The Beef - Well gentlemen, I don't know about you, but that was a REALLY interesting final regular season dual against our old rivals in the Huskers. The Tigers went on the road and got some fairly unexpected results in some cases to pull off the 19-14 win in one of the prominent matches within the National Duals. First responder to the email gets the chance to name their biggest pleasant surprise of the weekend as we look back at the big win.
BST - Before I list my most pleasant of surprises, I'd like to say congrats to J'Den Cox on his 100th win. He set a new record for the fastest to achieve that record, in just 105 matches.
I'll say that my biggest surprise was the BIG late TD from Willie Miklus. Dude has not looked or wrestled healthy lately. We were just a few days ago wondering if he might have to injury default his way into the NCAAs. So, of course he goes out and scores a (literal) final second takedown against #9 ranked TJ Dudley to put the team up 5 points going into J'Dens match. I think a fully healthy and rested Miklus wins that match by a wider margin, but the grit it took for him to come from behind and get the win shows what that young man is made of. Damn good stuff from him.
The Beef - Great point on Willie. Hopefully these next two weeks give him the time to rest up and start to peak. I would not pick him over Dechow right now at the MAC’s, but I would love to see a nice showing there, then two more weeks of rest leading into the NCAA’s.
Speaking of late takedowns, nice to see Barlow McGhee get a very solid win over a ranked opponent to open the match at 125. That was a big win for both the Tigers and McGhee and one without which they would not have won the dual. What other positives did you have from Sunday?
BST - I would be remiss if I didn't talk about Daniel Effing Lewis. Dude went out and not just beat the #9 ranked Wilson, he blanked him, 4-0. Apparently in between periods, Lewis was near the Nebraska bench and casually said "whats up" to Jordan Burroughs, ha.
Dude has been on fire lately and I think we have to consider him a serious candidate to not just AA, but to place top 4. Since mid December he has lost twice, to #3 Bo Jordan and #1 Dierenger by a combined 3 points.
Shaffe - Well now that BST has taken almost all of the positives from the weekend I want to point out that I really enjoyed seeing Cox not only win but major a fellow ranked wrestler. Putting up large margins of victory against ranked wrestlers is what separates guys who are contending for All-American honors from guys who are competing for titles. Without bringing up his match by match results I’m recalling that J’Den has done a really good job this year of wrestling up to his lofty #2 ranking by dominating guys he should dominate. He still shows a little more frustration than I’d like when guys try to not engage at all, but all in all he’s doing a solid job of really pushing the pace out there.
Also I want to give a shout out to Cody Johnston for pulling a Le’Roy Barnes and bumping up two weight classes and limiting damage at the heavyweight spot. The dual was decided by the time he stepped onto the mat but it was really interesting to see him give up a ton of weight and keep things relatively close. No disrespect to James Romero who has battled his ass off this year in a tough situation, but only giving up a major there is very likely better than Romero would have done despite Jensen probably battling an injury right now.
The Beef - I chuckled when I saw Johnston take the mat, because the match mattered none. So yes, Cody limited the damage, but there was no damage to limit, and honestly, I’m not sure I understand the move. Is Smith thinking he may replace Romero at this point? That would seem…strange. Guess we’ll see how it goes or whether it was as simple as getting a senior one final match.
Alright gents, anything which disappointed/surprised you on the weekend?
Shaffe - Biggest bummer to me was seeing Mayes drop his match to Sueflohan. With no other direct matchups in the top 5 I'm not sure if Mayes will find himself on the opposite side of the bracket of Penn State's Zain Retherford come NCAA tourney time - but that's a discussion for another day and week. Did either if you lay eyes on this dual to see what exactly happened? I would guess Mayes did what he's done a lot this year - found himself in a super close match at the end of the third period - only this time it finally bit him.
The Beef - I did not see it, but if Mayes doesn’t get the takedown in the OT SV1, then he is hard-pressed to win because his top game is not tremendous and 30 seconds is not a long time in which to work an escape. That is what I figured happened.
BST – I didn't see it either, so I'll take Beefs word as gospel.
The Beef - As you always should.
So, before we get into the regular season wrap-up, did either of you get the chance to see any of the Penn State/Okie State dual from the weekend?
Shaffe - My son's birthday party was on Sunday so I did not catch one second. I don't even know what the final score was or if there were any interesting results. Revoke my wrestling fan card now.
Was there anything notable to come out of that or any of the other duals in this stupid format?
BST - Penn St. got like, eleventy pins, of course. Only surprising result I thought was Megaludis pinning Kilmara.
The Beef - I really do wonder if Megaludis knew what he was doing on that posturing/positioning to get Klimara to roll off his head down on to his neck and shoulders for the pin. For me (and especially after NC State beat Iowa on Monday night) Penn State may CRUSH the field at the NCAAs in a month. They looked really impressive. Jason Nolf at 157 (freshman…scary) was up 14 late in the third in his match…sized up his opponent while standing and executed a takedown right to his opponent’s back and pinned him (anything less than straight to his back would have been a simple TD and ended the match as a tech). Just amazing how good they are at getting bonus points, and that lineup is absolutely loaded.
The only other thing to come out of the broadcast was just how in the tank the BTN announcers were for the new format (which is not surprising, considering the Big 10 drove the change). They talked about how this was the only way to get everyone involved in it, as if their involvement this year made it some sort of true’er National Dual title. The one thing that did resonate with me is that the hosting duties next season flip to the non-B1G schools, which means Mizzou would host a match. If Mizzou is as good as we think/hope they will be next season, and NC State/VA tech maybe take a half step back, it is possible Mizzou hosts the "title" bout, which is exciting (to the extent the bout is really for a "title").
Anyway, moving on…
So in lieu of starting to preview the MAC’s (which we will do next week), let’s take a moment to step back and look at the regular season as a whole (including the NU match in the totals). Two losses are two more than we had the previous season, but there is little wrong with losing at Okie State and at NC State. You’ve got McGhee now at 9, Synon at 15, Manley down to 8 after Ward of NC moved up from 9, Mayes down to 4, Lewis at 4, Butler at 7, Miklus up to 10 and Cox at 2. Did you think we’d have 8 top-16 wrestlers this season when it started?
BST - I"ll let Shaffe take the lead here. Don't screw it up!
Shaffe - I can’t say that when the season began I would have expected to have 8 guys ranked. McGhee has been much better than I pegged him for and I’m not sure I would have thought Synon would hover around the top 10 all year like he did. HWT was an obvious weak spot from the start and the uncertainty at 157 was almost immediate so I think back in November I would have only thought 6 or 7 guys in the rankings. So on that front it was good to see progression from the team as guys not only broke into the rankings but other guys ascended higher than maybe we thought as well.
BST - I had questions for sure around McGhee, Synon and Manley. I hoped they could all be knockout round or better type guys, but I had no real idea.
Of course I did, however, know that Daniel Freaking Lewis was gonna be a stud.
The Beef - Alright, let’s not go too much further, since I am sure we will spend plenty of time breaking down the full season and looking ahead to the next once the NCAA’s wrap up next month. So I will leave you guys with this final question:
Thinking back to October, is this regular season (including the in-season tournaments) worse, as good or better than you expected it to be?
BST - I'd say its been better than I expected. First at the Vegas Invitational with 2 individual champs, dual wins against tOSU, Cornell, Oklahoma, another sweep of the MAC schools and a win at the Nubs. Thats a damn good year.
Shaffe - I also think the year turned out a little better than I expected. Barlow McGhee and Matt Manley were both far better than I expected when the season started, Synon was a bit better than I expected and Le’Roy Barnes has filled in quite admirably at a spot that very quickly was a concern once the season got underway. Everybody else has been about as expected but there weren’t any real big disappointments compared to preseason expectations and I think that speaks very highly to the top notch coaching staff that Brian Smith as assembled at Mizzou.
The Beef - I’ll say I was not TERRIBLYsurprised to see Synon hanging around this ranking this season (and hopefully he can finish a little stronger than his February has been). McGhee especially and Manley to some extent have been surprises. I’d love to see Barnes earn his way into the NCAAs and steal a win or two, though obviously I would have thought LaVallee would have been a top-10 kind of guy, so 157 ends up being a disappointment. Daniel Lewis has really been better than I hoped (I’d have been placed with a top-10-range type of season). To be honest, even Blaise Butler climbing to 7 or perhaps even higher has been pleasing and a bit surprising. Miklus getting dinged up for a time (and hopefully he is through it now) stings a little and HWY is what I thought/feared it might be. In the end, that finishes with more plusses than minuses.