Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Final Thoughts Soldier Salute


Avenging Losses Drake Ayala Wins 125 lbs Title 

I've been saying for quite sometime that I think before his career is said & done, Drake Ayala wins an NCAA title for the Hawkeyes. Albeit, Patrick McKee was not 100% this tournament, but defeating someone that has otherwise had your #, is still a great accomplishment.  Not only did Ayala score the victory over McKee, but he also scored a huge win over Jore Volk of Wyoming.  So much of wrestling is mental & this weekend put Ayala in a very good spot mentally.  

Brody Teske Earns 133 lbs Soldier Salute Title As Well As Starting Spot Back

Is this the final deciding factor between Brody Teske & Cullan Schriever for the starting spot at 133 lbs? I'd say that it very well could be.  I've been watching Iowa Hawkeye wrestling since the '91-'92 season & it used to be that the Midlands was when we pretty much knew our starting lineup.  Now that the Hawks no longer attend the nearly 60 year old tournament, I'd say the Soldier Salute is now our determiner.  Jacob Van Dee of Nebraska defeated Schriever 5-1 in the semi-finals & then Teske defeated Van Dee 5-4 in the finals.  Schriever came back strong in the consolations winning an 8-1 decision over Jake Gilva of Minnesota & then defeating Kale Petersen of Iowa Staet 4-3 for 3rd.  Just goes to show the depth Iowa has at 133 lbs. 

Real Woods Looking Real Good

Real Woods proved why he is ranked #1 winning one of the tougher brackets here at the Soldier Salute. A 9-4 win over Navy's Josh Koderhandt, he then defeated a very tough Lachlan McNeil of North Carolina in the finals.  While Woods & McNeil put on a show in the finals, I was particularly intrigued by how well Vance Vombaur of Minnesota battled in route to a 3rd place finish.  He defeated All American Cael Carlson of South Dakota State 4-2 & then scored another big 4-2 victory over Koderhandt.  I do wanna note that Carlson was fresh off of coming back from an injury & he did not look at all to be 100%.  

Caleb Rathjen Makes Statement Earning Title & Varsity Spot 

The talk for a long time among many was who was the better man between Anthony Ferrari & Victor Voinovich.  Seems some were kinda forgetting there was a third man in this equation & his name is Caleb Rathjen.  Rathjen make like Bon Jovi & said his name loud and clear so everyone could hear it.  He defeated the '23 NCAA qualifier Voinovich 6-3 & then took out Ferrari 7-2 in the finals.  I was not at all impressed by Ferrari's cheap & unsportsmanlike antics post the match. I'll more to stay on that here in a bit.  Alek Martin of South Dakota State then defeated Voinovich 7-4 for 3rd place, thus sealing the deal all the more for Rathjen. 

Franek Wins Title At 157 lbs 

The first thing I gotta say concerning 157 lbs, is how poorly officiated the semi was between Cael Swenson of South Dakota State & Paniro Johnson of Iowa State.  How in the world Johnson wasn't awarded a takedown is beyond me.  I get how tough being a referee is, & I know I'd struggle with it.  At the same time though, you should be held to a standard & their should be expectation.  Our final here should've been Johnson vs Franek.  None the less, Franek wrestled his usual calm, collected self & picked up another well calculated victory over Swenson in the finals.  Johnson came back to collect 3rd. 

With Soldier Salute Title, Caliendo Keeps Varsity Spot in Check

Very nice tournament for Mikey Caliendo, picking up a 7-3 decision over teammate Patrick Kennedy in the finals. Talk about depth at a weight, I honestly feel that both Caliendo & Kennedy are All American caliber this season. A shame that one of them has to sit come the BIG 10's. A real shame.   I also gotta come out and say that I feel that the Salute must be a curse for Andrew Cerniglia of Navy.  He fell apart here last year too & I really hope that it doesn't effect the rest of his season. He's done pretty well so far up until the Salute & I hope he bounces back.  We'll see at the upcoming F&M Lehman Open. 

Gabe Arnold Wins A Very Tough 174 lbs Bracket

It didn't escape me that Gabe Arnold pulled off a rather unsportsmanlike maneuver in one of his matches, taunting his opponent by spanking him on the rear.  I'm not one for excusing such behavior, but I have to ask what the history was that lead up to this event.  I mean I ask because most of the time Arnold is a class act. I've watched him many times this year & he lets all of his passion, desire & determination come out through his actual wrestling.  I mean look at how he handled himself in the finals against Lenox Wolak.  He accidentally injured Wolak & once he realized Wolak was injured, he asked the crowd to be quiet.  He then went and checked on Wolak, giving him a hug & a handshake.  That's the Arnold I know. The Arnold I love, admire & respect.  A guy that is absolutely vicious on the mat. A killer that is going to win the Hawkeyes many national titles.  A guy that doesn't have to be dirty, unsportsman like or act like a jackass.  He's the kinda guy I want at Iowa & the kind of guy I'm proud of.  This is mean, nose to the grind, tear you apart on the mat wrestler who acts accordingly once the final buzzer has sounded. Honorable & forthright, Arnold is the kinda wrestler Iowa needs more of. 

As to the rest of the bracket, I really admired Bubba Wilson's tenacity.  That kid has such a big heart & it really shined through this tournament.  Loses a tough 5-2 decision to Tyler Eischens of North Carolina & then battles back hard to take 3rd place.  Turns things around & hands Eischens a 5-2 loss to capture 3rd place. 

Golden Gopher Teammates Share Title At 184 lbs

I was kinda sad that we didn't get to see a matchup between Isaiah Salazar & Max McEnelly at 184 lbs. I get and respect why coaches decided to just have them share the title instead, but I would have liked to have seen the match.  The Gold & Maroon have two very talented grapplers here. 

All Hell Breaks Loose At 197 

Be honest, this is why you clicked on this article. You wanted to see what I had to say about 197 lbs.  A lot.  A whole lot. If you're easily offended, you might wanna go ahead and skip to HWT.  I got a lot of opinions about this & frankly I don't care who does or doesn't agree with me. 

 I cannot for the life of me figure out what the hell is going on in A.J. Ferrari's head. After all that he's been through at Oklahoma State & what he went through in matters I don't care to mention, seriously what in the name of Sir Isaac H Newton was he thinking on Saturday?  I get shoving yourself off of your opponent after a match.  But why would you take your hands off of your opponents back, deliberately place them on the back of his head & then try and shove his head into the mat?  Why?  What the Hell is that trying to prove? What is that saying?  He's your future teammate for crying out loud.  I wanted so bad to give A.J. as well as Anthony the benefit of the doubt.  I've met A.J. before & gotta say, I thought he was a very friendly and nice guy.  I want to like the guy. I want to cheer for him. I want to welcome him to Iowa, but @#$@#$@#$@#$#@$#@$#@!!!!!  Seriously #@@#%4@!!! Why do you have to do crap like that!?!?! 

And you know what? Ferrari isn't even who I'm all that upset with.  I'm more mad at some other significant figures within the wrestling community.  Chael Sonnen a popular UFC/MMA fighter, former All American at Oregon had the audacity to call Zach Glazier the bully & say that Ferrari was just defending himself.  Newsflash Chael! The retaliator/reactor is never the bully, the instigator is! I'm not saying that Glazier necessarily reacted in a perfect manner, but shove anyone's head down viciously and most people are gonna grab your had and throw it away the way Glazier did.   

And you know what? I'm done apologizing & making excuses for Austin DeSanto.  His reaction to what happened on Saturday is absolute horse shit.  If people wanna revoke my Hawkeye fan card for this, cool.  I don't care.  I've been watching Hawkeye wrestling for thirty years & while there have been some wrestlers I haven't been crazy about, DeSanto is the only one I've ever truly disliked. It's one thing to have outburst after outburst the way he did.  Tried to snap a kid's knee, look past it.  Tried to break a kid's arm, look past it.  Screams profanities at referee, look past it.  Tells teammates father to go F himself, look past it.  Why? Cause he won.  It's one thing to turn a blind eye to it.  Another to make excuses for it.  "YOu gotta understand Stephen, he has ' ' "   Great, get it under control.  I suffer from severe level 10 depression myself.  Mental health issues run in my family.  If DeSanto looked at Ferrari's behavior on Saturday & reacted with the fact that Ferrari needs help that'd be one thing. Instead his reaction were that fans who didn't like his behavior were the problem.   That people who spoke out against his unsportsmanlike behavior  needed to learn about passion, determination & dedication. Embrace the behavior that was displayed on Saturday. 

What an absolute crock of a take. 

 Like guys who show good sportsmanship don't have that? Like if you have humility, class, dignity & sportsmanship, you aren't gonna turn out to be a winner?  Watch Gabe Arnold. Cause he is all of those things I just mentioned and he's gonna be a multiple time national champion some day.  So no you don't have to behave that way to illustrate that you have passion.  

I welcome both Ferrari's to the Iowa squad if they change their tune.  They're both extremely talented and both will help the program, but this idea that they're not the ones who need to change, the fans who don't appreciate their negative behavior are, is outright insane. It's stupid. It makes me nauseous how many out there are fine with how Ferrari behaved on Saturday, including flipping off the crowd, as long as he wins.  I'm sure I'll lose some readers over this & I'm sure I've gained a few more enemies but the DeSanto philosophy of, "As long as you win nothing else matters" isn't something I'm gonna adapt to. It goes against everything I believe in.  So my verdict is clear, stay the same then stay lost, or change and welcome aboard. 

With all that out of the way....

I really wish Iowa would put more faith into Zach Glazier.  Ole 665 lbs deadlift wasn't horsing Glazier around.  As strong as Ferrari is, he had to pull out the technique out the back pocket to score the winning takedown.  Glazier is incredibly strong, physically.  He just isn't their mentally yet as far as I'm concerned. Iowa is known for getting inside people's heads.  That's what the Brands brothers are all about. Get Gable into the room, get Gable to get inside of Glazier's head and make his mind & belief in himself as strong as his massive upperbody.  I truly believe it is all mental with Glazier & I think he could be a top 197'er once this issue is figured out.  I really do. 

Young Gopher Wins Title At HWT

Very nice win for the young Gopher as he picked up a solid 7-2 decision over South Dakota State's Luke Rasmussen. The sophomore is now 14-2 on the season. 

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