U.S. Open Reflections
Willie Saylor, Sr. Editor
This is not a call to action. This is a call to wrestling fans to do something they’ll completely enjoy.
The wrestling and the atmosphere in Las Vegas this past week was electric. Get your ass to Wisconsin for the World Team Trials. Get your 2015 U.S. Open tickets. And if all else is deemed impossible, MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS FOR THE 2015 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN LAS VEGAS!
Shoutout to USAWrestling for putting on a great event. While I’d like to see the Open and FILA JR’s separated from the Kids/Cadets/Western Regional, the event for what it was, was great. It was hectic, and nearly impossible, to follow all the great wrestling going on pre-semifinals and in the consolations/medal matches. But when the wrestling is on the main stage, it doesn’t get much better. The entire tournament should be that way. Think of how all the mats are front and center at the NCAA’s.
Also announced at the Open was the procedures for qualifying for World Teams. And again, props to the powers that be at USAW. What they did was prescribe a trials process in which we put together the absolute best teams we can.
The document is verbose and reads a bit legalese. But here are the details:
- Olympic weights in Men’s FS and Women will compete for World Team spots in Madison, WI, on May 30th and June 1st.
- Olympic weights in Greco will compete for World Team spots on June 13th and 14th in Daytona Beach, FL (during the Cadet Duals’ week).
- The Trials for Women’s Non-olympic weights will be held in Fargo on July 19th.
- The Trials for Non-olympic weights in Greco will be held in Fargo on July 22nd.
- The Trials for Non-olympic weights in Men’s FS will be held in Fargo on July 24th.
It’s a genius idea. The concept is that a wrestler who doesn’t win the spot at the Olympic weight or that excels in both styles, can move up or down in weight and/or from FS to Greco and vice versa.
One last thing before we get on to the individual weights...
For the most part, I love the new rules. They’re better than last year. And light years ahead of the three-period system that was used at the Open last year and that produced minimal scoring.
Except for the 1pt. ‘almost’ takedown (which is highly subjective), the rules encourage action and are easily understandable for even a novice audience.
However (you knew there had to be a ‘however,’ right?), not having overtime is just ridiculous. There is absolutely no rational way to expect competitors to internally calculate how many 2’s and 4’s and 1’s and cautions both he and his opponent have while in the heat of action. And there’s no rationale for having wrestlers finish off a match when they don’t know what the situation is. Is that fair? Is that what we want?
Don’t tell me that keeping a running count of points, valuation and cautions are incumbent upon the athletes and their coaches during the course of a six-minute match.
If that’s the case, hell, turn off the scoreboard and clock and let them just assume EVERYTHING.
If I have 10 points, and you have 10 points, who cares how many 2’s and 4’s each of us got to get there. Bottom line is, we accumulated the same amount of points throughout regulation. At the very least, let’s go another two minute OT period before we go to criteria (the information of which should be made readily available and accessible for coaches, wrestlers, and fans).
I Lied - One More “Last Point”
US Freestylers are terrible in par terre offense. You get put on bottom in Greco and it’s almost a guaranteed turn. Why don’t freestylers train with the GR guys occasionally to improve their guts and lifts?
On to the weights....
Thoughts on 57
- 2012 Olympian Sam Hazewinkel looked as sharp as I’ve ever seen him. He was both quick and technical and dominated Zach Sanders and Andrew Hochstrasser. To be nit-picky, he lead Sanders 9-0 after the first and didn’t score in the second in a 9-7 win. And Hochstrasser was hurt. That being said, with Escobedo hurt and Obe suspended, no one outside of Nick Simmons is touching Haze at the trials, where Haze will sit in the best-of-three finals.
- Escobedo was leading Sanders 8-0 before he hurt his ankle and was pinned. He was on crutches immediately. There was no word on how long the 2013 World Team Member would be out.
- Mitcheff lost in the quarters and won four straight matches to take 3rd, beating McKnight, Sanders, and Graff in succession.
- Andrew Hochstrasser is a match-up nightmare.
Thoughts on 61
- It’s weird how one day you can look so good and the next day be off. Coleman Scott looked like he was firing on all cylinders when he stormed out of the gate against BJ Futrell, who had beaten him earlier this season. But the 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist didn’t look quite right against Kennedy in the finals. There were no set ups and shots were telegraphed and straight forward.
- Kennedy and Scott both looked huge in the Saturday night finals.
- Kennedy looked very good and freestyle-savvy. The only points he yielded all tournament came on the opening takedown in the finals to Scott.
- With Reece and Stieber at 65KG, and Graff down at 57, this weight is incredibly thin. Of the 10 ranked wrestlers in the country, only 5 were in this bracket, with only Kennedy and Scott a real threat at World medal.
Thoughts on 65
- Metcalf was completely and utterly dominant. He didn’t yield a point. At the US Open. The entire tournament. And no one even sniffed a score on him. This could be a good and bad thing for the US. Maybe Metcalf has separated himself from the rest of the pack. Maybe he improved to the point of being a medal threat at Worlds. He did score on a more wide array of techniques than he has in the past. He’s been knocked for strictly relying on his patented lefty HI-C, but that wasn’t the case at the Open.
- Oliver beat Stieber then lost to Russell in semi’s and didn’t wrestle again.
- Stieber is too small for 65 to make a World Team. And if he did, entirely to small for international competition. 61KG? Now we’re talking. Although I think he’d still be smaller than Kennedy at 61, he’d be World medal-material there.
- Russell is the slipperiest cat in the US. So incredibly difficult to finish on.
Thoughts on 70
- I tweeted that Marable is a medal contender at the World level. Sammie Henson said “title contender.” Marable did look damn good. And for the sake of the US, he better be. This weight for the US is thin, thin, thin.
- Ruschell surprised taking 3rd with wins over Hall, Green and LeValley. His only loss was to Fay in the quarters.
- James Green is too small right now for 70. But it’s a perfect weight for him in the future.
- With the trials procedure being the way they are, many pundits are pondering the possibility that those not winning at 74KG at the trials will drop to 70KG for the non-Olympic weight trials at Fargo. Ain’t happening. What legitimate threat to Marable is going to? Taylor? No chance in hell. Dake could if he started now (and he might have to if he has World title aspirations this year.). Although I’d love to see it, I doubt it happens. The only other remote possibility is Tyler Caldwell.
Thoughts on 74KG
- What more to say. Watch the DT-JB final. Fun stuff. It showed David is ready to roll with the big boys. While I doubt that razor-thin margin is replicated at the trials (we ain’t seeing anymore roll-through cradles), look back at last year’s one-sided US Open loss to Burroughs. DT was much more improved and prepared on his feet. Also go back and watch DT’s match with Tsargush at University’s. He can go with the best in the world.
- Burroughs is borderline unbeatable. It was the latest indication that he’s the whole package: athletic, cerebral, mature, prepared, and with the biggest heart in the sport.
- Caldwell only loses to the absolute biggest studs. He took 3rd here where his only loss was to Taylor. JB, Howe, Taylor...they’re his only losses in matches/tournaments that matter in recent history.
Thoughts on 86
- The 26lb jump from 74KG to 86 is patently stupid.
- People rag on Gavin for not getting it done in international competition, but he’s so technically superior to anyone currently at this weight in the US. Sure, you can say he had close bouts with Reader and Foster, but the guy wins. Call me crazy, but I’m excited to see him at another World Championships (provided he wins the trials). He’s relatively young, still improving, and is a gamer. If he underperforms at Worlds again this year, I’ll start worrying. But as it stands, I’m optimistic about his short-term future.
- Speaking of Gavin’s technical prowess, did you see the move he hit to beat Foster? I jumped out of my chair. Amazing. This needs to be taught everywhere.
- Clayton Foster is damn good. I mean, I guess we knew that when he beat the reigning World Champ (Aldatov) and World medalist (Lashgari) at the World Cup. But he reminded us at the Open.
- How good can Ed Ruth be? I don’t know. He makes it look so easy. To be as competitive as he was (3rd with a loss to Foster in a bout that could have went either way) is encouraging. He doesn’t have a freestyle sense yet (he gives up a lot of ‘silly’ points), and no par terre game whatsoever. Which makes his ceiling even higher. But acquiring those talents is easier said than done. And it’s going to require extreme dedication between now and the trials. I can’t wait till Wisconsin to see how far he’s come training FS full time.
Thoughts on 97
- Varner is back. Personally I think he’s wrestling better than he ever has. He’s enormous. Strong as an ox. Wrestles tough, always bullying. I like the chip on his shoulder.
- Pendelton lost to Deron Winn in the quarters and didn’t wrestle back. He appeared hurt at the end of that match.
- Kilgore was out with an injury.
Thoughts on 125
- Tervel is World Class. No real surprise he won, but a surprise that he wasn’t even tested.
- I was surprised by the score in the Bradley-Fortune semi. 6-1? Didn’t see that coming.
Thoughts on the Juniors
- Tomasello, Pico, Snyder, Coon. And we still might see more talent contend at the Trials. Could this be the most talented Junior Team the US ever assembled. Junior Worlds are in Croatia in August. I'm going. Wouldn't miss it.
And, oh yeah, SET YOUR 2015 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS PLANS IMMEDIATELY!
Open Fallout - Thoughts on Vegas
U.S. Open Reflections