Freestyle wrestling is back, and I couldn't be more excited. Wrestling is unique in the sense that there truly isn't an off season for us crazy fans. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I didn't even have time to decompress fully from NCAA's before the Bill Ferrell kicked off, and I got to watch the likes of Alex Dieringer, T-Gizzle - Tommy Gannt, and Jon Morrison win a tournament. It's like being at a Chinese Buffet, and running out of food on your plate, then you remember that you can get all the Crab Rangoon and Hunan Chicken that you want!!! Now we have the World Cup of Wrestling in Iowa City? Are you kidding me? NO! This is not a drill. This is real life. Here are some quick thoughts on the tournament, and all the excitement that will ensue.
I truly don't know how we lose this. There is no chance. Though I am typically not a gambling man, one of my all time regrets is not putting money on Jordan Burroughs to win the world championship in 2011. I'd be retired and living on some tropical island that you haven't even heard of. That being said, I want to put money on us here. Look at how credentialed our lineup is (assuming the starters are all competing), 57 - World Silver Medal, 61 - World Team Alternate, 65 - World Gold Medal (at 61), 70 - World Bronze and Silver, 74 - 4 World Golds, 1 World Bronze, 1 Olympic Gold, 79 - World Team Alternate, 86 - World Team Alternate, 92 - World Bronze, Olympic Bronze, 97 - 2 World Golds, 1 Olympic Gold, 125 - World Bronze. When your LEAST credentialed starters are Kendrick Maple, Kyle Dake, and David Taylor, you're set up for success. Let's not forget that our other competitor at 79kg (Dieringer) just destroyed the #5 ranked guy in the world at the Bill Farrell.
Also, our road to the finals is rather solid. It's like Michigan in the NCAA Basketball tournament. We basically don't need to beat anyone better than a 6 seed. We have India, Japan, and Georgia before the medal round, and I believe that we should be able to make it through those three teams without much difficulty. Didn't we just tear up Japan at Beat The Streets with our backups? I feel like that happened. I'll assume that Georgia would be the toughest of the three, and we have them on the first match of the day on Sunday. The other pool of teams has Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Cuba, and Mongolia, so somehow we avoid possibly the four toughest teams with Russian and Iran not being involved this year.
Side note on that, I truly don't care if Russia and Iran aren't here. There is no way that we didn't intentionally try to keep them out of it, and if our governments can't figure out a way to make it happen, then whatever. It's not like anyone talks trash about the 1980 Olympic champions. "Yeah, you won the gold medal, but Lee Kemp wasn't there, so it doesn't count." That conversation has never been had, so I'm not concerned about an asterisk next to the World Cup Champions distinction.
Back to the wrestling, with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Cuba, and Mongolia beating each other up, I'm hoping we will have a more fresh squad in the finals than whoever we meet, and will dispatch of them accordingly. Not to mention this is in the house that Gable built, and Gable and the spirits that inhabit those walls, won't let anything bad happen to our team. Lastly, let's not forget that we won the world championships as a team last year, and won't have to go through the toughest competition this year to win the World Cup. I've always wanted this win for Team USA more than most. For whatever reason, I value the team component - specifically in the dual meet format, so much. I guess it's just the idea of pairing your best wrestler at a given weight up against someone else, and seeing how that unfolds. Obviously that's how High School and Colleges handle most of their competition throughout the season, and seeing on this scale just brings out more of a competitive spirit. It's tough to keep track of a team race in a tournament, whereas watching one on one is much more simple to follow. I'm a simple man.
That's about it for me. I'm super pumped for this event, and will certainly be following from back in Michigan. If you are out there, hit up Tommy @koatig on Twitter, or you can always hit up the Bloodround account as well. The United States is in a great spot as it relates to team depth, and heights. We are as talented as ever, and have a chance to really make a statement by bulldozing through the competition here. Get your red, white, and blue ready for this weekend, and as my son says, you can cheer "Go American!" Rock On.