Foley's Friday Mailbag: September 7, 2018

The worldwide wrestling community was shocked Wednesday when suicide bombers attacked a wrestling competition in Kabul. The meet, in a largely Shiite minority community, was sanctioned by the Afghanistan Wrestling Federation, part of the larger international wrestling community.

There were two blasts, with the initial smaller explosion meant to maim and to draw in rescue workers and journalists. The second, much larger, blast came once those professionals were on site.

There is plenty of violence in the world, but in reading this story and the seeing the gruesome images of life in a country in-conflict should remind us all to be thankful for the security we enjoy at home, but still take account of the shootings that have disrupted learning and security in schools around the country.

Please join the international wrestling community in sending your thoughts to those young wrestlers and their families affected by this incident.

To your questions …

Michigan's Logan Massa at the NCAAs (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

Q: Is it seemed like Logan Massa took a step back last season. Placed third as a freshman and went 1-2 at the NCAAs last season. Was it injury related? Sophomore slump? Do you consider him one of the contenders to win the NCAA title at 165 pounds this season?
-- Mike C.

Foley: I'm a big believer in the sophomore slump as it happens in almost every sport and victimizes plenty of wrestlers. Not sure what it is about the sophomore season, and it's sure to vary by individual, but my best guess is that wrestlers who have success as a freshman have trouble determining whether that success came from talent or hard work. When wrestlers tend to think it's talent there is less hard work. Another factor might be over confidence, or the nerves of living up to the expectation that they keep improving on performance in each successive season. In a sport already rife with pressure that additional weight can be too much for some young wrestlers.

Massa will be totally fine. He's a monster and with Sergei Beloglazov in Ann Arbor and one of the toughest lineups in the country to practice with every day I think he'll find his stride again in 2019.

Q: Who are you most interested in watching at the World Championships for pure stylistic enjoyment?
-- @HalfAgain

Foley: In Greco-Roman, Frank Staebler is an absolute machine. He wrestles Greco-Roman the way it was intended. He plows forward in an always-aggressive style and opens up exhausted opponents. He's can't-miss wrestling. Second place would be Elmurat Tasmuradov of Uzbekistan. He famously cartwheeled out of a two on one at the 2015 Asian Championships in Doha.

In women's wrestling, Yui Susaki of Japan has a star power that's difficult to define. She's of the Japanese system, but outside of the Coach Sakae lineage, which has given her a more aggressive approach on the mat. She attacks in every moment and while that costs her points, she has that winner's edge that appeals to the competitor in me. Next would be Helen Maroulis, because right now she's the baddest woman on the planet and can hit moves that few, if any, other woman can imitate.

I'll show up to watch any of the Russian lightweight and middleweight wrestlers compete in freestyle. When they take the mat and are in their groove it's difficult to compete with their athleticism and mat savvy. I prefer Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Snyder and pull for them to win, but in terms of aesthetic and what I can learn there are few wrestlers who can compare. The other is Frank Chamizo.

Nobody misses a Chamizo match.

Yui Susaki with her gold medal from the World Championships in Paris (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

Q: Who is the a non-American to keep an eye on at the Junior World Championships?
-- Mike C.

Foley: Senior level world champion Yui Susaki (Japan) and senior world bronze medalist Koumba Larrouque (France) are schedule to compete.

European champions like Arif Oezen (Turkey) at 86 kilograms and Arsen Harutyunyan (Armenia) at 57 kilograms are sure to be big hits. Also keep any eye out for the entire Iranian lineup. They had a wonderful outing at Asians and have been wrestling much better since Rasoul Khadem returned to the corner full-time.

There is a good preview of entries on the UWW site here.

Q: What do you know about Denver hosting the NWCA All-Star Classic?
-- Kevin M.

Foley: According to Jim Fallis the idea is to bring the event back across the Mississippi River and link up with some of their Wrestlers in Business Network chapters who otherwise wouldn't receive as much engagement.

When you start adding up all the travel and organizational costs for an event of this size and prestige, it's obvious that partnerships are the key to moving forward. Princeton was able to pull this off last year and this year it'll be Denver's chapter, who partnered with NUWAY and the Rocky Mountain Nationals, to get this done.

I love this location. There is a good wrestling culture in the state of Colorado and Denver is a major metropolitan city that can attract good media attention.


Gobsmacked. How … ??

That Cartwheel

Fascinating look at a map of the United States. No people live in the green areas. Zero.

Q: What do you think about the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club hiring six-time world champion Sergei Beloglazov as its head coach?
-- Mike C.

Foley: Can't hate it.

Sergei is a traveler, having served as a coach for Team USA, Kazakhstan and several other nations and clubs since he retired in the 90's. I think that his wealth of knowledge (arguably the biggest repertoire of moves from any coach in the world) could help the full-time freestylers in Michigan make big jumps. Also, his knowledge and training style will impact the collegiate squad and provide them another level of expertise that could help the Wolverines find a team trophy in 2019 and 2020.

Q: Thoughts on Jack Mueller redshirting?
Mike C.

Foley: I spoke with Coach Garland today and he verified what was in the school's release. Mueller is excited about the U23 World Championships and wants to train for that as he would the NCAA title. Coming back for the second semester, switching styles and likely having to bump up didn't appeal to his vision of the year. Also, he was intending to redshirt his freshman season, but without any other 125-pound wrestler at the time he stepped into the lineup.

Athletes halfway through college and with accomplishments under their belt (and big challenges to attend to, a la U23 Worlds) can really benefit from time away from the college scene. For Mueller I think it'll give him the space to challenge himself and grow into a bonafide No. 1 wrestler at 133 pounds.

Q: The Big Ten rotates schools on and off each other's schedule. Two years on, one year off in groups with a single permanent team. Ohio State and Penn State are paired permanently as is Iowa and Minnesota so obviously for Iowa and Penn State to wrestle annually there needs to be a collaborative effort between the two programs to make certain that every third year gets scheduled.

Back in 2012-13, Cael and Coach Brands did some tweeting back and forth announcing a Big Ten matchup between the two premier programs and they promoted the match. Cael took his defending national champs to Iowa City to wrestle the Hawks and before a packed house and BTN audience the Hawks wrestled their hearts out, got a pin from Tony Ramos and won a toss-up or two to upset the Nittany Lions.

It seems that something so successful and something that due to Big Ten scheduling you know is coming every third year would be rather easy to get together and make certain it happens every third year.

However, in 2015-16 -- despite Cael and Coach Brands agreeing to the match -- they could not agree on location, State College or Iowa City, so it never got scheduled. First year without a PSU Iowa dual since 81- 82. Here we are three years later and again despite a mutual desire to schedule the dual, location seemed to be the stumbling block.

Since this off-schedule dual has been scheduled once, and Penn State traveled for it does it not seem to make sense Coach Brands owes Penn State a reciprocal visit.

So my question is this. Do you have any idea why Coach Brands seems to be reluctant to bring his squad to State College for the non-Big Ten dual? Some Penn State fans believe Coach Brands knows his Hawk squad is a bit out gunned and traveling to State College probably costs the Hawks an undefeated dual season, probable multiple seeding hits and if not likely to be competitive why bother.

Just wondering if you knew of any reasons why the Hawks seem to be so reluctant to reciprocate the travel to make this match an annual happening?
-- Nitilion

Foley: You make your case in the way you frame the question! I don't know the details on their interactions and what was holding up the commitment, but I'm sure it was about much more than the Law of Reciprocity ticking back to three seasons ago.

Coach Brands isn't one to shy away from any opponent, but I do think he's wise enough to not force a scheduled dual meet in State College unless he can get favorable terms on date and time. Traveling across the country for a single meet is expensive and requires some logistics. The team is already pressed to travel across the Midwest for duals and another weekend on the road for pride, or for the sake of fans, might not be in the best interest of the Hawkeyes.

While I would favor Penn State in a dual meet, I think it's foolish to underestimate Iowa's firepower in 2018-2019. This could be a team to challenge Penn State, even as they return multiple NCAA champions and All-Americans.


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emanhull (1) about 10 months ago
Re: Nitilion question, I believe that Iowa and PSU scheduled the "non-conference" dual in 2013-14, not 2012-13. In addition, Iowa traveled to PSU in both 2011 and 2012 (back-to-back years)(not sure why), so I believe Iowa viewed the Dec 21, 2013 dual in Iowa as reciprocity for that. Anyway, since 2008, the duals between Iowa and PSU have been:
08: @Iowa
09: @PSU
10: @Iowa
11: @PSU
12: @PSU
13: @Iowa
14: @Iowa
15: @PSU
16: DNW
17: @Iowa
18: @PSU
19: Not scheduled
DirkHardPeck (1) about 10 months ago
Iowa vs. PSU at a neutral site between Iowa City and State College during the off years. Chicago, Indianapolis Detroit or Cleveland would work geographically.
dbestsport (2) about 10 months ago
The scheduling conflicts discussed on this Mailbag lend support to a National Duals tournament. And that is the question that the readers should be asking. Not why Penn State and Iowa can't agree on a date to duel (pun intended), but why coaches around the country can't agree that a National Duals tournament would be great for the advancement of our sport.
Krtzota (1) about 10 months ago
I've been saying for a long time that the two should meet at Lucas Field in Indy. Where the B1G football championship is held. Think back to how incredibly successful the battle on the grid-iron was with Iowa and Okie State. This is half way for both programs. Both schools travel incredibly well. As far as taking the record from Iowa at 40K+ in attendance, maybe not, but let's just say it was done the day of, prior to, or day after the B1G championship football game is played... especially if a perfect storm of Iowa vs. PSU were to somehow happen... you could guarantee a sell out. Also being so early in the season, it wouldn't hurt the seeding for the national tournament a bit as the season is so young.
mikelo (1) about 10 months ago
Can someone provide the stats of which states have provided the most ncaa champs. I mean where did they go to high school. I'm thinking its NJ, penn, ohio, NYC, mich, cali, etc.
Pete the Streak (2) about 10 months ago
Mikelo - this may help you. Since 1960, Pa. is way out in front.
MLJ (1) about 10 months ago
Write up on the attack at the wrestling club in Kabul:
mikelo (1) about 10 months ago
Very good pete the streak. Now do we have an updated version.alot of Jersey champs last few year.
spencerszewczyk (1) about 10 months ago
Mikelo, both Intermat and Flo update the AA's by state in an end of season article year year, but aside from a couple years ago when Ohio had more AA's than PA, PA always has the most AA's. I mean PA had four NCAA CHAMPS just last year: Spencer, Lee, Zain Rutherford, Jason Nolf and Cenzo Joseph and in two of those matches it was PA vs. PA in the finals as both Zain's and Nolf's opponents were also from PA. The lead is insurmountable.
spencerszewczyk (1) about 10 months ago

Hate to post a Flo article on Intermat site, but I couldn't find the updated Intermat article. This link shows that PA increased their lead this past year at NCAAs.