Anthony Robles TF Zach Sanders 20-2
This match reaffirmed what we already knew about Anthony Robles; the guy is a freak on top. He is just so big and strong that once he gets going there is nothing most 125 guys can do to stop him. This is wrestler that Sanders has faced twice in the past. This was a high profile match that he’d known about for weeks. I’m sure he was prepared. But once Robles got on top, it didn’t even matter.
My jaw dropped when I saw the size of his shoulders and arms compared to Zach. I’ve seen Robles wrestle many times but I think he’s definitely put on mass over the last few years. A quick and very non-scientific Google search has helped me find out that on average the human leg represents about 10% of a humans body mass (subject to significant variability for body type of course). Keeping that in mind and just looking at his frame, I have to say that Robles could easily be a 149 pounder were circumstances different.
One thing that I do think Robles has improved on this year after seeing the Sanders and Patterson matches is his ability to get in on the leg successfully. He’s always had the monster strength to convert but in the past he’s had trouble getting in on the legs. He seems quicker then we’ve seen him in the past.
Jordan Oliver dec Andrew Hochstrasser 8-7
I’d like to start out by saying that the match was not as close as the score. Oliver was in control the entire way up until the last 20 seconds or so, when he almost gave it away. Hoch took him down in a scramble and was darn close to some back points and a 9-8 win. But other then that ending flurry it was three takedowns and a reversal for Oliver, with 5 escapes being the only points for Hochstrasser.
I’m going to temper my observations of Oliver until I get to see a little more of him this year. He did look more aggressive then he has in the past, but his aggression was technical and measured and he didn’t get after it any more then he had to. He took two shots and converted them both. That is two shots more then he would have taken last year, but its still several fewer then a lot of his supporters would like to see. He showed in this match that he is far more technically skilled then Hochstrasser, but he did not show that he is capable of using that skill to separate himself from the other top guys.
As for Hoch, I love the guy. He’s tough, he’s aggressive, he tends to be involved in exciting matches, and his comeback win over Dennis two years ago was pretty awesome. That being said, he is undeniably sloppy, and somewhat limited in what he can do. He can shoot nice basic high crotches and singles, but he isn’t so quick or explosive that he’s going to get in on guys that are looking to play defensive. And he’s not so technical that when he does get in he is necessarily going to be able to finish. His best position is from the top, where he often gets too aggressive and gives up the escape or a reversal.
Against guys who aren’t the cream of the crop he’s quite capable of putting up bonus, and I think that if he stays healthy he’ll have a great year, but I don’t think he is quite on the same level as guys like Oliver and Graff. I expect him to make the podium this year but I’m going to break with conventional wisdom and say that he is not in the title hunt.
Zach Bailey dec Germaine Lindsey 3-1
Really nothing to say about this one. It was one of those absolute snooze fests that isn’t really the wrestlers fault. Both guys were fighting and looking for openings and taking shots actively, but they rarely got in on the legs, and when they did nothing happened. Bailey scored on a counter late in the third and that was all she wrote.
Pretty uneventful stuff
Kevin LeValley dec Torsten Gillespie 6-0
A tactical yet dominating performance by LeValley, he didn’t really light things up but he stayed solid and Torsten was never very close to threatening him. At one point the announcers were comparing LeValley to Patacsil, and its easy to see the similarities. While I do think there are significant differences (LeValley being capable of generating his own offense from neutral for example) there are some striking similarities. I Googled some pictures of Ptax and LeValley just for fun and I’ll be damned if they don’t look like they could be brothers.
I didn’t come into the year expecting LeValley to be a title contender, and I still don’t really, but I’m definitely willing to at least concede the possibility. Caldwell is out til second semester for some very unclear reasons, Dake is looking very mortal, and Molinaro just got a gift 5-4 win over a considerable underdog (Mason). I think that at least one of those guys, especially Caldwell or Dake, is going to peak at the right time and blow everyone else out of the water, but at this specific moment in time I think LeValley could probably hang with any of them.
Torsten isn’t bad, but I don’t think he is as good as his finish at NCAAs last year lead people to believe. He showed me a lot more then I was expecting in this match, but he still got shut out handily, and that has been a theme for most of his career when he wrestles top flight competition. 149 is fairly weak this year, so if he was able to contend for AA honors it wouldn’t be a shock, but I’m not expecting it. I think there are more talented guys at the weight and Torsten’s tendency to fade towards the end of most matches (although not this one) isn’t going to help him.
Bubba Jenkins MD Adam Hall 12-4
Man… I don’t even know what to think about Bubba anymore. I got the chance to interview him this summer and he sounded very motivated, excited, and prepared to have a championship season. He’s a nice guy and a great talker and I was sold, if not on him winning then at least on him being strongly in the mix. Then he turned in some real dreadful performances, losing to a good but not great Chang, and barely squeaking by a tough Lester from Oklahoma. Not scrubs by any means, but not people that a returning NCAA runner up should be neck and neck with.
And then in this match, where I think a lot of people including myself were counting him out, he showed up big time. I’ve watched a lot of Adam Hall matches and I’m familiar with his record, and I can tell you that he has NEVER been dominated like that before. Some fairly one sided losses to Schlatter and Leen sure, but never a complete blowout, and never a major.
I think its obvious that Bubba has the talent to be in the title hunt. He took 2nd in one of best weight class’s of all time so I don’t think its a stretch to say he could win it in a very deep but considerably less stacked weight two years later. He’s also gone 0-2 at NCAAs, and I don’t think its a stretch that he could replicate that performance either. His biggest issues are mental, when he shows up he is one of the best at his weight. But sometimes he doesn’t, and sometimes when he gets in a hole he doesn’t seem to want to dig himself back out.
As for Hall, he looked about the same as always. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hall avenged this loss at some point during the season, but I do think he’s going to struggle with guys like Fittery, Bubba, and Taylor who have a lot more varied and dangerous offensive arsenals than he does.
Josh Asper dec Shane Onufer 3-2
I was surprised at how close and relatively boring this match was. After Aspers’ blowout win over Winston the other week (which I shamefully have not watched yet) and his 9-1 major over Onufer last year, I really expected him to pour it on. Instead we got a fairly prosaic match that I honestly tuned out of at some point in the second period. My girlfriend came in halfway through the match so I have to admit I missed a lot of the action.
Regardless of the score I still regard Asper as a guy who is going to be battling for #3 behind Howe and Burroughs. I don’t really know where Onufer fits in yet. He’s clearly tough and has some good wins in his career, but also several less then desirable losses.
Nick Amuchastegui dec Jordan Blanton 4-0
Blanton had his moments in the first period, as he had a couple of good shots that he failed to convert on. But after that it was a very controlled win for Amuchastegui (spell that ten times fast).
Blanton is a solid wrestler no doubt, but he certainly isn’t flashy. I think its too early to say that he hasn’t improved since last year, but I do think that if he has, its in a way that wont be easily noticeable. He has always been a grinder with good hand fighting and basic shots. That doesn’t appear to have changed, the only question is if he is able to grind harder. He still appears to struggle on bottom, he still appears to be relatively slow and flatfooted at times. I do think he’ll contend for AA honors this year but I’m not penciling him in, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as the #4 guy in his conference this year behind Ruth, Lofthouse, and Glasser.
I have to admit, Amuchastegui is a guy I never really thought twice about going into NCAA last year, as he’s been a bit of a late bloomer. He had a solid but uneventful freshman year, and was having a solid but uneventful year last year before catching FIRE at NCAAs and rattling off wins over Marable, Asper, Sponseller, Morningstar, and Caldwell en route to a 4th place finish. He seems to be continuing right where he left off with very solid results thus far. I’m hoping we’ll see him against more top competition during the regular season this year. Last year virtually his only match against top level competition before NCAAs was Jarrod King, who obliterated him. Stanford isn’t scheduled to be at national duals or Las Vegas this year, so Midlands might be Amuchastegui’s best chance at seeing AA caliber opposition.
Joe Leblanc dec AJ Kissell 10-5
Leblanc is a stud. Kissell was able to generate a little offense towards the end of the match but for the majority of it he was completely dominated. With Wright looking extremely shaky, Perry not seeming like the next super-phenom, Smith hurt, and Kilgore moving up, LeBlanc is looking like a solid #1 guy to me.
I’m not even going to comment on Kissel because this is the first real time I’ve seen him wrestle and I don’t think I have enough basis to draw conclusions from.
Clayton Foster dec Sonny Yohn 7-3
Foster was my pre-season pick to win a title at 97 and I expected him to handle Yohn pretty good. I wasn’t overwhelmed by his performance, but he solidly controlled the match and had Yohn trying to play catchup almost the whole time.
Yohn… is just glacially slow. I think the move to 197 helped him last year as it was a far weaker weight and there weren’t as many fast guys to run circles around him. But even at 197 he sometimes seems like he is moving in slow motion. I think he’s talented but I’m not saving a spot on the podium for him, I think he’s going to be in a dogfight with a lot of other tough guys for a low AA finish. Guys like Simaz and Kilgore are going to handle him, the real question to me is if he has improved enough to consistently beat the Anthony Biondo and Trevor Brandovld of the world, something he wasn’t able to do last year despite having some close matches with them.
Ryan Flores dec Jarrod Trice 3-1
Both Trice and Flores are quite active at heavy and Flores in particular is great at putting people to their back. However its a sad truth that when you take a pair of skilled 250 pound wrestlers and put them on the same mat together, the final result might be interesting, but the match surely wont. Ironically the all-star classic has bucked this trend in recent years with a few barn burners; Zabriskie vs Montierro and Dllagnev vs Sauer come to mind in particular.
This match was not one of those kinds. Trice controlled the ties, Flores looked tough on top, and until he scored on a very slick single attack with only a few seconds remaining, it looked like we were headed to yet another heavyweight OT match. Fortunately Ryan spared viewers of that, and showed us why he is so dangerous as he also locked up a cradle that he decided not to run with about 5 seconds left.
The EIWA is stacked and with Russo and Flores being among the most dynamic and offensive heavyweights of the last few years there are actually some matches that I’m looking forward to.
Article updated at 7:00 PM November 22nd to correct inaccuracies about Stanford’s schedule