We're in the heart of dual season right now & what a week of duals it was. It's difficult for me to accept the fact that at the DI level we do pretty much nothing but duals between now & conference tournaments...yet with as many as we see week after week until March, they don't hold much value. I just cannot understand why during this time, we couldn't make duals matter & have a dual championship. I've been wondering about this & voicing my opinion on this since I was a kid. Two months worth of duals & at the end of the season, do coaches talk about great dual wins? Do fans sit around and brag about dual records? Do people even know a school's dual record? Nope. They know how they did on a team/individual level at conference & they know how they did on a team/individual level at the NCAA DI tournament. As a diehard aficionado of wrestling, I love all of the great action we see in duals. However as former Ohio State Buckeye Johnni DiJulius questions, "Do they have much value?"
Nevertheless a lot unfolded this week in duals & I think it's worth talking about.
|Fish Upsets Amine As Spartans Fall to Wolverines
I said at the beginning of the season that Caleb Fish was one of the top wrestlers in the nation yet to All American & he's proven that in a variety of ways. Perhaps none better than he did this weekend when he knocked off three time All American Cam Amine of Michigan in an exciting 6-4 bout. The Spartan has as they say, "upped the ante."
|Peyton Hall Reestablishes Himself
The sport of wrestling in so many ways is like a rollercoaster. It plays out like the stock market. Who's up? Who's down? Who propelled up the ladder? Who fell down the ladder? It's a week by week, match by match world where things can happen at the drop of a hat. Izzak Olejnik of Oklahoma State has been having an outstanding season thus far. One that has some even claiming it could end in an NCAA DI title. Peyton Hall on the other hand has been looking for a moment to recapture his status. I'd say he more than did that with a hard fought 5-1 decision over Olejnik this weekend. Great win for the Mountaineer.
|Lehigh Stuns Cornell As Beard Continues to Impress
I said when I previewed the dual that I though Lehigh was severely underrated & that they could hang with Cornell. Heck, they did more than hang! They beat the Big Red! The keys were a great 2-0 win by Luke Stanich over Brett Ungar at 125. Then Michael Beard nearly majoring Jacob Cardenas at 197 was utmost impressive, as was Nathan Taylor's 6-2 win over Lewis Fernandes. I just cannot get over how well Beard is currently wrestling. Not only did he dominate against Cardenas, but in the dual against Binghamton he majored Lou DePrez 12-1. I said it when evaluating his performance at the Midlands. He's looking as good as he has ever looked.
|Finally Healthy & Kicking Major Eh Double S
It was disheartening to watch Jackson Turley last season. To see a guy that you knew was so much better than what he was performing, struggling on the mat was not fun to watch. I said more than once, I didn't think he was 100% last season & I felt that if he could get back to 100%, we'd see see him back on top again. Season started out a bit rough, but once the rust was brushed off, he's been doing very well. I think a 15-0 tech over D.J. Washington of Indiana is only the beginning. I think we're gonna continue to see a lot of good things outta Turley the remainder of the year.
|A Light of Bockman In A World of Cyclone & Panther Darkness
It was a rough weekend for the Wolverines of Utah Valley. Came into the section of the United States that could easily be confused for Antarctica we call Iowa & had two tough losses to both the Cyclones & the Panthers. The one positive to take away is how exceptionally well Evan Bockman wrestled despite the circumstances. Had a hard fought 4-2 win over a tough & talented Wyatt Voelker & also defeated another tough wrestler, Julian Broderson 6-1.
|In a World of Gold, Penn State Remains Platinum
Penn State's level of wrestling is off the spectrum and in its own world. Physicist Neil degrasse Tyson speaks over how humans & chimps only have 1% DNA difference, yet that 1% makes us as humans so much more advanced than apes. I sometimes wonder in terms of wrestling prowess if Penn State has a 1% difference ahead of everyone else. They just annihilated the Indiana Hoosiers. Even in the matches where I thought Indiana might at least fight, they just killed them. I mean Graham Rooks IS All American material. He's a top 6-12 wrestler as far as I'm concerned. Tyler Kasak a true freshman defeated him 15-0. Then Beau Bartlett only allowed 1 point against Danny Fongaro, who recently won the Southern Scuffle. The Nittany Lions are something else.
|Iowa Upends Nebraska As Both Glazier & Hill Step Up
Lot's of happenings in the dual between Iowa & Nebraska this past weekend. Drake Ayala really showing what he was made up with a very impressive 7-3 win over Caleb Smith. I've said ever since Ayala stepped on the collegiate mats for the first time that I felt he was NCAA DI champ material during his career. I wasn't thinking this soon, but with as hectic as 125 has been? Heck, why not?
Jacob Van Dee really showed resilience nearly majoring Brody Teske in the 133 lbs match. A 10-4 decison for the Husker over the Hawkeye. That's a heck of a turn around, considering Teske beat him for the Solider Salute Title only a couple of weekends ago. Just goes to show how much environment & atmosphere can make a difference in a match. Wrestling in Coralville Iowa in front of B&G is a lot different than wrestling in Lincoln in front of the Scarlet & Cream.
Jared Franek's workman's 5-4 victory over Justin Robb was one of the most exciting things I've seen in collegiate wrestling this season. I hear coaches preach, "Find a way to win" all the time & if you're looking for a needle in a haystack, put Franek on the job. He'll find a way to win. Hope he smiled after this win. This was a win to smile about. I know he's only allowed so many smiles per semester, but I think he can afford to crack a grin after this one.
Who really stepped it up here a notch for the Hawkeyes was Zach Glazier & Brad Hill. If you read my Soldier Salute recap or the preview I wrote for Nebraska Vs Iowa, I sorta went on a rant both times about how good I felt Glazier was & how it kinda ticked me off that so many Iowa fans seemed to completely dismiss him in favor of Ferrari. I've been saying for a long time that few can match upperbody with Glazier & that if he could get his mind as strong as his shoulders, chest, back, biceps & triceps, that Iowa didn't need Ferrari, Glazier was the answer. I think he proved that with an 11-2 major over 2023 BIG 10 champion Silas Allred. What a great win for the Hawkeye! He continues wrestling like this, by February those who shed tears over the Ferrari situation, will have forgotten about cars & will be talking about sinking the Titanic.
And let me be the first to congratulate Hill on such a fine win. Here I was promoting and marketing a plausible match between Keuter & Hutmacher. In partial I guess it's because there has been so much hype about Kueter. Now that Hill has a 4-1 win over Hutmacher, I'm beginning to question some of what I've been told about the Kueter/Hill situation. I've had many around here tell me that Kueter is so much better than Hill. Will destroy Hill in the room. Easily take the spot. I'm beginning to get flashbacks of the Eric Luedke/Chad Beatty situation from years back. "Beatty is so much better than Luedke." "Beatty will easily take the spot from Luedke." Well that didn't happen. What did happen is Luedke ended his season with a very impressive 3rd place finish at the NCAA tournament. Now I'm not saying this is gonna happen with Kueter and Hill. Not saying that. What I am saying though, is that I think Hill just showed the wrestling world, especially the Black & Gold faithful that he is something that they can look to as well. Handing someone their first loss in many years, someone that many thought might even contend for an the NCAA DI title this season based on how good he was in high school is saying quite a bit. Hill deserves to be recognized for his efforts here.
As always there is so much more that could be said, but I think I'll end it here.
Until next time my fellow wrestling enthusiasts!