I spoke to Lock Haven head wrestling coach Scott Moore this week about the announcement. I was surprised to learn that (paraphrasing his thoughts) the idea came about through a mixture of a motivated president, keen athletic director, and the guidance of the NWCA. There are always additional people involved in these decisions (and Moore's success was a main catalyst), but the casual way in which the idea of adding women's wrestling went from cocktail party chatter to implementation is enlightening … and encouraging.
Women's wrestling is ready to explode. In 10 years we will look back at the last 20 years like teenagers staring at rotary phones. It'll all seem so outdated and analog. Members of our community spent DECADES moaning about Title IX and all along the solution was something like equal rights.
By no means is any of this the official statement of the university, but Moore said plainly that the 10-15 girls they are adding will automatically offset the majority of his Title IX concerns. Donors have attached themselves to the idea and are giving to the program on the back of this call.
Money and attention are immediate pay-offs, but for Moore and Lock Haven they will see an increase in national visibility, deeper recruiting pools, and likely a more textured and robust environment for their wrestling team. The women's team will start with as many as five teams within a four-hour drive, increasing the likelihood of its success with lower costs for travel.
The school will be announcing their new coach in the coming weeks and Moore said that he predicts the addition of any new staff will only elevate the program even further with more buy-in from more members of the school and local community.
Moore knows that he can't fund a $5 million wrestling hall or support a large independent RTC at Lock Haven. At least not in the near future. But he's fighting with the resources he has and winning at every turn. His scrappiness as a competitor and coach are now obvious in his ability to be a leader in the community.
A huge congratulations to Lock Haven and to the NWCA for their efforts in helping get this achieved. Should the NCAA recognize women's wrestling at the Division I level, I predict we will all look back and see Lock Haven adding women's wrestling as the turning point in this long effort.
To your questions …
J'den Cox earned an automatic spot in Final X as a returning world champion (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Q: What's your favorite Final X matchup in each of the three styles?
-- Mike C.
Foley: Bo Nickal and J'den Cox are about to light up the RAC! I love watching both these guys compete and their styles are going to create a next-level type of match with points on points. I'm taking Cox (he's stupidly underrated by most fans), but I think that Nickal could pop out to a nice lead, or even catch Cox in an upper body position.
The big indicator will come in how Nickal creates offense while trailing. He can't rely on tie-ups to find entries to Cox's legs. To get points on the board against Cox he'll need to control the center of the mat and close distance on the edge to ensure that his attacks can result in at least one point.
Even still, I think we will see a new Cox on the mats. He's more offensive and is doing a better job at his gamesmanship.
Cox in 2.
Freestyle matches at Final X: Rutgers (June 8)
65 kilograms: Zain Retherford vs. Yianni Diakomihalis
79 kilograms: Alex Dieringer vs. Kyle Dake
86 kilograms: Pat Downey vs. David Taylor
92 kilograms: Bo Nickal vs. J'den Cox
125 kilograms: Gable Steveson vs. Nick Gwiazdowski
Freestyle matches at Final X: Lincoln (June 15)
57 kilograms: Thomas Gilman vs. Daton Fix
61 kilograms: Tyler Graff vs. Joe Colon
70 kilograms: James Green vs. Ryan Deakin
74 kilograms: Isaiah Martinez vs. Jordan Burroughs
97 kilograms: Kyven Gadson vs. Kyle Snyder
I'm all in for 53-kilogram match between Sarah Hildebrandt and Katherine Shai at Rutgers. There isn't a huge chance that Shai will upset Hildebrandt, but this is a very marketable matchup. Hildebrandt has Rudis on her back, while Shai has made Final X as a mother and is creating her own brand.
On the mat, Shai will need to slow down Hildebrandt's attacks and answer takedowns with points of her own. Hildebrandt can be streaky, so if Shai wants to win she'll need to score in bunches, piling on whenever she finds an edge.
Hildebrandt in 3.
Women's wrestling matches at Final X: Rutgers (June 8)
50 kilograms: Whitney Conder vs. Victoria Anthony
57 kilograms: Becka Leathers vs. Jenna Burkert
65 kilograms: Forrest Molinari vs. Maya Nelson
68 kilograms: Tamyra Mensah-Stock vs. Alex Glaude
72 kilograms: Alyvia Fiske vs. Victoria Francis
Women's wrestling matches at Final X: Lincoln (June 15)
53 kilograms: Sarah Hildebrandt vs. Katherine Shai
55 kilograms: Jacarra Winchester vs. Dominique Parrish
59 kilograms: Alli Ragan vs. Lauren Louive
62 kilograms: Mallory Velte vs. Kayla Miracle
76 kilograms: Adeline Gray vs. Precious Bell
Greco-Roman is improving in the USA and Adam Coon is on the leading edge of that development. He's facing a SUPER talented high school wrestler Cohlton Schultz, who he's sure to beat, but who tests him in a way that'll keep him sharp for world competition.
The new Greco-Roman rules are helping Team USA. I'm interested to see how they are developing techniques in order to find more points off their active wrestling. The days of block and par-terre are numbered, and the Americans have the most to benefit from the newest rules interpretations.
Greco-Roman matches at Final X: Rutgers (June 8)
55 kilograms: Max Nowry vs. Brady Koontz
67 kilograms: Ellis Coleman vs. Jamel Johnson
77 kilograms: Kamal Bey vs. Pat Smith
82 kilograms: Kendrick Sanders vs. John Stefanowicz
87 kilograms: Joe Rau vs. Ben Provisor
Greco-Roman matches at Final X: Lincoln (June 15)
60 kilograms: Mike Fuenffinger vs. Ildar Hafizov
63 kilograms: Ryan Mango vs. Xavier Johnson
72 kilograms: Raymond Bunker vs. Alex Mossing
97 kilograms: G'Angelo Hancock vs. Lucas Sheridan
130 kilograms: Adam Coon vs. Cohlton Schultz
Q: Dan Gable was likely the most influential force on American wrestling in the 20th century and his "Iowa style" -- aggression, conditioning, intensity, win or die, etc. -- came to define what many folks thought of as "wrestling culture."
Do you think it is possible for Cael Sanderson to have enough success at Penn State to redefine overall wrestling culture in the 21st century? Penn State's high-scoring, wide-open culture and focus on fun seem to produce amazing results and attract tip top recruits but I don't feel like it's transforming the culture.
Do you think that changes if we see another decade plus of dominance out of Cael and Penn State?
-- Bryan R.
Foley: Dan Gable was arguably the most influential wrestler and coach of the 20th century. He won on the mat, he won as a coach, and he created a legacy of coaches that now extends two generations.
However, the "Iowa style" of Gable-trained athletes wasn't altogether that unique. From discussions I've had with wrestlers of the 1980's and 1990's, plenty of other programs worked out as much, fought hard for position, and were in incredible shape. What they lacked was the mystique of the institution, buffered by an arena filled with championship banners. The "Iowa style" was shorthand for something larger going on at the moment, rather than something wholly and uniquely incumbent on wrestlers from the University of Iowa.
I'd argue that Cael's coaching style isn't as easy to define and its slipperiness makes any attempt of glorification (and branding) more difficult. There is no shorthand. No mystique. And the fun-first mentality that you offer up as his style is not very on-brand for the mentality many in the wrestling community want to transmit to each other, or the outside world. Cael is winning because he recruits the best wrestlers in the country, encourages them to buy in to his on-the-mat philosophies, develops their talents, and enjoys alumni support for his efforts. There isn't really a cliché for that, I guess.
Maybe that all means he is less transformative, but maybe in some way NOT seeking to be a generational figure might be his biggest contribution. If the real lesson is to stick to what you are good at, develop it and have fun, then I think it's something we are seeing at programs across the country. You don't have to break your body to wrestle. You have to commit, you have to seek answers, but you no longer have to sacrifice everything else.
Cael's impact will likely be a soft influence that pedals something closer to the idea that wrestling is a skill to be added to your life, rather than a force extracting every ounce of freedom and joy from your waking hours.
Happy World Wrestling Day!
Q: What's the chance Daniel Cormier headlines next year's Beat the Streets card? Who else do you think would fill the stands and be as big a marketing draw as Ben Askren was this year?
Foley: I think you're about to give executive director Brendan Buckley a heart attack. He has to match or outdo Ben Askren vs. Jordan Burroughs?! Raising the bar just a bit, eh?
Let's assume that Cormier beats Stipe Miocic in August and then retires from the UFC. Then let's assume that's all buttoned up by next spring. He would then be free to do whatever he wants and given his love for the sport of wrestling; I'd tend to think he would show up for a match.
However, I don't think he's going in against Gable Steveson. Not only will he still be in college, but young guys with huge egos are not a good idea for old men looking to raise money for charity. Can you imagine Gable driving Cormier off the stage, like Jordan did Ben? No Bueno.
I'd like to see Cormier wrestle Brock Lesnar. Seriously. A charity wrestling match between those two would be the biggest combat sports moment of 2020 (probably inclusive of the Olympics).
One thing is for sure, if Brock and DC do meet they will 100 percent need to increase the size of the stage.
Q: Were you surprised Alex Dieringer dominated Zahid Valencia the way he did? Do you think maybe Dieringer looked past him last year?
-- Mike C.
Foley: Yes. Bad moment on the mats for Dieringer last year, a loss that I'm certain motivated him to train harder in 2019 than he did in 2018.
Man, tough to say this with world champion Kyle Dake waiting for him at Final X, but I often think that Alex Dieringer might be the best 79-kilogram wrestler in world. He is absolutely unbelievable on his feet and has matured on the mats every year. His international record is impressive as hell too.
I'm terrible at predictions, but I'm 50/50 on Dieringer and Dake at Final X. There aren't many wrestlers as mentally tough as Dake, but Dieringer might be close. He's also explosive, smart, and has the type of knack for winning that has defined Dake's career.
Q: With all the freestyle matches going on at the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament, could you explain the scoring system for the uninitiated? For example, VPO1, VIN, etc. and any meaning they have in World Cup action.
Thanks from the land of never-ending winter, Minnesnowda.
Foley: A link to the scoresheet can be found here.
VFA: 5:0 Victory by fall
VIN: 5:0 Victory by injury
VCA: 5:0 Victory by 3 cautions
VSU: 4:0 Victory by technical superiority
VSU1: 4:1 Victory by technical superiority (opponent scores)
VPO: 3:0 Victory by points
VPO1: 3:1 Victory by points (opponent scores)
VFO: 5:0 Victory by forfeit
DSQ: 5:0 Disqualification
2DSQ: 0:0 Double disqualification
Hope this helps! Also, love the dad joke.