Friday, March 24, 2023

JT#1 Final Thoughts NCAA DI 157 lbs 2023


The Austin O'Connor Redemption 

Redemption is one of the most beautiful things one can witness in this life & it was all redemption for Austin O'Connor as he ended his final season as a Tar Heel with a 23-0 record. Injuries got the best of him last season & watching him come back as strong as he did was quite rewarding.  3rd-1st-8th-1st, I would say he goes down as one of the to ever wear the Carolina blue & white. A staple that the school that tries so hard to image itself, "basketball" is becoming just as much of a "wrestling" program. 

True Freshman Lives Up To Expectation 

There's nothing in this sport that generates more excitement and thrill than that of a phenomenal freshman. Especially if that freshman is true. Chess enthusiasts searching for Bobby Fischer ain't got jack on wrestling fans searching for Cael Sanderson.  Levi Haines may have lost in his bid for his first national title, but there's no shame in losing out to a senior with the experience & skill of O'Connor. As far as I'm concerned, Haines DID live up to his hype.  Stuck Andonian in the quarterfinals, overcame Robb in the semi-finals. The Nittany Lions have produced so many multiple time NCAA champs over the years.  I believe Haines will be no exception. 

Humphreys Finally Over the Hump 

Entering the 2022-2023 season, Josh Humphreys was one of the best yet to be an All American.  He'd been close with two R12 finishes, but he had yet to make the award stand. Watching him wrestle as well as he did, giving O'Connor his closest match & taking 3rd in style was quite rewarding. In this sport we have so much concentration & focus on those who won national titles, that we often overlook other talent. I don't know if he'll get the credit or recognition he deserves for being as dominant & ruthless from the top position as what he was. Not many can say they majored the likes of Jared Franek of NDSU.  Humphreys can. Closes out his stellar career as a Mountain Hawk with his only loss of the season to the national champ. 

Franek Earns First All American Honor 

Here's another guy that finally made the award stand after two R12 finishes.  4th in the nation, I do believe next season Franek will challenge for the NCAA title. His only two losses at the NCAA's were to Humphreys who has now graduated. The thing that makes Franek so good is that he does such a good jump of making adjustments and improvements. If he has time to really study his opponents, he can figure out a way to beat them.  Peyton Robb defeated him earlier this year & then at the NCAA's Franek turned that loss into a win. The greatest strategy one can use against the Bison is to have never wrestled him before.  Once he's wrestled you a time or two, if there's a decent amount of time, he can figure you out.  He'll challenge for the NCAA title next season.  Maybe if he wins it, he'll smile more. 

Scott Earns First All American Honor 

This guy sure is fun to watch wrestle isn't he? Wild, crazy & unorthodox, has a go for broke style that usually pays off. The sophomore is a pinner that proves he can be a danger to anyone he steps on the mat with.  5th this year with two more seasons to go. 

Three For Three? 

O'Connor & Haines may be gone, but everyone else in this All American lineup WILL (or at least they can by eligibility standards) be back next season.  Peyton Robb of Nebraska, Bryce Andonian of Virginia Tech & Will Lewan of Michigan all earned All American honor #2 this season & will be going for #3 next year.  Just goes to show you how competitive it can be. 

Like a Magician Waiting In The Wings 

I'll tell you the guy that few will be thinking about & few will be worried about but they SHOULD be.  Vinny Zerban of Northern Colorado.  He's a guy that I predict will do some big things next year. Why? Well, for one tenacity.  Was in the pigtail match & worked his way all the way to the R12.  His only losses were to champ O'Connor & 4th place Franek.  Along the way knocks off Anthony Artalona of Penn, Jacob Wright of Wyoming & Jason Kraisser of Iowa State.  Let's also add in the little fact that of Haines two losses on the season? Zerban was the other one.  

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