Foley's Friday Mailbag: November 1, 2013

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.

Do you want to read a past mailbag? Access archives.

On Wednesday the NCAA announced its list of final candidate cities for hosting the 2015-2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

Many of the cities mentioned were expected, while at least three came as surprises. Behind each of the bids is a difficult equation of profit and exposure, green space and safety that the Championships Committee of the NCAA must figure into their final decisions. What sinks some efforts and elevates others is still a mystery, but there are some powerful indicators as to why each city was chosen.

It's important to notice which cities are notably absent from the final lists: Des Moines and Atlanta ... the latter of which many assumed was going to bid did not make it through. Des Moines' arena seats less than 18,000 fans, a benchmark the NCAA has said before it would like to maintain. Also the city doesn't have a major national airport which drove up transportation costs for the schools -- all the cities included in the final list have one or more airports.

New York City
Venue: Madison Square Garden
Host: Hofstra

The Big Apple is the media capital of the world, and there is no question that the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will draw the most media attention of any finalist city. Reporters enjoy convenience and with a new tournament style like wrestling in the city, The hipsters of Williamsburg will be sure to pedal over and file snarky reports from their day at the matches.

New York City is expensive for hotels and taxis, but cheap for flights, and that convenience might also factor into the number of fans making trips from the tri-state area. Pennsylvania and New Jersey will put plenty of butts in the seats.

Despite the positives, wrestling is a normally low-income sport with a large Midwestern fan base -- a move to New York City might help develop the media outreach, but could endanger the tradition of fans in Iowa and Oklahoma.

Venue: CONSOL Energy Center
Host: West Virginia

How did I miss this as a great option? I blame myself. The city most associated with high school wrestling greatness, Pittsburgh will sell out each and every seat in a matter of hours, but will it be a the right city to host wrestling's biggest event?

My good friends and former roommates were born Pittsburgh and though I could do without "yinz" and the need to profess the greatness of crappy lagers, I can get down with Pittsburgh. The people in Pittsburgh are kind and the pizza is tasty. More than the generosity of the denizens to both my heart and taste buds, the hotels are top of the line and there is a life on the streets after the final session. No more patrolling for a White Castle at 11 p.m. because room service is closed.

The Pittsburgh Airport services plenty of flights and the driving traffic will be ideal for much of the east coast. Again, the Midwesterners who've enjoyed good driving distances for several years are the ones taking one to the shins, but the sport needs to build up a base of younger fans and moving to a destination that can be as much party as it is singlets and school cheering, will attract younger, wealthier fans.

Also, for building a nationwide story, an event moored in a destination known for wrestling will attract more national news coverage.

Venue: KFC YUM Center
Host: Louisville/Louisville Sports Commission

Cue the intrigue! Why would Louisville bid? I didn't know so I called the sports office and asked. My guy Josh Heird, Louisville's Assistant AD for Facilities and Championships, told me that they saw the love, excitement and passion around wrestling and wanted to be part of the action.

"We looked at all the bids out there. Look at the excitement around wrestling and about three years ago we started formulating a plan."

Though the Louisville Cardinals don't have a wrestling program, Heird said that the lack of school focus would be better since it would be an "A-plus experience for all schools."

Louisville has good hotel options, including large convention centers and a pretty nifty downtown. For drivers from the Midwest, Louisville is reachable by four wheels, but not so for the East Coast. Washington D.C. is nine hours away. New York City would have to drive, and you can expect there would be very little local participation.

I did ask the $64,000 question: Does this mean Louisville is interested in using its surplus of athletic funds to start a wrestling program? Heird didn't answer but did direct to me the athletic director, who he mentioned "loves wrestling and has a son who wrestled through high school."

Wells Fargo Center hosted the 2011 NCAAs in Philadelphia (Photo/Tony Rotundo,
Venue: Wells Fargo Center
Host: Rider/Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

The City of Brotherly Love managed one of the most successful and profitable NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, and was the motivation for many other non-traditional East Coast cities to bid. If Philly wins, fans will struggle with getting accommodations close to the arena, but should have a fantastic assortment of dining options.

Sellout is guaranteed, but can their margins hold up against other, less-expensive cities?

Venue: Quicken Loan Arena
Host: Mid-American Conference/Greater Cleveland Sports Commission

A blend of Pittsburgh's tradition and St. Louis Midwestern appeal, Cleveland is the safest, risky option on the docket. There isn't anything it can offer that competitors won't do better. Media is best in NYC and Pittsburgh's regional obsession is more complete. However, Cleveland has a nice downtown area, an up-and-coming restaurant scene, and plenty of local fans to fill the stands.

But is Cleveland the direction that NCAA wrestling wants to take?

St. Louis
Venue: Scottrade Center
Host: Missouri/St. Louis Sports Commission

The safest choice on the list, St. Louis has become the location that wrestling fans have most closely associate with a semi-permanent location. Good airport access, drivable from much of the Midwest and with an empty but traversable downtown, St. Louis is a safe a choice for the NCAA Championships committee.

Kansas City
Venue: Sprint Center
Host: Missouri/Kansas City Sports Commission

Few cities are less attractive to me than Kansas City. Sorry! I know that we have readers who love the dining scene and promise that beers downtown can be fun, but I don't see the city meeting many of the criteria that will help the sport to grow in the eyes of the media. It's not a regional powerhouse, has limited tradition as a host and isn't a top-flight destination for young fans who want to get involved in the sport.

Oklahoma City
Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena
Host: Oklahoma State/Oklahoma City All Sports Association

I'm ready for 2014!

The final award will be announced on December 11th.

To your questions ...

Q: What is better to wear under your singlet: jockstrap or compression shorts? Or is it up to the preference of the individual wrestler, and why?
-- Gregg Y.

Foley: I struggle with this every time I get dressed for wrestling class. Nothing seems to fit perfectly, and when you are in a variety of positions it's likely that you'll either encounter a wedgie in your boxers, or some uncomfortable shift while wearing jockstraps.

In college the preference was for the two-strap, backless jock strap. Everything stayed in place which meant less crotch adjustment. However, I'm 32 years old and though I don't easily blush, I think that wearing a jock strap out of college whiffs of desperation for my competition days. There is too much hair on my chest to be mistaken for a young collegiate stud, so why wear ass-less underwear in a locker room?

High school, or college? I'm strappin' in tight. Taxpaying citizen in their thirties with a receding hairline? I'll stick to the tight boxer briefs and deal with the frustration of adjustment. I embrace my fall into physical irrelevance one piece of modest and sensible clothing at a time.

Q: On Sept. 8 posted an article with the proposed new 6-6-6 weights for the senior level, and Flo stated that the weights would be finalized at FILA's Technical Commission during the World Championships. However, I haven't been able to find any official statement listing the revised weight classes. Do you know what weight classes FILA decided on or if that is still under debate? Also, what are your thoughts on how the proposed weights left a huge gap at what was formerly 60 kilos?
-- Jeff S.

Foley: The revised weight classes will be distributed by FILA in the coming weeks. Though 60 kilos was eliminated for Olympic years, there was discussion of adding the weight class, or something nearby, back to the program during non-Olympic qualifying World Championships. Of course, the reduction of a weight class wasn't a decision that the FILA leadership made with ease, but in order to keep the sport in the Olympics they felt mandated to balance the opportunities for men's and women's wrestling.

The new weight classes won't be the ones from the article you read on Sept 8. Instead you'll see something to take the sting off the loss of 60 kilos and probably a variety of weight classes between freestyle and Greco-Roman -- something FILA had been trying to accomplish for a while to help the sports become more identifiable.

Keep your eyes out for more information this week or next.

Q: Troy Lamson, who competes on scholarship in wrestling for Michigan State, fights amateur MMA and holds a 16-0 record. Are there any rules against competing in amateur MMA while on scholarship? What if you get hurt?
-- Gregg Y.

Foley: Without speaking to Troy or his coaches, I'm certain they aren't thrilled he's taking right hooks to the head in the offseason. However, if they see his scholarship as paying off for them, there is no reason they wouldn't keep paying. Plenty of college wrestlers spend their offseason playing Call of Duty. I think training in amateur MMA is much healthier and productive.

Lamson isn't a starter at the moment, but seems to be a good backup, earning an 11-7 overall record last season. Not everyone can be an NCAA champion. The room needs workout partners. Lamson very well might be an excellent workout partner and teammate -- one that you would hesitate to piss off.


Brent Metcalf used to be a skater

Johnny Hendricks is going for the belt ...

Q: Now that we have a glimpse of what Tour ACW is offering with wrestling and we saw what Agon has tried, what are your thoughts?
-- J. Martin

Foley: I think that the two could learn a lot from each other. For me, the wrestling on both sides was watchable, but the matches are far too long. Once the outcome is known, the fans will lose interest and disengage from the product.

Tour ACW is more open to participants. Though I doubt I'd make it to ten points in a match, there is nothing restricting me from attempting to win a grand prize. That ability to make some scratch while in the coaching aspect of your life is appealing to guys like Jarrod Garnett, and if we can keep him in the college ranks a few more years because he is make a few grand from events, then it's a win.

Compared to Tour ACW, Agon was a spectacle. The guys at the front of the organization are all opinionated and passionate, and that drives a certain feel of hyper energy through the event. Unfortunately, the details are important, and I think that those got lost in their premier event. They profess new ideas and are passionate in pursuing them to their logical ends -- it's commendable and even admirable.

I don't think the marquee matchups offered by Agon are a grassroots approach to building the sport, but more of a top-down method that could succeed in creating celebrities, which in turn helps drive the passion and commitment of youth wrestlers.

The trash-talking in Agon is entertaining, and though it doesn't bother me, I can see how some parents might not want their child entering a sport with standoffs and the rest. The fear is that Agon and wrestling becomes too closely associated with professional wrestling, and even MMA. Agon can avoid those comparisons by tamping down the unnecessary trash talking and working on putting the touches on the production side of their operation.

I'm still advocating for a takedown-only style and am willing to bring on a partner!

Q: Do you happen to know why Solomon Chishko and Joey Galasso missed the Super 32 Challenge? I was looking for the names in the brackets and couldn't find them anywhere.
-- Brian K.

Foley: Word around the Xbox is that Chishko was sidelined by the Chickenpox (yes, it still happens) and Galasso was out with a fairly serious shoulder injury, but is expected to return in late December or early January.

Q: Just looking at the finals from the Super 32 Challenge, PA was obviously dominant. But looking at it closer, District 7 in PA was unusually dominant in the lower weights. Of the first six matches, a wrestler from that district either won or was in the finals or both. And if Solomon Chishko would've wrestled it probably would have been the first eight matches. Would you attribute this to the youth programs, coaching or something else? It seems their doing something different from the other programs to be that dominant.
-- Henry C.

Foley: According to Josh Lowe ...
There is a litany of reasons why WPIAL is better than others when it comes to their performance at the Super 32 -- willingness to participate in this type of event, strong culture and tradition for wrestling, and excellent coaching.

WPIAL finalists at the Super 32 Challenge:
106: Curry
113: Lee (champion)
120: Both (Pletcher 5, Phillippi 4)
126: Forys
132: Both (Krivus 2, Kemerer 1 TB)
138: Nolf (champion)
152: Kelly
*Burrell resident who attends Kiski Prep
182: Zavatsky (champion)

Yes, Chishko would've been favored at 145, though that is no guarantee (see Forys over Thorn in the semis). Six of those wrestlers (Lee, Pletcher, Krivus, Kemerer, Nolf, and Zavatsky) were on the Young Guns WC Disney Duals team that torched their way to a title this summer; 10-plus wins each dual.

By Russ W.

Last year I emailed you about Jason Chamberlain being underestimated in the early rankings. This year I want to alert you to another BSU wrestler who may receive much more attention by the time the NCAAs roll around.

Carson Kuhn was the Dave Shultz winner for Utah way back in 2009. Since then he has trained at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, wrestled internationally, and gone on a mission.

By Middle School Coach

For my middle school I went right to fight shorts and my numbers are up 300 percent. Last year 9 this year 27. (I just added another.)



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DrNuveen (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Also disappointed to also hear that Francesco Fabozzi from Dist. I in PA was out with rib injuries. Amazing the dominance of PA, year after year after year. In a word, confidence. From couches, to regions, to towns, to individual high schools. It changes young people's lives and their futures.
ddof (2) about 4 and a half years ago
I know that Louisville might appear to be an "out of nowhere" bid, but as a native Louisvillian, let me give some pluses:

1. Administrative support for the event from U of L. I'm glad that your article finally highlighted the connection of Louisville AD Tom Jurich to the sport of wrestling. I'm surprised that this hasn't been mentioned on the boards at all as a result of this bid. His son was a couple time state qualifier for Ballard High School right after they revived their program. The dude was in the bleachers a lot at tournaments. He knows the sport.

2. Everything is walking distance. This may sound nuts, but there are half a dozen hotels, the venue, restaurants, the Civic Center, and a night-life megalopolis (4th Street Live) all within walking distance of the venue. I mean, I love the job St. Louis does, but taking a cab to hang out with a bunch of sweaty 5' wrestlers doing 12 ounce curls was a real drag. Walking is way better.

3. The town. Best city in the world. I may not be able to confirm that #3 is totally biased.

4. The venue. The YUM! Center is state-of-the-art. It was built for basketball in a town that worships basketball. The place is unbelievable.

That's my biased two cents.
agrubba (1) about 4 and a half years ago
bufhall (1) about 4 and a half years ago
In response to Middle School Coach going with fight shorts. Where can I get customizable fight shorts and rash guards without large company logo for my middle school team?
spencerszewczyk (1) about 4 and a half years ago
In response to both why PA is such a dominant wrestling state and the singlet situation, I can answer both questions with one statement: If wrestling participation where you live hinges on whether or not the kids have to wear singlets, you'll never compete with Pennsylvania. Pa kids will wrestle in anything at anytime, any place: no excuses. If Pa kids were weak enough to use the singlet as why they wouldn't come out for wrestling, they wouldn't have lasted one practice anyway.