InterMat senior writer T.R. Foley answers reader questions about NCAA wrestling, international wrestling, recruiting, or anything loosely related to wrestling. You have until Thursday night every week to send questions to Foley's Twitter or email account.
Do you want to read a past mailbag? Access archives.
Thanks to the all readers who submitted questions this past week. Sometimes we have so many that I have to hold a question or two for the following week, but we've never had as much response as we did last week. Readers sent in enough questions to cover three weeks of mailbags, so if you don't see your response, please wait until next week and you'll be sure to see your name in BOLD. As always, I'm looking forward to reading your emails.
I'll be in Asia for the next two weeks reporting, and though I'll be tuning into the matches that I can find online, I'll need your questions to help me keep focused. While away I'll be filing stories for InterMat and FIGHT! Magazine, in addition to a large piece I'm hoping will appear in a national sports magazine. I'll also be wrestling in India, so fans of WrestlingRoots.org be sure to keep checking the Facebook page and the Twitter (@wrestlingroots) for new photos and videos of traditional kushti wrestling. India will be the last for the book research and will allow me to start the publishing process and get something in print by the end of the summer.
Any restaurant recommendations in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and New Dehli are much appreciated.
To your questions ...
Q: When a high school wrestler transfers like in college do they lose any eligibility or can they wrestle right away?
Foley: The answer is based on a number of factors. Individual school districts take direction from the state, but are largely autonomous in how they award eligibility to current students. Certainly if you're from a military family and you move mid-semester there is little reason to think that the school district would complain about participation in sports. However, if you move for less noticeable reasons, or the connection to the school seems tenuous, then it might spark an investigation.
Gaming the system are those whose parents buy property in a district. It's a hell of an investment, but one that many parents have made. School districts might seek to restrict their participation, but I imagine most would green light in lieu of determining the motivation of the parents.
Again, this is the discretion of the school, then the school district and finally the state educational system.
For a super interesting case, take a read at the situation surrounding the Sudanese basketball players in the suburbs of Chicago.
Q: Any idea when the Alton's will be back in PSU's lineup? #inquiringmindswanttoknow
Foley: Twitter Lesson #1: That is called a HASHTAG. Use 'em when you want to say something that might take too many characters, or when you want your Tweet to be searchable and trendable.
As for the answer to your question, both Alton boys will be in the lineup this weekend, after completing their 30-day no-competition punishment. Don't expect much of a fall off from their pre-suspension performances. The twins have been competing at open tournaments and working out with the team.
Q: What ever happened to Lance Palmer's younger brother who wrestled at Ohio State? Freddie Rodriguez? He was a Spartan last I checked.
Foley: Collin Palmer didn't stick to wrestling and instead started a family. He was a talented guy from a talented family.
Freddie Rodriguez was looking to give it a shot at a high school in Iowa, but he was a little on the older side of the eligibility requirements, and he wasn't allowed to compete. He has already fought in one MMA match so it's entirely possible that after high school he will enter into the sport. Otherwise he'll need to get his grades up at a JUCO before having a chance to show his worth at the Division I level.
Lights. Camera. ACTION. Ouch. Watch as a spotlight falls on a wrestler.
They call him the "White Lion"
My site WrestlingRoots.org seeks out stories like the one you see below and posts them to our website and Facebook page. If you're interested please check out the site or follow along on Twitter @wrestlingroots to discover daily content!
Q: Is it better to have a team that has studs to start on the varsity lineup with backups that maybe aren't as talented, or a team with depth? As in, should anyone be able to take the starting spot at any given time, or is it better for the starters to be leaps and bounds ahead of any backups?
-- D. Clark
Foley: Who wouldn't want stud backups? Remember Jesse Whitmer, the 118-pound NCAA champion for Iowa in 1997? This guy is a backup for four years behind Mike Mena. Finally in his fifth year he gets the nod and we all find out that he's a hammer on his feet. Backup is almost a derogatory word, like they don't have a huge impact on the direction of the program. I could name another dozen who've shown the ability to compete at the top level even as they sat the bench, but the truth is that talented backups are always the supporting structure of any wrestling team. Individuals may shine, lead and be the technical example for a squad, but without a supporting staff that is both talented and committed the efforts of the starters won't matter.
That written, I can see what you mean: Does wrestling with 3-4 studs work as extra motivation for the team? It could, but you'll always need dedicated workout partners to make sure that your team is successful and healthy for the entire season.
Q: I was wondering if you know how long Logan Stieber is out? I feel like his absence has made a drastic impact for the Buckeyes, especially against Iowa and Minnesota where that's a seven-point swing which would have made those duals much closer than they were.
-- Mike in Cleveland
Ohio State's Logan Stieber won the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational with a victory over Nathan McCormick (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)Foley: Logan will have an enormous impact on the team when he returns to action. When that will be is a good guess. I talked with Reece Humphrey this week for the upcoming Back Points podcast and he said that Logan is battling a hamstring injury. Right now it's not serious, and certainly not season ending, but Tom Ryan and his staff are protecting him from any further damage. Like Humphrey said, the hamstring is a tricky injury that you need to protect because the recovery time can be brutal, especially when the NCAA tournament is only a few weeks away.
The major concern for Buckeye fans shouldn't be how quickly he's back for the dual meet, but how healthy he'll be at Big Tens and NCAAs. It's more important to win the NCAA title than keep it close against Minnesota.
But maybe I'm just being selfish. I took a bet with @muirorless on the number of NCAA titles the Stieber brothers would accumulate for their career. It was a large number.
Update from reader, Jerry: Hoping for February 1st return.
Q: So I just watched the Lance Armstrong interview and I started thinking about the "doping" issue as it pertains to wrestling. Should we as a wrestling community start getting in front of this issue now? Further, do you think that the prevalence of performance-enhancing drug (PED) usage in MMA (which has so many ties to wrestling) will begin to filter into the wrestling world?
-- Unknown #
Foley: I love that you brought up the issue of PEDs in collegiate and professional sports. It would be easy for wrestling to bury its head in the Resilite and avoid the larger issues. As we all know, the wrestling community rarely gets in front of an issue (age restrictions on weight cutting), but being proactive in thinking about change is an important first step to help grow and protect the sport.
Despite your vigilance, there is no PEDs issue in collegiate wrestling. Though there is plenty of talent that graduates from NCAA wrestling to MMA, the negative habits like PED use are picked up in the major leagues, not the minors.
MMA is more susceptible to PEDs for several reasons, but few are as consequential as the extended layoff between camps and the multifaceted training regiments that many fighters claim cause injury. It's easy for a fighter 10 weeks from a fight to be in a cycle, because they can wean themselves off as the fight approaches. For wrestlers the timetable is too crunched to handle the weight flux associated with the use of TRT and high-test PEDS. Wrestlers run a middle distance race and therefore become consumed with the idea of balancing weight with fitness.
To be clear, I agree that MMA is turned upside down with drug use. Over the years I've had several candid discussions with fighters about PED use and most claim that the numbers inside the UFC is well north of fifty percent. This week, our very own Ben Askren is so irritated by the culture of drug use that he became the first MMA fighter to volunteer and pass VADA testing before a main event. He won by third-round corner stoppage.
PED abuse in MMA is more serious than in ball sports because with strength, stamina and rage come real consequences. After years of speculation Rousamir Palhares got dinged for steroids after his TKO loss to Hector Lombard. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert is known around the world to be on drugs for many of the world's top grappling contests, and in 2011 his over-developed body and fried mind dislocated an opponent's knee well after the final whistle. You put trust in your opponents in BJJ and MMA, and Palhares, likely because of the roids, was unable to contain his rage. (If you're queasy, don't watch the end of the video. If you live for that shit, it's bookmarkable. If you love seeing dudes survive in impossible situations, watch this.)
On the note of unhinged rage, Vitor Belfort hardly hid his use of PEDs and TRT at his fight last weekend in Brazil. It's unlikely that the two-time former champion even cycled off -- confident enough that his hometown doctors would assist him. The entire event looked a little larger than normal and seeing that much drug use actually makes me hesitant to bet fighters in the future.
Until wrestling starts seeing freaks of this kind take the mat, I think we are still 99.5% clean with little room to worry.
Q: It seems like every week you get a question like "Where is John Doe? He was a four-time state champ and now I can't find him on his team's roster." Why don't you guys do a recruiting rewind feature similar to Rivals where you look at the top recruits from four or five years ago and see where they ended up, how their college careers went, and maybe take a look at some hidden gems that weren't ranked very high coming out of high school.
Foley: That's not a bad idea. We've done it once before, in 2008, and I think it's a pretty interesting article. Would you want to see it for this year? I can definitely tell you that with the exception of Eric Grajales, the Class of 2009 has been spectacular on the top. I mean, really impressive.