Riordan's Roundup: August 22, 2013

Kyle Snyder, Junior World champ

Kyle Snyder became the first American wrestler to win a Junior World title before his senior year since Jeff McGinness (Photo/Tony Rotundo,
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.

  • In the finals he had to fight off his back for what seemed like an eternity. Afterward he got up and acted like nothing happened. He sort of just shrugged his shoulder and went about destroying his opponent. This level of composure amazes me, particularly when I think about the fact that he probably has not actually been in danger of being pinned in an actual wrestling match in a number of years.

  • That Armenian he wrestled in the finals looked a bit long in the tooth to be wrestling in Juniors. I am not accusing anybody of anything, but wow. He looked at least 30.

  • Now we really have to wonder if Kyle, who is still only 17 years old (until November, CRAZY, right?), can legitimately challenge for an Olympic spot in Rio. It is hard to believe that a 20 year old kid will be able to beat the Pendletons and Bergmans of the world, but if anyone can do it, it is Snyder.

  • I know I said three points, but I would like to point out that I did some research, and I believe that Snyder is the first American to win a Junior World championship before his senior year of high school since Jeff McGinness did it more than 20 years ago.

    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.
  • Comments

    Login or Register to post a comment

    CoachPrebes (1) about 4 and a half years ago
    Essentially, the VHSL's decision to go to six divisions was to increase revenue for the marquis sports in Virginia: basketball and football. They did not take individual sports into their consideration, nor did they really want to listen to the wrestling community and their plan(s). I coach at a private school in Virginia, so I do not have a stake in the fight, but I would rather see no more than two divisions in wrestling like in my home state of Pennsylvania. The two class state wrestling tournament could be held at a central location, say UVA's JPJ center on eight mats and fill the arena. Don't you think that this type of state tournament would generate more revenue for the VHSL than what we will see in 2013-14? But then again, an organization that does not do a good job of policing its schools with "recruiting", eligibility, etc is not going to care about non-revenue generating sports. ALL wrestling coaches in Virginia (not just from the power schools) need to sit down with their principal and athletic directors and make them realize just how much of a disservice a six class wrestling state is to the wrestlers in Virginia. Eight man brackets...really? At least the VISAA (private schools) brackets are pushing 32 men and the quality of the private schools is improving. Our 32 man bracket is looking better and better.
    CoachPrebes (1) about 4 and a half years ago
    And I forgot to mention: how many of you from other states like the idea of having your state tournament held at a high school? For years the VHSL AAA States were held at Oscar Smith HS in Chesapeake and/or Robinson HS in Fairfax. Granted, Robinson's gym is huge and they run the event really well, but it is still a high school. At least the A/AA States are held at the Salem Civic Center, which gives the illusion of a nice arena. Heck, for two out of my five years coaching in the private schools we had our State tournament in the Siegel Center at VCU...say what you want about the private schools and all of that, but at least our tournament has been in a very nice arena. I don't know, maybe I am used to what I had growing up in PA: Hersheypark Arena. Talk about an awesome enviornment for a State tournament!
    spencerszewczyk (1) about 4 and a half years ago
    I too am from Pennsylvania but I coached briefly in Virginia last year when this started to rear its ugly head. What I don't understand is why Virginia can't go to six divisions in basketball and football and still maintain 2 divisions in wrestling? In Pennsylvania we have 5 different football divisions for states but wrestling is not held to the same division classes. Why the all or nothing approach in Virginia?
    CoachPrebes (1) about 4 and a half years ago
    Because if it makes sense, the VHSL won't do it.