The first part is obvious. The challenge flag was hokey and after the 2014 Junior World Championships the challenge blocks dressed as Angry Birds were too popular to be suppressed.
As for the new scrambling rules?
This is common sense! In the world of traditional wrestling, martial arts, and combat sports this makes total sense. You do not "expose your belly to the Gods." Wrestling is about control, not about who can lie on their back and game some odd system.
Maybe it was United World Wrestling's direction, maybe it was the fans, but finally the NCAA Rules Committee has moved the sport forward.
To your questions …
Q: What is going on with Oklahoma State recruiting? Usually by now they have a couple of highly regarded recruits committed.
Foley: Only two weeks have passed since coaches can contact recruits, but I see your point. Most schools have their top recruits lined up for July 1 and you'd expect a few Oklahoma State commits in this first blitz. While odd, I don't think it's a symptom of any larger problem, but more of waiting for the right athlete.
John Smith isn't rushed for much, and certainly not holding himself accountable to the whims of a 17-year-old wrestler.
Jesse Jantzen looks for near fall points against Hofstra's James Strouse (Photo/TheMatSlap.com)
Q: Who is the most underappreciated American wrestler of this generation?
-- Mike C.
Foley: I'm not sure which generation we are in, or where to draw the line, but over the past 20 years I think it's probably Jesse Jantzen.
Jantzen was a four-time New York state champion who could've gone anywhere to wrestle in college, but chose Harvard, where he also wrestled. Remember that in the early 2000s, guys were still lining up three and four deep across the Big Ten thinking that was their best way to win an NCAA championship. Jantzen was one of the first that viewed wrestling as the opportunity for more than on-the-mat and trusted himself to win regardless of the location.
Technically speaking, his half ride series is still in use today. Though variations always existed his techniques have filtered down to today's athletes and have made the sport more exciting to watch.
Q: There are a lot of rumors of Nick Suriano potentially leaving Penn State. Do these rumors have any legs?
-- Mike C.
Foley: I don't think he'd leave, but he definitely wants to go 133 pounds, so maybe that is causing some friction.
Q: I saw some American wrestling fans bitching on social media about UWW's seeding process for the World Championships. It seems like an improvement from what we had before. What has the feedback been around the world?
-- Mike C.
Foley: First, there is some distance between how American wrestling fans define/view seeding and how the rest of the world defines/views seeding.
Here in the states seeding is by committee. There are pre-seeds and the meetings are controlled by some sort of leadership, but overall an objective analysis is performed, some coloring-in occurs as needed and voila there are seeds.
At the international level seeding is an objective, point-based system. That's for judo, taekwando, tennis, table tennis -- sports seeds are an objective system of numbers based on outcomes from a system whose rules are defined before the season. There is no cajoling, and I doubt that anyone would ask for that to ever be the case.
Wrestling is adopting a seeding process and that takes time. The sport needed to have the system ready for the 2017 season because it was the first year of the 2020 cycle and we needed to inform the IOC of our intention to make the improvement. However, because it was the first year of the seeding system and wasn't adopted until the week after the Olympic Games, there was a limited amount that the Technical Commission could pass.
For example, this year's seeds are comprised of points coming out of only three tournaments: 2016 Olympic Games, 2016 World Championships and the 2017 Continental Championships. As you know, many wrestlers have changed weight classes for the 2020 cycle and left the weight class where they earned points at the Olympic Games. That's their prerogative, but the rules clearly stated that points don't travel with a wrestler to a new weight class. Why? Because they don't want wrestlers earning points up a weight class and then moving into a new weight at the World Championships. The sport needs stars and it needs them to compete at an identifiable weight class. To make the season feel more like a season will be something like 7 point-scoring tournaments in 2018, allowing for larger separations in points and criteria for tied wrestlers.
This year, with only two inputs, there was resistance to digging down to find wrestlers to place in the top four of a weight class. Argument being the ninth-place Olympic finisher who didn't compete at the continental championships shouldn't be rewarded with a seed by default.
The system is young and the IT department and sport department are taking notes on how best to adapt moving forward. The Technical Commission will also evaluate the success of the system and give recommendations on improvements.
Yes, there are some that will never be happy, but this is solid progress for the sport and an important first step to getting worldwide buy-in for wrestling's first-ever seeded Olympic Games in 2020.
Q: If Paris gets the Olympics in 2024, would the wrestling venue be the same one used for this year's World Championships?
-- Mike C.
Foley: Yes and no.
Yes, it will be at AccorHotels Arena, but it will be in Arena 2, which holds roughly 8,000 compared with 16,000 for Arena 1.
Q: What benefits do wrestlers get from signing with clubs like Sunkist Kids or Titan Mercury Wrestling Club? The club members train in different cities across the country, often with wrestlers and coaches from other clubs. For example, Helen Maroulis is with Sunkist Kids when her coach is TMWC and so is her training partner Elena Pirozhkova. Jordan Burroughs and James Green are in separate clubs as well, yet both train in Lincoln. Is the club relatively meaningless?
-- Aaron P.
Foley: While they are not teams in the traditional sporting sense, clubs are vital to American wrestling. The clubs are financed by wealthy individuals who provide top wrestlers the money necessary for training, travel and other incidentals. In return the athlete wears the club gear and promotes their brand in competitions around the world.
Q: When wrestling was readmitted to the Olympics, it wasn't permanent. It was only for Rio (2016) and Tokyo (2020). What is the status of wrestling at the Olympics beyond that? Will we have to fight to stay in the games again? Wrestling is not on the list of core sports last I checked.
-- Aaron P.
Foley: Wrestling will always be part of the Olympic Games. There might be changes, but sport removal is not something the sport will face. However, there is always work to be done and the sport is looking to make sure it's fan friendly and captures the new and younger audience so desired by the IOC.
Q: A few years back, I was an assistant wrestling coach at my old high school. One day, a kid approached me and asked me if he should try out for wrestling. He said he was asking because he was gay. I told him, "Sure." A few days later, the head coach pulled me aside and asked me if I had told that kid to try out. I said, "Yeah." And he told me not to encourage kids like that to try out. And he didn't let the kid join the team.
So, my question is this: how difficult is it for a gay kid to get on a wrestling team in high school or college? Is it really a big deal? Would a division I coach turn down a talented prospect just because he's gay? Do you have any feel for how that might work out?
-- John G.
Foley: How difficult? Unimaginable. Kids are mean, but high school kids can be evil when it comes to treating those who think and act differently.
I think Mike Pucillo's journey helped curb some of the stereotypes in our community, and I've been thrilled to see the support he's received from our community. We can never do enough to welcome young people to our sport, no matter their religion, gender, race or sexual orientation. Wrestling is an egalitarian sport and should keep its doors open to all who want to test their mettle.
Tell the head coach that the wrestling community has plenty of gay wrestlers. Not all of them are out, but there are MANY more than Mike Pucillo, and that's a wonderful thing.
Q: Do the presenters and/or camps receive royalties from Flowrestling for technique videos?
-- Robert G.
Foley: Was once a flat fee. Not sure if they still compensate
Q: Big 12 wrestling certainly improved with the addition of Northern Iowa and Fresno State to their conference tournament, but with the Oklahoma's head coaching carousel, Iowa State recovering slowly, and South Dakota State showing some promise, in your opinion, who will be the first to dethrone Oklahoma State for the conference title? How long till that happens?
-- Sean M.
Foley: I have to think Northern Iowa is in the best position. Doug Schwab has been an incredible leader for the program and the moment that Oklahoma State slips up in recruiting, or underperforms at the conference tournament, you can be certain that Coach Schwab's team will be there to capitalize.