2021 NCAA Runner-Up Jake Wentzel (Photo/Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
When you read this article, you may think that a 10-year-old child wrote it. Let me explain:
This past weekend, I attended my first wrestling event as part of InterMat. I have to admit, it was kind of exciting. I've been to tournaments, I've been to dual meets, but never in the capacity of "Media."
Being that it was only an hour away, I made my way up to Manheim, PA (near my old collegiate stomping grounds) to watch the Journeymen Collegiate Classic. Woke up around 6am, gassed up the Rav4, got myself a sizzli (actually two… it was on special 2 for $3, don't judge me), and headed down Rt 30 towards the Spooky Nook Sports.
First off, props to Frank Popolizio for running a smooth tournament. Started around 9 am, and was out of there by 2:30 pm. Quick and efficient. Three matches for almost everyone, 12 mats, no breaks or intermissions. In, out, bing-bang-boom. That's how you run an event.
I arrived a little early, found a table, set up my laptop, and quickly opened about ten tabs with brackets, forums, Twitter, etc. After checking my fantasy teams, I took out my camera and mosied on down to the main level where the action was going on.
I should mention that I am not good at shooting photos. Yet. If you remember back from our podcast episode with Tony Rotundo, he suggested that anyone interested in shooting should play around and shoot, shoot, shoot (meaning practice, practice, practice). While I didn't have any sporting subject to take photos of, I did you Tiny Tony as he is now running everywhere and has spontaneous and quick movements that could be interpreted as… sport?
So, anyway, there I am, making my way around the arena and looking for the key matchups to capture and (selfishly) checking in on anyone I may or may not have on my fantasy team. I thought I was doing well; it looked like that from the teeny tiny screen at least, but it turns out, my photos were noisy A-F. Very shoddy stuff, just pure crap (my photos, not the wrestlers). Luckily, Tony Rotundo is such a great guy that when I asked for advice, he was more than willing to help an extreme novice like me.
But here is the more embarrassing part of it all. While I made my way around the arena, looking for matches and photo opportunities, I obviously "ran" into coaches. Well, more like I initiated that awkward, "Hey coach, I'm Tony DiMarco" with a firm handshake and pointing to my chest with the Fantasy D1 Wrestling logo. Yeah, that's right, I was wearing a Fantasy D1 Wrestling shirt. And an InterMat hat. Yes, I'll repeat, a Fantasy D1 Wrestling shirt and an InterMat hat. I was basically the guy who wore the shirt of the band he's going to see in concert.
It's par for the course, really. For the first week of my entry-level job out of college, I brought a briefcase to work. Needless to say, since then I have never seen anyone bring a suitcase to the office in the ten years I've been working for the company.
So for any coach I talked to that thought I was like the embodiment of Jack Powell, sorry. Sorry, I was probably awkward or caught you in the middle of getting to a mat to coach your guy, but I'm not sorry I did it.
I'm new to this. You may be reading this and get to talk to Cael Sanderson or Tom Brands on a somewhat regular basis. You might be a donor or alumni and get to talk to Sebastian Rivera or Austin O'Connor and the rest of the team from time to time. But for the majority of us, the majority of us that fill up the stadium each March, we're just average nobodies. Just regular schnooks who don't have that kind of access and only get to see the stars of our sport through a tv/computer screen.
I got to talk with Coach Reina of U Penn, Coach Green of Army, and Coaches Engel and Martinez of Oregon State. (I got to talk to Isaiah Martinez! And shook his hand!) Again, you may not think that is exciting, but to a regular fan, it made the day.
With any type of job, it's easy to forget how you felt on that first day and get kind of numb to it all as time goes on. The excitement, the nervousness, and the feeling of joy when it comes to those interactions is something that everyone, especially those covering sports, should try to hold on to.
Let's see how this weekend goes at the Keystone Classic (sorry in advance, U Penn).
On to Week 3:
We kick off the week with a banger in Nebraska hosting North Carolina (as you previously read in the "Early Locks" article, right?). From there, the weekend starts early with an awesome slate of duals on Friday, including Ohio State @ Virginia Tech, Princeton at Iowa, and Oklahoma at Arizona State.
A good amount of duals this weekend with very even matchups make this week's weekend outlook a little scant. Some risk is probably going to need to be taken, so do your due diligence.
On the agenda for weekend tournaments are the Lindenwood Open & the Navy Classic on Saturday 11/20 and the Daktronics Open & Keystone Classic on Sunday. Entries are trickling through, so when more information gets released, I'll be sure to tweet the deats (make sure you turn those notifications "ON")
Got a question? Got a Recommendation? Let me know. I can be reached @FantasyD1wrestl.
Wrestlers I Like This Week (the early locks)
Wrestler (School)- competition for the week [Proj Score]
Luke Werner (Lock Haven)- Navy Classic
Braxton Brown (Maryland)- Shorty Hitchcock Open
Devin Schroder (Purdue)- Vs Brown, Vs Duke, Vs Northern Illinois [+11]
Jakob Camacho (NC State)- Vs West Virginia [+4]
Greg Diakomihalis (Cornell)- Vs Stanford [+3]
Rayvon Foley (Michigan State)- Navy Classic
Lucas Byrd (Illinois)- Lindenwood Open
Matt Ramos (Purdue)- Vs Brown, Vs Duke, Vs Northern Illinois [+11]
Micky Phillippi (Pittsburgh)- @ Lehigh, @ Maryland [+6]
Daton Fix (Oklahoma State)- @ Minnesota [+4]
Parker Filius (Purdue)- Vs Brown, Vs Duke, Vs Northern Illinois [+11]
Ryan Jack (NC State)- Vs West Virginia [+4]
Peyton Omania (Michigan State)- Navy Classic
Luka Wick (Cal Poly)- Roadrunner Open
Brent Moore (Clarion)- Shorty Hitchcock Open
Josh Finesilver (Duke)- Vs Bellarmine, Vs Northern Illinois, Vs Purdue (@PUR) [+9]
Tariq Wilson (NC State)- Vs West Virginia [+4]
Manzona Bryant (Lehigh)- Vs Pittsburgh [+4]
David Carr (Iowa State)- Daktronics Open
Chase Saldate (Michigan State)- Navy Classic
Andrew Cerniglia (Navy)- Navy Classic
Kolby Ho (Clarion)- Shorty Hitchcock Open
Kendall Coleman (Purdue)- Vs Brown, Vs Duke, Vs Northern Illinois [+12]
Colton Yapoujian (Cornell)- Vs Stanford [+3]
Ed Scott (NC State)- Vs West Virginia [+3]
Zach Hartman (Bucknell)- Navy Classic
Izzak Olejnik (Northern Illinois)- Vs Bellarmine, Vs Brown, Vs Duke, Vs Purdue (@PUR) [+15]
Jake Wentzel (Pittsburgh)- @ Lehigh, @ Maryland [+8]
Shane Griffith (Stanford)- @ Cornell, @ Binghamton [+7]
Travis Wittlake (Oklahoma State)- @ Minnesota [+3]
Michael O'Malley (Drexel)- Keystone Classic
Geritt Nijenhuis (Purdue)- Vs Brown, Vs Duke, Vs Northern Illinois [+9]
Hayden Hidlay (NC State)- Vs West Virginia [+5]
Dustin Plott (Oklahoma State)- @ Minnesota [+3]
Donnell Washington (Indiana)- Lindenwood Open
David Key (Navy)- Navy Classic
Brit Wilson (Northern Illinois)- Vs Bellarmine, Vs Brown, Vs Duke, Vs Purdue (@PUR) [+16]
Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State)- @ Minnesota [+3]
Ryan Vasbinder (Michigan State)- Lindenwood Open
Cam Caffey (Michigan State)- Navy Classic
Jake Koser (Navy)- Navy Classic
Thomas Penola (Purdue)- Vs Brown, Vs Duke, Vs Northern Illinois [+9]
Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh)- @ Lehigh, @ Maryland [+8]
AJ Ferrari (Oklahoma State)- @ Minnesota [+3]
Issac Trumble (NC State)- Vs West Virginia [+4]
Colton McKiernan (SIU-Edwardsville)- Lindenwood Open
Michael McAleavey (The Citadel)- Navy Classic
Ryan Catka (Navy)- Shorty Hitchcock Open
Gable Steveson (Minnesota)- Vs Oklahoma State [+5], Daktronics Open
Lewis Fernandes (Cornell)- Vs Stanford [+4]
Jordan Wood (Lehigh)- Vs Pittsburgh [+3]
Think I missed someone? Disagree with someone on the list or their projection? Let me know!
Win the week!