By The Numbers: Frank Molinaro's Olympic Team Trials Run

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Molinaro….. that sounds Italian. Italy is in Europe. They aren’t a wrestling power, but it is in Europe, so close enough. By now you are wondering where this is heading: Frank Molinaro had a stat line last week that looked very Eastern European. He pulled off one of the most improbable runs in Olympic Team Trial history by scoring exposure, managing the mat, not taking unnecessary risks, and not wasting any attacks. Look at the stats for yourself.

Committed Attacks
Frank Molinaro: 24
Opponents: 50

Molinaro was out attacked 50 to 24. That stat is somewhat misleading because the Stieber match was an outlier. Stieber took 18 attacks to Molinaro’s 4. However, there was only one bout that Molinaro took the same amount of attacks as his opponent. That was the first bout against Pico. Yes, the match he lost. Does it mean anything? Probably not, but it is something to think about.

The amazing stat to come out of this category is Molinaro’s scoring percentage off of his attacks from the neutral position. He scored on 13 of 24 attacks and 5 of 11 high crotches. Molinaro picked his spots and didn’t put himself in danger of being countered unless the attack was there. In contrast he gave up scores on 8 of 50 attacks. If you take the Stieber 2 of 18 performance out, you still have Molinaro holding his opponents to scores on 6 of 32 attacks. When you score at 54% and hold your opponents to a conversion percentage of 16% you are going to win a lot of matches.

Passivity Calls
Frank Molinaro: 14
Opponents: 4

To be passive is often thought of as a bad tactic. This stat shows that isn’t necessarily the case. Molinaro gave up 7 shot clock violations in 6 matches. Molinaro didn’t let the calls rattle him as he stuck to his game plan and picked his attacks wisely. When you are scoring two and four-point exposures, the one-point shot clock violation isn’t a big penalty to overcome.

Frank Molinaro: 3
Opponents: 3

I couldn’t believe how few takedowns were scored by Molinaro and his opponents. Some of that has to do with my recording. If the position went to danger before the wrestler covered for the takedown, I scored it as exposure instead of a takedown. So you can view the four-point high crotches Molinaro scored as takedowns, but the score was for putting the guy in danger and he didn’t secure any extra points by gaining control.

Americans are notorious for having a control mindset from folkstyle roots and often struggle to score non-controlled exposure. To score more exposure than takedowns is a great stat for a freestyle wrestler.

Step Outs Scored
Frank Molinaro: 4
Opponents: 3

For the most part matches aren’t won or lost on step out points, just like shot clock violations. When they become significant is when wrestlers give up step outs instead of takedowns. Molinaro scrambled a few times out of takedowns and only allowed a step out point to be scored. The most significant action came against Brent Metcalf. He was able to fend off the high crotch to only give up a step out in the first period. He used his own high crotch to score a step out to secure the victory against Metcalf late in the match. Credit Molinaro on his criteria awareness and ability to control the mat area.

Exposure From Neutral
Frank Molinaro: 3 two-pointers, 3 four-pointers
Opponents: 2 two-pointers

Feet to danger is the highest scoring move that you can execute in freestyle wrestling. Frank Molinaro scored three of these over the course of six matches. He was also able to score three more exposure sets when his opponent was grounded in the neutral position for two points. In contrast, Molinaro only gave up two holds that took him into the danger position from neutral. Both of those were two-point scores for Molinaro’s opponent. These four-point scores won the bouts against Stieber and the final bout in the championship series against Pico. His non-controlled exposure against Metcalf was also the deciding criteria in that match. This category was the single most important stat in Molinaro's championship run.

Exposure In Par Terre
Frank Molinaro: 1
Opponents: 0

One trapped-arm gut wrench against Kellen Russell was all the scoring from the par terre position that occurred in the six matches Molinaro wrestled at the Olympic Team Trials. From the defensive side, that is a great stat. When looking offensively you can easily identify this as a position Molinaro will be working on to improve his freestyle game in the future.

Rewatching and breaking down Molinaro’s run to the Olympic Team Trials victory gave me a greater sense of appreciation for what Molinaro was able to do. He showed great freestyle skills and match awareness. He managed the mat incredibly well, knew criteria advantage, and capitalized on feet to danger opportunities when they presented themselves. It is a huge compliment, in my opinion, to say a wrestler looked Eastern Europen-like. Look for Molinaro to shock some foreign competition through the qualification process in the next two months.

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