Logan Stieber gets in on a shot against Kellen Russell at the 2015 U.S. Open (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)Stieber would eventually go 4-1 on the day and take the bronze, signaling to many in the wrestling community that the former Buckeye is a serious contender for Rio 2016. Stieber's failures have mostly come from a lack of conditioning, lackadaisical/dangerous defensive positions and last-minute (last-second) failures in tactics. While all very critical parts of wrestling success, his victories in spite of these issues seems to reaffirm that he's rocketing to the top of the 65-kilo division.
In his way is Brent Metcalf, who is still one of the best wrestlers in the world at the weight class, despite not taking home hardware. Most American fans are interested in medals as the only sign of progress, but on close inspection Metcalf too has been making significant changes and improvements for more than two years.
Also at 65 kilos is Jordan Oliver who on his best day is very difficult to outwrestle. He has incredible coaching and owns the last win over Stieber.
Still, Stieber intrigues a lot of wrestling fans, if only because he wrestles with fluidity in difficult positions and often comes out with points. That conversion reminds many of the best Russians we've seen over the last twenty years. Winners. Guys who take a dead-to-rights hi-crotch attempts and turn them into ballet-like four-point throws. Stieber, more than anyone at the weight class, can make those highlight reel moves happen.
The Olympic Team Trials will be can't miss programming in April for several reasons, but none more so than the impending free-for-all at 65 kilos.
To your questions …
Q: What is your stance on the argument that we (USA) should replace folkstyle with freestyle because "we'd win more world/Olympic medals"? Is increasing the likelihood that elite wrestlers win international medals a goal of our high school/college level wrestling programs? What's wrong with promoting a traditional American style that we can (proudly) think of as our own?
None of this is intended to say that folkstyle can't be improved (pushout rule, please!), but why would we want to discard folkstyle? I think that UWW is doing a great thing trying to promote/support traditional wrestling styles all over the world, and I hope that other Americans can see the value in ours.
Foley: We discuss these rule changes often, but I don't think it comes through enough that I see the value in preserving our traditional form of the sport.
Can it be wacky? Yes. Are the rules nonsensical at times? Obviously.
But there are a lot of people who love the sport just the way it is. I think pushouts would help and a little more attention to proper stall calls, but overall Americans enjoy the product and want to see more of it all the time. I think that there is a balance that can be struck, where more medals would be won at the international level if only for a few changes.
Still, there is success at the international level, interest at home and a longstanding well-documented history attached to the sport. There is value in that tradition, which I and others like you want to preserve.
Q: Virginia Tech is the second best non-Big Ten team. Why the hell aren't they wrestling Penn State (again) or Iowa in the NWCA National Duals Championship Series? Selecting NC State over them is a slap in the face.
-- Mike C.
Foley: For me the new NWCA National Duals was a very confusing situation to follow.
What is the long term goal behind this year's format? Who supports it internally? Why this format?
Maybe I had my head in the sand at the beaches of Rio, but this snuck up on me. Re-reading the press releases has given me much more insight, but the first-blush response to hearing about everything was more head scratching than head nodding.
The jump is based on the USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll, which fed back to strength of schedule, number of wins and a variety of other numbers. NC State did wrestle a brutal schedule and a Penn State-Virginia Tech rematch seems kind of anti-climactic so I don't mind the matchups. However, if they want to use this as a formula for eventually choosing the team title in March I think that some adjustments would need to be made. I don't see an undefeated Alabama losing in the SEC title game to an undefeated Florida and the latter not jumping the former.
Yes, I just used a football metaphor.
John Danaher discusses the need for cross-training in grappling sports for all grappling sports … Very smart human
Blind female high school wrestler
Oh … think YOU have great balance?!
Q: What is your takeaway from the Kyle Snyder-Khadzhimurat Gatsalov match at the Medved International?
-- Mike C.
Foley: First, for anyone who missed the match, Snyder was winning 2-1 before getting caught chasing a shot and pancaked for four points, losing 5-4.
The match was a decent display for Snyder. He opened up a nice 2-0 lead in a hostile environment and wrestled hard for six minutes. Was a silly mistake to make, but overall it's fixable and it's not the Olympics. At no point was Snyder outclassed.
What Snyder is trying to achieve this year is absolutely bonkers! I understand that he came late to the NCAA season, but when he did so I thought he'd stay on the collegiate mats. Instead, about a week removed from a dual meet he heads to Belarus to take on a pack of former World and Olympic champions -- many of whom are hitting the mats for only the second or third time in the last six months.
Despite this schedule, I know that Snyder won't be run down by the Olympic Games in August. It's difficult to remember, but Snyder won a World title after very few senior level freestyle matches. Now is his learning time, and I suspect that the product will be improved by the start of Rio 2016.
So, overall, a very positive outing.
Q: Should college wrestling move to a light/dark singlet rather than ankle bands? This is a leading question … of course they should.
-- Darrin H.
Foley: Sure, but that would take some re-education of referees, some startup capital for each team and some progress on ensuring that white singlets don't reveal too much about our athletes' private lives.
I'd prefer to keep drawing closer to the idea of a rash guard and fight shorts. I roll jiu-jitsu every day in the type of shorts we'd use and have yet to see an issue. Also, as I've stated ad nausea we would increase youth participation, create higher revenue sales and be more palatable to the main stream.
The argument for keeping them is shorter: Because … tradition.
Q: Seems like it's going to be a sad ending to Hunter Stieber's college wrestling career. How are you going to remember him?
-- Mike C.
Foley: Agreed on the sad part. Wish he'd have found more success after his surgeries.
When I think of Hunter I think of the Mitchell Port loss at the 2013 NCAA Championships and how a win there would've probably propelled him to an NCAA title and bumped the family title total to five -- one more than the over/under set by Brian Muir.