Wrestling season never really ends.
One big tournament ends then another important event is on the horizon.
For those of us who love wrestling, that’s not a bad thing.
Here are my thoughts and reflections with the U.S. Open just ending and the Final X just around the corner:
Two college sophomores, a freshman and a senior were among the champions at the U.S. Open. Seeing Daton Fix, Yianni Diakomihalis and Bo Nickal prevail weren’t huge surprises. Ryan Deakin’s title was a big surprise although he is a Junior world medalist.
Don’t cut too much weight – at any level. Just don’t do it. The sport is difficult enough without subjecting your body to this kind of torture and abuse. It’s just not worth it. It never has been. Cutting weight doesn’t do anyone any good. Wrestlers can eat clean and healthy, work hard and then find the weight they are most comfortable in.
Instead of constantly tweaking the rules in college folkstyle wrestling, let’s just switch to the international rules and go to freestyle. The quality of wrestling in freestyle is so much better and more entertaining than folkstyle. Why not just make the switch? And we can get rid of riding time once and for all. That would make me, and a lot of other people, very happy.
Thomas Gilman will bounce back from his U.S. Open finals loss. He’s too good not to come back strong from that setback. I wouldn’t count him out in his quest to make a third straight world team. Gilman has been second and fifth in the world, and he won’t go down without a fight.
I love the idea of a Jordan Burroughs-Ben Askren match. Wrestling should do more of that where we can bring in past wrestlers who are excelling in mixed martial arts. Maybe we can get Henry Cejudo to come back again and wrestle one of the top American freestyle wrestlers. It attracts more attention for wrestling and also piques the interest of MMA fans who may not follow wrestling that closely.
I love seeing Yianni Diakomihalis and Bo Nickal already making an impact on the Senior level. These guys have styles perfectly suited to freestyle. They put points on the board and can hit a big move in the blink of an eye. It will be interesting to see how they fare on the Olympic level.
I’m ready for Iowa State’s David Carr and Iowa’s Nelson Brands to not be redshirts anymore. Let’s get these two studs on the mat during the next college season and see what they can do. It will be fun to watch the sons of wrestling legends officially start competition on the collegiate level.
I hate the idea that we only have six weight classes per style for wrestling at the Olympic Games. There is so much depth in the U.S. right now, particularly in freestyle, that it will be a shame to see world champions not even making the American team in 2020. Something needs to be done to bring back more weight classes. Go back to one bronze medal and use those extra medal spots to justify having more weight classes.
Women’s wrestling has become one of the fastest growing sports in the country over the past two years with numerous states sanctioning the sport. I saw it first-hand when Iowa hosted its first state tournament for girls this year in Waverly. Let’s keep the ball rolling on this initiative. It’s exciting to see the sport grow on the female side and it’s amazing to see more competitive opportunities being available for girls. It’s awesome to see.
I’m hoping the world silver medal that Adam Coon won last year will provide a boost that will carry over into this year and beyond for the U.S. Greco-Roman program. There are some young studs, including the dynamic Kamal Bey, who have a chance to make a big splash on the big stage. Coon continues to amaze me as he excels in Greco and freestyle on the Senior level. He’s an old-school heavyweight with big-time ability in both styles.
I’m really looking forward to seeing the NCAA Championships moving to a bigger venue next year when it is held in Minneapolis in 2020. Having it in a football stadium is an excellent opportunity to bring in some huge crowds and really showcase what is already an incredible event. Now if we could just wrestle freestyle instead of folkstyle.