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Two Weeks of Wrestling, 2022 0106 & 0114: B1G Dual Season is Live

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

Competing With Honor

In the January 4, media availability, Coach Sanderson included this in an answer to a question about wrestling through the adversity of the pandemic the past two years: “we just try to compete with honor & enthusiasm and try to get better every match.”

I was curious to learn more, especially in the context of the handshake line, given the pandemic, and given the post-match antics in this season’s Iowa-Iowa State dual & the Oklahoma State-Oklahoma dual, and given the varied approaches taken to even attempting the handshake line at the Collegiate Duals. Iowa-NC State abstained; Penn State participated in its three duals there.

Upon follow-up, he elaborated:

I can’t speak for any other teams ... when I say compete with honor, I think it’s just be able to say that you did the best that you could. And that goes into preparation. And that goes into mindset. And, obviously, that’s part of being a good sport, win or lose. You know, my dad was my coach growing up and it was just kind of that same mentality: that you treat others like you want to be treated.

And you know, we’ve all lost a lot of times, and things haven’t gone our way. And that’s just kind of the way it is in sports. So if you have a great day, you should be grateful for it. And if you have a bad day, then you know, same thing! I don’t think there should be much difference in your energy and attitude, win or lose. I mean ... out in the open; I mean, you go back to the locker room and go back to the practice room and go to work. But as far as how you treat others, I think that’s important. That’s just kind of the way I was taught from from my dad. And that’s what we do.

But you know, we have different levels of sportsmanship on our team, and different kids react differently based on the way they win or lose. So we’re not trying to create 10 kids that are all the same. Part of the fun is having unique individuals on your team, and if they have a little bit more fire, win or lose, and as long as it’s respectful, then it is what it is.

On handshakes specifically:

But yeah, I don’t know with the handshake stuff, you know, everyone has their own opinion on that stuff. I mean, with COVID, everything’s a little iffy, especially right now where it’s really going around, then some kids want to go shake hands after their own individual match. I always kind of think that we do that after the match, and we shake everyone’s hand at the end of the match instead of doing it after each individual match, but we have some individuals that want to go shake hands after their individual match, those little things are really not that big of a deal.

On respect and patience:

It’s just, whatever you do, we just want to be respectful of our opponents, win or lose. And of their coaches, obviously, win or lose. And sometimes we do a better job than other times. You know, myself included, and with the officials too. I mean, it’s the heat of the moment, so you can get emotional and you get fired up and you always are going to see things from your perspective. So that’s just sports.

And then sometimes you take a step back and you say, ‘okay, well maybe that wasn’t too ... or maybe that wasn’t as bad as I thought it was in the moment’. And I think that’s: you just gotta be patient with each other and be patient with the officials, and hope they’re patient with you. And then obviously, with your team and all the way around.

Back to competing with honor:

But yeah, I think the compete with honor to me, that’s a given. Like: be a good sport. But it’s more about how you compete, you know? It’s like: this is your opportunity! This is more of a test. Can you be yourself in a big moment? You know, that’s competing with honor: can you walk back in a locker with your head up? Win or lose?

It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about just how you compete. That’s the way I think about winning with honor, or competing with honor.

I love that answer so freakin much. Man, the sport of wrestling is lucky to have this guy as a leader. Thanks, Coach!

2022 Southern Scuffle

From 2011 through 2019, Penn State competed in an official capacity with its starting lineup in 8 of 9 Southern Scuffles and won all of them. It’s an awesome and unique tourney that blends an official NCAA event with an Open style that allows a mix of attached & unattached competitors.

The past few years, as the coaching staff explores ways to get new types of competitions and competitors on the schedule, Penn State has sent a mix of attached and unattached wrestlers, but not its full starting lineup.

This year, that mix finished in 16th place. PSU finishes:

  • 125 Baylor Shunk, 1-2, R24
  • 133 Brandon Meredith, 3-2, R12
  • 133 David Evans, 2-2, R24
  • 157 Joe Lee, 2-2, R12
  • 157 Terrell Barraclough, 4-2, R16
  • 165 Alex Facundo, 2-2, R16
  • 165 Matt Lee, 1-2, R24
  • 184 Donovan Ball, 2-2, R16
  • 197 Michael Beard, 4-1, 2nd Place, Injury Defaulted in the final
  • 285 Seth Nevills, 3-2, R12

Quoth Cael:

Yeah, the scuffle? I wouldn’t say we were really excited about the results. But it was nice to have guys competing down there and and getting matches. I’m not sure if that really showed us a whole lot. I mean, I think it was good for some of our younger guys to get in there. And just get that experience so you can kind of grow and learn from it. And I think that that’ll be the case.

Cael on Beard specifically:

I think he wrestled really well; he beat a guy or two that beat him last year. So he’s continued to improve, and that’s no secret. I think having him and Max in the same weight, although it’s tough, because only one can start, it’s been a blessing for both of them.

I think that Beard’s getting better and better. And he wrestled tough. Obviously, that match in the finals is one you want to see go seven minutes to see how that plays out. But yeah, Mike’s done a great job, and he’s getting better. And his confidence, I think it has grown. I think after that event, and just having seen the progress that he’s made from a year ago, that’s got to be a big confidence boost for him.

Like the CKLV Tourney in December (10 Champs from 10 different teams), the Scuffle produced champions from a variety of teams. Only Missouri had multiple Champions. Congrats to Missouri and to all the 2022 Southern Scuffle Champions!

Finals Bout Results from Flo, with $links$ to video:

125 Pat Mckee (Minnesota) M FOR Killian Cardinale (West Virginia)

133 Rayvon Foley (Michigan State) DEC Aaron Nagao (Minnesota), 2-0

141 Real Woods (Stanford) DEC Allan Hart (Missouri), 4-0

149 Josh Finesilver (Duke) DEC Josh Edmond (Missouri), 11-10

157 Jared Franek (North Dakota St) DEC Chase Saldate (Michigan State), 6-3

165 Keegan O’toole (Missouri) MD Peyton Hall (West Virginia), 13-4

174 Cade Devos (South Dakota St) DEC Peyton Mocco (Missouri), 3-2

184 Kyle Cochran (Maryland) DEC Jon Loew (Cornell), 4-1

197 Rocky Elam (Missouri) DEF Michael Beard (Penn State), 5-0 3:00

285 Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force) F Lewis Fernandes (Cornell), 1:33

Penn State Kicks Off Big Ten Dual Season

Wrestling Postview: Penn State Shuts Out Maryland

Penn State’s not-quite Death Star lineup won all ten bouts, 7 via Bonus, and won the takedown battle 33-3.

Welcome Drew Hildebrandt to the 2022 Penn State lineup!

Is that right, Claunch? Oh, you don’t say...

From the BSD match thread:

That’s quite a nice debut in the blue & white! Seems to be in alignment with the scouting report from our brother in Michigan.

Special thanks to ForTheGlory for subbing in to do pbp while Bubba was in College Park socializing with the BSD riffraf.

Cael, on Hildebrandt:

Yeah, I think Drew’s been in the area for I’d say over a month and really a great kid—he works hard. My picture in my mind: he’s got a huge smile on his face, obviously a tough competitor. He was an All-American last year and he’s been on the circuit for a while and is just very competitive. Great kid. Fits in really nicely and we’re we’re happy to have him.

Wrestling Postview: Penn State Dominates Indiana

With National Champions Roman Bravo-Young and Nick Lee out sick, the Lions won 7 of 10 bouts, 5 of them by Bonus, and won the TD battle 21-10.

Brady Berge

As noted in this January 6 Fanpost by Frank O’Brien and all through the Maryland & Indiana match threads, Brady Berge has decided to come out of retirement to compete for Penn State this season.

Said Berge:

Over the past few months, I have felt that hunger to compete again. A desire to finish what I started and one final shot to accomplish a childhood dream. After many long and difficult discussions with loved ones, I have decided to take advantage of the opportunity to compete the remainder of this collegiate wrestling season.

I am excited to announce I’m returning to the one place I can chase this dream - Penn State - where I will finish my wrestling career as a Nittany Lion.

Welcome back Chef Bardy!

Spencer Lee

Speaking of wrestlers who have held their head high and treated their opponents with respect, win or lose, Spencer Lee announced the end of his 2022 season:

Hawk Central’s Chad Leistikow sat down with Spencer, who provided a few details about his decision, his surgery, the timing and his mindset about all of it. The piece kicks off with this hopeful quote:

“I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to get back and compete in a Hawkeye singlet and chase my dreams,” Lee said. “This is a step toward that.”

The 3x Champ had a successful surgery and is already on the mend:

I’ll take the liberty of speaking for the BSD Wrestle Community at large here and note that, while we would much prefer to watch Penn State compete against the Hawkeyes this year in Detroit WITH Spencer in the lineup, we wish him the best of luck in recovery and hope to see him back on the mat healthy soon.

The Rankings

2022 0110 NWCA Coaches Rankings

Lots of movement this week, after the Collegiate Duals event and the beginning of conference duals. Because of the personnel changes for Iowa & Penn State at 125 pounds, PSU takes over the top spot from the Hawkeyes.

Michigan and Oklahoma State remained undefeated and in 3rd & 4th, while NC State & Arizona State, each with a lone loss to the top two teams at Collegiate Duals, held down the 5th & 6th spots.

Cornell had climbed to #8 after a nice performance at the Collegiate Duals, in which they took Penn State to a close 21-16 loss. But last weekend, they were knocked off 18-15 by Lehigh, a perplexing 4-loss team now ranked #17.

The other huge drop from out of the Top-10 came from previously untested Nebraska, who dropped an 18-15 loss to Purdue on the shoulders of big upsets at 174 & 184, and the absence of three Husker starters. Said Dylan Guenther of Corn Nation:

The No. 9 Nebraska wrestling team struggled in an 18-15 upset loss to No. 15 Purdue Friday night. The Huskers were without three of their ten starters due to a combination of injury and the lingering effects of a Covid outbreak that went through the program.

Virginia Tech and Missouri begin conference duals next weekend and remain in 8th & 9th.

Welcome Wisconsin, to the Top-10. The Badgers opened Big Ten competition with tough, tight wins over Rutgers & Northwestern last weekend.

The Links

The Family Matters

  • Hayden Cunningham’s HS Junior Season comes to an injury end:

Cunningham missed his HS SO year because of an ACL injury. From the CDT’s Nate Cobler, in January 4, 2021:

The Little Lions have 11 returning letterwinners, but one of those wrestlers won’t be competing. Hayden Cunningham, who led State College with 38 wins as a freshman last season, won’t be on the mat for the Little Lions this season. The sophomore suffered a torn ACL and will have to rehab all season in hopes of being back for his junior season.

  • Edmond Ruth to train with brother Coach Ed Ruth at Illinois, hopes to compete this season:

Edmund is a 2x PA State Champ whose last HS year was 2019. He originally enrolled at Lehigh, where he went 13-5 while redshirting during the 2020 tourney season. But a late-March drug arrest ended his relationship with the Mountain Hawks.

Dustin Hockensmith at PennLive has more:

Ruth committed on Sunday to join his older brother Ed, a former three-time NCAA champion at Penn State and now an assistant coach, at the University of Illinois. Ruth said hopes to enroll for the spring semester and compete in the second half of the Fighting Illini’s season.

“There’s a good chance of that happening,” Ruth said. “I’ve just got to my transcript, then I’ll officially be on the team.”

Ruth has a couple hurdles to clear before that can happen. First, he said he is awaiting his transcripts to be released by Lehigh University, where he began his career and was ultimately dismissed because of legal troubles.

Ruth drove to the Clarion Open by himself and won the 184-pound bracket with no coach in his corner. Then, last week, he entered and won the 174-pound bracket at the MatMen Open.

“For the last month, I was able to train with my brother,” Ruth said. “Obviously, I couldn’t be with the team, but I could roll around with my brother like every other day. It helped me get more conditioned and ready for the tournament.”

If Ruth can get over the legal and transcript hurdles, he could slot into the Illini lineup between the Braunagel brothers who wrestle at 165 & 184, and challenge current Freshman DJ Shannon (4-3 this season) for the starting spot.

The Recruiting

BSD Wrestle Community talks about new 2023 commit Josh Barr in this Fanpost by Lionbacker 99. Quick shout out to bveo for his very deep dives into the HS recruiting scene. BSD Wrestle is lucky he volunteers his time to contribute to our commentariat. Thanks, man!

The Workout Partners

The Photographs

Wrestling photographer Justin Hoch has been working a very cool project he calls The Fire Inside.

The pics are incredibly dope, and the updates to the website include interesting career bio info for many of the wrestlers. Here’s the page for the legendary Jordan Burroughs.

Take a good browse, and consider supporting the artist with a purchase.

Tomorrow is a Mystery

Upcoming Fyre Duals

#3 Michigan at #7 Ohio State, 1/14/2022, 7p on BTN Regular

I’ve been so Penn State-focused, let’s check in with the Earl of Mat for this dope dual’s free preview:

Rivalries are great in and of themselves, but what’s even more fun for the general public is when both teams are good. Not only is there natural disdain between the two institutions, but there are also great athletes on the field/court/mat and actual stakes involved.

Agreed. And check out just how good these teams are!

  • 125: #1 Nick Suriano (Michigan) vs. #18 Malik Heinselman (Ohio State)
  • 133: #8 Dylan Ragusin (Michigan) vs. Will Betancourt (Ohio State)
  • 141: #4 Stevan Micic (Michigan) vs. #21 Dylan D’Emilio (Ohio State)
  • 149: Cole Mattin (Michigan) vs. #2 Sammy Sasso (Ohio State)
  • 157: #15 Will Lewan (Michigan) vs. Jashon Hubbard (Ohio State)
  • 165: #10 Cameron Amine (Michigan) vs. #7 Carson Kharchla (Ohio State)
  • 174: #6 Logan Massa (Michigan) vs. #7 Ethan Smith (Ohio State)
  • 184: #2 Myles Amine (Michigan) vs. #7 Kaleb Romero (Ohio State)
  • 197: #8 Patrick Brucki (Michigan) vs. #20 Gavin Hoffman (Ohio State)
  • 285: #2 Mason Parris (Michigan) vs. #12 Tate Orndorff (Ohio State)

Penn State vs Rutgers: 1/16/2022, 2p

Check out Cari’s BSD Preview here.

National Streaming Guide, also courtesy of the Earl of Mat.

Upcoming Tourneys

Mount Union (OH) Purple Raider Open, 1/16/2022

  • University of Mount Union, Peterson Field House, 1972 Clark Ave. Alliance, OH 44601
  • Format: Double Elimination. Wrestling to 6th place. No Team/Club Score.
  • 10:00 a.m. Wrestling Begins

Link to Fact Sheet on TrackWrestling

Link to Pay to Watch Live on Flo

Link to Follow Brackets on Flo for Free

Penn State Registrants, via WrestleStat:

  • 125: Robert Howard, Gary Steen, Baylor Shunk, Jakob Campbell
  • 133: David Evans, Brandon Meredith, Marco Vespa
  • 141: Sean Wang
  • 149: Shayne Van Ness, Paul Feite, Imran Heard
  • 157: Chef Bardy Berge, Terrell Barraclough, Joe Lee, Joey Blumer, Aurelius Dunbar
  • 165: Alex Facundo, Mason Manville, Matt Lee, Konner Kraeszig, Brian Borden
  • 174: Jack Kelly
  • 184: Certified Stud Donovan Ball
  • 197: Michael Beard, Lucas Cochran, Levko Higgins
  • 285: Seth Nevills, Austin Hoopes, Eddie Smith

Let’s remember that in the current pandemic environment Plan A frequently and quickly turns into Plans B and beyond, so we may not see some or many of these guys actually compete. That being said, hoo boy!

The last we saw Howard & Berge, they were suffering injuries in their final matches of the 2021 Nationals. Howard had surgery immediately after and has been rumored to be scrappin in the room again.

Van Ness competed in this season’s Clarion Open on November 7. Rocking a big knee brace, he issued a Pin and a Major Decision, before medical defaulting out. Beard injury defaulted out of the January 1 Scuffle Final.

The last we saw Mason Manville compete in Folkstyle, was in the 2019 season! Wrestling up two weights in the Illinois dual, he held All-American Emery Parker to a 7-3 decision loss. I haven’t seen any interviews with him for a year or so, but dude has been using all the tools available to college wrestlers to extend his eligibility clock. I haven’t done the math lately, so a homework request from you all please: is it possible that Mason could someday be in the PSU lineup at the same time as his younger brother Carson?

In the January 4 presser, I asked Cael about Facundo’s Scuffle performance in which he wrestled four matches and scored 11 total points on three takedowns. Answered Cael:

Well, I think like Alex wasn’t very pleased with the way he competed. But, you know, he’s able to get to the leg. And he’s just a very good athlete—he has great speed, and flexibility. So he was able to get to the legs without big setups or creating angles. So we just got to create a little bit better angles on his shots and get quicker to his finish. You know, if you’re not getting quick to your finish, you’re giving kids an opportunity to scramble and slide their hips back and defend. So I think this would be a great experience for Alex. I’m not worried about him being a guy who can’t finish his shots. I mean, he’s gonna finish his shots! He’s a competitor, and he’s been in the room battling.

And, I think it’s just a little different, right? In our room, he’s wrestling guys that are coming after him all the time. And so he’s in there squaring up, where when you get an actual match, that’s not always the case. You know, you got to figure out how to go get them. And so just some minor adjustments. I think the more he wrestles, the better he’s going to get. But just good a experience for him. You can see what he’s capable of. And we’ll just keep adding to that, and he’s gonna be ... he’s gonna be great.

Is the future now?

From the current Big Ten Dual lineup, only Hildebrandt & Nick Lee are wrestling their final year of eligibility. Bravo-Young has stated this is his last year competing in college. But we still have many years of Starocci, Brooks, Kerkvliet, Beard, Bartlett, Howard, Van Ness, Joe & Matt Lee, Facundo. Another from Dean.

And those are just the guys already on campus. Cael and the coaching staff we know will continue recruiting well.

Today is a Gift

In March of 2021, Brady Berge and Iowa’s Alex Marinelli suffered season-ending injuries in the National Quarterfinals, one win short of earning All-American honors. At that time I wrote:

“Deserve” is a word not often used in wrestling circles because of the purity of accountability that permeates the sport. “Earned” is the preferred term. But with the craziness of the past year on this planet and all the many adversities Berge & Marinelli have persevered through in their careers, at least one more opportunity to perform healthily at the Nationals is richly deserved.

Marinelli healed up, has been competing regularly this season, is 12-0 and ranked #1. Berge announced his retirement shortly after the season, then took a job as an Assistant Coach at South Dakota State, and is now preparing for one more competition go.

In the January 11 presser, Andy Elder asked a great question about the communications involved when a new stud arrives via the transfer portal, specifically about the “tricky conversations with the guys that they’re supplanting to explain what’s going on.”

Coach Cael provided a typically candid and thoughtful answer:

Well, I think it’s just a matter of being fair. Everybody has an equal opportunity to make the team, and they compete for the team. And you know, that’ll never change. We’re trying to put the best team we can out there and when you come to Penn State, you know we’re competing.

Our goal is to be the best team in the country and to win and compete for national titles every year. And so I think that’s just an expectation.

About Berge, he added:

I think ... you will talk to him maybe at some point here, but it was just something that I think he probably been considering or had been considering even last year whether he was ready to really step away from the sport. And you know, that window of opportunity kind of presented itself. A lot of times assistant coaches are wrestling three times as much as the kids on the team. So they’re wrestling and they’re in good shape and they’re ready to go.

And, you know, he sees that window.

Windows of opportunity, second chances, these are gifts.

Best of luck to Berge, and Marinelli, and Spencer Lee, at staying and becoming healthy and in accepting these gifts of opportunity!

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.