Foley's Friday Mailbag: August 2, 2019

Like most wrestlers who were on the mats in the 1990's and 2000's I have an outsized, irrational, and deeply personal affection for the band Tool.

While I can't guarantee that EVERY other wrestler from the 1990's had the same CD's in their wrestling room, I'm willing to bet a Krispy Kreme that the majority of collegiate wrestlers during that time ripped through an extra minute on the Aerodyne while rocking to 46 & 2. Tool has everything a wrestler would need: power chords, well-articulated angry prose, and some epic cover art.

For the fellow fans I'm happy to relay some very good news. Today, after keeping their catalog off any and all digital platforms, Tool will now be on all streaming and download sites. So now instead of assuaging your workplace angst with Kenny G, you can slap in the AirPods and crank up 'Sober' before power doubling Dave in accounting.

Ahh, but there is even more great news. After 13 years Tool will also be releasing their newest album on Aug. 30. "Fear Inoculum" will be their first album wince 10,000 Days in 2006. Want to talk about staying power? Tool released their first album "72826" in December 1991. I feel like I've been involved in wrestling for two lifetimes and I only started wrestling in 1995.

Anyway, for those that needed this little piece of good news, rock on.

To your questions …

Adeline Gray raises her arms in triumph after winning at Final X (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

Q: The United States women's freestyle team looks great year after year under Terry Steiner et al., with Helen Maroulis winning world/Olympic titles at three different weights and Adeline Gray's dominance for the 2010s era. The U.S. women's freestylers definitely had some great squads in the '90s (Saunders, Marano, Bacher) and '00s (Chun, Montgomery, Smith) as well.

So, who are your all-time women's freestyle greats at today's weight classes?

To my knowledge the United States women have only won Worlds once (1999). Are we on track for a 20th anniversary run at the title in Nur-Sultan? Who has to outperform to keep up the United States close with the ever-dominant Japanese?
-- Nate H.

Foley: All-time team and using today's weight classes is very difficult. I'll just slide people into weights that seem best fitting and make a lineup of who I think are the best.

50: Eri Tosaka (Japan)
53: Helen Maroulis (USA)
55: Saori Yoshida (Japan)
57: Ningning Rong (China)
59: Risako Kawai (Japan)
62: Kaori Icho (Japan)
65: Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia)
68: Sara Dosho (Japan)
72: Adeline Gray (USA)
76: Erica Wiebe (Canada)

The USA women's team is improving faster now than it had been in previous years. There were gains that would plateau for a bit before the next upswing. I think right now the plateau is that we expect at least two world champions and five medalists from the 2019 World Championships. That's a big expectation, but one that seems supported by this year's results.

Given that growth I think it's entirely possible that the American women can win a team title before the 2024 Games in Paris. The young girls coming through are winning big matches early in their career and developing new go-to techniques. If they are already challenging during these formative years of their competition imagine what they could accomplish at the peak of their careers?

Let us also not discount the huge impact that NCAA wrestling could have on that trajectory. When you factor in those additional people, hours, and the competitions these women could be on an accelerated schedule.

Q: Man, I need you to explain freestyle a little bit. I didn't see the match, but I just saw Richard Figueroa lost at the Cadet World Championships after a takedown and couple laces. I think ankle laces and exposure are the dumbest things in freestyle, but that may just be because I don't understand it. I don't see how getting the lace and then rolling around the mat a few times proves any kind of superiority. I could understand if they got two for exposure and then restarted, but a guy doing four rolls and the match ending just seems ridiculous.
-- Matt W.

Foley: First, I'd ask that you go try to leg lace a top-flight international wrestler and let me know if it is as simple as "rolling round the mat a few times."

Freestyle wrestling draws heavily from a variety of traditional styles of wrestling from around the world. The most common examples are like those seen in the USA, Vietnam, India, Turkey, or really anywhere ground wrestling is popular. In each of those styles showing your stomach, or as the Turkish phrase it "exposing umbilicus to the Gods" is cause for losing the bout. Makes sense that if your opponent had a weapon you'd be most vulnerable on your back.

Anyway, the idea that exposing your belly would be a cause for points has been around for a long time. As recently as 2012 you couldn't do a move more than one time in a row, but when the sport went through the overhaul in 2013 the recommendation was to simplify the rules and allow for continuous laces and guts. The thinking was that scoring is tough enough and even if someone gets laced out it's actually exciting for fans -- like a knockout punch in boxing.

I have to say that I agree with those consultants. When someone gets a gut going, or a leg lace tight I get excited to see if they can close out the match. Also, it is a VERY rare occurrence for them to get the immediate technical superiority. More common is to see two scores back-to-back. Overall, the rule has added to the action since it encourages athletes to wrestle from position to position rather than just get one move and then lay flat on their opponent's back.

Also, if leg laces bother you I think you'd have an aneurysm watching someone giving up four points for getting tilted!

Q: It seemed like USA had a somewhat disappointing performance in freestyle at the Cadet World Championships based on expectations. One gold medalist, one bronze and fifth place as a team. Did you expect more?
-- Mike C.

Foley: I don't tend to expect much from the Cadets! I know it can seem otherwise, but the real objective is (or should be) to learn how to compete on this stage and how to have a good time on the mats. And while I would have liked to see a few more medals I've seen some of the monsters these other countries are sending over to these tournaments. It can be a bit much.

Team USA does a great job preparing its athletes for success at the senior level and while that training starts in high school the athletes aren't being prepared and peaked for top performance. I'll take the long game and the Olympic titles over the Cadet world championships.


Cover of 46 & 2

Q: In regards of Artur Taymazov being stripped of his medal (and Tervel being rightfully awarded his), I read and understand that samples can be re-tested for 10 years following the event. However, what I don't understand is what causes, if any, does the IOC (or whatever body does the testing) need to have to re-test samples? Can they just do it for any reason, or does there have to be either probable cause, new testing methodology, or some other defined event in order to re-test?
-- Vincent M.

Foley: The IOC has the prerogative to re-test the samples of suspected athletes if they have new technology to determine new outcomes. The new tests could test for Turnibol in a new way and they chose to review all the athletes in the sports where that was most common, such as wrestling and weightlifting.

Q: There's a lot of talk about a potential Ben Askren vs. Demian Maia fight. If that goes down, how do you see it playing out?
-- Mike C.

Foley: The good news for Ben is that he'll be awake for more than five seconds of the fight! The bad news is that Demian Maia is a land shark who lives for fights that want to end up on the ground.

Let's be clear: this matchup kind of sucks for Ben. Best case scenario is that he takes Maia down. Right? That's THE best case for the two-time NCAA champion, right? No. When he gets on the ground Maia is going to take his arm, tear an ACL, or simply choke Askren unconscious. Askren would need to take down Maia and somehow keep him down with strikes without getting close enough for Maia to find a grip. I don't like the chances of Askren being able to maintain that position and distance for 15 minutes.

I've had the chance to roll with Maia in the Gi and in NoGi and the man is an absolute terror on the mats. And while Askren's wrestling is superior to mine, my jiu-jitsu is better. We don't strike when we roll, but I can't neutralize Maia with my wrestling. He's smart with his defense and is next-level at finding submissions when he does end up on his back. The man is always hunting for a submission, but he does it maintaining good position.

Let's also not forget that for all the talk of ground superiority Maia is also a far better striker that Askren. His standup isn't devastating, but he can cause damage and control the pace and location of the fight with his low leg kicks and straight jabs.

Best of luck to Askren. I like what he's been doing for the sport of wrestling, but Maia is not an ideal matchup

Q: Is there any update on the transfer status of Kyle Conel? The school year is close to starting and I have not seen any news.
-- David B.

Foley: Penn State. Or did I miss something?

Q: Yianni Diakomihalis is competing in Poland this weekend at the Ziolkowski Memorial. What's the competition like? Do you see him as a medal contender this weekend?
-- Mike C.

Foley: Usually pretty great competition! Russia is figuring out their situation at 86 kilograms and several other nations are sending top guys for a tune-up before the training camps start for Nur-Sultan. Yianni will get great looks and barring injury, yes, he should medal.


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dob092095 (2) about 3 months ago
Foley, I think you misinterpreted the Conel question. My question would be - was he granted another year of eligibility? If it’s been granted, the word has not gotten to me. I think that’s what the questioner meant.
JoeOhio (1) about 3 months ago
I think Yanni has a good case in arbitration to get a third match. Zain should wrestle him again. Do it on the same bill as Dieringer/Dake. Dake, on the other hand, is violating the spirit of the rule. bush league not ivy. Dake's the better wrestler and I am still in his corner but on this match justice is with Dieringer.
ebavd (1) about 3 months ago
TR, not trying to be sarcastic are aware that Askren is a black belt in jiu-jitsu?
Curious if you're also a black belt or you think his black belt isn't legit because I was surprised by you saying your jiu-jitsu was better than his.
Again serious question.
ohioslayer (1) about 3 months ago
Foley is also a jiu-jitsu black belt.
ResiliteMarine (2) about 3 months ago
Yes, Conel has been granted a sixth year. No announcement as to whether and where he will use it.
Duffnuts (2) about 3 months ago
TR, you answered your own question about why rolling a leg lace to an immediate win is boring. It IS a tilt! Watching a 4-point tilt is good, but you have to break the hold because a tilt is not a pin. A pin is the only single thing that should immediately end a match.

I've tried leg laces, and yes, they are hard. But once you lock it up for the first turn, it is much easier to continue rolling through than it is to break it and try to get a lace again. Think about this: how many matches have a successful leg lace? Less than 5 % is my guess. How many times does a leg lace get at least 2 or more turns? I'd say about 25-40%.

Tilts and laces are not pinning moves. Folkstyle understands this and has created the correct rule. Freestyle shouldn't effectively turn laces into pinning move. Allow one or maybe two consecutively, then make them release the hold. You mention having an aneurysm while watching a single tilt for 4 points. How about watching 4 straight tilts without breaking the hold and getting the TF? You'll have the aneurysm while I throw up in my mouth a bit.
AFurnas (1) about 3 months ago
Foley notes that up until 2012, only one of these types of actions was scored ... my recollection was that, for some period, two consecutive actions were scored. I thought this was a reasonable compromise between one and infiniate (or however many were required to register the tech fall). I agree that these matches that end after a TD + 4 laces seem odd, at best, and diminish the sport, at worst. Frequently the laced guy is in a "sitting" position and has his back less exposed than the guy executing the move. Is that technical superiority? Hmm ...
trescuit11 (1) about 3 months ago
everyone has a black belt in bjj. they're pretty easy to get. all you have to do is tell everyone constantly that you do bjj and they give you one.