Sunday, November 5, 2023

Clarion Open Recap & Review


Let the flood gates open. Son of a Sir Isaac H Newton, did we see the atom split at the Clarion Open! What a tournament! So much to discuss here. It's overwhelming. 

And He Has ANOTHER Year of High School AFTER This year!!!!!

There's no other sport in the world that can screw with your perception more than the sport of wrestling.  Here's a kid, only a junior in high school & he knocks off the #1 ranked wrestler/returning NCAA DI finalist 4-1 in the semi-finals.  You're in shock. You don't know what to think. You're mind explodes with the possibilities.  How good is this kid? Could he win an NCAA title this year, only being a junior in high school?  Then as these thoughts kamikaze your brain like Japan on Peral Harbor, he drops a 6-4 match to Brayden Palmer of Chattanooga in the finals, thus becoming mortal again. 

To me it raises so many questions. How are these high school kids getting this good? Are wrestlers really steadily improving year by year in college? Or is it more a matter of what you get is what you recruit? It seems like the answer is yes, no, no and yes, all at the same time. I've seen wrestlers who are head & shoulders better as seniors than what they were as incoming freshmen.  I've seen other wrestlers who seem to be the same person on day last as they were day one.  You'd think at the collegiate level, especially DI, with the coaching & the level of competition in the practice room that there's no way that someone could remain unaltered. They would have to improve. Yet that's not always the case. Some are the same level wrestlers as seniors, that they were as freshman.  Some even regress. Why is this? Why does this happen? 

I mean think about the pressure that Marcus Blaze now has upon his shoulders. Think about what happens if he were to get beat again in high school.  What does that mean? I'd say in recent times, when he enters college, I won't know a true/redshirt freshman (depending on when he would start) that will have more expectation than him.  Great win, but a heck of a responsibility for such a young man. Hopefully he will continue to have the coaches and support he needs to deal with the pressures that await. 

Ramos was obviously not happy about the loss as he came back and took all of 17 seconds to stick Nick Babin of Clumbia for 3rd place. 

I also as much as I follow wrestling am not familiar with Jax Forrest. I rarely come across a name I know nothing about, but he's someone that I'm not familiar with.  Had himself a pretty good tournament.  Kicked the crud outta last year's Clarion Open Runner-up Colton Camacho 18-5, before being taken down 9-4 by Blaze. 

Also In High School & Even Younger 

 Damn, huh?  I suppose it's poetic justice.  There's no way that the state of Pennsylvania would stand by and let a high school kid from Ohio get all the attention & glory, when they have a high school stud all of their own. I swear anytime there's an argument to be made in wrestling, 99% of the time it is between Ohio & Pennsylvania.  

Overshadowed by Blaze's unbelievable upset over Ramos, Bo Bassett had himself a great Clarion Open. An 11-7 decision over Angelo Rini of Columbia, he defeated Vincent Santaniello of Pittsburgh 13-10 in the finals.  To add scale to these victories, Nic Bouzakis of Ohio State was the #1 seed here.  Santaniello defeated him 11-4 in the semis & then Rini got him 14-8 for 3rd. 

Like Blaze, one can only wonder the uproar that would result if Bassett were to face a loss in his remaining time in high school. It also makes me wonder what if our style of folkstyle wrestling had a legitimate professional league where our athletes were making some real money like that of NFL, NHL, MLB & NBA players. Would wrestling do as those sports did/do with recruiting right out of high school? I know some now have a rule that one year of college must be obtained, but I also know it wasn't always that way & I don't know if it is like that for all sports.  Would a kid like Basset or Blaze get recruited right out of high school?  Would a pro folkstyle league of wrestling do such things? Those types of questions are fun to ponder. 

Jesse Mendez Brings Us Back To Normalcy 

With all that unfolded at 125 & 133, it was refreshing to see things unfold on the mat as they unfolded on paper.  Needed a breather there for a second and as he was slated to, Jesse Mendez won 141 without much challenge. 

Dylan D'Emilio Dominates To Title at 149

A 16-3 major decision over Zach Price of Gardner Webb in the Semi-finals & a 12-4 major decision over Finn Solomon of Pittsburgh in the finals.  Price came back to score an 18-8 major decision over Dylan Chappel of Bucknell for 3rd.  Honestly, I would have really liked to have seen a matchup between Price & Solomon. This isn't the type of tournament to where one would challenge for a true 2nd, but I'd have liked to have seen it.  Solomon barely slipped past Chappel 6-5 in the semis. 

Paddy Gallagher Wins 157 Title 

Business as usual for the Buckeye. 

The Boss's Spark 

You Can't Start a Fire, You can't Start a Fire Without A Spark    A great line from a great song by Bruce Springsteen.  It's been a while since Bucknell had a real spark on their wrestling team. Noah Mulvaney could very well be yet. In the quarter-finals knocked off Cooper Noehre of Purdue 9-7 & then had a huge 6-4 victory over Joshua Ogunsanya of Columbia in the semi-finals. Finished out the day by winning the championship with an 8-7 decision over Isaac Wilcox of Ohio State.  Mulvaney is only a freshman too, so we could be looking at one of the best Bisons ever.  To my memory, I think the only two time All American the Bison have ever had is Kevin LaValley who had back to back 7th place finishes about in 2010 & 2011.  Could Mulvaney be the next? 

I'll go ahead and address the elephant in the room. If Mulvaney turns out to be really good, there is the lingering possibility that a bigger predominately "wrestling school" might come & steal him away from Bucknell.  I'd hate to see that happen, but it is the nature of today's world of collegiate sports.  We see good kids at smaller programs & we will from now on have it in the back of our heads that they might not stay at these smaller programs the better and better they as individuals get. 

Rocco Welsh Steps Up for the Buckeyes & Takes the Title at 174 

Carson Kharchla wrestled to the semi-finals, & then medical forfeited to 4th place. I can't help but wonder if Ohio State did this for no other than reason, other than they wanted to see where Rocco Welsh stood among some decent competition. The young Buckeye had a nice 5-2 victory over John Worthing of Clarion in the semi-finals & then took out Sammy Starr 8-2 in the finals. Neither the type of win that a victory over teammate Kharchla would have been, but still two very nice wins for the redshirt freshman. 

Reece Heller Wins One For Pittsburgh 

Heller traded in the silver medal he won here last year for gold this tournament.  Didn't take him long to secure a 19-3 tech over Cam Pine of Clarion. 

Pittsburgh's Max Stout, only Champion From Last Season To Repeat 

Max Stout did exactly as he did last year. He won himself another Clarion Open title. 

Nick Feldman Wins Title At HWT

And yet another young Buckeye winning a title here at the Clarion Open.  Took a nice 7-1 victory over John Meyers of Clarion in the finals.  Meyers himself had defeated Dorian Crosby who came back and took 3rd, 5-3 in the semi-finals. 

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