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TheOpenMat.com

What I Learned in College Wrestling this Week


By Josh Liebman

The More Things Change The They Stay The Same
In a season where the rise of east and west coast wrestling has been the story, the heartland has made it clear that stories of there demise have been grossly inflated. This was made perfectly clear Sunday by the University of Iowa as they extended there winning streak to 77 duals with a 19-12 win over Minnesota.

They sent a message Sunday afternoon, that message is that the Hawkeyes are the team to beat going into the post season and that there is defiantly a lot of fight left in the black and gold. Montell Marion has established himself as one of the best at 141 by defeating Mike Thorn 4-3. Big 10’s should be interesting with the five of the top six wrestlers in the country all in the Big 10. Other Key upsets were Luke Lofthouse knocking off Sonny Yohn 7-4 and Blake Rasing defeating Gophers HWT Anthony Nelson 4-2. Both victories came after Minnesota won 3 in a row closing the distance and a 13-12 score, before Iowa closed the door up top. Iowa is definitely a threat to the rest of the NCAA field. The Hawks appear to be healthy and hungry. Iowa just seems to do what Iowa always does…win

Opportunity Knocks
This past weekend the National Collegiate Open was held at Clarion University at an event like this you are able to see all kinds of wrestlers compete with all kinds of different goals in mind. Guys such as Lehigh senior Kadeem Samuels, he has been behind nationally ranked wrestlers Austin Meys and Rob Hamlin all year and the tournament gave him a chance to shine one last time on the collegiate level. Virginia redshirt Nick Sulzer who has gone 20-5 during his redshirt gave us a glimpse of what the future may hold for this top recruit from St. Edwards, OH. Even guys like Rutgers Billy Ashnault who was a NCAA qualifier a year ago, used the NCO is a tuned up for an All-American run next season. As much as I love the team aspects of wrestling the bottom line is that at the end of the day it is an individual sport.

For most wrestlers not in the starting line-up for their competitive season generally ends around New Years. Then they have a very difficult job that goes unnoticed, these wrestlers need to continue to raise there intensity in the wrestling room to help there teammates prepare for the post-season with very little personal reward. I feel the wrestling community needs to get behind the National Collegiate Open as a major event in the season. Schools need to make a commitment to their wrestlers and use this as the golden prize at the end of the long hard road. Go through the rosters of the teams you follow and look at the redshirts and other non-starters and imagine if they all came and competed in this event. It would be quite an exciting tournament don’t you think? Imagine seeing Ryak Finch, Josh Dwieza, Marshall Peppelman and Dylan Ness. That would make an already great event even better and provide fans with one heck of a day of wrestling. We are missing a great opportunity for our sport and our athletes of we do not continue to grow events like this.

Farewell Bedlam
It must have been an emotional day for Oklahoma head coach Jack Spates when he took part in his final Bedlam dual Sunday, which is one of the most intense rivalries in college sports. The Bedlam is the duals that take place between in-state rivals Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. He has won some and lost some but I’m sure they were all memorable in their own unique way. His last match in this rivalry didn’t go the Sooners way as they fell to the Cowboys 24-9. But, as I was alluding to earlier as much as losing this match hurts he will always have his memories. In the long run, Coach Spates will remember all the duals, triumphs, upsets, pins, and takedowns. This will remind him how much he loves being apart of the Sooners Wrestling family. Thanks for all the years as an ambassador of our sport Coach Spates. Thank you for the memories.

Not so Fast!
The Rutgers wrestling team has made huge strides this season, reached heights some never thought possible. But last Thursday they got a little taste of what it feels like being the favorite in a big time national showdown.

They were knocked off by Lehigh 21-9 in front of a record home crowd of over 5,000. Things were going Rutgers way with wins by Joe Langel at 125 and a monster upset when 125 pound wrestler Matt Fusco bumped up and knocked of nationally ranked freshman Frank Cagnina. That’s were things started to go wrong, Lehigh regrouped and won the bout at took the 141 match and then got a upset of their own when Joey Napoli, who has been hit or miss all year, took out top ten ranked Mario Mason. Mason spent most of the last two periods on bottom as Napoli did his best Dave Taylor impersonation racking up riding time.

Another blow to the Scarlet Knights was at 165 when Lehigh’s Brandon Hatchette was extremely impressive in his domination of Scott Winston scoring multiple takedowns on the highly ranked Winstion. Hatchette came away with a decisive 7-2 victory. Some how going into the 197 pound bout Rutgers was still within reach of pulling out a victory and to his credit Mike Wagner of Rutgers nearly pulled off an upset. In the highly anticipated Heavyweight showdown with Zach Rey and DJ Russo, Rey controlled most of the match by not allowing Russo to get an offense going. Rey also dominated on the mat, but still the undefeated wrestler almost let it slip away by nearly giving up a takedown as time expired. Lehigh heads into the stretch run healthy and brimming with confidence over their second big win in the EIWA. On the other hand the fairy tale run that Rutgers has had may have ended but this is still a young team. They still have the post season ahead of them and you know what they say about “what doesn’t kill you.”