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NCAA college wrestling recap - Week 4



Bedlam showdown goes to Cowboys

Everybody loves a showdown of top wrestling teams, but it is always a bit better when the teams are interstate rivals. The first "Bedlam Series" match between No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 3 Oklahoma met all of the expectations of college wrestling fans. When almost 8,000 fans showed up at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater to see the defending champion OSU Cowboys face their fierce rivals, college wrestling was showcased at the highest level.

The Sooners did a good job making the Cowboys earn the win, which ended up being a 23-12 victory for the home squad. Many people point to the match at 174 pounds as a turning point, where OSU's Rusty Blackmon used a late takedown and turn to defeat No. 11 Justin Dyer for a 6-3 win. OSU trailed 12-11 going into Blackmon's upset, and the Cowboys did not look back after the victory, sweeping the final two matches with wins by national champions Jake Rosholt and Steve Mocco.

Often, in great interstate rivalries, such as Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma, or Iowa vs. Iowa State, it is matches between athletes without high rankings that determine the winner, or leave the biggest memory with the fans in the sport. This time around, Blackmon put his name out on the street within wrestling and helped coach John Smith retain his control of college wrestling in the state (and the nation).

Undermanned No. 2 Michigan drops match to Nebraska

Rankings can be a tricky thing in college wrestling. An injury or two can change a lineup, and if the timing happens during a challenging part of the schedule, it is easy to drop a match and a few ranking slots. Just ask Michigan, which entered its first home dual meet ranked No. 2, but dropped an 18-16 decision to No. 14 Nebraska.

The Wolverines had a pair of starters out of the lineup, Mark Moos at 133 pounds and freshman sensation Steve Luke at 157 pounds. Michigan lost both of those matches. At 133, Patrick Aleksanyan of Nebraska scored a major decision over Brandon Elliott. At 157 pounds, Michigan's replacement Rob Sulaver dropped a 9-2 decision to Nebraska's Chris Oliver. The teams each won five matches during the bout, but a 15-0 technical fall by Nebraska's Paul Donahoe over Jim Shutich at 125 pounds gave the Cornhuskers enough bonus points to win the dual meet.

Michigan returned two days later with Luke in the lineup, and traveled to Central Michigan, where the Wolverines won the match, 22-14. A key to the victory was Ryan Churella's pin at 165 pounds over Justin Petrone in 1:32, and the Wolverines won six of the matches. Luke was not among the winners, however, dropping a 6-4 decision to Eric Neil.

The new USA Today/NWCA coaches poll came out on Tuesday, and Michigan dropped three spots to No. 5, while Nebraska only went up three spots to No. 11.

Santa Ana College wins California JC state meet

Santa Ana College won its first team title in 31 years by edging two-time defending champion Bakersfield College, 106.5- 102.5, at the 2005 California Community College Wrestling Championships held at Fresno City College in Fresno, California during the weekend.

Mike O'Hara of Santa Ana College scored a victory over Alex Herrera of Bakersfield College i5-3, n overtime for the 149-pound championship which proved to be the difference, as the 5-3 score gave Santa Ana College the deciding four-point edge in the standings.

Also adding to the point total for Santa Ana College were runners-up Sabas Cruz at 157 pounds and Brian Judd at 184 pounds, plus three other placewinners. Bakersfield College was unable to take advantage of the finals round, as three wrestlers were defeated in the finals and placed second, Cody Gibson at 133 pounds, Alex Herrera at 149 pounds and Josh Marquez at heavyweight.

The California Community Colleges hold their wrestling season in the fall each year, ending their season with their state championship meet in December. Traditionally, a number of athletes from these schools move on to compete in major college wrestling, including finding success at the Div. I level.

Second year Univ of Great Falls slams NAIA power MSU-Northern

The University of Great Falls (UGF) has had wrestling for less than two years, starting its NAIA program last season and competing in its first national competition less than a year ago. However, under coach Eric Van Kley, this fledgling program has made amazing strides in a very short time.

A huge milestone was reached last week when UGF won a dual meet against cross-state rival Montana State-Northern, a program that has won a number of NAIA national team titles and has been very strong for many years. Not only did UGF win the dual, but it dominated the action, winning nine of 10 matches in a 31-6 drubbing of MSU-Northern. The NAIA rankings had UGF at No. 4, and MSU-Northern at No. 17, but the fact that a second-year program was able to wipe out such a successful and established program is big news.

Van Kley has been an aggressive recruiter, filling his roster with numerous athletes who might be considered projects, athletes who are strong locally but may be falling under a national radar screen. MSU-Northern was the only college team in Montana prior to the UGF program starting, and already there appears to be a fierce rivalry brewing. The coaching staff has done a great job turning potential into success, which is very difficult on the college levels.

The UGF success story is very telling. In recent years, many new colleges have added the sport, mostly on the NAIA and Div. II and III levels of college athletics. There are more than enough talented young men seeking to wrestle in college, and smaller schools are truly working hard to get men to enroll as students. There is a lesson to college administrators everywhere. Invest in wrestling and reap the rewards!!!!

NCAA runner-up Bunch loses to Buffalo's Budd

It has not been a good year for some of the stars of college wrestling, who entered the year with top rankings and NCAA title hopes. The NWCA All-Star Classic saw No. 1 wrestlers dropping like flies. This weekend, another No. 1 athlete was knocked off, Shawn Bunch of Edinboro at 133 pounds, but this was even more unexpected.

Bunch, a NCAA runner-up last year, entered the Friday night dual meet against Buffalo with a 16-0 record, including a title at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas International. However, Buffalo's Mark Budd pulled off a major upset, scoring a late takedown in sudden death overtime to defeat Bunch, 6-4. Bunch had not lost a college match to anybody except last year's NCAA champion Travis Lee of Cornell (twice last year) since the 2002-03 season.

Budd was named the MAC Wrestler of the Week for his victory. He was unranked in the NWCA/Intermat Individual rankings going into the dual meet, but moved up to No. 19 in this weeks poll. Due to his loss, Bunch dropped a spot to No. 2, behind Wisconsin's Tom Clum.
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