Kyle Snyder became the first American wrestler to win a Junior World title before his senior year since Jeff McGinness (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)The biggest story of the past week is Kyle Snyder and his very impressive 96 kilos gold medal at the Junior World Championships.
I don't want to spend too much time on Snyder as I essentially wrote an entire column about him a while back, and will write more in the future. I will, however, make three observations about his performance.
Is it 2 or 1?
I understand that FILA wants to promote greater offense wrestling, but they need to realize the subservience of offense to simplicity.
The past Junior World Championships featured different point values for different takedowns. For "offensive" takedowns, officials gave 2 points, and for "counters" they gave 1. I do not need to point out that sometimes in the sport of wrestling the lines blur between offense and counters. This way of scoring gives referees another way to foul up a match, and it makes Olympic-style wrestling even more indecipherable to anyone other than wrestling experts.
Olympic wrestling, and FILA, have a tough task in front of them. They need to walk the knife's edge between simplifying freestyle and Greco, and preserving the nuances which make both styles great. This certainly will not be easy, but allowing for two different takedown values certainly does not represent a step in the right direction, no matter how much it encourages offense.
Penn State recruiting class
With the signing of Bo Nickal, Penn State has now assembled a whopper of a recruiting class for 2014. They have signed big, and they have signed small, and they have taken the best wrestlers from the East Coast, West Coast, and the middle of the country.
This sets up Penn State's head coach Cael Sanderson to answer the one remaining question left in his career: can he win a national championship with only his recruits? It will be interesting to see how Penn State performs after next year when the last of Troy Sunderland's recruits (we are really talking about just Ed Ruth here) are gone. Sanderson and his staff have already done a spectacular job at cultivating talent, if they are able to continue to do so with this next crop of kids, then the national championships should keep on coming.
Virginia's shameful 7
Sometimes, the worst part about governing bodies is that they actually do some governing. The Virginia High School League has decided to double the number of sized-based classifications in all sports from three to six. Including the private school state championship, this means that Virginia will have seven different state championships in wrestling. (The craziest part of this whole affair lies in the fact that Virginia, before this decision, had a whopping eight championships in football.)
If you read Aristotle's Metaphysics, you might stumble upon a passage where the great philosopher says something to the effect of that which means everything means nothing. You may apply a similar principle to the Virginia situation. The more people who win state championships, the less it means.
I have coached in the commonwealth of Virginia at the AA, AAA, and independent levels, and I can say with a certain level of expertise that Virginia would be better served by fewer state championships rather than more. Namely, I wish that Virginia held a single state championship, two at most if both are held side by side in the same arena. If private schools wanted, they should be allowed to compete; the VHSL hypocritically excludes them on fear of recruitment, then permits the most powerful public schools in the commonwealth to engage in what amounts to the same thing.
The biggest problem with the separation of Virginia state championships has been that the AAA championship features the best wrestlers, while the AA championship features the greater quantity of fans, and passion. While the premier state championship, AAA , only found itself held in high school gymnasiums, the AAA and AA championships enjoyed the generous confines of the Salem Civic Center. A unified championships could have done even better and command the use of an even larger more modern arena, in the process creating a marquee event which would draw fans from Winchester to the beach.
Sadly, this will never some to pass. Instead the Old Dominion will now hand out state medals like key chains. Each separate tournament will draw less interest from fans. The sum of attendance at seven state tournaments would not equal that of one state tournament. In the end, the sport of wrestling loses ... again.