So, another weekend and another two dual wins have come and gone for the Tigers, who now sit 15-0 on this season and own 19 straight dual meet wins, going back to last season. What were your high-level take-aways from the two meets? I ask this because I was actually able to sit down and watch the NC State meet (thanks to free streaming from MUTigers.com) and have some expanded thoughts to add.
A few things from each dual:
CMU- Mayes finally dropped his first match. We both agreed that he was probably a bit over ranked, but he was undefeated until this weekend and has certainly exceeded my expectations for the season thus far. I was excited to see the Major Decisions from England & Miklus, and the fact that we forfeited at 197 and still only gave up 12 team points shows how dominant we really are in the MAC this year.
NCState - Lavallee dropped a match to an unranked opponent, which you dont like to see, but I'm not sure exactly what happened. Mellon appears to have wrestled well against a top HWT, and Miklus, Houdashelt and Cox all picked up solid team points.
To tie a quick bow around the CMU dual (which I followed while with the kids at a playground because it was so glorious outside on Saturday):
Surprised initially by the decision to burn the redshirt on Chase Brennan (not because of who Chase Brennan is necessarily, but because of the timing of it), but I will come back to this. Glad to see Synon keep it going. TOUGH loss by Mayes, but if anything is going to teach someone about the need to wrestle 7 minutes (as the coaches preach), this should be it. Solid wins by Drake and LaVallee and then big point totals by England/Eblen/Miklus (which surprised me just because of how defensively CMU evidently wrestles). Nice win by Devin to finish it.
Alright…so on to NC State. The dual started at 133, where NC State promptly forfeited the match an gave up an early 6-0 lead. Synon goes 2-2 on the weekend, though in listening to the broadcast team on the stream (who did a decent job), it did not SOUND as if Matt Manley was out of the mix for the season. We know he did not make weight at the Scuffle (as the NC State wrestler did not make weight here, which evidently came as a surprise to their team as they had no backup), but it does sound like the potential exists for him to come back. Will see if it makes sense (not sure how the MAC would treat rankings if Synon wrestles most of the matches and then Manley would return at the tournament).
Anyway, Mayes was next at 141, and he really looked pretty solid. His ride on top was not terribly strong, giving up a number of escapes, but he scored TD’s in each period and earned the riding time. It was a solid, bounce-back effort for him coming off of the disappointment of the Horan loss. Speaking of, I really hope Lavion gets another crack at him at the MAC’s. Horan has had his number thus far in their history and I think there could be something said about the potential confidence to be gained going into NCAA’s if he can slay his dragon.
On to 149, and Drake did what we expect Drake to do, and that is score points in his match, tilt people for near-falls and earn bonus team points. I was impressed by the energy from his opponent (a common theme I will start hitting on), but Drake went out and did what was expected.
At 157….oy. Credit to Chad Pyke from NC State for taking the action straight to LaVallee, who uses a really low stance and can be tough to wrestle. The problem for Joey, however, was leaving his ankle out there to be picked over and over again. It had been an even first period, but Pyke wrestled the full three minutes while LaVallee went only about 2:50 or so and Pyke got the TD and 2 nearfall and that was about it. LaVallee looked GASSED by the end of the match and just did not look good at any point.
Speaking of gassed, Mikey England almost had a real nice win over a ranked opponent, but ran out of steam in the final 30 seconds. After a scoreless first, but a stall warning against his opponent, England looked pretty confident and was taking the action to Rohskopf. A scramble led to him giving up 2 nearfall, but he scored the reversal and was sitting at 2-2 at the end of the 2nd. The escape made it 3-2, but England kept coming forward and eventually earned the penalty point on the 2nd stall call to tie it up. But Rohskopf scored the final takedown with just a few seconds to go to score the 5-3 win.
So let’s break for halftime….the dual was 13-7 and the Tigers had a couple of bad losses (for different reasons) back to back. Thoughts so far on reading this?
I don't really know what to make of the Synon and Manley stuff either. I guess at this point I trust Smith and his decisions. Burning the red shirt is weird timing also.I very much agree about this being one of those "good losses" for Mayes at the right time that could serve as motivation going forward. Lavallee I think has the grit and "go" to be a very good wrestler for us the next few years but his technique could certainly be tweeked. That would have to be an off season thing at this point and you just hope he can learn from a match like this. Tough to see England drop a match like that and I wonder if hes still not quite right with this weight drop and has lost a bit of conditioning because of it.
Ok, 2nd half, what happened and what did you see?
I will still come back around to the red-shirt burning…just you wait.
Alright, to 174 and one of the better matches (on paper) of the dual with Eblen against #14 Renda. Good energy to start the match from Renda and Eblen was in an early hole. But that seemed to wake him up and he dominated the rest of the way, with a late tilt to put the match way out of reach. Eblen looked solid at this weight and while Renda is ranked below him, it was still a good win. Credit to NC State (again…you sensing a theme here?) for early energy.
At 184…what do you know? MU wrestler gets down early again, as Macchiavello got an early 2-0 lead on Miklus. Willie would respond well with an escape, TD, NF and then another TD before the end of the period to put the match at 8-3, but then gave up a bit of a lazy reversal to start the 2nd before escaping and going on to earn the major in the third with another escape and TD with the riding time bonus. Two good wins from Eblen and Miklus made the dual 20-7 and just about put it out of reach for NC State….
…until J’Den put it totally out of reach. The late pin (6:37) was icing on a well-made cake, but one which had an interesting 1st period. Boykin (from NC State) was given a stall warning VERY early in the period before J’Den would score his first TD, but that must have woke him up because he scored a reversal on Cox before J’Den would get out and take him down again to close the period. Sitting up 12-4 with RT and 3 NF coming if he does not score the pin, J’Den was pretty much guaranteed the major, but the pin was a great way to finish a match that was just a tad on the sloppy side.
On the HWY match, and this was a better performance from Devin than the 5-2 score would indicate. He brought great energy to the match and was down only 3-2 real late. Thing is, Gwiazdowski is not a monster, and is REALLY athletic. Shooting on him is a real chore and Devin’s shot was pretty lackluster (especially as the match wore one, which is to be expected, especially from HWY’s). But Devin held up pretty well against a top wrestler and defending national champion, so there are positives to take away.
Finally, back to 125, where Alan Waters closed it out against Joe DeAngelo (brother of a former MU wrestler). Waters earned the TD early, but looked a little slow in the 2nd when he gave up a TD which tied the match. He would escape, and again to start the third before getting a final TD and the RT point for the 7-2 win.
In all, the final score of the duals says we were pretty dominant, taking 7 of 10 matches and scoring bonus points in there as well. However, I see a team that may be getting a little tired and a little worn down by the grind. Now, with school starting again this week, perhaps the kids getting back to the classroom and out of the wrestling room (to some extent) will help put some energy and sharpness back into their games. But I do wonder about the amount of matches and duals we have on the schedule and if that will ultimately serve us well (with experience) or bite us. This team still has six duals left which are scheduled, with one of those (against American) being the start of the National Duals tournament, which obviously could result in even more matches. It is to this end which I now see why Chase Brennan was called into action (at the cost of a RS season this year). The more rest for some of these guys, the better at this point.
So let’s take a breathe…thoughts?
Wow, I had noticed that we were wayyy up on total # of duals compared to a lot of the other top teams but I just figured our schedule was front loaded (because I was too lazy to look up a lot of other teams schedules) but we are wrestling a lot. I can see where Smith really wants to get his team as many individual matches as possible and see high level competition, which I'm a big fan of. However, not all of our guys have shown a TON of energy a good portion of the season. I really really hope this doesn't set up for a huge let down at the NCAAs like we saw 2 years ago. Is that your concern also, or do you think we'll see a lot more guys holding out in upcoming duals and Smith maybe willing to drop a dual in favor of giving Waters, Houdashelt, Eblen or Cox a rest?
Well…you have a few things at play. The streak, such as it is, is one of them. It is not worth a ton in March, but certainly looks good (and has some value) in these current months. The dual against Okie State is the last big one (for a little while at least), so maybe you go full bore on Friday and then start to dial it back. But yes, I think you run the risk of guys being gassed (especially for folks like Eblen or England and even Mayes and Manley (should he be back) who have some cuts to on a regular basis. Cody Johnston and Ty Prazma remain solid fill-ins at 165 and even 174 (and then obviously extend you up to 184 if need be with how people can be slotted to wrestle), and Brennan and Synon at the lower weights. But in terms of a dual to drop, if they get past Okie State, they should still be able to balance a lineup and get past most of the SCHEDULED opponents (I say this because opponents beyond American in the National Duals are not yet scheduled). UNI is always tricky and is still undefeated, so you may as well wrestle them hard as well. Buffalo, NIU, EMU and American though? Yeah…rest people as best you can and you should still win.
There is certainly a lot still worth fighting for and grinding out. I just hope our guys get some rest at some point and are energized for the national duals, MACs and NCAAs.
More on the upcoming Okie State dual on Thursday!