverage outlets, I found this old 2015 Michigan Grappler interview with then-ten-year-old Braeden. A sampling:

MIG: What are your future goals in wrestling?

BD: To train and get better everyday

MIG: Who are you biggest influences in wrestling?

BD: My Dad

MIG: Who is a college/international wrestler that you look up to the most?

BD: I have a lot of favorite wrestlers but I like the guys who are constantly trying to score points like Tom & Terry Brands and David Taylor to name a few.

BSD Wrestle’s bveo shared this scouting report with us on our last post:

Welcome, Braeden, and good luck continuing to train & get better every day!

Womens Wrestling

From the Kyle Klingman Flo post hosted on USAWrestling’s site:

Lori Ayres is starting a new video podcast on FloWrestling called “Everything Women’s Wrestling.” Ayres is the co-founder of Division I women’s wrestling, an organization working to educate, grow, and support women who want to wrestle at the Division I level.

The show covers a variety of topics within women’s wrestling in an effort to build the sport at all levels. The inaugural episode has dropped on FloWrestling. Her first guest is Jacque Davis — the former women’s wrestling director for Beat the Streets and a coach for 17 international wrestling tours.

“Women’s wrestling needs more focused conversation and I’m grateful to FloWrestling for stepping up to provide a platform,” Ayres said. “The Everything Women’s Wrestling podcast will host discussions with thought leaders on topics such as media coverage, emerging sport status, Title IX, regional training centers, Junior Nationals, collegiate opportunities, and so much more.

This seems very promising.

Flo has had a bumpy go of it with Womens Wrestling, to say the least, and this seems like a great way to leverage the existing contract partnership between Flo & USAWrestling to elevate, showcase and amplify some of the amazing stories and issues around Womens Wrestling going forward.

Let’s keep an eye on that space!

Today is a Gift

Today’s gift comes courtesy of World Champion Adeline Gray.

From the NORAD link:

Like many origin stories, NORAD’s mission to track Santa began by accident. In 1955 a young child, trying to reach Santa, dialed the misprinted phone number from a department store ad in the local newspaper. Instead of calling Santa, the child called the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, the commander on duty that night who answered the child’s phone call, was quick to realize a mistake had been made and assured the child he was Santa. After more incoming calls, Shoup assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls and a tradition was born, that continued when NORAD was formed in 1958.

Each year since, NORAD has dutifully reported Santa’s location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families across the world. Because of the support, services and resources generously provided by volunteers and our government and corporate contributors, NORAD Tracks Santa has persevered for more than 65 years.

There’s that word again: persevere!

In fact, what started because of a typo has flourished and is recognized as one of the Department of Defense’s largest community outreach programs.

Each year, the NORAD Tracks Santa Web Site receives several million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Volunteers typically answer more than 130,000 calls to the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline from children across the globe.

In addition to the phone line and website, children and the young-at-heart can track Santa through our mobile apps and our social media platforms:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noradsanta

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NoradSanta

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/NORADTracksSanta

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/noradtrackssanta_official

NORAD Tracks Santa Website: https://www.noradsanta.org

NORAD Tracks Santa Newsroom: https://noradsantanews.com/newsroom

That’s all for this week. I hope to see you back here next week!

As always, I invite feedback of all flavors. Please feel free to engage in the comments below or on twitter @JpPearson71. Also please consider bookmarking this link to BSD Wrestle’s Home.