If you woke up this morning and heard angels singing, it was because the first weekend of November has arrived! Open tournaments are here for the 2016-17 NCAA Wrestling season, with even some duals sprinkled in.
At this point in the season, which has barely begun, it feels like we always assume we know 99% of what will happen. Every year we are wrong, which is part of the fun of college wrestling.
Here's what to expect on opening weekend:
1) Terrible officiating at times
- When you are on the floor of these open tournaments you see the sheer amount of refs used for these. Rightfully so, some of these tournaments go for over 12 hours and you require a lot of stripes to get through the day. Then think about the fact there are a lot of tournaments going on across the country in the next few weekends. It's a lot of refs and understandably the pool gets shallow. As these refs rotate around, suddenly the out of breath 70-year old who was never very good ends up on the whistle with a match of two impending All-Americans.
2) Practice partner matches leading to surprises
- Some major programs basically use open tournaments as their wrestle-offs. This leads to teammate vs teammate, and the ensuing overreaction on social media.
3) Upsets in general
- There are always (relatively) unknown guys ready to take the world by storm. Also, some established guys may not have the gas tank built up.
4) Freshmen stock up and down
- We here about Freshman, both true and redshirts, every year with great excitement. It's only natural for each fan base to yearn for freshmen to step in and show their promise. It's nice to see some high caliber wins to re-affirm the hype. It's also really nice to see some not as heralded freshmen storm the rankings. Gabe Dean, Alec Pantaleo, and many others didn't come into their varsity lineups with top ten expectations to prove everyone wrong. I also remember watching Kyle Snyder come from behind to beat Max Huntley and Phil Wellington to win the MSU Open. Fascinating stuff watching the freshman fail or succeed.
5) Non-D1 studs
- Some guys didn't get the attention from D1 coaches for a variety of reasons, only to bloom later like beautiful cauliflower-eared flowers. Open tournaments give these guys opportunities to prove they belong, and every year we see them knock off some big names. D2, D3, NAIA, JUCO, and NCWA guys will be putting their toes on the line where the score starts zero to zero.
Anything I missed? I love weekend morning brackets and can't wait for this weekend. I will be in attendance for the All-Star Classic in Cleveland this weekend. Follow along on twitter with me @Bloodround