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|College Wrestling Recap for January 4, 2006|
By Jason Bryant NWCA
The holiday break doesn't give college wrestling fans too much in the way of dual meets, but with the advent of the Southern Scuffle paired with The Midlands, wrestling fans have two great events to capture their attention while toiling through which resolutions to make and which one's to push off for another year.
The field at the Midlands might have seemed down to the casual observer, but plenty of solid happenings highlighted the event.
The most impressive of which is Cal State-Bakersfield graduate student Tommy Vargas winning the tournament at 133 pounds over Iowa State's Jesse Sundell. Vargas, a graduate from Northwestern, never quite broke through at the Midlands before 2005's championship.
One of his key victories was over Kerry Boumans of the Overtime Wrestling Club, based in the Chicagoland area.
"I didn't wrestle for two years, and I'm so stoked to be able to come out here and do this, (at the place) where I graduated from, where I'm an alum. I had a rough two years away from home, but I grew up and now I'm looking to prevail," Vargas said in an interview with InterMat correspondent Bill Hupp.
And prevail he did.
Frayer hangs around
Unlike Boumans, who defaulted out of the tournament after his semifinal loss, big props go to current Harvard assistant coach Jared Frayer for wrestling all the way through. Post-collegians typically forfeit out should they be defeated in a championship round.
Frayer stuck around, even though he doesn't have much to prove on the folkstyle level. The two-time All-American from the University of Oklahoma was the NCAA runner-up in 2002 at 149 pounds.
However, with several Harvard wrestlers competing in the event, Frayer, ranked third in the nation by USA Wrestling on the senior freestyle circuit at 145.5 pounds, entered at 165 and placed fourth, falling to eventual champion Nick Baima of Northern Iowa 4-3 and top-seeded Travis Paulson 5-4 in the consolation final.
That's called an "Action" C
Not so quietly, Central Michigan has put itself in the same breath as some of the nation's elite college wrestling programs in 2005-06. Sure, coach Tom Borrelli's Chippewas have steadily improved in recent years and CMU's sophomore 197-pounder and Midlands Champion Wynn Michalak has emerged as a national championship contender at the weight.
University of Minnesota assistant coach Marty Morgan said the Chippewas were the best team they'd wrestled all year. That's high praise coming from the second-ranked Golden Gophers.
This week, the Chippewas rose to #6 in the USA Today/InterMat/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll.
You can only put so many clichés on Ben Askren - with a variety of catchphrases and puns with pin and fall, the junior from Mizzou has been simply a machine this year. Askren pinned his way through the Southern Scuffle until reaching the final where former teammate Tyron Woodley, an unattached wrestler and Mizzou grad, forfeited to Askren in the final.
Askren's won 24 straight matches to start the season and went 14-0 in December, prompting the Big 12 Conference to name him the conference's Wrestler of the Month.
Askren continued piling on the falls, breaking the school career record early in December.
This weekend, Askren can match his own personal-best win streak (26) with two victories in Mizzou's duals with Eastern Illinois and Central Missouri State.
Edinboro true freshman Gregor Gillespie had been the topic of many a message board thread since he came on the to college scene like gangbusters. With lightning quick transitions from neutral to scoring nearfall points, Gillespie is definitely a candidate for a high All-American finish for coach Tim Flynn's Fighting Scots, but Gillespie was saddled with his first two collegiate losses at the Southern Scuffle - a semifinal loss to Jeff "I like going by just J" Jaggers and Gardner-Webb's Daniel Elliott.
Another super frosh, Minnesota's Dustin Schlatter, won the tournament at 149 pounds, beating Jaggers on a riding time point, 1-0, in a bout between two former Ohio four-time state champions.
Who is this guy?
Speaking of Elliott, he jumped into the InterMat/NWCA/NMWA Individual Division I rankings at this week after a third-place finish at the Scuffle. The Eastern Regional Champion, Elliott was beaten 8-3 by Lock Haven's Josh Medina in the quarterfinals. After the Medina loss, Elliott went on a tear through the consolations, beating Joe Caramanica of N.C. State, Rider redshirt Don Fisch (a two-time NCAA qualifier), Gillespie, before avenging his loss to Medina in the consolation final.
Several pre-season ranked wrestlers made their returns to their respective lineups this week, but it was Hofstra's Jon Masa and Arizona State's C.B. Dollaway that made the biggest splash. Wrestling unattached and mostly up at 157 in the first semester, Masa came into his match with Michigan's Eric Tannenbaum on Monday a bit of an enigma to wrestling fans. Masa has great stuff, but has been inconsistent during the season - that's always been the knock on him. Well, the "good Masa" showed up in Hempstead in Hofstra's 23-15 loss to Michigan, scoring five points quickly with a lateral drop and cruising to a 13-4 major decision. Dollaway's first official action took place Tuesday night in the Sundevils' loss at Minnesota. Dollaway upended Roger Kish, the champion at the Southern Scuffle, 3-0.
Don't forget the little guys
Ohio's Heidelberg College claimed four championships between 141-165 to take home the team championship at the Citrus Open in Florida over the break. Nick Sanchez (141), Mark Zimmerman (149), Ian Rammell (157) and Tim Maxworthy (165) brought home championships. St. John's of Minnesota was second, while Cornell (Iowa) College, John Carroll (Ohio), and Ursinus (Pa.) rounded out the top five.
Friday night will put two intense rivalries in the forefront, with top-ranked Oklahoma State taking on Iowa and Penn State taking a trip across the Keystone State to wrestle Lehigh. In Division III, Wartburg travels halfway across the country to take on Delaware Valley.
Expect good crowds at all three events and an intensely fierce crowd at Lehigh's Stabler Arena - Penn State beat Lehigh 18-17 at Rec Hall in the finals of the PA State Duals back in November in State College.
Also on tap is the Lone Star Duals, where 133 pounds is the weight to watch with the anticipated return of Purdue's Chris Fleeger in addition to a group that includes Chattanooga's Matt Keller, Wisconsin's Top Clum, Central Oklahoma's Earl Jones and Utah Valley State's Erkin Tadzhimetov, just to name a few.