I couldn’t decide what I wanted to write about. Conference tournaments are coming up, so that seemed topical and would get some attention. Allocations certainly came out, and I felt like I could share a couple thoughts on that, but probably not enough to do a whole write up on. Lastly, I hadn’t realized until now how deep the Big 12 has been all year. I’ve watched a handful of their duals, and really enjoyed them, but being at this point in the season and seeing the depth from top to bottom has surprised me. Here’s the other issue I have. I usually have a window of about 30 minutes to get these things written before either my kids start to go crazy, I have someplace to be, or my wife asks me to do something else that I didn’t know I had to take care of. Anyway, limited time means limited research, which means primarily written entirely off the dome (that’s my head. I call it that because it’s shaped like a dome constructed by a poor architect who made their dome lumpy and misshapen). Let’s start with conference tournaments.
I’ve been to Big Ten’s a handful of times now. Big Tens in Champagne, Madison, East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Bloomington, and Tommy’s been to Columbus, and I went to the MAC championships in Ypsilanti one year (RIP EMU Wrestling). All great places to hang out, and sadly we have to miss this year. I figure, we’ll be back in Minnesota next year for NCAA’s, so we won’t miss too much. But my point of bringing up conference tournaments in general, is that I highly suggest going to them. One less day of wrestling than NCAA’s, not a big drop off from level of competition (depending on the conference obviously), and significantly less expensive than NCAAs for all sessions. It’s also a cool way to check out other college towns, which are always fun places to hang out. I don’t know if we just got lucky in past years, but I even feel like it’s easier to come across coaches and wrestlers associated with big programs, who you’d like to get a picture with. I’ve been lucky enough to get pictures with Cael Sanderson, Thomas Gilman, and BDI himself, Richard Immel, at Big Tens.
These conference tournaments aren’t devoid of intrigue either. How will 133 in the Big Ten shape out? Same for Heavyweight in the Big Ten, and specifically, will Sam Stoll be able to turn things around and make it out with an allocated bid? While we’re on the subject (super sweet segway right?), how about those Allocations? Like most years, the Big Ten has the largest number of allocations at 78, followed by the Big 12, EIWA, ACC and MAC in that order. I saw Jacob Kasper tweet that the ACC has the most allocations per school in the conference, so that’s cool. The Big 12, which had been less competitive over the last couple years, has certainly increased in parody, and it shows in their allocations. I was shocked to see that they only received one bid for their 157 pound wrestlers, and even more shocked when I saw not one 157 pound wrestler ranked in Intermat’s rankings, but that’s a real thing. I’m convinced that most wrestlers are just avoiding 157 in general until Nolf is gone, but I didn’t expect to see that so prominent in a conference that Nolf isn’t a part of. I had mentioned Stoll, because there are only 7 automatic bids for Heavyweight out of the Big Ten. To Tommy’s credit, he predicted that this would be the case, making it more difficult for Stoll, who has a couple conference losses, and not many matches on the season. He’ll most likely receive a rough draw, and if he ends up on the same side as Gable, will probably drop into the consolation bracket early in the tournament. Do I believe Stoll is better than some of the guys he’s lost to this year, absolutely, but I also don’t believe he’s healthy, and he hasn’t been convincing getting off the bottom all year.
The Big 12 has 7 allocations at 149, which seems like quite a lot, but I guess I hadn’t realized until now how competitive that weight has been within that conference all year. The Big 12 in general has done an excellent job of getting more and more competitive, and having programs like Iowa State getting back to where they should be, Northern Iowa’s addition to the conference, and teams like Northern Colorado and Wyoming becoming more and more competitive as well, has helped them get back to being one of the top power conferences to consider. This conference is clearly in the midst of an excellent Big Sean impression… Because they are Bouncing Back… Like the Big Sean song. Clearly we’ve always had Oklahoma State wrecking people for a solid number of years, but it’s good to see other teams getting after them. I’d like to see Oklahoma get back to where they were with Teyon Ware, Sam Hazewinkle, and Richard Immel (the all time greats), but they have some more developing to do there it seems. However, the level of competition week in and week out is finally back to where we’d like to see it. They have the second highest allocations at 53, and all of them (except for 157, which we mentioned already has only 1) have a minimum of 5 automatic bids to the tournament. If that isn’t a solid indication of the progress they’ve made, then I don’t know what is.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy Ben Askren fighting tonight, and conference tournaments next weekend. There’s still time to look for one nearby and to get tickets. Rock on!