Foley's Friday Mailbag: November 16, 2018

Nick Reenan battles David Taylor at Final X in State College, Pa. (Photo/Richard Immel)

The first National Letters of Intent were signed this week, and early indications have Arizona State set for both a very strong recruiting class and the year-to-year results that could challenge East Coast powerhouse Penn State.

Colleges across the country posted about their high school signings and did so with fun social media and behind the scenes looks at their homes and schools.

But for me the best posts were from the Ivy League accounts Cornell and Penn who reminded everyone that they aren't allowed to sign NLI's but they'll still have the top recruiting class in the country.

Penn was subtler, pointing to a story about one of their athletes who said he didn't have to choose between top academics and top athletics.

So, a quick salute to the Ivy League schools who face a unique labyrinth in recruiting and retaining top wrestlers. They are figuring it out, winning on the mat, and staying relevant on social media on days when others would like to steal the show.

To your questions …

Q: Nick Reenan of NC State looked solid in beating Ryan Preisch of Lehigh. Do you see Reenan as a title contender at 184 pounds?
-- Mike C.

Foley: Yes. He has the athletic talent and is coached by one of the best staffs in the nation and in 2018 proved in both folkstyle and freestyle that he was one of the nation's top wrestlers.

While he most notably won the World Team Trials and made Final X against David Taylor, I was most impressed with him winning six straight matches at the U.S. Open to place third, an accomplishment that may have given him the extra confidence boost when facing top-level NCAA opponents.

While he was only a qualifier in 2017, he redshirted in 2018 and racked up a 21-4 record.

I have a bias towards freestyle guys, but I really think it will be Reenan and Myles Martin in the NCAA finals at 184 pounds.

Q: In the United States, freestyle is the primary focus when it comes to international styles because of how closely it resembles folkstyle, the style of scholastic wrestling. (I am very open to being wrong in my assumption and would appreciate any clarity.) My question is which countries is the primary style of wrestling Greco-Roman and is there brief history as to why a country's particular international style would be Greco instead of freestyle? Because from an outside observation it appears that more countries are represented in freestyle wrestling than Greco Roman.
-- Marcus R.

Foley: The type of wrestling a nation embraces largely dictates which style they'll find most success in international wrestling. The Nordic regions long ago celebrated a belt wrestling style most akin to Iceland Glima and Swiss Schwingen and as such migrated to upper body-only styles of wrestling.

America adopted collar-and-elbow from the Irish and English along with catch-as-catch-can, which were both leg-friendly styles. Very long story short, that has meant that our physical traditions have been most adaptable to freestyle.

Korea is another interesting example of tradition driving Olympic interest. Ssriuem is a belt style of wrestling with upper body only holds, hence the interest and success of the Koreans with Greco-Roman wrestling.

As for representation, there are typically more Greco-Roman entries at the World Championships than there are freestyle. However, when taken in combination with women's wrestling, the dirty leg grabbers have a statistical advantage.

Q: How do you think Daton Fix will do this weekend against Seth Gross (Saturday) and Ethan Lizak (Sunday)? Any predictions?
-- Mike C.

Foley: I'm not sure who he beats and who he loses to, but I think that Fix walks away 1-1. The styles of these opponents each present a problem and while I expect him to solve at least one of them, I think it would be difficult to expect that he can both answer Seth Gross' funky defense (usually from Fix's preferred low-ankle attacks) and get out from bottom against Ethan Lizak (always a struggle for freshman wrestlers).

That said I think it's more of a probability question. I'd say Fix has a 20 percent chance at going 2-0, 65 percent chance at 1-1, and 15 percent chance at ending 0-2.

Also, I give Fix a better chance against Lizak than I do Gross.

Q: How many medalists are you expecting from Team USA at the U23 World Championships in freestyle?
-- Mike C.

Foley: The Russians are bringing a monster freestyle lineup to Bucharest. Guys who could be on almost anyone else's national roster will be competing for arguably the most successful wrestling nation in the world.

The United States is bringing a different type of squad. Mostly college wrestlers and recent graduates, the team is filled with names known to Americans, but that don't get a lot of attention on an international roster. Few have been on any Junior or Cadet teams and only Kollin Moore has won a world medal.

That said, the United States is arguably the second-best freestyle wrestling nation in the world and improving every year. There will be medals, but I'm going to set a conservative over/under at four overall medals, with one finalist.

Here are the most-likely wrestlers to medal, in my opinion.

57: Jack Mueller -- Medalist
61: Sean Fausz
65: Colton McCrystal
70: Hayden Hidlay -- Medalist
74: Alexander Smythe
79: David McFadden -- Medalist
86: Myles Martin -- Medalist
97: Kollin Moore -- Medalist
125: Youssif Hemida


Grace Bullen beat the 2019 Senior World Champion with a SICK last-second throw at U23 Worlds!

Paliha Paliha is one of the most interesting wrestlers I've met over the last several years. Extremely outspoken, fun-loving, and tough as nails. Also, she's from western China which is an interesting change for a team dominated by ethnic Hans.

Fumita is coming for that gold in 2020

Q: Do you expect we'll see Gable Steveson this Sunday against Oklahoma State?
-- Mike C.

Foley: No.

Q: Long-time reader, first-time writer. (I read InterMat every week, if not multiple times per week, even out of season.) Truly glad that the trolls are gone from the comments section.

Forgive if this isn't your area, but maybe you can forward to the appropriate person for me. My question: Why is Roman Bravo-Young not ranked as of yet? And why is Brady Berge PSU's 149-pound representative in the rankings, when Jarod Verkleeren got the nod against Kent State? I realize that doesn't mean everything as 125-pound contenders Gavin Teasdale and Brody Teske didn't compete and likely one of them will start come January. But RBY not ranked now is a mystery. Perhaps I am overestimating his talent?
-- David Y.

Foley: I'm also glad to hear that some of the trolls are no longer in the thread. One of the fascinating aspects of the wrestling community is that amount of collective knowledge held by readers that you simply could never research online. I love that dialogue, but when blockheads get on to discourage equal rights some readers tune out and don't look to respond. Hopefully that will soon change.

As for your question, the rankings are done weekly by a committee that (thankfully!) doesn't include me. You are absolutely not overestimating RBY's talent, but I think it'll take a few weeks for him to catapult into the rankings, or more likely, a key victory over an established opponent.

For the record, I love watching RBY wrestle!

From the the rankings committee: "Roman Bravo-Young is certainly a very talented wrestler evidenced by his perfect high school record and strong start at Penn State. At this point, he's very close to being ranked at 133 pounds. RBY will certainly have an opportunity to move into the rankings -- and climb the rankings -- with Penn State's schedule.

"Penn State's situation at 149 pounds is fluid. While Jarod Verkleeren did get the start against Kent State and performed well, he has not solidified the starting spot. Junior world medalist Brady Berge is still very much in the mix. The two have not wrestled off. Berge has been on a weight decent plan and is expected to be back soon. He's the wrestler InterMat has been evaluating for purposes of rankings. That could certainly change with results and new developments."


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Wvchamp (1) about 9 months ago
I think Fix is better than both Lizak and Gross on their feet. I agree and think the issue is Fix getting out on bottom but I think he gets it done and goes 2-0.
parasling (1) about 9 months ago
According PSU's website, Berge & Verkleeren are both listed at 149 for the Keystone Open (Penn) this weekend, as are Nevills and Cassar at HWT. I saw an article on Penn Live (Harrisburg PA) about a week ago that said Cael isn't sure what they are going to do with Teske and Teasdale. I think PennLive called it an "embarrassment of riches" at 149. Sure are tough problems to have at PSU... Likewise, glad the discussion has been focused more on wrestling the last couple weeks!
LoneWolf (1) about 9 months ago
By trolls, I assume you mean people who have a different political ideology than you. They don't instigate the politics, Foley does. When he doesn't bring up political/social issues, neither does anyone else.

Ivies are doing good work, but they do have one major advantage over the other state & private schools. For kids whose parents are middle class or lower, it is actually LESS expensive to go to the Ivies than to State U. For many who come from modest family incomes, it's even free.
David Macauley (2) about 9 months ago
Keep up the good work, Mr. Foley. The rabid right wingers in the wrestling community (of which there are very, very many) don't seem to like educated writers and journalists. They tend to prefer provincialism to cosmopolitanism and atavistic nationalism to informed international awareness. The conservative (and Republican) brain is wired or attuned for tribalism, authoritarianism, and narrow notions of patriotism, and this is particularly evident in the American world of wrestling. Sports culture, too, is extremely conservative, and that bias should definitely be actively challenged. I recommend this article, which helps to explain why this is the case:
mustang95 (1) about 9 months ago
@Foley - no one is gone you are just shadow banning people, showing the fascists that you are. You don't believe in free speech, open exchange or dialogue. Your only power is your ability to censor people you can't beat in a conversation.
@DavidMacauley - normal people dislike uppity and arrogant writers with no talent. They love their country more than foreign lands unlike nerds like you who got bullied in HS by the cool kids. Liberals are always dorks who are jealous of normal people with normal lives, take your liberal articles elsewhere nerd. #MAGA
Chuckb2377 (1) about 9 months ago
It seems whether or not your right or left? Based on your comments below. Your both contradicting what your preaching. With how the republican brain is? Whatever that means? And then others all being dorks.
Chuckb2377 (1) about 9 months ago
It’s a wrestling website. Let’s keep it that way.....
Jdans (1) about 9 months ago
Looks like Intermat thinks Steveson’s Shirt is going to be pulled.
MLJ (1) about 9 months ago
How many countries that have Geco success also have a vibrant judo program? Could there be a correlation (or even crosstraining) between the two?