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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You may have read on the Internet that a Catholic high school in Philadelphia is forbidding female wrestler Amanda Leve from joining the school's new team. Among the reasons noted by a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was that her involvement with the team would "distort the gender roles play a role in the mature Christian identity," and the "full-contact sports are for boys-only."
Though there are plenty of jokes to be made and outrage to be dished, the Archdiocese and the administration of Archbishop Ryan High School, where Levine would like to wrestle, is well within his right to exclude the young female grappler from the team. The athlete, who according to reports and videos, has bested several of her male counterparts while participating in jiu-jitsu, has no right in a private institution to demand services offered in a public school. Like other exclusively male-only clubs, the Catholic church and this particular school president is within his bounds to keep this willing and talented girl sidelined.
However in doing so the school draws comparisons to other institutions that segregate based on gender, and/or the relative and perceived toughness of the fairer sex. Of the 177 member nations of FILA, the international governing body, only one restricts women from wrestling: The Islamic Republic of Iran. Though I have no personal qualms with the Iranian men and women that I have met around the world, I am disappointed that they don't allow their women to participate. From what I've seen the women are fervent followers of the sport and would excel quickly.
Iran is run by sharia, the ancient Islamic law that governs the actions of the state and gives the Ayatollah his power. In their interpretation of the law, women are forbidden to participate in contact sports. This, even as many Muslim nations whose governments are informed (though not governed) by sharia, allow women to wrestle with equal support -- notably Tunisia and Egypt.
Like Iran, Archbishop Ryan also doesn't allow women to wrestle even as their intellectual and spiritual contemporaries welcome women to the sport. Their decision is disappointing, frustrating and maddening, but in a world where mindless rancor has become commonplace, it's not worth the pounding our fists into the mud. The mistake of Archbishop Ryan and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia speaks volumes for how out-of-touch a group can become when not opening itself up to the wonder and beauty of equality.
Leve seems like a tough girl and I'm certain that she won't allow the misplaced ideology of one institution keep her from pursuing her goals. It's too bad that her school won't let her do that while wearing their colors, but I don't think they deserve that honor.
If you want to voice your displeasure with the decision to not let Amanda Leve wrestle feel free to write a letter to school president Michael McArdle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To your questions ...
Q: Where is Kevin Steinhaus this year? Not ranked?
-- Tom F.
Foley: Word is that he's recovering from knee surgery and possibly taking a redshirt year.
Q: Lately Nebraska has been signing some great recruits. Do you think they are on their way up to contest with some Big Ten teams? How do you think James Green will do? What do you feel their lineup will be with Green, Jake Sueflohn, Austin Wilson, Robert Kokesh, Destin McCauley and Pat Downey?
-- Anthony C.
James Green is a two-time All-American at Nebraska (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)Foley: James Green is an exceptional wrestler, and if focused he'll be capable of a top-four finish at the NCAA tournament in 2014. However, if there is a knock on "Mean" James Green it's that he has lacked consistency most typically seen in the national finalist level talent. Though he's a two-time All-American with a win over Derek St. John, Green has some head-scratchers given his talent and the quality of his room. The most obvious example of his big tourney head-scratcher was the 6-5 loss to Kyle Bradley (Missouri) in the first round of the 2013 NCAAs.
Green is only a junior and placing twice at the NCAA tournament means he has the skillset to see the top of the podium in 2014 or 2015. To get there he'll have to even out his season and make significant improvements on the mat (to deal with DSJ and Dylan Ness). My guess is that he places third this season and sets himself up for a title run as a senior.
Overall, the Nebraska lineup is pretty impressive and with solid performances at the NCAA tournament they should place near the top five in the country.
As you said, with the addition of a great recruiting class, this team could be making a run at the Big Ten title in a few years, though Penn State, Iowa and Minnesota are all tough teams to knock from the podium.
Q: Who do you think will win at each weight for the Tour ACW event? It is interesting that there will be no clock and guys have to score points to win. It could really change the dynamic. Also, I think the name is pretty cool. I always wondered how wrestling could rebrand and show pro wrestling without being confused with pro rasslin. Career Wrestler seems like a good solution.
-- J. Martin
Foley: I love the turnout for this event, but I think I'm more into the positive vibes surrounding the organization of the event. As with any sport, wrestling is filled with crooks, heels and sycophants. Teague Moore is the antidote to that muddy concoction of ulterior motives, and you're seeing a good number of talented and good-natured wrestlers looking to participate in Tour ACW. Bravo to him and his team.
This Tour ACWis a test event and it'll take some time to grow the participation and monetize it for long-term stability. The organization will benefit from good production, and as stated above, great leadership. I hope we see a great turnout!
135: Jarrod Garnett
155: Frank Molinaro
170: Nick Marable
205: Cam Simaz
265: Dom Bradley
Q: What is your opinion on riding time in college? Does riding time promote stalling from the top man or does it force the bottom man to work for an escape? I tend to think it forces both the top man and bottom man to work to secure a point.
-- Uriel C.
Foley: I agree with you, and don't often hear too much about changing the rules to something with less mat wrestling. What's cool is that a riding time point encourages action on the mat, which as we know can create scrambles and momentum shifting reversals and turns.
American folkstyle wrestling is highly competitive because it takes a multitude of talents to be successful. But what's also nice is that it allows for wrestlers with hyper-focused talents to excel. Jesse Jantzen was an NCAA champion and stud on his feet, but without mat wrestling the sport becomes less interesting to his style. The same can be said for J.P. O'Connor and dozens of other mat wrestlers who lived to score, but often benefitted from that extra ride time point.
I also think that riding-time points create drama that fans of the sport understand and enjoy. Like the shot clock in basketball, following that number as it rises towards a minute late in a close match is thrilling.
On a side note, anyone who doesn't like criteria at the international level should take a look at the ride-time point in college. Isn't riding time used as criteria when declaring a winner at the end of the match?
Yojiro Uetake Obata
Good luck to Coach Heskett and the guys at Army. Cool video. (Embed)
Q: Ed Ruth could finish his career with three undefeated, national championship seasons. Has anyone else (other than Cael) done that?
-- Glenn W.
Foley: Dating back to the 30s you have Oklahoma State guys like Rex Peery, Earl McCready, David Arndt, Jack VanBebber and Conrad Caldwell.
But there are also a couple of wrestlers from more modern eras with three-time undefeated streaks. Bill Koll Sr. (Northern Iowa), Keith Young (Northern Iowa), Dan Hodge (Oklahoma), and Gray Simons (Lock Haven).
Lee Kemp (Wisconsin) deserves special recognition since he was the last guy outside of Cael to accomplish the feat. However, the most impressive might've been Yojiro Uetake Obata of Oklahoma State.
"Yojo" was a three-time undefeated NCAA champion and two-time Olympic champion for Japan ('64 and '68). He was also a two-time Most Valuable Wrestler at the NCAA Championships, and won that first Olympic title while still wrestling for Oklahoma State.
There are several people in Stillwater, some of who carry the last name Smith, who believe Yojo is the most underrated wrestler in NCAA wrestling history, and that he could also have been the most dominant wrestler to ever compete at Oklahoma State. He was 58-0 and was never really pushed on the mat. No dramatic comebacks, no tight matches. All stud, all the time.
Q: If you throw-in the two Bedlam events with the round robin between Iowa, Minnesota, Oklahoma State and Penn State, which do you believe is the most compelling "Mega Dual" of the season?
-- Brad B.
Foley: Minnesota is returning eight All-Americans and Penn State is the three-time defending NCAA team champion. Hard to argue against that matchup until you consider that Cael and Brands got together over Twitter to set up a dual meet in Carver-Hawkeye, giving their match a dash of spectacle. According to our rankings Penn State and Iowa are in a virtual dead-heat for the team title and with the back-and-forth of the past couple of years it should be an exciting event.
Q: Who do you think had the most effective "signature move" or "signature move series?" For example, Jon Smith's low single series, Jordan Burrough's blast double, James Fleming's "Snapper" (side headlock from top), Cael Sanderson's cross ankle pick, Ben Askren's cradle series (or funky shot defense), Steve Mocco's foot sweep, Anthony Roble's tilt series. This list isn't meant to be exhaustive, just to spur ideas about who you think had the best signature move/move series (moves they became famous/notorious for), not necessarily who was the most successful wrestler.
-- Nathan H.
Foley: Each of the wrestlers you mentioned had a highly effective signature move, but none stick out more to me than John Smith's low single. The best guys in the world trained day-in and day-out to stop it, but when the lights dimmed nobody in the world could stop Smith.
Though a lot is made of Burroughs' double leg, he scores an incredible number of takedowns from short offense -- finding angles and attacking when his opponents drop their head to the mat. If he were truly dependent on his double he'd have been in a lot of trouble against Akbari of Iran in this year's World Championships.
Russia's Bekkhan Goygereev won a World title at 60 kilos (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)Cael's ankle pick was pretty silly in its effectiveness and in the collegiate ranks I think it is the most unstoppable takedown we've ever seen. However, it was less effective internationally, and since Cael's body of work is much smaller, it's difficult to put him in front of Smith and the low single.
For a new go-to move I would check out Bekkhan Goygereev's pass-by and add that to you list of moves and guys to consider. He maimed opponents at the World Championships with a simple-looking, but mostly unstoppable pass-by. Guys knew it was coming, but nobody could stop it. Kinda reminded me of Jesse Whitmer's front head, or Zach Roberson's head snap.
Q: Could you explain how the Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association rankings work and how they do their regular season/ national tournament? For example I see on the rankings four women from King are ranked in the top seven at 116 pounds. How does that work having more than one athlete from a school ranked at the same weight? Also the team rankings have schools from Division II, NAIA and Junior College.
-- Jeff J.
Foley: From Gary Abbot of USA Wrestling. The man is an absolute wizard of wrestling knowledge.
Currently, WCWA teams can enter more than one athlete at the WCWA Nationals, similar to the NAIA tournament for men. Coach Archie Randall (OCU) can give you more updates on how the rankings work as well as the national tournament, but the rankings are based upon achievement in college events, as well as USA Wrestling competitions. As you know, they compete in freestyle in women's college wrestling. There are some teams which have a number of quality competitors at the same weight class.Here is a story on the history of the women's college nationals prior to its 10th anniversary.
In regards to the WCWA, there have been 10 years of college women's national tournament in the United States. The first four years, the teams which had women's varsity teams organized this tournament as the completion of their college seasons. In the 2007-2008 season, the colleges came together to form the WCWA, and institute a set of bylaws, recruiting and eligibility rules, rankings and other official activities for women's college wrestling, along with the WCWA Nationals. This is now entering its seventh year. Since women's wrestling is not yet recognized as either an emerging sport or a full sport by either the NCAA, the NAIA or the NJCAA, teams from any of those groups are encouraged and invited to join the WCWA. As women's wrestling grows and hopefully achieves official status at these levels, this organization may not need to exist.
COMMENT(S) OF THE WEEK
By Jim '69
If you think you knew little about weight cutting and strength building in the 90s, you were absolute geniuses about it compared to the 60s, when no one lifted weights because it would make you "muscle bound." Most guys cut so much weight and were so dehydrated that they looked like refugees from a concentration camp. In addition, the college matches were 3 three- minute periods. Everyone "saved it" for when it was needed and a lot of competition suffered because of it.
By Tim R.
I'm a teacher and coach these are reasons to not wrestle and the rebuttals, listed in the order I hear them from a new recruit. I would love some additions or better arguments. Also would love for someone to make a video aimed at recruiting middle school-aged kids.
1. Singlet complaint
Compare it to football pants that pros wear that are spandex and above the knee, difference is it's a tight tank top, but girls get to see your face. You don't look goofy if you've got the body for it. Think about MMA, track suits, cross-country shorts, or swimming. It's not like you're going to the mall -- you're competing. While you may feel uncomfortable at first, not a good enough reason. Also, fight shorts are coming.
2."Being on top of a guy"
Have you ever been to or watched a whole wrestling match? Have you ever been in a fight that went to the ground? Even if it was a brother or cousin? I just don't understand that excuse. Guess it's a thought that never crossed my mind when I was wrestling. Wrestling is pretty much the manliest thing you can possibly do. It's how primitive man's arguments were settled and probably how early wars were fought. It's one-on-one who's the best with no other objects or equipment.
3. Have to lift/train for football/other sport
I'll train you for 2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week, for 4 months, for free. This will be some of the most intense training you've ever done. Have you seen those crossfit games? This will be like the same thing, except 2 hours worth. Guarantee you'll be in the best shape of your life. We won't make you lose a pound, but you probably will just by burning fat. Also how much money do your parents spend on that training program?
There is no better feeling then winning and knowing it was all you. You control the outcome, not another teammate or person to worry about. Just you.