0222 Junior World Team member Alex Facundo (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
I admit I was wrong. I had my doubts about the turnout for FInal X New York. I didn't think timing and location would persuade many fans to travel to the center of Metropolis for something they could watch at home. Then I realized that it was the biggest city in the world. It was on a gorgeous summer day. We did spend a year locked inside our houses not knowing if the world would ever be the same. Not everyone works a nine-to-five day job like me. I doubted my fellow East Coast brothers and sisters. And I messed up. I should've been there with you. I don't have any excuses for it. Sure, I had a busy week last week. Could I have made plans to get there if I really wanted to? Of course, I could. But I didn't and I'll always regret that.
I admit I was jealous seeing all the pictures of people I've come to know over the years having a great time and meeting up. The truth is I might have been scared to go. Growing up I never felt like I never fit in with the rest of my wrestling peers. I could hold my own on the mat and had my moments, but I didn't go to clubs, didn't really make friends with guys from other schools, and was mostly shy at tournaments. Before this, none of my real-life friends were wrestling fans at all. My buddies Jeff and Gianfranco, along with my cousin Freddie, do not want to go to Region 1 finals with me. They are not interested in who's coming out on top at 125 and 133 for Rutgers. So going to random events and just sitting there never seemed to be an ideal thing to do. Perhaps a little bit of imposter syndrome has something to do with it. I'm not an expert on the sport. I'm not a professional writer. Not even close to a professional comedian. I'm not even sure how I got here. Perhaps the sum of Jagger is greater than his parts. All I know is you've all graciously welcomed me into your community and I keep trying to convince myself that I'm not a part of it. I need to do better. And I will, but first, let's get to some questions.
How good do you think Illinois will be with one of the most loaded coaching staffs? Seth Petarra
Interesting question. It's funny that in most sports it's not always the best competitors who make the best coaches. That's not so much in wrestling, as some of the most elite on the mat have become the most elite in the corner. But it's not always the case. There's more to it than just teaching moves. It's the relationship with the athlete. It's being able to communicate and understand what makes each individual tick.
That being said, bringing back arguably your school's greatest wrestler ever in Isaiah Martinez is another feather in the cap for head coach Mike Poeta. Aside from his wealth of knowledge, he's a symbol of what can be accomplished by going to school in Champaign. And what about Ed Ruth! The Penn State legend has returned to his roots on the mat and has just started getting his feet wet in the coaching game. Personally, I expect big things out of the Poeta-Hunter-Ruth-Martinez foursome.
Been traveling but I assume you got some on the new rules? @LMRMock
The redshirt rules? They certainly have their pros and cons. I think we're all happy about redshirts being able to wrestle a few duals without consequences. Now what I'm seeing is that the rule only actually applies to freshmen and that actually makes sense. Not that duals really matter much, but we can't have Iowa putting a redshirt on Spencer Lee, but rolling him out there for two or three of the biggest duals of the year. It just doesn't seem fair to me. But it does let a coach get a chance to see if a true frosh is ready without risking losing a year from him. Last year, we could've got a glimpse at an Alex Facundo or a Paddy Gallagher during the dual
season to see where they're at. Especially since the second semester is mostly dormant on the open tournament front. Which leads me to the next big news to come out of this. True freshmen can't wrestle opens unattached in the first semester! That's one of the most enjoyable things about the first two months! Just completely asinine if you ask me.
What is an NIL summit? Richard Mann
Probably something that wasn't as cool as the Apalachin Summit of 1957. You can google it, it's worth a google.
Hypothetically, if you were to wrestle on a card, what would your walk-out music be? Earl "JR" Smith
I think about this almost daily and would need about 25 matches to satisfy my urge of having intro music. So many options. Lately, I've been digging Cult of Personality by Living Colour. If You Want Blood (You Got It) by AC/DC has long been a jam I'm dying to walk out to. I could pay homage to my real name Ian and come out to Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull. I could also pay homage to my fake name and dance my way out to Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones. So many options. One thing I can guarantee is the intro will be longer than the match. I can tell you one song it won't be. Friggin' Baby Shark. This isn't Romper Room out here.
You ever woken up in an alley? Pelikan Head
Hmm, can't say that I have. I will say that I've slept (passed out) in some strange places. Ended my 21st birthday asleep in the crew cab of my Ford Ranger. I once ended a night in Montana out cold in the back of a Ford Explorer. Maybe it's a Ford thing. My most notorious zonk was having too many adult sodas while watching the 2000 World Series before a Stone Temple Pilots concert. As soon as the lights went down I knew I was done and proceeded to make my way into a phone booth at the rotunda below the arena and made that my bed for the next two hours while Weiland and the boys tore it up above me. Jagger used to party and when he went down he went down hard. Alright, this mailbag was way too personal, see ya next week.
Happy Father's Day to all you crazy dads out there and especially to new dad Austin Sommer! Drexel's Class of 2040 just got their first commit. Hammer!