Monday, November 22, 2021

JT#1's Notes, Thoughts and Observations for Week 3 (11-15 through 11-21)

 Only the third week into Collegiate wrestling and HOLY COW, is upset the word or what? National champions getting knocked off, national runner-ups getting knocked off.  This is crazy!  The unpredictability of wrestling at this level is fun. Enough to drive you mad, but fun.  

How do you not talk about Peyton Robb's huge upset over 2021 NCAA champion Austin O'Connor. Looked solid and in control in a 5-2 decision.  Wasn't the only thing worth discussing in the Nebraska Vs North Carolina dual though.  Kizhan Clarke with a huge win over Chad Red, making his case for All American a real one & Ridge Lovett showing what he's made of in a 4-3 victory over Zach Sherman.  Anxious to see Nebraska compete against the top 5 teams.  

I said at the beginning of the year that I felt that Ohio State's Malik Heinselman's greatest strength was how aggressive he was with his relentless attack.  Yet, on the same hand he seemed to have trouble keeping his opponents from scoring on him.  It's obvious to me in his 5-2 decision over All American Sam Latona that he has made those necessary improvements and adjustments. His defense has significantly improved. 

There was as much happening off the mat as there was on the mat with this dual.  Part of the fun of following a team like Iowa is the theatrics on and off the mat. For as much as some hate and criticize professional wrestling, I don't know if Hulk Hogan or Steve Austin could cut some of the promos these guys thrown down.  This much controversy now, fasten your seatbelts & hold on for the ride when Penn State comes to town! 

Arizona State's Jacori Teemer finally figured out Justin Thomas of Oklahoma after losing to him twice. This time the Sun Devil came out on top 11-5 as Arizona State took on the Sooners in dual action.  I was thinking Tony Madrigal after wrestling so well last weekend would give Michael McGee a match, but McGee took it to him 12-3 & then Madrigal dropped a 3-2 decision to Mosha Schwartz of Northern Colorado.  Wrestling truly can be a week to week sport. 

The Life Open was every bit as tough as I thought it was going to be. In some ways, it was even tougher. 

The finals at 125 was the exactly match I wanted to see between Brandon Orum of Life and Justin Portillo of Grand View.  A tight 2-1 decision for the Running Eagle over the Viking in a match I guarantee we'll see again this winter. 

You have to be kidding me that Andreus Bond, 2021 NAIA champion of Life got knocked off in the first round at 149. If that's not enough NAIA 7th place finisher Trevor Anderson of Grand View didn't place either.  

Matt Margolis of Grand View sure looked good at 165 didn't he? I was wondering how he'd do moving up two weight classes and he just dominated throughout.  Very impressive. 

Speaking of impressive, Life's 197'er Zane Lanham as far as I'm concerned may be the very best wrestler in the NAIA at this point.  I'd like to see this guy enter the Midlands or the Southern Scuffle, because I honestly think he could place. I really do.  This guy is something else. 

Wish Oklahoma State would have had it on their schedule that they were sending some to Lindenwood.  Would have been nice to have known that, but nevertheless Dusty Hone looked sharp in securing the title at 141.  Two technical falls in the quarters and in the semis to a 3-1 decision over SIUE's Saul Ervin in the finals. 

First O'Connor and then Griffith!  Unbelievable.  Freshman Julian Ramirez who isn't even undefeated this season knocks off the returning NCAA champion 3-2 in a match that ended on a controversial call. Some say that Griffith had the takedown, some say that he did not. Nevertheless the victory stands and Ramirez is now one of only two that can claim a varsity win over Griffith.  With that said the other match of note in Cornell Vs Stanford was Yianni Diakomihalis defeated Jaden Abas by a score of 3-1.  That's a match I'd like to see again and not one I think Diakomihalis would win 10 out of 10 times if they were to wrestle. 


Navy Classic turned out to be a pretty good tournament with some good wrestling. 

It was nice to see Lock Haven's Luke Werner have a good tournament at 125.   Shake a bit of the rust off and get back to form.   

The final at 157 was a good one between Ohio's Jordan Slivka and The Citadel's Dazjon Casto, two of the nations best wrestlers yet to make the NCAA tournament who both should this season. 

Bearded or Unbearded, either way Michael Wolfgram of West Virginia deserves some recognition for how well he's been wrestling this season.  He upset Josh Heindselman of Oklahoma last week and then turns around and upsets Owen Trephan of North Carolina State this week. 

Overshadowed by the upsets of O'Connor and Griffith, Lehigh's Brian Meyer pulled off a huge upset of his own this weekend when he knocked off returning NCAA runner-up Jake Wentzel 4-3.   It wasn't the only big win for Lehigh in the dual Vs Pittsburgh either.  Malyke Hines after having a mediocre weekend at the Journeyman Classic, turned it on to garner a huge win via fall Vs Mickey Phillippi in 6:57.  

I was sorta surprised how few of South Dakota State's starters ended up not participating in the Daktronics Open.  That took me off guard.  Nevertheless....

At 125 I was impressed with Iowa State backup Corey Cabanban.  His semi-final victory over Northern Iowa's Brody Teske had me thinking that he might very well beat teammate Kysen Terukina in the finals. Good match, as Terukina won 3-1.  The other thing of note here, was the illustration of how much can change in a short amount of time.  Liam Cronin of Nebraska defeated Jager Eisch Minnesota 5-3 in the quarter-finals and then in the 5th place match Eisch defeated Cronin 8-0.  These types of results happen more often than you think. 

Granted it wasn't without *'s but seeing Iowa State's Jarrett Degen secure a title at 149 was rewarding.  Had such a disappointing season last year.  Hope to see more good things out of the Cyclone this season. 

157 saw Nebraska's Peyton Robb darn near knock off another returning NCAA champion as he gave Iowa State's David Carr all he could handle in a wild 7-5 match.  This could end up being our NCAA final when it is all said and done. 

Where did Mike Caliendo of North Dakota State come from? He was a first for Batavia High School in Illinois winning their first individual state title.  From the looks of it, he's going to do a lot of firsts.  Nice wins to securing the 165 title that included an 8-6 victory over Austin Kraisser of Iowa State and a 5-2 victory over Austin Yant of Northern Iowa. 

I'll start off by saying this.  At the beginning of the season I wrote that I thought George Mason was going to have one of the best teams they've ever had with potential to send up to 6 to the NCAA tournament.  When I said that I thought 2021-2022 was one of the best squads the Patriots have ever had, I guess I meant it more than I realized.  Kaden Cassidy who finished 2nd in respectable bracket, Laranzo Rajanonarivelo who won a tough bracket and even Logan Messer who finished 4th with a 12-8 victory over Thomas Flitz of Appalachian State in the consolation semi-finals all impressed me.  All three freshman (mixture of true and redshirt), bright futures for the Patriots. 

Here is word for word, verbatim what I said about Walton in my Keystone Classic Preview.

 "Walton is one of those wrestlers that seems to always be in the match, but to always lose it by a hair.  On paper, he's not currently ranked, but on the mat he has the ability to be a top 20 wrestler, maybe even better than that.  Winning this tournament would be huge for him."  

And he delivered didn't he? Went out and just wrestled and it showed how good he is. 13-8 victory over Barrett Blakely of Appalachian State and a 12-5 victory over Bryan McLaughlin of Drexel in route to winning the title at 184. 


Got a million more thoughts on a great week of wrestling but I'll end it there.  Here's to week 4!  

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