Sunday, January 8, 2023

JT#1's Notes, Thoughts & Observations for Week 11 of the 22'-23' Collegiate Wrestling Season!

 With all of the upsets this past week, I'm beginning to think that predictions are about as good as lottery tickets anymore. Sure you have a chance of being right, but anymore it ain't much of one. Come the post season it's gonna be hard to predict who's gonna be champion, who's gonna be All American. Heck as competitive as it has been, it'll be hard to predict who will make it to the national tournament!  

Before I get started on all of the great wrestling that happened this weekend, want to get a few things out of the way. 

I've been under the weather, so there's probably quite a bit that I didn't catch this week. 

Secondly of all, if you're a fan of Johnnythompsonnum1, may I recommend two others to start paying attention to as well.

The Portillo Brothers are an absolute MUST follow if you're a fan of NCAA DII, NCAA DIII, NAIA, NJCAA & Women's wrestling. They haven't tackled CCCAA yet, but I'm sure in due time they will.  Justin was a five time NAIA All American for Grand View & Josh was a two time NCAA DII finalist for Nebraska-Kearney.  These two absolutely love wrestling & have an unmatchable passion. I don't say that about many, especially within my presence. On top of it, they are tremendous individuals off the mat as well. Trust me, I've been in or around amateur wrestling media for nearly 20 years. It is a political, cutthroat world where you'll find far more knives ready to be sunk into your back, than you ever will hands willing to help you up or help you out. The Portillos are excellent, honest and true guys who provide outstanding coverage for our smaller Divisions of wrestling. 

Another guy to follow is Aaron "Swayz" Sweazy.  In all of collegiate wrestling, ALL Of it, this guy misses nothing. I mean he misses absolutely nothing. I'll put it to you this way, he knows why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  I do my best to pay as much attention to as much as I can going on in the world of collegiate wrestling, but I get overwhelmed. So much happening all at the same time, I always miss a big match or a huge upset here and there.  Swayz sees it all.  If you're passionate about college wrestling, like the Portillo brothers, he is a must follow.  On top of it, one of the rare good guys in amateur wrestling media too. 

Now....for the wrestling...

Collins Takes Out Two Time NCAA DII Champion 

Dawson Collins of Colorado Mesa taking out two time NCAA DII champion Cole Laya of West Liberty 3-1 sudden victory at the National duals!! Holy Cow! What a statement for the sophomore who was 5th in the nation last year. He's proven himself to a threat to the national title himself. 

Zeke Smith Takes Out #1 Tyler Shilson 

Zeke Smith was 4th in NCAA Division III in 2021, but slipped a bit last season and failed to make the award stand again. I wrote earlier how if he wanted to reclaim his status as an All American he was gonna have to step it up a notch. He stepped it up about 1,000 notches this weekend! A solid 4-1 win over #1 Tyler Shilson of Augsburg who have finished 3rd at the NCAA DIII's the past season. 

Blubaugh Finally Figures Out Abney 

In four meetings, Derek Blubaugh hasn't been able to generate any offense against Central Oklahoma's Dalton Abney.  No matter what the Greyhound tried, the Bronco had an answer for it. A 4-0 decision, two 6-0 decisions & a 1:01 fall, the odds were certainly in Abney's favor when they met this weekend. Blubaugh finally found something that works as he locked up a cradle against his top adversary to win a 7-1 match. 

Now I take absolutely nothing away from Blubaugh. The 2022 NCAA DII finalist earned a tremendous victory.  However, I do question what is going on with Abney.  He later lost a 9-0 major decision to Dominic Murphy of St. Cloud State.  Again, no offense to anyone & I'm not wanting to take away from anyone's notable victory. On the same hand though, Abney did not look like himself at all & I think it's fair to question if he is hurt, sick or something else out of the ordinary. 

Johnson and Wales Upsets Wartburg to Make NWCA National Duals Finals!!

Currently at 15-1 on the season, the only team that Johnson & Wales has lost to has been Augsburg. The Wildcats have been making tremendous strides & the win over Wartburg is just the beginning. 

Latona On Fire! 

With some of his earlier season losses, Sam Lotona wasn't striking me as a legit threat to either Daton Fix of Oklahoma State or to Roman Bravo Young of Penn State, but after this weekend I'm beginning to wonder if this horse's skin might be darker than I initially thought.  When Lotona met up with Vitali Arujua in Vegas, it was all Arujau in a 6-1 decision.  This weekend, it was a completely different story. This time it was the Hokie who took control of the match & strategically took the Big Red out in a 3-2 effort. So much of wrestling is mental, and that victory was huge. 

Thoughts on the Lehman Open 

A couple of things that stick out to me about the Lehman Open. 

First I'm with all of you that are growing tired of Medical Forfeits. Seems every bracket I looked over, MFF here and MFF here. If collegiate wrestling had a farm, there would be MFF's everywhere! 

Secondly of all, how in the Hell did Dylan Martinez of Air Force enter this tournament unseeded? Seriously?  And on top of it, he draws Zach Sherman of North Carolina early on!?!?  Who seeded this? Martinez deserved a seed here & he did not deserve to have to face Sherman so early on.  Nevertheless he gave the Tar Heel All American a hard fought 3-2 match.  Both would MFF out of the rest of the tournament. Weird. 

Also want to say that there were two wrestlers here in this tournament that did not wrestle well, who very well not only could, but probably will do well in the post season.  I don't know what's up with David Key of Navy, but regardless of his poor showing here, I'd still expect him to do well at the EIWA's. I'll say the same for Cenzo Pelusi of F&M. 

Just Wait Until PSU Gets It's Haines on You! 

He's already looked good this season as he's pinned Corbyn Munson of Central Michigan & he took out Iowa State's Jason Kraisser 8-3, but his dismantling of Garrett Model 16-6 was something else. Shouldn't be much of a surprise. When someone competes in a singlet that reads Penn State, they usually are good, damn good. 

Chumbley Continues to Impress 

First a Midlands title & now an 8-4 victory over Minnesota's Brayton Lee. I am thoroughly impressed with Northwestern's Trevor Chumbley. At the beginning of the season I was thinking top 12-15 wrestler by season's end. Now I'm thinking, All American. 

Huge First Win of the Season for Almaguer! 

Frank Almaguer of California Baptist entered his match against Northern Illinois with an 0-2 record. What does he do? Takes out #9 Izzak Olejnik 3-1 s.v. of course!! 

Mountaineer Freshman With Biggest Upset of the Weekend! 

Of course it is a matter of debate, but it's hard to argue against Jordan Titus taking out #1 Cole Matthews of Pittsburgh. The redshirt freshman patiently waited for his opportunity & executed upon it perfectly to take out the top man at 141 lbs 3-1. 

Ryan Burgos Breathes Life Into Rebuilding Edinboro Program 

I've talked a lot about Edinboro step by step coming up out of the basement they had found themselves in. One of the steps back into the light, was seeing Ryan Burgos win a rather competitive Bobby Kaufman Open.  The sophomore won a hard fought 8-7 victory over Kolby DePron in the semi-finals & then overcame Oklahoma Sooner Willie McDougald in the finals 4-3.  Teammate Cody Mulligan also won a title. 

Parco's Parity 

Just when you thought 149 lbs in NCAA DI couldn't get any stranger, Kyle Parco takes out Paniro Johnson 7-5 s.v.  I'm telling you, this weight class is turning out to be one of the toughest I've ever seen in my 30 years of following this great sport. 

Devon Britton Steps Up For Rutgers 

Stepping in for Joe Heilmann, Devon Britton did great job for Rutgers this weekend. A 5:25 fall over Cole Rhone of Bloomsburg & a 7-4 win over McKenzie Bell of Rider. 

CaRon Watson Wins Under Armor Central Invite 

One of the best wrestlers in the NAIA yet to make the national tournament, Briar Cliff's CaRon Watson won the Central Invite with a huge win over Graceland's Joseph Lupton 4-2 in the semi-finals. 

Schreiner Could Be Looking At Their First All American 

It's always exciting when a school crowns their first All American, and NCAA DIII Schriener could very well be looking at one in Austin Cooley.  He never got out of the first period the entirety of the Central College Under Armor Invitational. This included a 1:24 fall over Gage Linahon of Central. 

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