Top News Stories...
This week, TheMat.com will move to the USOC platform, with a new look, new functionality, but with the same favorite features....
Shockley will succeed long-time chairman Jim Keen. Sr. as Chairman of the Board....
The Hawkeye senior will battle Virginia Tech's Devin Carter in the NWCA All-Star Classic on Saturday....
Cleveland, Kansas City, Louisville, New York City, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia & St. Louis are Div. I finalists. Div. II and III finalists also announced....
|NOTES FROM PRESS ROW IN FARGO, Tuesday, July 24|
By Various journalists
Winning a team title is a huge deal for state associations
By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling
Wrestling may be an individual sport, but there is also a team aspect to it. At the major tournaments, team scores are kept, and there is a champion determined based upon the performance of the group combined.
At USA Wrestling's Junior and Cadet Nationals for many years, no team scores were kept. Bragging rights were determined by math conducted by wrestling journalists, and the different state associations had a healthy rivalry going every year.
In 2006, for the first time, USA Wrestling kept official team scores, and awarded a championship cup to the top team in all five divisions contested: Cadet Greco-Roman, Junior Greco-Roman, Women's freestyle, Junior Greco-Roman and Junior freestyle.
Winning the Wells Fargo Insurance Services Cup during the first year were Iowa (Junior Greco-Roman and Cadet Greco-Roman), New Jersey (Junior freestyle), California (Women's freestyle) and Pennsylvania (Cadet freestyle).
For Iowa, winning both men's Greco-Roman titles was a big boost and reward for the athletes, coaches and the entire organization.
"It meant a lot to our Greco-Roman coaches. They worked real hard putting it together," said Mark Reiland, the state chairperson in Iowa. "They had a great plan for camp and put them in a good learning situation that gave them the chance to win. Sure, you need to have quality athletes to win, also."
It was surprising to some because Iowa does not host as many Greco-Roman tournaments as some of the other states.
"The kids who do Greco-Roman for us are going to the Regionals and the national tournaments and are making an effort to get better," said Reiland.
The Junior freestyle division may be the most watched, because many of the contestants are top recruits for the major college programs. New Jersey's victory the first year helped fuel a competitive fire among the athletes in the wrestling-rich state.
"It is the first time we have ever won anything," said Rich Santoli, the state chairperson in New Jersey. "All through the state, it was recognized. All the best kids in the state are here. They are determined to come back here and repeat. We think we have a shot at winning both Cadet and Junior freestyle. We may not win, but we will damn well try."
So far in 2007, three titles have been determined. Pennsylvania won the Cadet Greco-Roman, Minnesota claimed the Junior Greco-Roman and California repeated as the women's freestyle champions.
"The best thing is we get free Buffalo Wild Wings when we win," joked Pennsylvania coach Ray Brinzer. "Winning the real team title is great. We've known about it a long time and now it counts. It gives the kids a big boost about wanting to come back, to participate and to see themselves as a team. It also does a lot for some of the lesser athletes. Our top guys are very self-motivated. For the others, they come here, see this huge tournament, and realize they can compete and they are part of a team. A lot of them come home a whole lot different than when they came here."
The match of the day? Could be Ramos-Villalonga
by Rob Sherrill by W.I.N. Magazine
It's freestyle time…and that means the leg-breakers have taken the mat here in the FargoDome.
There are certain matches that are so eagerly anticipated by the hordes of wrestlers, coaches and fans that they're lined up several deep around the edge of the mat - much like the galleries trying to sneak a peek at Tiger Woods at a PGA Tour event.
The interest in last summer's classic between Nate Moore of Iowa City (Iowa) West High and Collin Palmer of Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward High - a third-round matchup - brings back those kinds of memories.
Tomorrow's showdown between Illinois state champion Tony Ramos of Carol Stream Glenbard North High and National Prep champion Chris Villalonga of Blairstown N.J.) Blair Academy in the Pool B final at 119 pounds will have exactly that sort of feel.
It'll be a rematch of their 112-pound Ironman Invitational final at Cuyahoga Falls (Ohio) Walsh Jesuit High, which Ramos, an ASICS First Team All-American, won by the slimmest of margins, 3-2.
Toughest first-round draw: Despite the final score - 5-0, 5-0 - the first-round matchup between two of the nation's top freshman 103-pounders probably was better than the final score indicated.
Granted, National Prep champion Nick Schenk of Owings Mills (Md.) McDonogh School really didn't come close to scoring against defending champion Logan Stieber of Monroeville (Ohio) High. But how many opponents have forced Stieber to wrestle the full four minutes - in his two years as a Cadet?
They were two of the best freshman 103-pounders in the nation last year. Schenk finished the season 43-0 en route to his National Prep crown. Only a one-point loss to potential double Junior National champion David Taylor of St. Paris (Ohio) Graham High separated Stieber from an unbeaten season on his own.
It's worth noting that neither has lost since.
Toughest pool: You might argue with me on this one, but 98B is right up there. Greco-Roman champion Jesse Thielke of Wisconsin is cruising for a return trip to the finals, and so is St. Edward sophomore-to-be Gus Sako. Both my picks for the finals - New York state champion Steven Keith of Shoreham-Wading River High, a teammate of two-time state champion Corey Jantzen - and Charles Zeisloft of New Jersey, who sparkled at the Cadet Natuonal Duals - are out. Go figure.
Lenhart, the 14th child in his family, earns All-American at Cadet freestyle
by Jason Bryant, InterMat
It's been a mainstay in Virginia wrestling circles for the last two decades, but it's been 12 years since it appeared on a Cadet or Junior National podium. That name is Lenhardt.
Rising junior Colin Lenhardt of Gloucester, Va., won his first five matches at 171 pounds by fall and has assured himself at least a sixth place finish at the Cadet Freestyle National Championships. What's amusing about the story here is that Lenhardt is one of 14 (or is it 15?) children. All the boys wrestle, all the girls play field hockey. Older brother Martin placed in Cadet Greco-Roman back in 1995, and since then, two other Lenhardts, Ryan and Bryan (not twins), have wrestled on the expansive mat surfaces at the Fargodome.
Lenhardt qualified for the Virginia AAA state tournament this past year, but was forced to injury default in the first round and failed to place. There's been a Lenhardt at Gloucester High School every year since 1982, and for some wrestling coaches, it seems the same can be said for the Gloucester wrestling lineup.
There's also a new legacy in the works, older brother Bryan currently wrestles at Johnson & Wales, following Ryan, who finished his eligibility a few years back. Oh, and there's at least one more wrestling Lenhardt coming down the wrestling pipe.
Montana finds success at Cadet and Junior Nationals in Greco-Roman
By Ron Boggs, USA Cobra Montana
Competition in the world's largest wrestling tournament features 4,000-plus wrestlers, but just 31 Greco Roman entrants hail from Montana. Yet Team Montana continues to represent the state in fine fashion.
Adding the two Cadet Division finalists from tweekend bouts, and a Junior-level wrestler making it to the finals, nearly 10% of the Team Montana entries have grappled their way to the finals matches on the raised center mat in Fargo, N.D.
Team Montana's latest champion, Ty Vinson of Great Falls won a hard-fought three round decision over Nathan Graham of New York Monday night. Vinson is competing in the 171 pound division-the same weight he wrestled to win a high school state title earlier this season.
Vinson is the first Junior division wrestler from Montana to make it to the finals in several years and is Montana's only Junior All-American in more than three years. Vinson has been actively training for this major tournament as well as traveling to any Greco Roman and Freestyle tournaments he could find in the West.
"Montana is in a building cycle and our guys are really putting Montana back into the heart of National competition," said Team Montana head coach, Caleb Schaffer, who is also the head coach at the University of Great Falls. "Both a Junior champ and a Cadet champ-that hasn't happened for Team Montana in a long time."
This is coach Schaffer's first year heading the Team Montana program. The resurgence of Montana wrestlers into the national headlines reflects positively on his tenure.
Pennsylvania and Ohio battle for pin supremacy
By Tabitha Wilson, Pennsylvania USA Wrestling
The debate rambles on constantly about who's the better wrestling state - Pennsylvania or Ohio. Well, with the Cadet Freestyle tournament in full swing, both states are sitting 1-2 in the fall totals.
Pennsylvania has 43 falls as a team and Ohio follows with 41. Ohio brought the largest group of Cadets, with 67 - although Ohio coaches have said it's as many as 69 or 70. Pennsylvania brought 49.
Leading the way for the respective states are Andrew Alton at 130 pounds for PA. He's got four falls, while Ohio's top pinner is Gus Sako at 98 pounds. Sako opened the tournament with three straight falls.
Picking up the slack for PA has been Joe Waltko (four falls) and Josh Kindig (three falls).
By Randy Hinderliter, USA Wrestling Kansas
Though my personal trip into the State of Oblivion may be shorter than most, when one spends 12-14 hours a day in the Fargodome, one definitely "gets into a zone!" I truly get oblivious to the world when I enter … the Fargozone.
I guess the weather outside the Fargozone is brutal. The temperature is hot and the humidity is up. The weather service has placed Fargo in a heat advisory for today and again for tomorrow. But the weather inside the Fargozone is cool … almost uncomfortable cool. When I enter the Fargozone I become oblivious to the time and what day of the week it is.
But, the weather is a factor. Those of us "lucky" enough to be sleeping in the dorms will have to manage the environment. My concern is with the athletes. Those still wrestling need rest in order to compete at a high-level.
I feel obligated to add this disclaimer. The staffs of North Dakota State University, the Fargodome, and the City of Fargo have always made our stay here as pleasurable as they can. They have always controlled everything they can. Even though I sometimes linger in the no camping zones of the Fargodome and get in trouble, I have no complaints.
So what's new in Fargo this year?
John Punwani, Center Mat Press
There are at least three things new in Fargo this year for those who have been to the Junior Nationals in the past.
The golden voices of the USA Wrestling announcers Sandy Stevens and the Donald Blasingame are heard less often, because of the match-posting screens that are new in the dome. Wrestlers must keep their eyes glued to the screens to watch for their bout.
Also gone are the contentious passivity calls, that made life interesting for the officials and confounded the wrestlers from time to time. There is no yelling and screaming at the officials. Oh what a relief it is!
Also new is the technology in use at the dome. Text messages flying around instead of the wrestlers on the mat. Coaches communicating via cell phones-I am amazed these phones work at all in this high-density cell phone zone.
Sandy Stevens, as usual, has praise for the upstanding wrestlers that return found wallets intact with money. None other than former Pennsylvania wrestler Ray Brinzer got his lost blue bag back. Would he have gotten his "Gumby doll" back? That is the question.
For those who do not know, Ray used to keep his Gumby doll, a green raggedy-ann look-alike doll, at mat side for good luck. He fried a lot of fish in his time. Now, as a coach, he is back teaching others how to "fish," especially those from his Angry Fish WC.
It is really warm in Fargo today. Sandy Stevens issued a hot weather advisory to the wrestlers. Will they pay any heed to it? They are wrestlers after all.