InterMat Wrestling – Foley’s Friday Mailbag: November 16, 2018

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Nick Reenan battles David Taylor at Final X in State College, Pa. (Photo/Richard Immel)

The first National Letters of Intent were signed this week, and early indications have Arizona State set for both a very strong recruiting class and the year-to-year results that could challenge East Coast powerhouse Penn State.

Colleges across the country posted about their high school signings and did so with fun social media and behind the scenes looks at their homes and schools.

But for me the best posts were from the Ivy League accounts Cornell and Penn who reminded everyone that they aren’t allowed to sign NLI’s but they’ll still have the top recruiting class in the country.

Penn was subtler, pointing to a story about one of their athletes who said he didn’t have to choose between top academics and top athletics.

So, a quick salute to the Ivy League schools who face a unique labyrinth in recruiting and retaining top wrestlers. They are figuring it out, winning on the mat, and staying relevant on social media on days when others would like to steal the show.

To your questions …

Q: Nick Reenan of NC State looked solid in beating Ryan Preisch of Lehigh. Do you see Reenan as a title contender at 184 pounds?

— Mike C.

Foley: Yes. He has the athletic talent and is coached by one of the best staffs in the nation and in 2018 proved in both folkstyle and freestyle that he was one of the nation’s top wrestlers.

While he most notably won the World Team Trials and made Final X against David Taylor, I was most impressed with him winning six straight matches at the U.S. Open to place third, an accomplishment that may have given him the extra confidence boost when facing top-level NCAA opponents.

While he was only a qualifier in 2017, he redshirted in 2018 and racked up a 21-4 record.

I have a bias towards freestyle guys, but I really think it will be Reenan and Myles Martin in the NCAA finals at 184 pounds.

Q: In the United States, freestyle is the primary focus when it comes to international styles because of how closely it resembles folkstyle, the style of scholastic wrestling. (I am very open to being wrong in my assumption and would appreciate any clarity.) My question is which countries is the primary style of wrestling Greco-Roman and is there brief history as to why a country’s particular international style would be Greco instead of freestyle? Because from an outside observation it appears that more countries are represented in freestyle wrestling than Greco Roman.

— Marcus R.

Foley: The type of wrestling a nation embraces largely dictates which style they’ll find most success in international wrestling. The Nordic regions long ago celebrated a belt wrestling style most akin to Iceland Glima and Swiss Schwingen and as such migrated to upper body-only styles of wrestling.

America adopted collar-and-elbow from the Irish and English along with catch-as-catch-can, which were both leg-friendly styles. Very long story short, that has meant that our physical traditions have been most adaptable to freestyle.

Korea is another interesting example of tradition driving Olympic interest. Ssriuem is a belt style of wrestling with upper body only holds, hence the interest and success of the Koreans with Greco-Roman wrestling.

As for representation, there are typically more Greco-Roman entries at the World Championships than there are freestyle. However, when taken in combination with women’s wrestling, the dirty leg grabbers have a statistical advantage.

Q: How do you think Daton Fix will do this weekend against Seth Gross (Saturday) and Ethan Lizak (Sunday)? Any predictions?

— Mike C.

Foley: I’m not sure who he beats and who he loses to, but I think that Fix walks away 1-1. The styles of these opponents each present a problem and while I expect him to solve at least one of them, I think it would be difficult to expect that he can both answer Seth Gross’ funky defense (usually from Fix’s preferred low-ankle attacks) and get out from bottom against Ethan Lizak (always a struggle for freshman wrestlers).

That said I think it’s more of a probability question. I’d say Fix has a 20 percent chance at going 2-0, 65 percent chance at 1-1, and 15 percent chance at ending 0-2.

Also, I give Fix a better chance against Lizak than I do Gross.

Q: How many medalists are you expecting from Team USA at the U23 World Championships in freestyle?

— Mike C.

Foley: The Russians are bringing a monster freestyle lineup to Bucharest. Guys who could be on almost anyone else’s national roster will be competing for arguably the most successful wrestling nation in the world.

The United States is bringing a different type of squad. Mostly college wrestlers and recent graduates, the team is filled with names known to Americans, but that don’t get a lot of attention on an international roster. Few have been on any Junior or Cadet teams and only Kollin Moore has won a world medal.

That said, the United States is arguably the second-best freestyle wrestling nation in the world and improving every year. There will be medals, but I’m going to set a conservative over/under at four overall medals, with one finalist.

Here are the most-likely wrestlers to medal, in my opinion.

57: Jack Mueller — Medalist

61: Sean Fausz

65: Colton McCrystal

70: Hayden Hidlay — Medalist

74: Alexander Smythe

79: David McFadden — Medalist

86: Myles Martin — Medalist

97: Kollin Moore — Medalist

125: Youssif Hemida


Grace Bullen beat the 2019 Senior World Champion with a SICK last-second throw at U23 Worlds!

Paliha Paliha is one of the most interesting wrestlers I’ve met over the last several years. Extremely outspoken, fun-loving, and tough as nails. Also, she’s from western China which is an interesting change for a team dominated by ethnic Hans.

Fumita is coming for that gold in 2020

Q: Do you expect we’ll see Gable Steveson this Sunday against Oklahoma State?

— Mike C.

Foley: No.

Q: Long-time reader, first-time writer. (I read InterMat every week, if not multiple times per week, even out of season.) Truly glad that the trolls are gone from the comments section.

Forgive if this isn’t your area, but maybe you can forward to the appropriate person for me. My question: Why is Roman Bravo-Young not ranked as of yet? And why is Brady Berge PSU’s 149-pound representative in the rankings, when Jarod Verkleeren got the nod against Kent State? I realize that doesn’t mean everything as 125-pound contenders Gavin Teasdale and Brody Teske didn’t compete and likely one of them will start come January. But RBY not ranked now is a mystery. Perhaps I am overestimating his talent?

— David Y.

Foley: I’m also glad to hear that some of the trolls are no longer in the thread. One of the fascinating aspects of the wrestling community is that amount of collective knowledge held by readers that you simply could never research online. I love that dialogue, but when blockheads get on to discourage equal rights some readers tune out and don’t look to respond. Hopefully that will soon change.

As for your question, the rankings are done weekly by a committee that (thankfully!) doesn’t include me. You are absolutely not overestimating RBY’s talent, but I think it’ll take a few weeks for him to catapult into the rankings, or more likely, a key victory over an established opponent.

For the record, I love watching RBY wrestle!

From the the rankings committee: “Roman Bravo-Young is certainly a very talented wrestler evidenced by his perfect high school record and strong start at Penn State. At this point, he’s very close to being ranked at 133 pounds. RBY will certainly have an opportunity to move into the rankings — and climb the rankings — with Penn State’s schedule.

“Penn State’s situation at 149 pounds is fluid. While Jarod Verkleeren did get the start against Kent State and performed well, he has not solidified the starting spot. Junior world medalist Brady Berge is still very much in the mix. The two have not wrestled off. Berge has been on a weight decent plan and is expected to be back soon. He’s the wrestler InterMat has been evaluating for purposes of rankings. That could certainly change with results and new developments.”

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