By Rob Koll
Happy holidays to all! Here is my Grapple at the Apple update.
Nahshon Garrett deserves a great deal of credit for competing this weekend. Nahshon sprained his ankle on Thursday and I was informed by Chris Scarlata, our trainer, that there was virtually no way he would be capable of wrestling on Sunday. A day later he was hobbling around in a boot and on crutches. The following day he snuck into the Friedman Center at night so he could try to get used to the pain. By Sunday he was wrestling. The problem is he wasn’t able to work out, and thus he had to cut all his weight the morning of the match. He looked horrible in the Missouri match, not because of the injury, but because he had not recovered from the weight cut. By the time we wrestled Oklahoma State, he had recovered, and he looked more like himself. Nahshon is one tough customer. He is also the consummate team player. His only problem is he is chronically late for everything. Travis Lee had this same malaise so I can only assume these guys have their clocks set on West Coast time. He is going to be left at the hotel the next time he shows up late. Of course if he keeps winning I might hold the bus a couple extra minutes!
Nick Arujau finally got back into the lineup but was less than impressive. Nick was one dimensional on his feet, listless on bottom and desperate on top. His performance was particularly disappointing because he has such impressive moments in the practice room. The Southern Scuffle will give us an opportunity to see both Bricker Dixon and Nick in action at the same time. The tournament results will serve as a barometer for choosing our starter at this weight class.
Mike Nevinger did not have one of his finer performances against Missouri but bounced back against Oklahoma State. I am going to give Cornell Engineering finals the benefit of this defeat. Although this was not an ideal time for our guys to be competing, coming directly off finals, I believe it might have affected Mike the most. He did not have a great week of training and it showed. I am confident we will see a vastly improved Nevinger in Chattanooga.
Chris Villalonga went 1-1 on the day winning an overtime victory over #15 Drake Houdashelt of Missouri but was defeated by #1 Jordan Oliver of OSU. Chris frustrates his coaches when he wrestles from the tie. He is not an overpowering wrestler so when he gets tied up, he is much less effective. It seems to be a sort of safety blanket for him. He is very tough on top so he doesn’t need to score a lot on his feet but he has to score more if he hopes to get to the NCAA podium.
Jesse Shanaman returned to the lineup after a five week layoff caused by an injury. Jesse defeated a very tough Missouri opponent. Unfortunately he pulled his hamstring in the first match. We knew he hurt his hamstring but he assured us it was nothing. When he could barely defend himself against OSU we knew the injury was more than “nothing”. Although I respect Jesse for his toughness, and desire to compete, he needs to do a better job of allowing us to protect him from himself. If we let him he would bring a sleeping bag into the Friedman Training Center. He is a tireless worker but we need to make sure he is healthy in March.
Kyle Dake was named the Outstanding Wrestler for the day going 2-0 with victories over two nationally ranked opponents.
Marshall Peppelman and Duke Pickett both wrestled hard, but neither was able to come up with a victory. I am interested to see both of these wrestlers compete at the Southern Scuffle if for no other reason than to see who takes control of this weight class.
Steve Bosak returned to the mats after a two month hiatus. Steve is not at his best but still came away with victories against two nationally ranked opponents. Steve will quickly work himself back into shape and should be close to 100% for the Southern Scuffle.
Sixteen of Jace Bennett‘s nineteen matches have ended by either fall or major decision. Although this is impressive, five of these matches have ended in a negative fashion. Jace has shown great potential but giving up pins is unacceptable. Jace is great on top but gets far too reckless with his legs. Billy George and Jace will be battling in Tennessee to see who will represent the Big Red going forward.
Stryker Lane faced the 2nd and 3rd ranked wrestlers and although he wrestled hard he was unable to pull off a victory. Stryker has made significant improvements from last year and is a consistent performer for the Big Red. He is currently ranked #1 in the EIWA at 285.
Up Next: The Southern Scuffle @ Chattanooga, TN, 1/1- 1/2
All the best, Rob