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.
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The wrestling community is buzzing about tonight's dual meet between top-ranked Penn State and No. 3 Iowa. I'll discuss the details and predictions below, but it's important to note that several non-wrestling heads have emailed me to share their insights and excitement. Some are former Penn State and Iowa students, while others are casual fans who've heard about the match from nut jobs like YOU and are now going to be watching. It's nice to know that among the constant bickering between coaches, fans and media, that we actually do have marketable dual meets.
I'm traveling through Asia the next few weeks writing stories about MMA and wrestling for a few magazines. I'll be sure to wrestle in the dirt with the Indians next week, but this week I'm in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur profiling EvolveMMA, the largest and fastest growing MMA gym in Asia.
At the heart of the MMA in Singapore is a love for Muay Thai. I can't explain to you why so many people love risking cracked ribs for the chance to kick another human, but on the Malay Peninsula, just south of Thailand, the Singaporean people love it. Despite the propensity to punch and kick, there is a burgeoning community of American wrestlers influencing the Asian fighting style. Former Greco-Roman Olympic team member Heath Sims heads up the wrestling program at the gym. He's the longtime friend and MMA coach of Dan Henderson, and has been out here working to develop the team's wrestling ability. This weekend he and the EvolveMMA team are headed to Kuala Lumpur to coach former Princeton wrestler and NCAA qualifier Jake Butler in his first MMA fight.
Wrestling is powerful connection and although I'm halfway around the globe it's been interesting to run into people with whom I share that connection. I'll be at Butler's fight and be sure to let you know how he does, and maybe even grab a podcast (backpoints.tumblr.com) with Sims. It's pretty exciting for this young team to compete at a large event in Asia, and a nice showcase foe the talents of an accomplished American wrestler.
If you're an MMA fan be sure to check out my latest article for ESPN on the Top 25 fighters under the age of 25. You'll be certain to recognize a few of the names on the list. If you're not then just imagine that the link is to a story solely about wrestling and help me earn some page views!
To your questions!
Q: Who ya got in PSU-Iowa? I bleed blue and white but worried Iowa could win dual meet? Thoughts??
Foley: You have reason to be concerned. The 2013 Penn State squad might have enough top caliber talent to be as good as any team we've seen the past ten years, but in a matchup with Iowa they're vulnerable to an upset. Most pundits have the match score 6-4 with Iowa winning at 125, 133, 141, 157, 174, and heavyweight. Given that none of those wrestlers earn bonus points, Penn State would have to generate bonus points at 149, 165, 184, and 197. That, or score an upset at one of Iowa's favored weights. So, how do those break down.
The most contested weight of the dual meet will be 174 with No. 6 Mike Evans facing off against No. 4 Matt Brown. Though there is significant moaning about Brown being ranked in the top five, a similar argument might be made against Evans, whose late heroics against then-No. 2 Nick Heflin of Ohio State were impressive, but whose performance against No. 1 Chris Perry was underwhelming. Rankings are fun, but in this circumstance neither wrestler could be considered a huge favorite. Brown, who has losses to "Could he win it?" Robert Kokesh of Nebraska and Logan Storley of Minnesota, will need to work early to keep the action in the middle of the mat. He'll also need to be conservative from top. For his part Evans will need to withstand Brown's early attacks and find opportunities to score on the edge (as he did against Heflin) and look for scoring opportunities in scramble positions. No matter what is prognosticated, this will be a close match and one that could decide the dual meet.
The other factor is bonus points. Quentin Wright is every bit capable of sticking Nathan Burak, and though the young Iowa wrestler is posting big results I doubt his ability to keep the score close enough to stage another legendary Iowa comeback. Though others don't agree, I see David Taylor steamrolling Nick Moore. It's a big match and Taylor will feed off the energy.
I like Penn State by three.
Q: When a dual meet score is tied how do they decide who gets the criteria point? Is the same thing done in high school meets as well?
-- Gregg Y.
Foley: For NCAA competition, according to Rule 3.15, "When two teams finish in a tie in a dual meet or a team-advancement tournament,
the following criteria shall be applied to determine a winner:
3.15.1 Greater number of victories.
Note: Forfeits, defaults and disqualifications count only toward total number of victories.
3.15.2 Combined total of falls and technical falls.
3.15.3 Total match points.
3.15.4 First takedown."
Guy Trinetti Sr., an official from the Greater Cleveland area who has worked multiple state tournaments, forwarded this answer, which comes right from the NFHS rule book. Most matches end up coming down to E/F/G.
A) Flagrant or unsportsmanlike, etc.
B) Greater of team point deductions
C) Penalize greater number of match points
D) Most match wins (forfeits count)
E) Greater number of falls, defaults, forfeits and disqualifications
F) Greater number of tech falls
G) Greater number of major decisions
H) Team having greater number of first points scored
I) Greater number of points for nearfalls
J) Greater number of takedowns
K) Greater number of reversals
L) Greater number of escapes
M) Team penalized the greater number of points for stalling
N) Team warned more often for stalling
O) Team whose opponent has the greater number of points for all other infraction
P) Flip the disc
Cole Schrupp is a legend with the camera and editing software. I don't have time to watch a 15-minute video on Iowa vs. Minnesota, but I did anyway! This guy needs to be releasing every important promotional video for amateur wrestling.
The NWCA promo for the National Duals. What do you think?
The Iowa Way.
Q: I'll keep a complex question simple. How has Bloomsburg become so good?
-- Tom B.
Foley: I'll keep a complex answer simple. Head wrestling coach John Stutzman.
Q: What do you think about a high school team from Alabama already having close to 100 dual matches? Currently they are 59-38.
-- Mike C.
Foley: I think, "Roll Tide, Y'all!"
Alabama wrestling shows that amateur wrestling has the opportunity to expand and thrive in non-traditional marketplaces. It's exciting to know that we can have a prep team from a state with a relatively new wrestling traditional that has an almost 60 percent winning percentage. Though Alabama will be a football state well after the federal government bans it as a sport, the growth of wrestling is an indication that there were kids whose athletic needs weren't being served.
Success is an essential part of growing a sport in a non-traditional setting, especially in the Deep South where population centers lead to highly defined pockets of talent. In Tennessee it's the Chattanooga/Cleveland area, in Florida it's Oviedo and Brandon, and in Texas it was Bishop Lynch and now Allen -- home of the biggest high school football stadium in the country.
Any successful high school has a talent pool of young wrestlers to train. No matter where you are in the country, creating that talent pool takes dedicated coaches willing to sacrifice every minute of their free time to give their wrestlers the best training and competition available to them. Those guys are the heroes of the sport, and though we think about the big-time programs and coaches, it's the guys hustling minivans across state lines weekend after weekend that keep our sport alive and healthy.
Q: How were the automatic byes determined for the National Duals? I understand Minnesota getting one as they are highly ranked and defending champions. But how did Ohio State (ranked No. 6 by InterMat) and Illinois (ranked No. 8 by InterMat) get one while Oklahoma State (No. 2 and the No. 1 ranked team participating) end up traveling to Kent State? In my opinion, the integrity of the process in determining these and the eventual champion is somewhat flawed. Is this really what we want to decide the NCAA team champion?
-- Tony G.
Foley: There has been a lot of speculation about the National Duals and the system they used to select the teams invited to the championship. To understand a little better what is truth and what is fiction, I reached out to Pat Tocci NWCA for clarification. Tocci said that byes were selected last spring after teams submitted their potential lineups and points assigned to each wrestler listed. The points were tallied and the teams with the four highest point totals were given byes to the finals. He admitted that the "one problem with this method is that the lineups that were submitted at the time can often be different today and have wrestlers now in the lineup that were not even in school at the time."
Why did the NWCA choose to hand out byes? Last year the kerfuffle was that winning teams couldn't plan for travel, which would ensure low fan participation and ruin the event. The solution advanced by J Rob and the NWCA was to guarantee the inclusion of four top teams and add in another four who may or may not bring in fans. This way they can guarantee fans and media exposure.
Regional host schools were selected based on their availability to host the event, sell tickets, and create media buzz. The NWCA selected programs that could meet all these criteria in the hopes that the positive cash flow and attention would further their goal to make these meets a viable product worthy of future discussion.
Though I agree on the surface that it's suspect to see Oklahoma State traveling to Kent State for a meet, I think that the NWCA is doing the best they can with the resources and cooperation that has been made available to them at this point in the process. Hopefully their success will spur others to join and if there is significant cash flow it's also possible that some schools will make their gyms available.
The NWCA is operating in a confrontational environment that makes them vulnerable to criticism from both sides of the National Duals argument. Poor support, lackluster awareness and a suspect model for team selection certainly don't help their situation. Maybe we'll never come to love the National Duals, but many believe that if it were handed over to the NCAA the standards for participation and the quality of event would be much improved. One of the most interesting anecdotes offered during this summer's debate about the viability of a dual meet championship came from an NCAA committee member. He reminded everyone that "love them or hate them everything the NCAA touches turns to gold."
The difficulties facing the National Duals are not a direct reflection on the work of Pat Tocci, Tammy Tedesco, and others at the NWCA; it's a statement of fact about their limited resources in juggling this event plus another half-dozen of national importance. They simply can't make everyone happy, or foresee the consequences of every action. Until we get together and have another productive round of discussions, the wrestling community will continue to be fractured about how best to use dual meets to advance our sport.
Q: If you could put together a college dream team which wrestler would you have at each weight class and why and who would be the coach and why?
-- Gregg Y.
Foley: I love the idea of a dream team, but I hate that it'll likely uncover my biases.
There are two major issues with selecting wrestlers for this list. First, the weight classes have shifted so often that it makes it difficult to fit everyone neatly into their boxes. My solution was to keep 118 as its own weight and then stick with modern weight classes for the rest of list, rounding up or down to match older wrestlers with newer weights. The second difficulty is where to place those wrestlers who've had success at several weight classes. For those guys I chose the place that allowed me to feature another top-level wrestler at a surrounding weight.
Bring on the hate.
118: Barry Davis (Iowa)
125: Stephen Abas (Fresno State)/Yojiro Uetake (Oklahoma State)
133: T.J. Jaworsky (North Carolina)
141: Lincoln McIlravy (Iowa)
149: Kyle Dake (Cornell)
157: Dan Gable (Iowa State)
165: Pat Smith (Oklahoma State)
174: Mark Schultz (Oklahoma)
184: Greg Jones (West Virginia)
197: Cael Sanderson (Iowa State)
285: Kerry McCoy (Penn State)
Coach: Dan Gable.
Gable coaching himself? The time travel plot to Looper?
Q: Why aren't Travis Rutt and Andrew Howe wrestling? I know they are on Oklahoma's roster. Are they both taking redshirt years?
-- Anthony T.
Foley: Both are redshirting. Howe is stilling recovering from the ACL tear he suffered against Jordan Burroughs at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Q: When someone trains at the OTC or the RTC before going to college how does it college affect their eligibility? How does one get accepted into one of these programs and do you think it is a wise choice to do it?
-- Gregg Y.
Foley: Accepted? I think it's up to the executives within the club overseeing the RTCs to decide who they're going to support during their training sessions. Much of that is decided by seeing who is available and if they'd be a good fit within your competition team and for your collegiate wrestlers. The Ohio Regional Training Center accepted Shawn Bunch and Reece Humphrey at the same time even as they were competing for the same Olympic position. That's a bold decision.
The Olympic Training Center. Stay tuned.