February 23, 2006

Olympic Comments

The Winter Olympics are nearly finished, and I've seen quite a bit of it, so I'll make comments on it and be done with it.

- I really don't like judged sports. Too much reputation involved.

- The figure skating scoring is whacked. How can you fall twice in one program and win a silver medal?

- Sports where everyone goes one at a time and the difference is in the hundredths of seconds are not good on TV, since you're pretty much taking the clock's word for it that the German guy was faster than the Italian guy or whatever.

- Good thing Sasha Cohen won that medal, since it will be tough for her to skate as well once she goes through puberty.

- Snowboard Cross was clearly the most exciting part of the Olympics. It had everything: high speeds, direct competition, and frequent wrecks.

- Bode Miller really set himself up for a fall with his "skiing wasted" comments before the games, then he went and delivered some stinker performances.

- I've decided that Shani Davis and Eric Hedrick are both idiots, though I would for once like to see a minority athlete (or his mother) in a primarily white sport just win without dragging racism into it. Isn't winning enough?

- Staying on speedskating, it's really fun to see how fast you can say "Joey Cheek." Come on, try it....JoeyCheek JoeyCheek JoeyCheek

- Apolo Ohno needs to shave that thing clinging to his chin.

- My favorite Olympian so far is a figure skater, shockingly. Italian Silvia Fontana is 29 years old and has been retired since 2002. She came back after four years off to qualify and compete in her home country. She finished in 22nd in the free skate, but that's not really the point. She came back just to stand on the ice and have her countrymen cheer for her, a woman in a sport for little girls. That was more fun for me than watching any other skater as she completely broke down in happy tears the second her routine ended. Easily, easily my favorite Olympic moment this time around. (in 2004, my favorite moment was watching Rulon Gardner sitting in the middle of the mat taking his shoes off to symbolize his retirement as tears rolled down the face of this giant of a man)

- I haven't heard a better nickname in a long time than "The Flying Tomato."

- Johnny Weir appears to look, act, and sound exactly like an 11 year old girl. (by the way, in his pre-Olympics featurette, he talked about how he makes certain "Republican-type people" uncomfortable...when did Republican become a euphemism for straight?)

- Aerial skiing looks exactly the same for every competitor until the landing, and they never adequately explained how a guy who jumps and spins on skis got the nickname "Speedy."

- All the Italian lugers had German names. Can someone explain this to me?

- Tanith Belbin was the most beautiful athlete at the games, yet she skates with Ben Agosto, who looks like a muppet. The disconnect is jarring.

- The media is making a big deal about the American hockey performance, or lack thereof. Didn't they notice that no one cared when hockey skipped a season last year?

- Don't you think short track speed skaters should be armed with those jousting things like on American Gladiators?

- That article I read was right. Dick Button is the Simon Cowell of the Olympics.

- Curling looks really hard, but it's still boring to watch.

So that's it. It's been most of a good fortnight. As a rule, the events look really difficult, but are still pretty unexciting on TV.

February 22, 2006

Tales from a Coach

I call up one of my wrestlers to see if he and his roommate on the team want to go to dinner last night. He says sure, but that he doesn't know where his roommate is. So, I call the roommates cell phone, and the next thing I hear is the voice of the first guy saying, "I guess he forgot his cell phone." Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.

Oh, by the way, the guy who forgot his cell phone ate 70 Wendy's chicken nuggets on Sunday night in a failed attempt to put away 100 in an hour. That's right, folks. Wheaton College, middle 50% between 27 and 31 on the ACT, and $30,000 a year. These are supposed to be the smart kids.

February 19, 2006

NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional

Augsburg, unsurprisingly, won the team title this past weekend at the Great Lakes Regional, held at the University of Chicago. Elmhurst placed second. While Augsburg is not as untouchable as they have been in past years, they had plenty of talent on hand to win the regional again. It's been said that they don't have anyone "unbeatable" on their team, and this weekend, showed that probably true, though that does not by a long shot mean they won't have anyone on top of the podium in two weeks. Full results can be found here. The ten champions and 11 wildcards go on to the National Tournament March 3-4 at The College of New Jersey.

125 Pounds - Tom Gagan of Elmhurst was the class of a relatively weak weight class, as evidenced by the class only garnering one national qualifier and missing on all 11 wildcard selections. Flodeen of Augsburg had some convincing wins approaching the finals, but Gagan was able to score with outside fireman's carries and even turned the second seeded Flodeen to win 13-6 and guarantee the freshman's first trip to Nationals.

133 Pounds - Jafari Vanier of Augsburg won several close matches on his way to the title, though he appeared to be in control the whole time. Johnson of North Central is explosive and talented, if a bit mistake prone, winning a close challenge match against Stanton of Augustana and getting a wildcard selection. Stanton defeated Brent Skorup of Wheaton twice on the day, rallying from a 7-3 deficit to win the consolation finals in overtime by a score of 10-8. Skorup recorded three falls on the day and by all rights should have defeated Stanton both times they wrestled, but for making some questionable mistakes.

141 Pounds - Josh Hansen, the top seed from Augsburg, cruised to the title in a weight class featuring returning All-American David Silva of Elmhurst and national qualifier Ryan McMurray of Augustana. Silva, still feeling the effects of a back injury that kept him out from December 19th to February 11th, placed fourth to Koch of Concordia. Koch then defeated McMurray in the challenge match, though each of them will wrestle at Nationals. Cody Nord of Wheaton went 1-2 on the day, the weight disadvantage from spending the season as an average sized 133 obvious.

149 Pounds - Top seed Jared Evans of Augsburg won a 3-2 squeaker over Kenny Thomas of Elmhurst. Evan had ridden Thomas for 1:54 of the third period, hoping to preserve a 2-2 tie and force overtime, but Thomas took a second injury time (the first of which may have been a bogus attempt to catch his breath), perhaps unknowingly giving Evans the choice and six seconds to escape and win, which he did as time expired. Fitzenreider of North Central, ranked as high as 8th this year, placed third, but failed to advance with Evans and Thomas.

157 Pounds - In arguably the toughest weight in the tournament with four ranked wrestlers, neither top seed Ludwig of Elmhurst or 2nd seed Gingerich of North Central made the finals. Malone of St. Johns defeated the third ranked Ludwig 8-3 in a match featuring Ludwig screaming off his back with 22 seconds left, drawing the ire of fans and coaches alike, as the validity of his injury was questioned by all, as the timing likely prevented a fall. The champ Anderson of Augsburg defeated Gingerich 9-2 and defeated Malone in the final. Gingerich shocked by pinning Ludwig midway through the first period in the consolation final in what many dubbed a "junior high move" that is rarely risky, but also rarely effective, trapping Ludwig's elbow after having his shot stopped, sitting through and getting the fall. Gingerich and Malone join Anderson at Nationals.

165 Pounds - Second ranked Ryan Valek rode good positioning to the title, defeating now 4x national qualifier Daly of Augustana 3-1 in a tight final. Fifth seed Mike Bishof of Chicago surprised by wrestling back and taking third. Third seed Ben Youel of North Central disappointed by losing three times on his way to sixth, including two losses to #6 seed Sklena of Elmhurst. Daly qualifies for Nationals for the fourth time, though his three previous trips have yielded a total of one win.

174 Pounds - Top seed Josh Rupprecht of Elmhurst won in an anticlimactic final after #2 seed and #6 ranked Gotreau of Augsburg was caught in a headlock and pinned by eventual sixth place finisher Zastrow of North Central. Gotreau battled back to place third and win the challenge match over Vetsch of Concordia(MN) and nab a wildcard. Rupprecht remains undefeated on the year after not wrestling in last year's regional after losing in a wrestle off to Toby Boltz, who has since transferred to Wheaton and sat out this season thanks to CCIW conference rules. Rupprecht is a dangerous wrestler who scores a lot of falls and back points.

184 Pounds - Sixth ranked Brad Tupa of Augsburg defeated fifth ranked Dan Willaert of St. Johns in the final at 184 by a 6-3 score. Willaert won consecutive 5-2 matches to reach the final, and Tupa posted two tech falls and a decision in a weight class whose quality dropped off precipitously following the top two seeds. Both senior finalists will have their season continue.

197 Pounds - Dustin Doctor of North Central defeated both the first and second seeds on his way to a regional championship. Fiecke of St. Johns was ranked fourth at the time of the match, but Doctor prevailed in the semifinals 6-5 before winning another tight one 3-2 over O'Connor of Augsburg in the final to qualify automatically. Characteristic of Doctor, he showed poor sportsmanship at various times throughout the tournament, but held it together enough to win the weight. Doctor has a good sweep single that is faster than most 197 wrestlers are used to, but it remains to be seen if he will keep his cool if down in a match at Nationals. Fiecke took the wildcard after defeating O'Connor in the challenge match.

285 Pounds - Senior Ward Brady of Elmhurst, who rarely breaks 220 pounds, continued his good season by riding the top seed to a title with a 3-0 win over Neumann of Augsburg, who picked up a wildcard. Brady uses a combination of athleticism and low body fat uncharacteristic of most in this weight, though it will be interesting to see how he stacks up against the likes of Gillis or Allen, both of whom are both big and athletic.

February 10, 2006

February 9, 2006

Fantasize

OK, I took it up a notch this year. I joined another fantasy baseball league, only this one involves a live draft and people who won't forget they have a team after a month of the season, leaving me to duke it out with Janet for the rest of the season. I mean, seriously, not only did Roman pick Javy Lopez first overall (sucker), but he also forgot he was hurt for like three months. I guess medical school took priority, but what is wrong with that picture? Then there was Vikki, who picked almost all Red Sox, but Janet still ended up with Ramirez and Ortiz. Hmmmm. Anyhow, Mike and the gang are far more serious than that, and didn't just accept me without knowing that I pay attention and won't leave an injured starter in for three weeks or something like that. Anyhow, I won't bore you with too much of this, as there is little less exciting than hearing about someone else's fantasy baseball team, but it's my blog and you'll probably read it anyways, ha ha. I'll probably update again when I've chosen my team and try to assess my chances to win this group. You can all be rooting for my team, PECOTA Is My Daddy.

February 7, 2006

Dave Schultz Memorial

My old high school teammate Harry Lester won another big tournament this weekend in Greco-Roman, this time the Dave Schultz Memorial in Colorado Springs. He continues to be ranked first in the country, and it doesn't appear to be that close as of late. He's on the right in the picture below.

February 1, 2006

Who says baseball is boring?

This line in a baseball column I read struck me as particularly funny:

Matt LeCroy is a first baseman/catcher/DH who didn’t catch much last year because his knees joined an extremist political party.

That's quality sportswriting right there.

Slippery Slope

Earlier this week, Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania announced it was going to eliminate 8 sports before next year. Among these 8, of course, is wrestling, as wrestling is always on the top of any school's list when it comes to dropping sports. Currently, SRU has a single paid coach, 1.5 scholarships, and a $20,000 budget. This is not some big savings here, which is why seven other programs had to get the axe. The cuts will leave Slippery Rock, a state school with over 6,000 undergrads in a wrestling (and other high school sports) crazy area with only 6 men's sports (football, basketball, track, cross country, baseball, and soccer) and 8 women's sports.

It is my contention that no college in Pennsylvania should be without a wrestling team, given the incredible popularity of the sport in that state. Big high school dual meets get the front page of the sports section, the state tournament sells out the Hershey Park Arena every year, and countless NCAA All-Americans come from the state. I truly hope the alumni and supporters of Slippery Rock wrestling are able to rally enough support to save the school's team. It has happened before at other schools, and I believe it can happen again.