The highlight for many youth wrestlers is "Fargo," the multiday Olympic-style youth tournament hosted by USA Wrestling. Though the tournament isn't actually the "world's largest wrestling tournament" there are thousands of wrestlers in attendance and for those interested in scouting the next class of competitor, it's quite the scouting field day.
Though it gets less attention, next week will also be the 2014 FILA Cadet World Wrestling Championships in Snina, Slovakia. Last year, Aaron Pico made a larger international name for himself by winning the tournament, but even among the 16-18 year old wrestlers in attendance Pico wasn't the all-star. That title belonged to Russian Abdulrashid Sadulaev who has this year remained undefeated en route to a unanimous No. 1 world ranking at the senior level.
The Cadet Worlds will be streamed live from the fila-official.com with matches available on YouTube shortly after completion of the finals.
Enjoy the next few weeks, but remember that as thoroughly as these wrestlers train and as important as their careers seem today, many are still kids. Coaches and parents need to realize that a kind word and pat on the butt goes much further in the life of a developing wrestler than does an earful of rage and angst over childhood mistakes. We have lots to watch, to discuss and dissect, but some discretion in how and when we critique the children.
Keep calm and wrestle on.
To your questions ...
Q: Do you think anybody can stop Logan Stieber or Jason Tsirtsis from becoming four-time NCAA champions? Who?
-- Gregg Y.
Jason Tsirtsis (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)Foley: I've written before that I believe Tsirtsis has a tough journey to becoming a four-time NCAA champion. That he won it as a freshman is impressive, and winning another title or two is very likely. But in a world of ever-improving young wrestlers and being stuffed in the middle of all the weights, Tsirtsis will need some luck to tag along with his hard work ethic.
Stieber has a smoother road, only needing to win one more title to complete his five-year odyssey to four titles. That is likely to happen because Stieber has the experience in finals competition that his opponents likely won't. He's navigated through injuries and unexpected losses to still find his name on top of the bracket. That's the life of a proven winner, and I don't see anyone challenging him in 2014-2015.
Q: In regards to the University Worlds, why did Anthony Ashnault only wrestle one match? I realize that he lost his first bout and his opponent did not reach the finals, so he was eliminated from the repechage. I'm new to following international wrestling and have no clue what that means. Is there anywhere online that can explain some of the rules like the FILA website or anything like that?
-- Curt H.
Foley: You're right. Repechage is a follow-the-winner style bracketing with only those guys losing to the eventual finalists making it to the wrestlebacks. Ashnault's opponent did not make it to the finals, which meant he lost the opportunity to wrestle again at University Worlds. The plan was to move to semifinalist repechage, but I'm not certain if/when that change will take effect.
That does seem like a bummer, but it's the system that has been in place for several years. Though it doesn't allow much repetition for guys who lose early, the new theory is that you have one or two-week camps leading up to the event -- often in-country -- that allows you to get another 15-20 matches in with guys from other countries.
The FILA Website has updated rules here.
Q: I love @ncaawrestling working on limiting stalling but why not use the fairly B+W freestyle and Greco-Roman pushout for the NWCA All-Star Classic?
Foley: That's an excellent question. In my opinion, and maybe yours at well, it seems much too subjective. Giving the referees the decision as to whether or not a wrestler is into an "active" defense or not is much too complicated for fans to decipher and slows down action for the wrestlers themselves.
The out of bounds should be OUT OF BOUNDS. We've learned over the years that unless you penalize with points wrestlers will use the edge to their continued advantage. Some wrestlers attempt low percentage shots near the edge in the hopes that if it fails they can escape the hold and get a restart. Defensive wrestlers will use the never-ending out of bounds to stay on a stalling front head lock.
Regulation mats are between 32 and 40 feet. That's HUGE, and unless you're backing up continuously there is little reason that you should ever be pushed from the circle. That will be a point in the new system, but given time that subjectivity will allow for much more gamesmanship.
The NCAA should implement the B+W pushout rule for out of bounds from neutral and move forward with changes from there rather than trying to predict the behavior and reaction of the wrestling community to such a rule, only to create something more obtuse and confusing.
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Link: See you there opening day
Q: I recently read an article where Cael Sanderson said he may redshirt Nico Megaludis, Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Bo Nickal, and Nick Nevills next year. If he does that, I don't see any way that they can win a fifth straight NCAA title. What do you think?
-- Tom K.
Foley: I think you'd be a fool to bet against Cael Sanderson and the Nittany Lions.
From an NCAA point-scoring perspective, the redshirt class listed only includes two guaranteed starters in Megaludis and Retherford. Both those guys could use another year to get stronger, change tactics, and improve before making another shot at the NCAA title -- Megaludis more so than Retherford.
Nolf, Nickal and Nevills are entering the class and by going into redshirt allow those in front of them to finish out careers while improving their own on-the-mat acumen. Coach Sanderson sees them as part of a massive reloading and that placing them in the starting lineup before they're physically mature enough to handle the stress could cost them individual NCAA titles and, subsequently NCAA team titles.
My guess is that Penn State trusts that their returning starters and guys with experience in backup roles will mature throughout the season and be able to compete inside the top 10. Jordan Conaway (125), Jimmy Gulibon (133), Garett Hammond (165) and Matt McCutcheon (184) are your likely starters at four key weight classes, and in my estimation three of the four have a very good chance at finding the podium.
How the Nittany Lions do without the bonus points is more concerning, but again, they could have a very balanced team and score throughout their lineup.
Q: What exactly is the deal with Grand Canyon University? Do they begin Division I competition this season? What's your outlook for their program?
-- Matt F.
Foley: Any program making the jump to Division I can expect to have slow results. Grand Canyon will (I think) join in 2016 after their four-year transition from Division II to Division I is complete. This past year they ran through the NCWA title. Tyrell Fortune, who won the University World Championships on Wednesday, wrestled in the program.
Given their propensity for winning titles and recruiting top athletes I think they look pretty solid to become a force within Division I wrestling for several years to come. They are also a for-profit college and when their transition is complete they will be the only one of their kind at the Division I level.
SUPPORT OF THE WEEK
Beat the Streets Providence is in a month-long competition for $10,000 from Kind Snacks. Over the next month we are competing against a variety of non-profits to get the most votes for our cause.
Today is the first day and right now we are in third place. If we can get the wrestling community behind us this should be an easy win! If wrestling is going to grow we need to support each other and this is an easy way to do it. I think it could truly go a long way towards helping us grow wrestling in he Providence community and bringing opportunity to students who really need it.
Link: Beat the Streets Providence