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A Week of Wrestling, 2022 0120: The Time of the Titans is Here

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

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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

Cael & Aaron Brooks on Zoom

From Tuesday, January, 18, 2022

Key Notes & Quotes:

  • “Well, I think everyone knows Michigan’s one of the very best teams in the country. You know, that’s no secret.”
  • Cael on Aaron Brooks:

Well, I think in addition to him just being a great wrestler, he’s very consistent. And he’s calm. Regardless of where we’re at or the circumstances, he’s the same person. I think that’s a really valuable leadership quality, and something that he’s just off the charts in that category. Even when I go back to, I think, the first match he wrestled for Penn State. When we pulled his redshirt at Lehigh and he had a tough opponent (Chris Weiler). He was the same kid. He’s just smiling and just calm and just ready to go compete. So he has a great perspective—has the physical ability and mental capacity to be the same person regardless of the circumstances. I think that’s one of the things that really make him special.

  • “You know, I think if you rely on pep talks, you’re probably in trouble. You know, that’s generally something that’s kind of short lived.”

Wrestling Postview: Penn State Crushes Rutgers, 26-11

Heather Weikel | Black Shoe Diaries

Illness deprived us of Nick Lee vs Sebastian Rivera, and Rivera nearly maximized the team points against Brandon Meredith. Beau Bartlett & Tony Negron dropped tight overtime decision losses, and that was it for Rutgers scoring.

Roman Bravo-Young, Carter Starocci, Aaron Brooks, Max Dean & Greg Kerklviet all extended their season unbeaten streaks, while 2022 newcomers Drew Hildebrandt & Brady Berge joined them at 3-0 and 1-0 respectively. Brooks posted his third Major Decision in a row over a ranked opponent, while Dean continued to assert his candidacy for the 197 title this year by overcoming a takedown and a reversal to outlast a tough & game Greg Bulsak.

The final stat line shows the Lions with 7 out 10 ten wins, 3 by Bonus, and a relatively modest 23-7 takedown advantage.

The win marks the 11th in a row this season and adds to the 6-0 record from 2021 and the 5 wins from the 2020 season to bring the Penn State Dual Meet Win Streak to 22. The last time the Lions suffered a dual meet loss was January 31, 2020, at Iowa, 19-17.

Fyre Duals, B1G

via trackwrestling

There’s no hiding on a wrestling mat.

Fans can lump wrestlers in one weight class into tier groups fairly subjectively, but sometimes the walls between two tiers are extremely thick. In 2019, nobody could hang with Ohio State’s Kollin Moore, except for Penn State’s Bo Nickal. Moore was 23-0 against the non-Nickal field with greater than 60% Bonus, but he was 0-3 against Nickal.

This dual meet was similar.

Ohio State has two Finalist contenders, and 3-4 possible additional All-Americans. Against most of the teams in the county, the Buckeyes will win 5 or more matches, but against Michigan, they managed only two.

It’s that time of the year, where the thickness of the walls between Tier 1 and Tier 2 become apparent.

For the Michigan perspective, here’s Head Coach Sean Bormet breaking down the results:

For the Ohio State perspective ... (taps earpiece) uh, hang on, I’m being told ...

Come on everybody, it’s The Inside Trip, so crack a High Life and take a sip

Welcome back to the internet airwaves our old friends from The Inside Trip, Brandon & Ben!

Check out our boys for their hotfyre audio breakdowns of this Buckeye beatdown. A sample, from Brando: “we picked a good year to not be involved—no bets.”

This is a reference to the podcast bet The Inside Trip made with Bloodround over the 2018 Ohio State-Michigan dual, which the Buckeyes won in a tight fight, 18-15. The bet’s payout was that Tommy & Claunch had to wear Ohio State singlets to that year’s Big Ten Tourney:

The Bloodround boys sure missed a great opportunity for payback this year.

Nebraska’s results continue to suffer from outages, as Taylor Venz sat out this week and the Huskers dropped their second straight dual. Here’s Corn Nation’s recap.

Austin Desanto hasn’t wrestled since January 7 against Minnesota. Against Purdue on January 9, Jesse Ybarra manned 133, and then on January 14 against Northwestern Iowa pulled / postponed Cullan Schriever’s NCAA redshirt.

Hawk Central’s Cody Goodwin dug in on the topic a bit in his mailbag:

First thing: I do believe DeSanto will return soon. I have not heard otherwise and have no reason to believe otherwise. Sometimes guys miss duals. He’s the rare wrestler who really hasn’t since transferring in. He’s missed only a few duals total before this season.

But on its face, the decision to burn Cullan Schriever’s redshirt is interesting. He had been wrestling unattached until last Friday’s dual against Northwestern. He’d compiled a 15-3 record. By staying in redshirt, I figured he’d be Iowa’s future starter at 133.

Burning his redshirt doesn’t mean he isn’t the future starter at 133. It means, one, Brands feels he’s ready to go (because he is); two, Schriever OK’d burning his redshirt now (and three, he now has a redshirt to use down the road). Brands always says that he does what’s best for the individual first. They talked about this before it happened.

Desanto’s entire college career, from back when he first made the National Tourney at Drexel, has always brought drama baggage. Still, he’s an extremely entertaining wrestler, and his bouts with Penn State’s RBY have been must-see.

Excepting any presently unknown-to-me egregiousness on Desanto’s part for this outage, I’m personally hoping that this is not the end of his college career.

From the Illinois perspective, here’s Greg German’s recap from The Illini Wrestling Blog & Forum.

He also includes words about the sad early retirement of Mikey Carr:

It was a bit of a disastrous weekend for ILLINI wrestling. Not everything went wrong, but there were two team losses, one expected, the other less expected. Yet, the worst news for ILLINOIS wrestling didn’t happen on the mat.

Mike Carr is retired.

Too many injuries have spoiled what started out as, and what would have been, a brilliant wrestling career. Nobody was sure what to expect from the two-time Pennsylvania state champ with the big brain when he came to ILLINOIS. But he put everybody on notice in his first match—a loss to Missouri’s Jaydin Eierman—that he would be a force to be reckoned with.

I recall Mikey shooting a double on the Tiger wrestler late in the match, picking him up and holding him up in the air like Hercules held up Antaeus in that old Greek story. It was a show of dominance in a losing effort, but I knew right then that he would be an All American.

Fyre Duals, National

Here’s something you don’t see everyday: a dual meet team win on the backs of only winning four individual bouts! The Panthers gave new meaning to the old phrase: Go Big, or Go Home. They were already home, so they gave their fans some serious bigness.

Arizona State, like Nebraska, has suffered from starter outages. Against Pitt, the Sun Devils really missed 141-pounder Jesse Vasquez and 197-pounder Kordell Norfleet. I included this second ASU loss because I’m fascinated by Head Coach Zeke Jones and his decision-making.

You’ll recall from Collegiate Duals that, after Max Dean clinched the team result with his Major of Norfleet, Jones deprived us of a 3 vs 4 matchup when he sat Cohlton Schultz instead of sending him out to face Greg Kerkvliet. Last weekend, after giving up the pin at 141 and the DQ via stall at 184 on Friday night, Jones opted to sit Chlebove (a 133-pounder wrestling up to fill in for Vasquez) in favor of Cleveland Belton, a different 133-pound Freshman. And at 184, Jones opted to forfeit altogether.

The Rankings

via ncaa.com

As Arizona State tumbles out of the Top-10, remember their outages these past few weeks. They’re a broad team, with as many as 6 or 7 All-Americans and perhaps a few Finalist contenders. They’ll be deep in the mix in Detroit challenging Oklahoma State and NC State for that 4th team trophy, behind Tier 1 teams PSU, Iowa & Michigan.

Ohio State took advantage of ASU’s departure and jumped into 6th place despite the Michigan whuppin, and the voters rewarded Wiscy’s clean slate to jump them over 2-loss Mizzou.

In the back 3/5ths of the Top-25, Purdue tumbled after losses to Iowa & Michigan State, who made their first appearance with a 7-1 record.

Tomorrow is a Mystery

Upcoming Fyre Duals

#1 Penn State at #3 Michigan, 1/21/2022, 6p on BTN Regular

Cari’s preview will be coming along shortly, and I can’t wait to read how she predicts these matchups!

In the meantime, I set some lines above. There are probably a thousand ways to frame this one out. Suriano’s career resume is unreal, only 7 career losses, and he’s looked great so far early this season, so I couldn’t bring myself to call a tossup.

Ragusin is really tough, but, in addition to the 9-2 decision loss in last year’s dual, I applied the Transitive Recency Property here: he got manhandled by Michael McGee on January 3, and two weeks before that McGee could only muster two escapes against RBY.

Micic still looks a little bewildered to be competing in his 8th year of collegiate wrestling, and Nick Lee, famous for his gas tank, will be returning from who knows what levels of illy absence, so I gave them a tossup.

Cole Mattin held Sammy Sasso to a decision last weekend. He placed 4th at CKLV in December, but at 141. At 149, he’s only 1-1, so I gave the line to Bartlett. Will Lewan is 3-0 since his own 4th-place CKLV finish, and I gave the 165 situation a tossup due to Amine’s health questions and Berge’s limited body of evidence this year.

Massa is 2-0 in duals and looks as cagey and dangerous as ever, but Starocci’s on another level this year. Remember how odd it was to watch PSU’s atypical lack of bonus points at Nationals last year? That is not going to be a problem this year, and that tone is led by Starocci. This one is gonna be soo fun. Both guys are ridiculously difficult to score upon, but, as dangerous as Massa is, I won’t be surprised if Starocci comes after him aggressively in the first period. He’s wrestling with a ton of confidence right now and I’ll guess that includes one of Coach Cael’s primary teachings: don’t be afraid to lose.

At 184, it’s weird to give the defending National Champ a tossup, but Myles Amine’s body of work deserves it. The last two could also be tagged tossups, but Brucki has been bested by Woodley in November and Buchanan in December, while Dean has bonused all but two of his opponents this year; this is the first real test of healthy Kerkvliet’s season.

For another perspective, check out this deep dive into the matchups by NCAA dot com’s Shannon Scovel. Her 165 preview as a sample:

Penn State changed the game at 165 pounds last week when they introduced a new addition to their lineup in national qualifier Brady Berge, previously their 157-pounder who had retired and taken on a coaching role at South Dakota State before returning to his squad. Berge has wrestled just one dual so far this year and racked up a 5-1 decision over Andrew Clark, but he’ll have a serious test if Michigan fields All-American Cam Amine. These two, like so many of the athletes in their lineup, have not wrestled in college, and it’s hard to make a prediction about this one in particular. Amine is tough and talented, and Berge is making his comeback, so this one will likely be close, and the outcome could very well be reversed the next time they meet — that’s how up-in-the-air this one is. Advantage Michigan on paper. Let’s see if they can earn those critical team points here.

Listen to Bloodround break down the dual here or at your favorite pod place.

It’s just about that time, the time to throw down.

Let us, as the kids say, go!

Virginia Tech at NC State: 1/21/2022, 7p, ACC Network

It really sucks this is on at the same time as PSU-Michigan, because this dual is fyre every year. The programs and teams are so evenly matched, it’s really thrilling. Put ACC Network’s Rock Harrison on the mic, pack the Reynolds Coliseum with rabid Pack fans and you’ve got yourself an event!

Check out Rock on the mic with Jason Bryant for a delightful audio preview here:

NC State’s preview here.

Va Tech’s preview here.

WrestleStat’s Dual Comparison here.

Shannon Scovel’s Preview here. On the massive battle at 174 between Hayden Hidlay & Mekhi Lewis:

Hayden Hidlay is set to take on Tech’s Lewis, the first NCAA champion in Virginia Tech history. These two have never wrestled each other before, as Lewis was down at 165 pounds prior to this year, and Hayden was wrestling at 157 pounds. Could Lewis ruin Hidlay’s perfect conference record? Could he spoil the Pack Party in Reynolds?

Lewis is 13-0 on the year with notable wins over Cornell’s Chris Foca and Ohio State’s Ethan Smith, but he’s wrestled his matches closer than Hayden and wrestles a more controlled style than the wild chaos and speed of Hayden’s wrestling approach. This is the match of the dual, and the winner will take over the No. 3 spot in the weight class, assuming No. 1 Carter Starocci of Penn State and No. 2 Michael Kemerer stay undefeated on the weekend.

The Links

“I have a ton of respect for Cael,” McDermott said. “I mean, you look at not only his personal wrestling career ... but what he’s been able to accomplish in the next chapter of his life. ... Just such a class guy off the mat, on the mat, how he handles things within that program. You know, just the culture he’s built. You look at the amount of national championships they’ve won, and I think that’s that speaks for itself, but also more broadly, how they’ve done it — not just what they’ve done, but how they’ve done it.”

  • Portillo defeats Portillo 12-10 in OT!

Today is a Gift

Wisconsin wrestling fan Cory Kundert made a splash on wrestling internet a few years ago by sharing his steady weight-loss journey that resulted in a 100-pound drop! Then in late 2021, he started a new podcast called Wisco Legacy in which Cory “talks to inspiring Wisconsinites about their journey through life.”

In the latest of his 16 episodes, he tackles the difficult subject of suicide. With empathy and grace, Cory interviews Wisconsin natives Kurt & Teri Ellefson, who lost their son Jacob to suicide. The Ellefsons founded an organization they named Jacob’s SWAG and are working to help advance the national conversation on suicide prevention.

Take a listen or look at Cory’s interview with the Ellefsons here.

Let’s all remember to tell our loved ones we love them, to take care of those around us with kindness and to remain grateful for every day gifted to us.

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.