What do coaches say to their wrestlers when their wrestlers don't perform at their best? They can build them up; tell them to get their heads up and point out the positives. They show their anger and frustration, and let their athletes know in no uncertain terms that their performances were unacceptable. They can put it in perspective, and tell their wrestlers to put it behind them and embrace future competition. Any of these approaches can be appropriate. There is always a right thing to say to an athlete or group of athletes. One of the hardest parts of being a coach is finding the appropriate speech or picking the right advice based on whom you are speaking to. Coaching is not a "one size fits all" skill. Great coaches have to know their flock.
Oklahoma State coach John Smith shares a moment with his top-ranked 149-pounder Jordan Oliver at the National Duals (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)
This is why I'd love to have been a fly in the wall in the locker room of Iowa, Ohio State, an Oklahoma State's locker room after National Duals this past weekend. Tom Brands, Tom Ryan, and John Smith are all great coaches, and I would love to see what they said to their teams after disappointing outings. Ohio State, Stiebers aside, has a lineup full of young men capable of beating the very best on any given day. Not a single one of them were able to win against Missouri in the quarterfinals. Iowa saw its wrestlers fall in close matches against Missouri in the consolation finals; among them were the two Hawkeye stalwarts, returning national finalists Matt McDonough and Derek St. John, fall against Missouri. McDonough was shut out for the first time in his collegiate career by Alan Waters, who looks extra sharp under the tutelage of Sammie Henson. This was Missouri's first victory over Iowa in wrestling ... ever.
In the National Duals finals Oklahoma State was beaten by a team they had previously defeated, the University of Minnesota. This loss was punctuated by two shocking pins scored on two of OSU's best, Chris Perry on top with both legs in had his head pulled down and was stacked up by Logan Storley in tie-breaking rideouts, and at heavyweight, Alan Gelogaev was run over and pinned by returning national champ Tony Nelson in a simple wrist and half.
This certainly isn't the end of the world for any of the losing teams mentioned above, but it is certainly a teachable opportunity for their coaches. It will be interesting to see how they perform down the road.
In more positive news, Minnesota is once again your National Duals champions, and a team which seemed to be fading just a bit a few weeks ago seems to be revitalized. Head coach J Robinson was present to watch over the victory. He apparently was coaching without a knee.
That is correct; he completely did not have a knee in one leg. I, personally, have a hard time wrapping me head around this. I didn't know that one had the option of not having a knee if the entire rest of the leg was present. Apparently he is between surgeries, but still it amazes me. I guess if you want to set an example to your wrestlers as to what it means to be tough this is one way to do it.
Other observations from National Duals ...
Logan Storley, Minnesota's 174 pounder, has to be this weekend's MVP with wins over Mike Evans and Chris Perry. He is also one of the most dangerous wrestlers I have ever seen off the bottom position.
Dylan Ness gave Jordan Oliver, Oklahoma State's top-ranked 149-pounder, quite the scare in their match. Ness seems to be rounding back into top form.
I would never want to be a wrestling referee, I once was a scorekeeper at a small tournament and all I did was get yelled at. I have huge respect for NCAA refs, and think that 99 percent of the time they do a great job. That said, there must be greater consistency in what constitutes reaction time after a takedown. If a wrestler goes behind another, and the other wrestler supports his weight on his hand, how much time does he have to pop back up before the takedown is awarded? In a couple matches this past week refs would call this instantaneously, but in notable matches in the past, refs have been very generous with reaction time. The number one thing I want to see in a ref, other than a solid grasp of the rules, is consistency. I do not have a strong opinion one way or the other as to how this situation should be scored; I just want to see it scored the same way in every match.
Call heavyweights boring. Don't watch them if you do not want to. Go for a bathroom break when they take the mat. But please do not insult their ethic and desire. During the Iowa and Missouri dual this weekend the color commenter on the webcast made a comment that characterized Bobby Telford and Dom Bradley as not wanting to wrestle. This rankles me. These two spend their lives wrestling in top Division I programs. If they did not possess a strong desire to wrestle and work every day, their coaches would have tossed them out on their respective ears a long time ago. Dom Bradley is a Junior World champion and Bobby Telford is an NCAA All American, and a giant. I am truly sorry if offense is hard to come by when the two lock horns, but please show the proper respect.
In other news ...
Penn State shuts out Rutgers.
The National Collegiate Open took place, one of the coolest tournament concepts there is. All the great wrestlers not in starting lineups take part in this event. (Some are in starting lineups.) Unfortunately, I do not have results on hand at the time of writing this, though I would pencil in the nation's most exciting heavyweight, Nick Gwiazdowski, as the sure-fire champ.
The rest of the country's teams seem to have finished up their dual meet schedules, onward to conference tournaments.