There were plenty of upsets (Zahid!) and weekend heroics (Louie Hayes!) for media to generate and for fans to consume, which made for a nice departure from the humdrum navel-gazing and rabble rousing of Wrestling Twitter. Instead of being a depository for antics and sub-tweets, dormant school accounts emerged from hibernation to provide scoring updates, graphics and yes … GIFs.
Though I've pulled back from social media in recent months -- the time it took away from daily life hardly seemed worth the minor jolt it gave me to read another personal attack -- this weekend made the service feel valuable. Pertinent, timely information on our favorite schools and individuals made the scrolling feel useful. With all the drivel social media generates and the ghastly personalities it can exalt, it was refreshing to read results and watch match clips.
Here's hoping (against hope and 280 characters) that the rest of the 2018 is as fun-loving, competitive and informative!
To your questions ...
Yianni Diakomihalis wrestlingRyan Deakin at UWW Junior Nationals (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Q: The 141-pound weight class is deep. Chad Red over Tommy Thorn was interesting. How do you think "The Greek Flash" Yianni Diakomihalis will do this season at 141 pounds? He makes his college debut this weekend at the Jonathan Kaloust Open held at Binghamton!
-- Mike C.
Foley: Wait, is that his real nickname? Or are you trying to start something?
I've seen Yianni compete at a few international tournaments where he controlled the pace against physically stronger opponents from Georgia, Russia and Turkey. He's won world titles and dominated throughout his last two years in high school. Given his training environment at Cornell and his proven track record of success I'm thinking it's likely that Yianni comes away from the Kaloust Open with a title, or high placing finish.
As for Chad Red beating Tommy Thorn, I'd only suggest that the season is young and that we don't really know if this is an upset, or what we will assume to be an expected result come March.
Q: Where the hell did Patrick Kennedy come from? Is he a future top five recruit?
Foley: Kennedy knocked off three nationally ranked wrestlers at the Super 32 Challenge, including two senior prospects well within the top 100 overall recruits, Trent Hidlay and Emil Soehnlen. It's safe to say that if the sophomore wins his second Minnesota state title next March he will be the top junior prospect in the nation.
Would he stay in state and team up with Gable Steveson at the University of Minnesota? One can only guess until verbals start getting announced … and letters get signed.
Check out the highlight from the BTS-LA event!
Link: Clarissa Chun names Athlete Role Model for Youth Olympic Games!
Q: Oklahoma State received two verbal commitments this week from wrestlers who had previously committed to other programs. What do you make of this? Do college coaches continue recruiting even after a student-athlete has verbally committed to a school? Is there anything unethical about that?
-- Mike C.
Foley: The landscape of college sports, and the increased lack of reliability of verbal commitments, dictates that college coaches maintain (as they can) continued conversations with verbally committed wrestlers. The coach isn't the one being held to the ethical standard, as he's only offering a better solution.
College coaches are approaching recruiting like that antiquated, worn-down story of single guys at a bar. There is the "sucker" left talking to a woman without a boyfriend and needing to prove himself better than every other single guy at the bar; and the other guy who chooses to talk up the woman with a boyfriend knowing he only has to compete against that one guy. More or less, this is the new college recruiting … single until you're signed.
Ethical or not, that's the situation. The realpolitik is that wrestlers either change their minds, see the development of a program's stars on teams they were meant to join, or simply grow and mature into wanting different things. In a hypothetical situation a top 100 recruit commits to a solid Big Ten school, but later finds out that his test scores and grades make him academically eligible (and desirable) to wrestle in the Ivy League. If that wrestler's parents and stakeholders value education they'd probably re-examine what they want out of their collegiate and post-collegiate experience.
A 16-year-old might not think much about those things, really, until that moment that they do. They are at the age where new inputs come into their orbit and they begin encountering new people and new ideas which may change that original decision matrix. So, whether it's for grades, culture, or wrestling experience there does seem to be substantial reasoning for a high schooler to change their decision without fear of reprisal.
Q: I thought they passed the rule that allowed college wrestlers the choice not to wear headgear and to have limited facial hair this season? I saw some beards, but see everyone still wearing headgear.
-- Michael Ca.
Foley: Big Headgear lobbied hard to keep ear protectors on the heads of 18-22-year-old college athletes. In the end it was an easier political decision to keep them than it was to make them optional. Too bad, since their removal would mean way fewer head slaps, head butts and erratic attacks.
The facial hair rule was adopted and we should see a reduction in some skin diseases commonly transmitted through face-to-face contact.
Q: How about all the exposure for college wrestling at last week's Bellator event? That was awesome! Cael commentating ringside for Ed Ruth's fight. How cool would it be for UFC to do the same thing at Ohio State to counter that?
-- Willy D.
Foley: The UFC is hosting a Fight Night Saturday night in Norfolk. My guess is that Oklahoma City (though not necessarily Stillwater) could host a decent night of fights. The distance might take away from some of the action. I could've seen a Johny Hendricks, Shane Roller, Daniel Cormier, and Jake Rosholt card earlier in their careers, but that time is well past. Forgiving Roller's retirement and Rosholt not being in the UFC, Hendricks is a former champion and Cormier can sell out major arenas.
I wouldn't be surprised if Bellator did the same thing again, but this time in Minnesota. Logan Storley is an absolute monster and could help draw a lot of fans who remember him from the mats not too long ago.
Q: Ohio State wrestles Arizona State on Sunday. I hope we see Bo Jordan vs. Zahid Valencia. It seems like often times coaches rest wrestlers in big matches, which is frustrating as a fan. If the match goes down, how do you see it playing out?
-- Mike C.
Foley: Oy. I'd be very frustrated to not see that match, too. It's only November and seeding is so far off that I'd hope coaches could see the benefit of being able to compete against their wrestler's top opponents. The mindset should always be to provide more opportunity for athletes to engage with the best competition. Or simply put, "What would Kyle Snyder do?"