Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sines taking over Hornets

    Chadd Sines will still be coaching wrestling in District 5, but he'll be working out of a different zip code this coming season.
   The former Meyersdale coach is the new head man at HOPE for Hyndman Charter School, where he takes over for Jake Snyder, who stepped down after the 2013-14 season.
    Sines, who is also now employed by the Bedford County school as a science teacher, inherits a program that is low in numbers but does have some individual talent. Expected back are four wrestlers - Cameron Gibbner, Tanner Clites, Robby Snyder, and Brandon Greise - that each won at least 19 bouts last winter.
    Taking over for Sines at Meyersdale is Mike Swick, who was an assistant coach with the Red Raiders. Swick should get off to a nice start in his stint as he has top wrestlers in district champion Ty Smith, district runner-up Christian Hutzell, and Brady McKenzie expected to return.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

SW Regional Venue Change

   After hearing some rumors, I was able to confirm that this season's Southwest Regional wrestling tournament will not be held at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown.
   The 2015 version, set for late February, will be staged at Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Kovalchick Athletic Complex. I confirmed this information with tournament director Terry Diehl of Bedford.
   The regional tournament may also be held on Thursday and Friday, February 26-27, instead of the traditional Friday-Saturday format. Diehl said details are still being worked out regarding days and times. The PSAC is holding its conference basketball tournament beginning on that Saturday, and it is possible the IUP teams could host first round games.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Friday Morning Ryder Cup Analysis

   The 40th Ryder Cup begins Friday morning at the Gleneagles Centenary Course in Scotland. The bieennial competition pits 12 golfers from the United States against 12 players from Europe. Overall, the U.S. leads 25-12-2, but Europe has won seven of the last nine times. Two-man teams on Friday and Saturday, and singles on Sunday are all played under a blind draw.

Format
   Friday AM: 4 best-ball (fourball) matches
   Friday PM: 4 alternate shot (foursome) matches
   Saturday AM: 4 best-ball matches
   Saturday PM: 4 alternate shot matches
   Sunday: 12 singles matches

   There are 28 points available in the event, one point for each match won and a half a point to each side if tied. As the defending champion, Europe needs only 14 points to retain possession of the Ryder Cup. The United States needs 14 1/2 points to win it back. The 2016 Ryder Cup Matches will be held at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota.

Friday's Morning Analysis
Match 1 (all times Eastern)
   2:35 a.m. - Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson, U.S. vs. Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson, Europe - Not a real surprise that American captain Tom Watson is going with this pairing. Of his three captain's picks for the Ryder Cup, Simpson was maybe the most controversial, but pairing him with Bubba only makes sense in the fourball format. The two won both of their fourball matches paired with each other two years ago, both of them by 5&4 blowout style.
   Advantage: I like Watson and Simpson here. Bubba is an enigmatic personality at times and you never know what's going through his mind. That said, the man can flat out bomb the ball off the tee and play great golf. Two Masters titles in the past three years tells you that. Simpson provides that steady hand to go alongside.

   2:50 a.m. - Rickie Fowler/Jimmy Walker, U.S. vs. Thomas Bjorn/Martin Kaymer, Europe - The first of Watson's rookies is here with Walker, a three-time winner earlier this year on the PGA Tour. He is paired with Fowler, who finished in the top five of all the major championships in 2014. Fowler made headlines before departing for Scotland by having the letters USA put on the side of his head after a new haircut. On the other side, Bjorn is one of the feel-good stories of this year's Ryder Cup, as he qualified for his first team since the 2001 version, which was played in 2002 due to the September 11 attacks. Kaymer, who holed the winning putt in Europe's comeback victory two years ago, dominated in winning the U.S. Open this summer but hasn't done much since.
   Advantage: Again, I'll take the American side here in a close match. Fowler hasn't won a whole lot on tour, but he's probably our best player right now. He and Walker have reportedly wanted to play with each other, so here's their first opportunity.

   3:05 a.m. - Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed, U.S. vs. Stephen Gallacher/Ian Poulter, Europe - What an intriguing matchup here. Three rookies in this group along with the most successful Ryder Cup player in recent times. There will plenty of roars from the crowd for the European tandem, as Gallacher is the only Scot in the event and lives just 35 miles from the site. All Poulter has done is go unbeaten in his last seven Ryder Cup matches, dating back to 2010. Spieth (21) and Reed (24) are 45 years old combined, and come in as decided underdogs.
   Advantage: Hard not to give Europe a point in this one. I have that penciled in to my predictions, but I'm not completely overlooking the American side. Gallacher and Poulter have all the pressure on them here, with rookie Gallacher being so close to home, and Poulter being so good in Ryder Cup play. Yet Poulter hasn't done much of anything good this year in golf, while Spieth and Reed both had solid seasons in the United States. It's only one point out of 28 overall, but if Spieth and Reed could win this match or even manage a draw, it would be an early momentum swing toward the Americans.

   3:20 a.m. - Keegan Bradley/Phil Mickelson, U.S. vs. Rory McIlroy/Sergio Garcia, Europe - I talk a lot about there being wrestlers who are called "studs." Well, in this year's Ryder Cup, this is your "stud" matchup. Bradley and Mickelson went 3-0 as a duo two years ago, and also had success at last year's Presidents Cup. That said, both have had subpar years, and Mickelson would have needed a captain's pick to make the team had he not posted a high finish at the PGA Championship. Lefty qualified on points for his 10th straight Ryder Cup. Meanwhile, McIlroy broke off his engagement to tennis player Caroline Wozniacki and then went on a golfing tear, winning the British Open and PGA Championship along with a World Golf Championship event during a month-long stretch this summer to get back to being the top ranked player in the world. His teammate for this one, Garcia, rather quietly had a good year and is currently ranked third.
   Advantage: As much as I'd love to see Bradley and Mickelson continue their winning ways, I'm going with McIlroy and Garcia. They're just playing better right now, bottom line. After nearly missing his tee time two years ago, McIlroy beat Bradley in the singles format.

   Surprises: I'm a little surprised that Matt Kuchar is sitting out the early session for the U.S. He won a pair of fourball matches in 2012. But hey, four guys have to sit each time, and I like the idea of Watson getting all three first-timers into the mix from the get-go.

Friday Morning Prediction: United States 2, Europe 2
Overall Prediction: United States 15, Europe 13

Monday, September 22, 2014

Area entries at Super 32

   The prestigious Super 32 Tournament is still over a month away, but several wrestlers from Districts 5 and 6 have entered the field thus far. Once considered a regional tournament, the Super 32 has evolved into the top preseason meet for high school wrestlers nationwide.
   Below is a list of the area wrestlers with their weight classes. This year's Super 32 will be held on November 1 and 2 in Greensboro, NC.

106 pounds
Cole Manley, Altoona

113 pounds
Aaron Burkett, Chestnut Ridge

126 pounds
Jonathan Gabriel, Bedford
Collin Glorioso, Huntingdon
Luke Leathers, Bellefonte

132 pounds
Triston Law, Forest Hills

145 pounds
Trevor Corl, Bellefonte
Hayden Hidlay, Mifflin County
Robert Patrick, Ligonier Valley

152 pounds
D.J. Hollingshead, Altoona

170 pounds
Taylor Cahill, Berlin

   Certainly, this does not present exact weight classes for these guys for the upcoming season, though it does provide a general map on where they, in most cases, will at least begin the year.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Little Wrestling Talk

   We are 60 days away from the start of official practices (November 17) for the 2014-15 wrestling season. Can you tell I'm counting those days down?
   Coming off of last season, it should be another strong year in and around District 5. Obviously, we'll be able to get down to brass tacks on everything once we are closer to that practice date, and the first matches.
   With that said, here's a few interesting notes, and some analysis, that I've come across in recent days and weeks:

Barnes to Southern Columbia
   Southern Columbia hasn't exactly been a wrestling power as compared to the Tigers' perennially-strong football team, but the school certainly is producing some wrestling talent at the moment. In March, three SC wrestlers — Todd and Kent Lane, and Blake Marks — all reached the finals of the Class AA state tournament in their respective weight classes.
   That trio is expected to be joined by another returning state runner-up in Billy Barnes, who transferred from fellow District 4 member Williamson, and recently committed to wrestle at Bloomsburg University. Barnes, who suffered his only loss last winter in the state finals against Jason Nolf, is playing football for the Tigers. He may still be headed for a PIAA hearing though in early October to decide eligibility for wrestling, which has happened in the past for such notables as Zain Retherford (had to sit out a year) and Cody Wiercioch (granted immediate eligibility).
   If Barnes is in the lineup, that could make Southern Columbia a potential threat on the team level, depending on what else the Tigers have to fill things out.

D11 makes change in team format, again
   Last year, District 11 made a switch in how its team duals are run, and after quite a bit of criticism, another change will happen for this season. After having what it dubbed "The Ultimate Qualifier" as its second team to qualify for the state team duals in both Class AA and AAA, D11 is now going to a true second place format.
   I endorsed the Ultimate Qualifier in a blog post before last season began, but I do understand the drawbacks. In Class AAA last year, Parkland lost to Nazareth for the championship, then had to turn around in mere minutes and face Liberty, who the Trojans had beaten in a semifinal earlier that day, for the second spot. That kind of timing, or lack of, is unfairly tight and can be adjusted for one, I would think.
   That said, I still like the idea of having a way to make sure the two best teams from a said district get to Hershey.
   On the other side, that's why they wrestle too. There was a lot of debate in District 3-AA, where Boiling Springs and Bermudian Springs had to go against each other early on because of the power point structure, and the loser was not going to make it to states. Yet Hamburg, who did make it without much fanfare, made a lot of prognosticators (including myself) look bad by knocking off Burrell and Brookville on its way to the state semifinals.

College Corner
   Four-time defending national champion Penn State just released its schedule for the upcoming season.  The full release can be seen at http://www.gopsusports.com/sports/m-wrestl/sched/psu-m-wrestl-sched.html.
   The highlight home dual is February 8 as the Nittany Lions will battle Iowa inside the Bryce Jordan Center. Last year, Penn State beat Pitt in the first-ever match at the BJC, which set an attendance record of just under 16,000. I would certainly expect the PSU-Iowa showdown to top that mark.
   On the mat, Penn State should still be very formidable, but time will tell if a fifth straight NCAA title comes to fruition. Official word from the school has Andrew Alton out until at least January as he recovers from an injury. A source I recently talked to said Alton may miss the entire season though, and he would be applying for a medical redshirt. The question of whether Alton is in or out is a major one in the Penn State lineup. Likely, that puts Zach Beitz at 149, and could keep Retherford from using his redshirt, as some suggested, to be in there again at 141 (where Beitz may have landed). Also, the going word is that we may not see 125-pounder Nico Megaludis for two years, as he could redshirt this winter and use an Olympic redshirt in 2015-16. Cael Sanderson's top three recruits — Nick Nevills, Bo Nickal, and Jason Nolf — are all expected to redshirt.
   In terms of recruiting, I'm very interested in what Arizona State is doing, under former world champion Zeke Jones. Jones has been plucking a tremendous amount of talent, including two of the top five projected high school senior prospects in the Valencia brothers from California, as well as a pair of Pennsylvania studs from Franklin Regional, Josh Shields and Josh Maruca. Jones also recently hired former PIAA and NCAA star Jordan Oliver to his coaching staff.
   I haven't heard much about the recruiting process for Shields' and Maruca's teammate Devin Brown, though I did hear that Penn State was high on him, maybe as a way to have the inside track for superstud Spencer Lee a couple of years down the road. Remember, Brown and Lee both transferred to Franklin Regional from Saegertown before last season began.

 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ryder Cup 2014

   I rarely delve into national sporting events on this blog, but the Ryder Cup is one of my favorite events on the professional landscape. With another one of the biennial competitions approaching and with the nine automatic qualifiers for the United States now determined, I give my insight on who should be the three captain's picks by Tom Watson (not that I have any pull whatsoever with the five-time British Open champion).

First, here's the nine members of the United States team:
1. Bubba Watson
2. Rickie Fowler
3. Jim Furyk
4. Jimmy Walker
5. Phil Mickelson
6. Matt Kuchar
7. Jordan Spieth
8. Patrick Reed
9. Zach Johnson

    On paper, it's an interesting blend of those with Ryder Cup experience and those with not so much or  no experience. The two long-term veterans are Furyk and Mickelson. Mickelson has played on every team since 1995, while Furyk has since 1997. Walker, Spieth, and Reed will be Ryder Cup rookies. While Walker is likely unknown by the casual fan, the fact that he finished fourth on the final points list says something about the year he has had. Spieth played on the U.S. President's Cup team last fall, and is a rising American star. Reed, like Walker, comes with a lot of unknown qualities. He stated he was a top five player in the world earlier this year, which made some headlines. Personally, I think the Ryder Cup rookie stuff is overblown a bit. These guys can all play golf, and play it well. Perhaps underrated is No. 9 Johnson, who seems to quietly make his way onto Ryder Cup and President's Cup teams, and usually performs well in those tournaments.

Now to the picks:

   Ryan Moore - Another relative unknown to most outside fans, but Moore finished 11th on the final points list and has had a really good summer stretch of play. He would be the fourth rookie on the team, but as I stated before, I don't think that's such a big deal. He does have match play ability as a former U.S. Amateur champion.

   Keegan Bradley - Bradley finished 13th on the points list. After 2012 at Medinah, I see no reason to really pass this guy up as a captain's pick. He teamed with Mickelson to go 3-0 over the first three sessions, and was our biggest cheerleader. He reminds me a lot of the late Payne Stewart in that way, a personality that I feel has been lacking on American teams since Stewart's last appearance in 1999.

   Hunter Mahan - You have to go a little further down the points list to find Mahan, but I would pick him because I think he'll be hungry. In 2008, the last win for the United States, he made a number of great shots that helped the American side regain the Cup. But in 2010, he was in the final singles pairing and had a errant chip shot against Graeme McDowell cost him and the U.S. in a tight loss at Celtic Manor. And two years ago, Mahan was on the short list of potential captain's picks, only to be one of the odd men out. Based on the painful loss four years ago and then not being selected, I think Mahan is the perfect final addition to this team.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Classes of 2016, 17, and 18 National Rankings

   Well it's been two months, so why not a wrestling post. In doing some wrestling research, I came across national rankings for the Class of 2016, Class of 2017, and Class of 2018. Plenty of PA guys in there, and to nobody's surprise should be Spencer Lee rated first in the Class of 2017. Here you go with the Pennsylvania wrestlers.

National Rankings
Class of 2016 (Juniors to be)
3. Luke Pletcher, Greater Latrobe
13. George Phillippi, Derry Area
29. Kaleb Young, Punxsutawney
30. Hayden Hidlay, Mifflin County
37. Luke Karam, Bethlehem Catholic

Class of 2017 (Sophomores to be)
1. Spencer Lee, Franklin Regional
7. Cameron Coy, Penn Trafford
11. Jarod Verkleeven, Belle Vernon
25. Todd Lane, Southern Columbia

Class of 2018 (Freshmen to be)
3. Gavin Teasdale, Jefferson-Morgan
7. Sam Sasso, Nazareth