Foley's Friday Mailbag: November 8, 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.

Chance Marsteller is arguably the best high school wrestler in the country right now. He wins a lot of wrestling matches in a state that really enjoys watching kids win wrestling matches.

Recently Chance switched his mind about which college to attend. Originally he chose to dress himself in Nittany Lion blue and take his cues from head wrestling coach Cael Sanderson. In as much as anything can make sense, a Pennsylvania boy staying home to compete in front of family and friends seemed a logical conclusion -- that the decision was made so early only reaffirmed that belief.

But then Chance posts on his Facebook that he will be attending Oklahoma State, the season's first big drama erupts and wrestling fans are scrambling to make sense of his actions.


I assume that Chance could outline a few reasons for his decision, but that would only cause more speculation and anger among fans. Ultimately it doesn't matter why he changed his mind. Chance is a teenager, and it's been my experience that most wrestlers his age have little to no clue what they want from their life outside their doctrine of "MORE." They want more championships, more attention, more free time, more friends, more sex, more Twitter followers.

The only way to predict the action of a teenage wrestler is to guess where you'll find MORE of the things he wants.

What's the MORE of Okie State? I don't have the faintest, and it doesn't matter to me in the least. Chance is a kid and he didn't make a bad decision by going to Oklahoma State, and it wasn't the right thing to do to go to Penn State. His school choice is his alone to make, and up until the day he steps foot on campus, he's within his rights to change his mind.

The villain, if there is one, is that the process has become much more visible to the public. The high school wrestlers whose accolades were once only spread across in the local paper are now splashed on Facebook and Twitter. A personal decision magnified by thousands of fans inside a growing sport.

Chance seems like a good kid and if he wants to wrestle for Okie State, Oregon State or the University of Virginia it's his decision to make and we should be nothing but supportive.

To your questions ...

Q: I have seen Logan Stieber billed as having a 60-2 overall record. But I am fairly sure he lost five matches as a true freshman before deciding to take a redshirt. Is it correct that those matches don't count against his overall record? How could that be?
-- Dan A.

Logan Stieber has two official losses in his college career (Photo/Tony Rotundo,
Foley: No matter how you come about a redshirt season, the wins and losses within that season are not counted on your official NCAA record. It's a mighty rip in the wrestling universe to be able to retroactively vacate losses, but Logie Bear was injured and it applies to any and all wrestlers. The NCAA is nothing if not consistent.

Though I know this takes the GOAT wind from Logan Stieber's sails there is plenty of reason to think that despite his rash of true-freshman losses he still might make a claim for the title. It's my opinion that if Logan wins a fourth NCAA title, he'll be the most exciting of the four to perform the task. Logan's style is wide open, and although that has cost him some losses, he'll earn mention among the GOAT, because that type of wrestling helps endure you to the fanbase on an emotional level.

Q: Beast of the East, Super 32 Challenge, POWERade, Cheesehead, Freakshow, and Reno --
of these tournaments, which was is the toughest and why? How does a team decide which ones to go to? Can they go as an individual as well? With budget cuts how do these high schools afford to travel?
-- Gregg Y.

Foley: We are very fortunate at InterMat to have a high school wrestling expert who is well-informed on all matters of competition strength. Josh Lowe is the only guy to seek out for this type of insight, and though I don't often hand over the lectern for fear of never again being ceded the floor, I will go ahead and shove this over to Josh, who I think does a nice job explaining the differences.
The Super 32 Challenge and Freak Show are both out-of-season competitions; which means they are independent of the high school seasons, high schools, travel constraints, and any of that. Kids, parents, and club programs arrange travel logistics for those events. Therefore, comparing those two tournaments to any in-season events is an apples to oranges comparison.

Looking at those two events in particular, the Super 32 field was a much deeper and geographically broader field. Super 32 field was an East Coast and southeast primary event with some Midwest and plains states sprinkled in; Freak Show was a West Coast field with other areas sprinkled in. The threshold to place high in the Super 32 was greater than at the Freak Show, while the threshold to merely place and/or hit the round before placing top eight was WAY higher at the Super 32 (field was much superior in terms of depth, and the brackets were bigger).

In terms of in-season tournaments, I wrote an article last summer discussing some of the nation's top tournaments. Things remain relatively similar heading into the 2013-14 season.

When asking about travel arrangements for schools to in-season tournaments, it really is a case-by-case basis. Obviously some of those tournaments are local for teams; while in other cases, individual teams and/or booster clubs do fundraising.
Q: Any insight into why Atlanta didn't make the list of finalists for host cities? I know the people here were very confident that they would be included.
-- Joel H.

Foley: I get the sense that they might not have applied. Do you know for certain that they sent in the initial bid paperwork?

I ask because when I contacted the NCAA they explained that their bid process is held entirely behind closed doors. According to their PR department:

It is our standard practice to not release the names of cities who have submitted bids for any of our championships. We do this for a number of reasons, including the protecting of the involved cities' interests on a number of levels.

We don't have any issue with individual cities publicly discussing their intents to, or actual submitting, bids to host future championships. That is obviously their prerogative to do. However, it is something we do not publicly discuss at this time.

Who knows if anything fishy is going on, but when compared with other major athletic organizations who launch bidding processes, the NCAA is utterly opaque. While the IOC and FILA haven't run pristine systems, the fans and those interested in the bidding process at least know who they're competing against. The NCAA keeps their process behind closed doors.

It's not shameful yet, but as the sport grows we deserve to know where the revenue is going, which cities are bidding, and why they are being rejected. Without an open process the NCAA is limiting the ability for secondary and tertiary host locations to get involved. Though I can't know for certain, it reeks of a god 'ol boys system where traditional bid cities in wrestling and other sports (Louisville) have an upper hand on the competition due to their access.

I'd love to know that my concerns are unwarranted, but when the process is closed to the public and the media it becomes anybody's guess.


Mark Cody and the Sooners look ready fro the 2013-14 season.

I mean ... c'mon, guys. This advertisement below makes me want to take up modern pentathlon or start a wrestling club where we compete in faux fur. Imagine you had a choice to wear or not wear a singlet. Would you instinctively choose a tight piece of shiny Lycra? Of course not.

Q: What ever happened to Jahwon Akui and Edwin Cooper? I know they both committed to Iowa Central Community College back in 2011. I remember reading somewhere that they were going to wrestle as true freshmen and then redshirt afterwards so that they can transfer to bigger schools and still have three years eligibility left. Where are they now?
-- William S.

Foley: Edwin Cooper made his way to the University of Iowa and almost immediately was arrested and charged for an assault near campus. He is enrolled at Upper Iowa.

Jahwon Akui is subject to plenty of rumors. There is a popular one that he might try for Arizona State, but will first need to finish his Associates.

Best of luck to both these young men!

Q: A while ago, Anderson Silva was asked whether he thought wrestling was a martial art or not. He said that it was his opinion that it was not a martial art, as it didn't incorporate any real life training against strikes and weapons. I can kind of see the point he was making, but I don't think he's quite right. Wrestling has been used to train men for war since ancient times, right?
-- Nolan

Foley: Anderson has a very narrow view of what constitutes a martial art. He also just got knocked unconscious by Chris Weidman so he's sensitive to saying nice things about the sport that was the main training ground for the new middleweight champion.

Of course wrestling is a martial art. No, it doesn't teach you how to defend against a knife wielding maniac in a defined way, but it does teach control and how best to transport an opponent from the feet to the ground.

Wrestling techniques have been incorporated in war training since the beginning of man. When the world didn't have bullets and bombs, it was hand-to-hand combat and the ability to keep your feet that kept soldiers alive on the battlefield. Learning to wrestle, and competing outside of the battlefield is what kept Geghis Khan's armies in line. They took over the world.

Turkish soldiers are reported to have survived prison camps during the Korean War because they would spend their downtime wrestling, in part to show they couldn't be beaten psychologically, but also to show their enduring physical strength and maintain their unity. Other soldiers, including America's Army, had high mortality rates in part because they didn't communicate, or keep ranks like the Turks.

Today, soldiers around the world use wrestling to cobble together the various standing and ground techniques they look to employ. The ground portion of the Marine Corps Martial Arts program is particularly worthless if you have no mechanism by which to get an opponent to the mat.

So yes, Anderson Silva is full of shit.

By Jordan L.

The matches at the NWCA All-Star classic were phenomenal. I don't think I've ever seen more, great & epic matches in a single night. However, the matches were overshadowed by the pageantry of the event. There were too many award ceremonies, introductions, breaks in the action, and exhibition matches.

The exhibition matches were excellent, by the way. Sahid Kargbo (GMU), David Terao (AU) ABSOLUTELY delivered with crazy, high-flying moves. But given that the most precious commodity we have is fans' attention spans, I believe that exhibition matches detract from the main event.

After the exhibition matches there was an introduction ceremony, which was unnecessary because each wrestler was introduced prior to their respective bouts. After all, isn't it the announcer's job to tell the stories of our wrestlers and their coaches just before and during the respective matches? I also believe that we need to do a better job telling/promoting the stories of each of our athletes. Each wrestler should have a story that is communicated to the fan and general public as much as possible.

I was on a planning committee for last year's Classic, and we interviewed each competitor, asked them a series of unique questions, and published it in our program.

I also believe we need to come up with best practices for dual meets and marquee events, and hold the schools who run the events accountable to following them. Example: Address the program that is running four exhibition matches prior to a dual meet for boring the fans. Big or small, every single event that involves wrestling is representative of our sport, and we need to remember that as we continue to plan marquee matches.

Lastly, we should never allow our wrestling fans to endure a three-plus hour event. Instead, we should try and end events leaving our spectators wanting more.


Login or Register to post a comment

RoarLions (1) about 4 and a half years ago
T.R., you missed one somewhere when you said "It's my opinion that if Logan wins a fourth NCAA title, he'll be the most exciting of the trio to perform the task."
RoarLions (1) about 4 and a half years ago
...or maybe you meant "to previously perform the task..."
W-Lwrestling (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Smith, Sanderson, Dake, and Stieber = Trio.
trfoley (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Meant previous three. Changed for clarity. Thanks!
silver-medal (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Logan lost three matches in Vegas at 125 as a true frosh. I don't know the timing but he badly injured his wrist at some point during this event which led to his medical redshirt. Did he lose because of the injuries? In spite of them? And how much did the fact he was making a huge weight cut factor in? Bottom line--the injury ended his season. So, his only college losses right now are to Chris Dardanes and Jordan Oliver.
Larbos1976 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Short attention spans?
I wish there were 20 matches to watch.
There may be some certain guidelines a host school should follow but I feel they should have the freedom to present the evening as to how they feel it will be best received by the local fans.
Bucksman (2) about 4 and a half years ago
Yes, it's been demonstrated the average consumer has a short attention span. If NFL Red Zone isn't the ultimate validation of the need for constant stimulation (no commercials), then I don't know what else you're looking for.

One of the reasons soccer is increasing in TV popularity is the game fits nicely into a two hour window, the two 45 minute game segments happen virtually continuous, et al. The thing that irks NFL fans the most is the commerical, kickoff for a touchback, commercial sequence. The only way that's tolerable is if you're doing something else at the same time.

See the fading popularity of MLB among young people for another example of short attention spans. Games creeping towards 3-1/2 hours, absurd dead time between pitches.

Yes, the modern person has a short attention span. So the key is to keep them engaged for as much as possible during the activity, and keep it to a fixed amount of time.
jammen (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Foley, if you don't know why Marstellar changed his mind then why do you speculate that it is just a teenager changing their mind on a whim. I thought that you are a journalist? Did you also report that Haines leaving Penn State was just a teenagers whim?
trfoley (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Chance is a teenager and Chance changed his mind. Those are facts. I never said it was whimsical. What's your argument?
rthwt96 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Haines didnt leave, he had his scholarship offer pulled after PSU got a verbal from Nevills.
zguiltybystander (1) about 4 and a half years ago
I must have missed history class the day they covered the chapter on Japan fighting Turkey in WWII and taking Turkish prisoners. Huh?
trfoley (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Korean War.
BDB50 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
I would like your thoughts on the attendance at the ALL Star Classic. I was there this year as well as last and wonder if indeed last years attendance was greater than this years.

There were soooo many empty seats at George Mason, I kinda felt embarrassed for coughing up so much money to go.

I truly feel it would have been better had prices been more in line with previous venues.
edubmma (1) about 4 and a half years ago
This year beat last year by a few hundred. I agree, however, this year looked a bit worse strictly because of the amount of seats empty. You gotta remember the Patriot Center is roughly twice the size (if not bigger) of the arena at American.

If this year would have had Dake-Taylor it would have been even better.
tonyrotundo (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Oh come on, that ad/photo is a cheap shot at singlets and you know it, you could put those two in six pair of overall and they would still look like ass hats.

As for Logie Bear and the injured hand at Vegas, I love the kid, but I thought he injured his hand the week after Vegas. As I remember it there was no indication he was injured in the losses to Patterson (2-1), Lara (5-0), and Perrelli (9-8) besides his ego taking a pretty significant blow. The last loss to Perrelli 9-8 is kind of telling he was able to score points. I thought I had pictures of those matches, but don't seem to. Bracket:
KAD (1) about 4 and a half years ago
There are so many different perspectives to use in comparing tournaments that I wouldn't want to say anyone's opinion is invalid. However, I would point out that JL's discussion is a little deceiving. I prefer to talk numbers in discussions like this:
Depth - registration of HS wrestlers: S32 1527 / Freak 1241 Freak has two divisions with one "elite" of 425, but I prefer that to big brackets.
Geographic Breadth - S32 champs from 5 states including NE/MW/SE USA(8 from PA) / Freak champs from 8 states (6 from CA) including NE/MW/NW/SW USA
Overall (1) I would agree S32 is a little tougher, but that is really only thanks to PA participation (2) It is great that there are two good preseason tourneys improving accessibility to the whole country (3) If you want to do a real comparison, you should dig into rankings.
Bucksman (1) about 4 and a half years ago
we could dig into the rankings, and things would end up in favor of the Super32 by a decent amount.
Bucksman (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Here is your rankings answer using the InterMat rankings of this week:
Super 32 - about 85
SW Kickoff Classic - about 30
TYJEN6 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
why is there so many who hate on logan stieber all the kid does is wrestle hard and try to score as many points as possible. He an exciting wrestler. If everyone wrestled the way he does the sport would be huge.
TYJEN6 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
all the guys he lost to his first month as a true freshman year he would now tech........
tonyrotundo (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Without question! I don't think anyone (at least I'm not) arguing that point. But it was very clear he wasn't ready at Vegas as a true freshman. I was paying very close attention to him the entire day as 1) I liked him, and 2) I knew it was big news.

As for toughest in-season tournament, Ironman gets my vote, hands down, then I think Beast of the East is the next on the list of meat grinders.
edubmma (1) about 4 and a half years ago
I have to address Jordan L's comment:

I doubt sincerely that the pageantry of the event overshadowed much of anything for most. It was actually less than last year (which you say you were on some committee for). Last year the introduction ceremony was longer, so I'd have to ask why that was such a concern for you this year compared to last?

The all-star event is by nature going to be longer than others. It takes the best available (and willing) in the main match ups, so it has exhibitions for the host school (Sahid, GMU) and others around the country that are from lower divisions (Terao's match was with a kid from D2/3, can't remember which, and it was one of the best of the night); and high school matches. It not going to be under 3 hours, and if the kids who sit in the front row have the attention to be excited for it the entire time (which they were) then its fine.

Frankly, not many cared about the program questions you speak of last year. That's why it wasn't a priority this year. The program still sold well, and did its job by giving the background of the kids who competed.

This year's even was better in almost all ways compared to last year's. The main problem it had was it didn't have Dake-Taylor. That match up is going to end up being a once in a generation type hype machine in college wrestling, so following it up was never going to be easy. If this year's event was lined up with that as the headliner it would be up there with best in the past decade.