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Burroughs, Jones Help Nebraska Make History Over OK State

February 7th, 2009 by Tom

University of Nebraska Sports Information

LINCOLN -- Jordan Burroughs and Vince Jones notched major decisions against No. 15 Oklahoma State to help the fourth-ranked Nebraska wrestling team claim a historic 17-16 dual victory over the Cowboys in front of more than 2,800 fans at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Thursday. The win was NU's first home victory over OSU since the 1921-22 season, and gave the Huskers back-to-back dual wins over the Cowboys for the first time ever. Nebraska improved to 14-2-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12, while Oklahoma State dropped to 12-6 and 0-3 in the conference.

The contest came down to bonus points, as each team claimed five bouts on the night, and Burroughs and Jones, both natives of Sicklerville, N.J., scraped NU by with their two wins. In one of three matches featuring two wrestlers ranked in the top 10, third-ranked Burroughs used 10 takedowns, including four in the final period, to post a 21-9 major decision over No. 10 Neil Erisman of OSU at 157 pounds. The win was the junior's seventh of the year against top-10 opponents, and kept his perfect season alive at 24-0 and 15-0 in duals.

Jones, ranked 11th in the nation at 184 pounds, used two takedowns in the first two periods to amass an early lead, but posted a six-point third period to earn an 11-2 major decision over Oklahoma State's Cody Hill. Jones posted a takedown with a minute left and quickly cut Hill, looking for the bonus-point win. Hill put up a fight, but Jones scored his final takedown with two seconds left for the nine-point margin. The senior now has a team-leading 25 wins on the season with his 25-6 overall mark, and is 11-4 in duals.

The dual started at 133 pounds, with Oklahoma State picking up decisions at the first two weights. Senior Rob Sanders got NU on the board with a 6-3 decision over Luke Ashmore at 149 pounds. Sanders surrendered an early takedown, but rebounded with a takedown of his own in the first period and escaped easily in the second frame. Ashmore earned an escape in the third period to pull within one, but Sanders sealed the match with a takedown with seven seconds left.

Burroughs posted his major decision to give NU their first lead of the night, as junior Stephen Dwyer and senior Brandon Browne followed with decisions. No. 10 Brandon Mason held sixth-ranked Dwyer scoreless in the first period, but Dwyer earned a reversal 32 seconds into the second period and rode Mason out in the third for a 3-1 victory at 165.

On a night when Browne was honored as a Hometown Husker, the Plattsmouth-native did not disappoint. The senior posted three takedowns against No. 14 Newly McSpadden at 174, before the Cowboy claimed a late takedown to lose 7-5. Browne's 15-2 dual mark ties him for the team lead with Burroughs.

Jones' major decision at 184 put NU up 17-6, but No. 8 Clayton Foster upset second-ranked Craig Brester at 197 with a 5-2 decision and No. 3 Jared Rosholt posted a 2-0 decision over NU's Tucker Lane at heavyweight to pull the Cowboys within five at 17-12. OSU's Obe Blanc needed a technical fall to tie the match or a pin to win, but NU's Andy Pokorny held him to a 12-3 major decision at 125 to give the Huskers the victory.

Nebraska continues its conference schedule with a 2 p.m. dual against No. 14 Oklahoma at McCasland Field House in Norman on Sunday.

Bryant, Klingman Making Wrestling411 a Success

February 4th, 2009 by Tom

Mark Palmer, Staff Writer @RevWrestling.com
[email protected]

When you need to find a restaurant, a doctor or a phone number, you call "411 "-- the universal number for information.

Likewise, when you're seeking the latest information on college wrestling, you call up Wrestling411.

Wrestling411, launched in the fall of 2008, provides coverage of college wrestling in various forms -- through their Web site www.wrestling411.tv, via a twice-weekly radio show, and, eventually, a weekly highlights TV show. It's a product of Media Sports Productions, which, according to the Wrestling411 website, is "a Minneapolis-based organization whose sole mission is the marketing and promotion of the sport of wrestling. Specifically, we have a team of highly motivated and talented individuals whose sole job is to produce sports highlight shows that educate and entertain the community. These shows will be distributed by way of satellite and cable broadcasts, streamed over the Internet, and heard on radio. Our goal is to make wrestling a front-page sport."


Kyle Klingman and Jason Bryant

Two members of the Wrestling411 team are award-winning journalists who are well-known and well-respected within the wrestling community: Jason Bryant, and Kyle Klingman. Before coming to Wrestling411, Bryant was arguably best known for his writing and operating the popular InterMat wrestling Web site; Klingman writes a column for WIN (Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine).

The 411 on Wrestling411

"(Media Sports Productions) was started by J Robinson a couple years ago, "according to Jason Bryant. "It's a marketing and promotions company, with the intent of getting wrestling on TV."


J Robinson

"We're committed to college wrestling, "says Kyle Klingman. "We want to give the sport the coverage it deserves. Rather than depend on others, we decided to take the situation into our own hands."

Bryant continues, "The Wrestling411 website has video and audio clips. We did our first live dual-meet webcasts last week. "This is in addition to Wrestling411 Radio Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. Central, broadcast on KAUG, Augsburg College's student-run radio station, and accessible online at Wrestling411.tv live and in the Web site archives.

"Our mission -- we want the website to be relevant in terms of interviews, articles, "says Klingman. "If Iowa does something remarkable, we have Tom Brands on. We want to provide current information, and be up-to-date on what's happening in the sport right now. We also address issues like stalling, and the new qualifying procedures."

"We see Wrestling411 as being content-driven, quality-driven."

An all-inclusive package

Another mission of Wrestling411: to incorporate all aspects of collegiate wrestling.

"We want to cover everything -- Division 1, Division II, Division III, "according to Kyle Klingman. "We've had every division, along with women's wrestling, California JUCO (junior college)."

Jason Bryant echoes that sentiment: "There's much more to wrestling than Division I, the Big Ten or the Big Twelve."

"As I enter scores, I know there are parents and fans who follow D3 programs. There are over 300 programs that don't get the coverage they should."

Bryant gives a concrete example of Wrestling411's commitment to coverage: "(A couple weekends ago,) I drove six hours, covered the University of Nebraska-Omaha vs. Augsburg dual -- a matchup between the top D2 and D3 programs in the country -- drove back to Minneapolis, then put the story and package together, into the night."

"Initially, some folks thought we were about Minnesota wrestling or just the Big Ten, "says Bryant. "It's about getting our sport on TV and radio and in other media."

A fresh approach to covering wrestling

In addition to providing coverage of all levels of college wrestling, Wrestling411 provides fans with the latest information in a variety of ways.

"We want to cover things from different angles, "says Klingman. "Our radio shows are available over the air, online, and in our archives. We provide live updates. We have audio and video interviews. We want to offer different forms of content, not just results, but highlight clips and so much more."

"Our goal is to provide fresh content every day. We want to give fans a reason to visit us everyday, to see what's new."

"My goal is to be at as many events as possible, "Klingman continues. "We want to be everywhere humanly possible."

Additional goals of Wrestling411

"Another goal of ours is to make mainstream media more aware of college wrestling, "says Klingman, citing specific national media outlets that have done a poor job covering major collegiate wrestling events such as the NCAA championships.

Jason Bryant concurs: "Sports coverage is so clip-oriented. Whether it's (ESPN) SportsCenter, or the local TV news, or sports talk radio. We want to be able to provide them with ready-to-use material that helps keep wrestling fans informed, and raises awareness for the sport."

"To help wrestling grow, it needs to grow not just from the top down, but from the bottom up."

Developing and nurturing the existing fan base is yet another goal of Wrestling411, according to Kyle Klingman. "We want to help the fan whose kid is wrestling now to stay with the sport once the kid's out of wrestling"¦ We want to reach fans of specific programs, to broaden their interests, to help them see the bigger picture."

Continue reading at http://revwrestling.com/

To learn more about Wrestling411 "and make a contribution to this venture -- visit their Web site at www.Wrestling411.tv.

Vintage “TIME” Magazine Story: Blind Wrestlers

February 4th, 2009 by Tom

In New York last week 50 or so parents of students at two schools gathered to watch a series of nine matches between the schools' wrestling teams. When the matches were over, and Philadelphia's Overbrook School had won, 22-to-5, the teams cheered each other and everyone went home. Because there was only one point of procedure at all out of the ordinary about the whole performance, a stranger could have watched from the gymnasium balcony without being aware that all contestants on both teams were totally blind.

Matches between blind wrestlers differ from ordinary matches only in that they start with both contestants in contact with each other at the centre of the ring, instead of in their respective corners. Ordinary interscholastic rules, which forbid flying tackles, govern what happens thereafter.

Overbrook was the first U. S. school for the blind to start wrestling as a regular sport, along with swimming, bowling and track"in which blind runners perform in individual lanes against a stopwatch.

Since Coach Near S. Quimby introduced wrestling at Overbrook in 1929, it has been adopted at five other U. S. schools for the blind. More remarkable, however, than the success of wrestling among blind boys has been the success of Overbrook's wrestlers against non-blind opponents. In the past five years, the school has won 31 matches, lost none. Almost all of its victories have been against non-blind opponents. Last week's victory was Overbrook's fourth this year, its first against blind opponents.

Against non-blind opponents, a blind wrestler is at a minor disadvantage until both are on the mat. Coach Quimby emphasizes grips designed to get an opponent off his feet as quickly as possible, teaches his charges not to let opponents wriggle out of their grasp. Once on the mat, a blind wrestler's acute sense of touch often outweighs his opponent's ability to see. Twitching muscles betray the grip an opponent intends, permit a blind wrestler to break it before it is completed. Broken arms and ribs among blind wrestlers are no more common than among their non-blind confreres. Curious foibles are no less rare. In last week's match, Overbrook's opponent, the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind, had to use a substitute against Overbrook's star, Philip Tuso, because Philadelphia's white blind wrestlers do not like to compete with blind wrestlers who are Negroes.

Two of Overbrook's ablest current wrestlers are the Marcucci brothers, Raymond and George, identical twins who were born blind 16 years ago. George is national blind champion at the 50-yd. dash. Raymond is national blind champion at basketball throwing. Both are talented woodworkers. Last week both won their matches, George in 5 min. 5 sec., his brother in 20 seconds less.

There are no blind professional wrestlers but at least one of Overbrook's graduates is able enough to consider such a career. He, Robert Allman, who left Overbrook in 1934, is currently a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studies in Braille, wrestles as a regular member of the team. Last week while Navy wrestlers were beating Penn, 23-to-3, Wrestler Allman lost his match to Navy's Charles Chandler but his display of defensive technique was so impressive that 4,000 spectators cheered him throughout the bout, gave him an ovation when it ended. Said Blind Wrestler Allman: "I live for wrestling. If I lost out on the squad I would feel lost. You know I love the cheering from fans when I am down on the mat, but of course it confuses me before leaving my feet. You see, I must follow my opponent by the sound of his feet and the noise of his breathing."

TheMatside View by Gary Abbott: Top 10 stories of 2008

January 19th, 2009 by Tom

Happy New Year to everybody in the wrestling community.

The 2008 year has reached its final day, and in a tradition that we have continued for many years on TheMat.com, I will present my top 10 wrestling stories of the year.

During an Olympic year, many major stories have come from the Olympic Games and the trials process which determines the athletes who competed in the Olympics. However, there were outstanding stories at all levels of our sport, which gave wrestling fans much to enjoy all year long.

The word "unexpected" appeared in many articles this year, especially on the Olympic level of the sport. The longer you are involved in high-level wrestling, the more you understand that it is very difficult to predict the outcome at major events, where there are so many talented and motivated athletes competing under pressure.

Here are my Top 10 wrestling stories in 2008:

1. Henry Cejudo wins Olympic gold medal "The Olympic Games in the ultimate showcase for athletic talent, as the attention of the world focuses on this amazing event once every four years. Winning an Olympic gold medal is the pinnacle of any career. Henry Cejudo put together a performance to remember with his stunning victory at 55 kg in the Beijing Olympics in men's freestyle. At the age of 21, he became the youngest American Olympic wrestling champion ever. Cejudo lost the first period in all of his matches except the finals but wrestled with the confidence and skill of a veteran star. His victory was the highlight of the U.S. effort at the Olympic Games. His personal story, coming from a challenging childhood and moving to the U.S. Olympic Training Center as a high school junior, added to his tremendous achievement. Cejudo became a celebrity within the sports community after his victory celebration, and he has given our sport considerable positive national and international coverage ever since.

2. Univ. of Iowa returns to top of college wrestling "The Iowa Hawkeyes have a rich tradition in college wrestling, including some of the most dominant teams in the sport's history. The 2007-08 Hawkeyes lived up to that lofty tradition by capturing the 2008 NCAA Div. I Championships in St. Louis, Mo. by almost 40 points over the field. Led by NCAA champions Brent Metcalf at 149 pounds and Mark Perry at 165 pounds, Tom Brands' motivated team led throughout the tournament and clinched the team title before the finals. Metcalf was named the Outstanding Wrestler in the tournament, and wrestled with the kind of punishing style that was made famous by Hawkeye greats like Brands. It was the 21st team title for Iowa and perhaps the start of a new run of excellence for the program. Brands said it best when talking about their large margin of victory. "That's a tribute to this team. They came not to squeak by, but to dominate," he said.

3. Bouvaisa Saitiev wins third Olympic gold medal "Bouvaisa Saitiev of Russia has been recognized as the greatest freestyle wrestler of his era, starting his amazing Senior-level career with a gold medal in the 1995 World Championships in Atlanta, Ga. From that point on, Saitiev dominated almost every event he entered. He won Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2004, and six World Championships gold medals. An injured Saitiev placed eighth at the 2006 World Championships, and the next year, his spot was taken over by Makhach Murtazaliev, a 2007 World Champion. Yet, Saitiev came back in 2008 to beat out Murtazaliev for the spot on the Russian team, then dominate the 74 kg weight class in Beijing to win his third Olympic title. He joins Greco-Roman star Alexander Karelin and freestyle star Alexander Medved as three-time Olympic wrestling champions. It may be many years before we see another freestyle wrestler with his combination of skill and toughness.

4. Clarissa Chun captures Women's World title "It was a breakthrough year for Clarissa Chun, who has been a nationally ranked women's freestyle wrestler for many years but has never made her mark on the international level. Chun surprised the wrestling world by defeating 2004 Olympic silver medalist Patricia Miranda to make the U.S. Olympic team. Her fifth-place finish at the 2008 Olympic Games featured some outstanding wrestling. Chun was not satisfied. She was the only U.S. Olympian to try out for the 2008 U.S. Women's World Team and made the most of the opportunity by winning the 48 kg gold medal at the Women's World Championships in Tokyo, Japan in October. She defeated a talented Makiko Sakamoto of Japan in the semifinals, and showed great composure in winning her finals match over Jyldyz Eshimova-Turtbayeva of Kazakhstan. Chun became only the fifth U.S. wrestler to win a Women's World title, and an inspiration for those who have the perseverance to pursue their dreams.

5. Wheeler and Miller come through big with Olympic medals "The U.S. came home from the Beijing Olympic Games with three wrestling medals. Two of the medalists might have been considered considerable longshots. Adam Wheeler captured a bronze medal at Greco-Roman at 96 kg and Randi Miller won a bronze medal in women's freestyle at 63 kg. Both defeated veteran international talents to make the U.S. Olympic Team, with Wheeler knocking off 1995 World bronze medalist Justin Ruiz in the Olympic Trials, and Miller stopping 1994 Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann. In Beijing, both had to bounce back from tough losses in order to win their medals. Miller was defeated in the quarterfinals by Japan's Olympic champion Kaori Icho, and Wheeler dropped a close match to Germany's Mirko Englich in the semifinals. Both came back with confidence and won their bronze-medal bouts. Miller stopped three-time World silver medalist Martine Dugrenier of Canada to claim her medal, and Wheeler stopped Korea's Han Tae-Young for his medal.

6. Jake Deitchler makes Olympic Team at age of 18 "One of the most inspiring performances of the year came during the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling in Las Vegas, Nev. in June, when 18-year-old Jake Deitchler stormed the field at 66 kg in Greco-Roman. This weight class had been dominated by Harry Lester, who won World bronze medals in 2006 and 2007 and was No. 1 at the weight for three straight seasons. Deitchler, who had graduated from high school in Minnesota earlier in the spring, wrestled with aggressiveness at the Trials. He shocked Lester in the semifinals, losing the first period but coming back to win 0-5, 5-2, 5-3. In the championship series, he defeated talented Faruk Sahin in two straight matches to make the U.S. Olympic Team. He became the first wrestler from high school to make a U.S. Olympic team in wrestling since Mike Farina of Illinois qualified for the 1976 U.S. Olympic Team in Greco-Roman. Although Deitchler was unable to win a medal at the Olympic Games, he has decided to pursue his Greco-Roman career full-time, choosing to train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center rather than attend the Univ. of Minnesota to wrestle folkstyle. Expect to hear more about Deitchler in the future.

-- View the rest at themat.com

Wrestling Rules- THE LOWERING OF SHOULDER STRAPS

January 18th, 2009 by Tom

The lowering of shoulder straps while on the mat is considered an act of
unsportsmanlike conduct. The only time it would not be penalized is if the
wrestler received permission from the official to do so. Should this
infraction occur before wrestling has started or after the completion of
wrestling, it would be a deduction of one team-point from the offender's
squad. However, if the offense takes place during the match, the violator's
opponent would receive a match point.

Note, there is a variation of the rule in West Virginia. The unauthorized
lowering of shoulder straps anywhere in the gym during competition is
considered unsportsmanlike.
----------------------------------------------------------

What is everyone's take on this rule? Is it different from state to state?
Have you seen it enforced?

Before The Midlands, there was The Wilkes

January 5th, 2009 by Tom

Before The Midlands, there was The Wilkes (and still is, though it is mostly for JV wrestlers now).

Many of you fellow old-timers on the Forum surely remember 'The Wilkes' , the Rose Bowl of Wrestling, from back-in-the-day. Going thru a scrapbook from the 50s yesterday, I came across an article on the December, 1955 Wilkes tournament. I pass along some highlights:

A capacity crowd saw the finals at the Wilkes College gym. A total of 7.500 people attended the two-day (four sessions) event.

Pitt won the tournament, followed by Michigan, Syracuse and Cornell. Penn State might have won it but several of their guys wrestled 'unattached'.

Billy Sheridan presented the trophies to the individual champions. Keith Morris, Public Relations Director for Sports Illustrated, presented the team title and runner-up trophies to Pitt and Michigan.

Numerous Olympians and former AAU, NCAA and EIWA champions participated in the tournament. Cornell graduate Frank Bettucci won his 6th Wilkes title at 147 pounds. Sid Nodland, a former AAU champion from Mepham & PSU, won at 123 pounds.

The 1954 NCAA champion from Pitt, Larry Fornicola, won at 137 and was named Outstanding Wrestler. NCAA runnerup Mike Rodriguez edged Pitt's Dave Johnson in the 157 pound final. Olympian and NCAA champ Ed DeWitt won at 167 and NCAA runner-up Joe Krufka won at 177. The Oberly brothers, Bill and W.Johnston (then only 17 years old) from Washington, NJ won the titles at 191 and Hwt.

A Lehigh freshman (and my friend since grade school), Leon Harbold, won the title at 130 pounds, pinning former AAU champion George Creason in the finals. Leon won the trophy for being the highest point-scorer in the tournament.

Times sure have changed for wrestlers and fans up in Wilkes-Barre.

Filed under Amateur Wrestling having 1 Comment »

2008 Midlands Results

January 4th, 2009 by Tom

125
1st - #2 Brandon Precin (Northwestern) dec. #4 Tyler Clark (Iowa State), 3-2
3rd - #3 James Nicholson (Old Dominion) dec. Scott Sentes (Central Michigan), 3-2
5th - Ben Ashmore (Unat.) dec. #8 Jay Ivanco (Clarion), 2-1
7th - #5 Anthony Robles (Arizona State) fall Ben Kjar (Utah Valley University), 5:11

Notes: Precin scores takedown in the third period for the win.

133
1st - #4 Daniel Dennis (Iowa) dec. #2 Nick Fanthorpe (Iowa State), 4-3
3rd - #1 Jimmy Kennedy (Illinois) dec. #3 Steve Bell (Maryland), 6-1
5th - Montell Marion (Iowa) default Tristen DeShazer (Northern Illinois)
7th - Todd Schavrien (Missouri) dec. C
Conor Beebe (Central Michigan), 7-5

Note: Second period takedown for Dennis is the difference in the match.

141
1st - #8 Zach Tanelli (Wisconsin) dec. #2 Alex Tsirtsis (Iowa), 9-3
3rd - #3 Nick Gallick (Iowa State) med. forfeit Tony Dalie (Central Michigan)
5th - #7 Ryan Williams (Old Dominion) fall Dalton Jensen (ISU-Unat.), 1:32
7th - Marcus Hohen (Missouri) dec. Scott Kelly (Indiana), 5-2

Note: Tanelli down 3-2 in the third period but scores a takedown followed by a two-point nearfall and a three-point nearfall for the win.

149
1st - #1 Brent Metcalf (Iowa) m.d. #3 Kyle Ruschell (Wisconsin), 14-5
3rd - #2 Jake Patacsil (Purdue) m.d. Kyle Borshoff (American), 11-2
5th - #5 Steve Brown (Central Michigan) vs. David Cheza (Unat.-Michigan State), 8-3
7th - Heinrich Barnes (Oregon State) m.d. Charlie Ettelson (Iowa), 12-3

Note: Metcalf scores six takedowns.

157
1st - #1 Chris Bono (Chat.-TD) dec. #2 Cyler Sanderson (Iowa State), 4-2 TB
3rd - #3 Michael Chandler (Missouri) dec. #5 Scott Winston (Rutgers),6-2
5th - #4 Jason Welch (Northwestern) med. forfeit Anthony Jones (Michigan State)
7th - Derek Sickles (Columbia) fall Tyson Reiner (Northern Iowa), 2:59

Note: Bono has first period takedown taken away after discussion by the officials. Match goes to tiebreaker. Sanderson escapes and Bono gets takedown. Bono gets escape and holds on with Sanderson in wild pursuit of a takedown.

165
1st - #3 Ryan Morningstar (Iowa) dec. #4 Jon Reader (Iowa State), 5-4 TB
3rd - #1 Moza Fay (Northern Iowa) dec. #8 Andrew Howe (Wisconsin), 9-3
5th - Jake Kerr (Iowa-Unat.) dec. #2 Nick Marable (Missouri), 5-3
7th - Keegan Davis (Oregon State) dec. Luke Manuel (Purdue), 4-2 SV

Note: Reader scores a takedown and reversal but Mornintstar gets late reversal to tie the score 4-4. Reader has takedown taken away by officials in sudden victory. Mornistar rides for the 30 seconds in the first tiebreaker period. Morningstar escapes in tiebreaker for the win.

174
1st - #3 Michael Cannon (American) dec. Mike Miller (Central Michigan), 3-2
3rd - #1 Jay Borschel (Iowa) dec. #2 Raymond Jordan (Missouri), 4-1
5th - #7 Mike Letts (Unat.-Maryland) dec. Kyle Vanderhyde (Olivet),
7th - #6 John Dergo (Illinois) dec. Lloyd Rogers (Chat.-TD), 9-6

Note: Cannon takedown in the first period. Cannon comes from a family of 15 children.

184
1st - #1 Jake Herbert (Northwestern) m.d. #2 Phil Keddy (Iowa), 15-1
3rd - #4 Doug Umbehauer (Rider) dec.
#3
Louis Caputo (Harvard), 3-2
5th - #7 Jordan Blanton (Illinois) dec. #8 Jerome Ward (Iowa State)
7th - #6 Andrew Kissel (Purdue) dec. Vince Didona (Central Michigan), 3-2

197
1st - #3 Dallas Herbst (Wisconsin) dec. #1 Jake Varner (Iowa State), 2-1
3rd - #6 Logan Brown (Purdue) fall #2 Max Askren (Missouri),
5th - Trevor Brandvold (Unat.-Wisc.) med. forfeit Jessie Strawn (Old Dominion)
7th - #4 Hudson Taylor (Maryland) fall Kyle Simonson (Unat.-Iowa State), 1:25

285
1st - #2 Mark Ellis (Missouri) dec. Zach Sheaffer (Pitt), 2-1
3rd - #1 David Zabriskie (Iowa State) dec. Dom Bradley (Missouri), 5-2
5th - #8 Dan Erekson (Iowa) dec. Rashard Goff (Cleveland State), 7-3
7th - Mike Tamillow (WWC) dec. Christian Brantley (Northern Iowa), 9-5

Navy’s Peter Steele Blair: Tough & Intimidating (2009 Hall of Fame Inductee)

January 4th, 2009 by Tom

By Roger Moore

STILLWATER, Okla. - On the mat Peter Steele Blair was as tough and intimidating as anybody who's ever put on a wrestling singlet.

Off the mat he put forth the same effort in regards to his fellow man and service to his country.

Blair, who died June 29, 1994, after a short bout with cancer, will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum next June as part of the Class of 2009's Distinguished Members.

Joe Gattuso, a two-time All-American, was a teammate of Blair from 1951-55 at the Naval Academy. Midshipmen head coach Ray Swartz tabbed Gattuso, a 167-pounder, and Blair, a 177-pounder, the "Goldust Twins."

"I don't really remember why, they just called us that because we were special at the time," said Gattuso, who was also fullback for Navy's 1954 Sugar Bowl-winning team. "We worked with each other quite a bit. He was absolutely as tough as anybody I wrestled."

"The thing about him was that he could go forever, his endurance was pretty incredible."

While at the Naval Academy, Blair compiled a 57-5 record "he did not lose a match as a junior and senior "and won back-to-back NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956.

Swartz, a 1990 inductee into the NWHOF called Blair "the greatest I ever coached."

"He's a true champion, capable of turning his nervous system off or on almost at will," said Swartz in an article for All Hands in July of 1956. "Before a match, Pete will fool most people with his apparent disinterest. But when the match begins, he's as crafty and dangerous as a stalking tiger. He's a terrific competitor."

Were it not for a growth spurt, Blair may have never made it to the mat.

At just 5-foot-6 as a high school senior at Granby High School, Blair was not part of Billy Martin's first wrestling team in 1949 "Ed Eichelberger, also part of the Class of 2009, was Martin's first star at Granby, winning three state titles.

Blair enlisted in the Navy at the age of 16, and during his recruit training grew an amazing 6 inches. By the time his two years at Bainbridge Prep Academy were done that total was 7.5 inches.

"Martin started varsity wrestling at Granby when I was a senior," said Blair in a 1978 story for the Virginian-Pilot and Ledger-Star. "He picked his team from an intramural tournament. When I got to Annapolis I told them I was from Granby and they thought I was already an established wrestler."

In Blair's final collegiate match he pinned Ken Leuer of the University of Iowa in the 1956 NCAA finals. Leuer would win the 1957 NCAA championship at 191.

"He was an individual who certainly understood what he was doing on the mat," said Leuer, elected to the NWHOF as an Outstanding American in 2002. "He was well-conditioned and very strong. I remember that match very well because it was the last match I lost in college."

"I also remember (Blair) as being a complete gentleman as well."

Dan Muthler, a champion in 1973, is the only other Navy wrestler to win an NCAA title.

Blair's post-college career was short, although very successful.

Soon after winning the 1956 NCAA title, Blair pinned five opponents in winning a National AAU title. Two weeks later he was the Olympic Trials champion at 192 pounds and would be elected team captain by his freestyle teammates.

In Melbourne at the 1956 Olympics, Blair would earn a bronze medal, finishing behind Iran's Gholamreza Takhiti and the Soviet Union's Boris Kulaev.

"It was a great honor to participate in the Olympics," said Blair in 1978. "I won a bronze medal. I think I could have probably done better, but nervousness detracted from my efficiency. Four years later they invited me back, to try out for the Olympic team, but I rejected it."

Academy graduates were expected to be officers in their respective fields. Unlike today, competitive careers in athletics were not the norm.

An officer in the Navy from 1955 until his retirement in 1974, Blair served on ships and submarines and taught at the Academy.

He returned to Annapolis in the summer of 1966 for a 3-year tour as an instructor in the Physics Department. He served as Officer Representative for the Midshipmen wrestling team coached by Ed Peery, a member of the Class of 1980's Distinguished Members.

"The thing I remember about Pete Blair more than anything was the strength he had," Peery said. "He had incredible hand strength. Danny Hodge got a lot more attention, but Pete was right there. He'd been off the mat for awhile when he came back (in 1966) but he still crushed everybody in the room."

"As tough as Pete was as a wrestler, he was just a real salt-of-the-earth kind of guy."

The son of Rear Admiral Leon N. Blair, Peter Steele Blair married his wife Margot in June of 1955. They have seven children "Barbara, Peter, Lynn, Sarah, Elaine, Mary and John.

Success Breeds Success for Ed Eichelberger (2009 Hall of Fame Inductee)

January 4th, 2009 by Tom

By Roger Moore
Even if Edward Eichelberger had never wrestled a match for Lehigh University he'd be remembered as one of the great individuals to ever set foot on the Pennsylvania campus.

"He was a real inspiration to me, a great teammate to have," said Joe Gratto, a two-time All-American and 1957 NCAA champion. "There was never any question about his integrity and he was a 4.0 (GPA) or close in the toughest major at Lehigh."

"He was Senior Resident in the dormitories and a very strong member of the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). Just a class guy."

After graduating from Lehigh in 1956 with a B.S. in electrical engineering, Eichelberger joined IBM where he would spend the next 38 years until his retirement in 1994. He received his Masters and Ph.D. from Princeton, and along the way received 25 patents in the fields of chip, circuit and test design.

In 1974 he received the "Outstanding Contributor Award" from IBM for technical publications and patents.

"I was never the best student, but it turned out that I was a pretty good engineer," said Eichelberger, who will be one of four inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum next June as the Class of 2009's Distinguished Members. "Someone once said that nothing succeeds like success. I had a good wrestling career and some of that work I put in translated into my career after Lehigh."

His wrestling credentials mirrored his accomplishments from IBM.

He was coached by a legend in high school "Billy Martin at Granby High School in Norfolk, Va. "and by another legend in college "Gerald Leeman at Lehigh.

Eichelberger was undefeated his final three years of high school, winning three state titles in Virginia.

"I wrestled in Billy Martin's first intramural tournament," Eichelberger said. "I was actually going to go camping that weekend when I was in the Boy Scouts, but after a long talk with Coach Martin he talked me into wrestling in that tournament.

"He told me 'I could go camping anytime, but that this tournament was only going to be one weekend.' It was my first real exposure to wrestling. Nobody knew what wrestling was at that time in the state of Virginia."

Martin had begun teaching some wrestling as a gym teacher at Granby. As a junior high student, Eichelberger's first exposure came when a neighbor came home and started talking about something new that was going on in gym class.

A very quick learner, Eichelberger's career at Lehigh included two NCAA championships and a 55-3-1 record with 37 pins. One of his losses came in the 1954 NCAA finals to Myron Roderick of Oklahoma A&M.

He was named the EIWA Tournament's Outstanding Wrestler in 1955 and 1956 and the NCAA Tournament's OW in 1955 when he pinned 4 of 5 opponents.

"There was this interest we had at Granby in winning by fall," Eichelberger said. "If you didn't pin it was almost like a loss. We always worked on pinning combinations. (Coach) Martin always let you experiment with things. If you came up with something, and you thought it might work, he'd work with you on it.

"It wasn't really like that when I got to Lehigh. The pin just didn't seem as important."

Martin, a member of the NWHOF's Class of 1980, was also about competition. His first Granby team had a dual meet against Frank "Sprig" Gardner's powerful Mepham High School squad in New York.

"That's where I learned the cross-faced cradle, from those workouts with Mepham," Eichelberger said. "I wrestled in three National AAU tournaments while I was still in high school. My sophomore year (at Granby) I wrestled the NCAA champion from two or three weeks earlier. Coach (Martin) just told me he was some guy from out west."

As a senior at Granby, Eichelberger caught the eye of Lehigh coach Billy Sheridan. Already wanting to be an engineer, the move from Norfolk to Bethlehem was an easy one.

However, Leeman, a silver medalist in freestyle at the 1948 Olympics, would be Sheridan's hand-picked successor and took over in the fall of 1952.

"(Leeman) was about my size so I got to train with him," Eichelberger said. "My weakness was takedowns and he was one of the best. He really worked with me."

For dual meets, Leeman would often weigh-in both Eichelberger and Gratto at 147 pounds.

"There were a lot of coaches who tried to duck Eichelberger in duals," Gratto said. "If they threw out a back-up, I'd generally take him apart and Ed would whip their starter up a weight."

"I was always pleasured to participate in a dual meet because it meant a day away from Eichelberger in the practice room. He was mild-mannered "¦ and there was nothing cocky about him "¦ but you were generally on your back within about 45 seconds when you wrestled him."

Added Eichelberger, "We had three 147-pounders and we'd kind of flip a coin to see who was going down to 137. The other guy would wear a coat and wrestle at 157."

As a senior, Eichelberger wrestled most duals at 157 pounds.

His competitive days would soon come to an end after 1956, spending most of his time focused on his new job at IBM.

"It was a little of a lot of things," he said. "A friend who wrestled at Harvard came to IBM the same time I did and we worked out some together, but it was hard to stay involved with so little competition around."

"I went back to Princeton for graduate school and worked out briefly with their team, but oddly enough the coach didn't really want me around."

After returning from Princeton, Eichelberger helped coach a high school team in Endicott, N.Y., for a semester.

A devout Protestant, Eichelberger always added Galatians 6:14 to his signature.

It reads: But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Dennis Koslowski: Farm Boy to Olympic Medalist (2009 Hall of Fame Inductee)

January 4th, 2009 by Tom

By Gary Abbott

Along with his twin brother Duane, a teenage boy named Dennis Koslowski was exposed to wrestling during physical education class in Webster, S.D. Who would know that this would eventually lead the twins to an international wrestling career that would take them both to the Olympic Games?

"The high school wrestling coach was also the phys ed teacher," said Duane Koslowski. "He recognized two young farm boys as raw but very strong. We both did well at an early age in wrestling."

It was Dennis, the smaller of the two twin brothers, who became one of the most successful U.S. Greco-Roman wrestlers ever and now a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

"It was the instant gratification of hard work that appealed to me," said Dennis Koslowski about wrestling. "You put in the effort and it pays off. You learn new moves and get to see it work in competition. Duane and I were the type of guys who, on the long ride home from tournaments, would go over every portion of the matches while the other guys were sleeping. We had a different approach."

Dennis Koslowski became the first U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler to win two medals at the Olympic Games. Koslowski captured a bronze medal at 100 kg/220 lbs. at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, and came back to win a silver medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

"His power was legendary, his skills were masterful, and his composure was rock solid," said Tom Minkel, head coach of the 1992 Olympic Greco-Roman Team. "He routinely wrecked the opponents in his weight class "and he was a gentleman while doing it."

At Doland High School in South Dakota, Duane Koslowski was a state champion and state runner-up in wrestling, while Dennis Koslowski was third in the state two times. The brothers went on to the University of Minnesota-Morris, where they both excelled in wrestling and football.

Dennis won two NCAA Div. III national wrestling titles at UM-Morris, capturing the 190 title in 1980 and the Heavyweight title in 1982. Duane won the Div. III national wrestling title in wrestling once. In football, Dennis was a three-time All-Conference offensive lineman, while Duane made All-Conference and All-American as a lineman. The brothers competed in the NCAA Div. III football playoffs four times, including two trips to the semifinals.

It was Dennis Koslowski who continued wrestling after college, with encouragement from 1980 Olympian Brad Rheingans and talented Greco-Roman coach Dan Chandler. Koslowski went to Minneapolis to attend chiropractor school, and trained in Greco-Roman, a style which he had no previous experience. Duane retired from wrestling, as he concentrated on his family and a professional career.

Koslowski quickly became a force in U.S. Greco-Roman wrestling. He won the his first of seven USA Wrestling national titles in 1983 and defeated talented Greg Gibson to make his first U.S. World team that year, placing sixth in the World. In the 1984 Olympic Trials, however, Gibson defeated Koslowski in a close three-match battle, and Gibson went on to win an Olympic silver medal at the Los Angeles Games.

"I was just starting to get the hang of it," said Dennis Koslowski. "Part of me didn't want to go to that Olympic camp. But if my idea was to continue, I knew that experience would be in my memory. I worked out with Gibson and Jeff Blatnick all summer. I never lost to them the whole time. That was also when Duane decided to throw his hat in the ring, and become a training partner for me. It worked out great for us both."

Duane moved up to Minneapolis, and "the Minnesota twins" became a force internationally. Dennis was sixth in the 1985 World Championships and seventh in the 1986 World Championships. In 1987, Dennis made his first major international breakthrough, winning a World silver medal. Duane placed fourth in the 1986 World Championships and fifth in the 1987 World Championships.

"All throughout our wrestling career, we leapfrogged one another," said Dennis Koslowski of his wrestling journey alongside brother Duane. "One would have success and the other one would see it and also get better. We'd think if he can do it, I can do it. Each of us would surge at different times and see the other brother's confidence."

Dennis realized that he had done everything necessary to be an international star, and focused on winning the close matches against the top competitors.

"From the first time I made the World Team, my focus turned to being the best in the world, not just the best in the USA," said Dennis. "I studied my opponents, watched tape, and reviewed tactics. My thing was that a guy was never going to take me down with his best move or turn me with his best move. I got into the physical conditioning level where it became a physical chess match. I got to where I belonged there. It was a matter of doing it on the mat."

In 1988, the Koslowski brothers reached their dream of qualifying for the Olympic Games, winning the Olympic Trials and earning a trip to the Seoul Games. At the Olympics, Dennis had the best performance on the U.S. team, capturing the bronze medal. His loss was to eventual champion Andrej Wronski of Poland. Dennis was the first U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler to win a medal at a non-boycotted Olympics. Duane placed eighth at super heavyweight.

After the Seoul Olympics, the Koslowski brothers retired from competition. Dennis accepted the position of National Greco-Roman Coach for USA Wrestling, the first full-time professional coach to lead Greco-Roman Team USA. In 1989, under Koslowski's leadership, the USA placed sixth in the World Championships, led by World silver medalist Michial Foy. In 1990, Koslowski resigned from his coaching position to return to Minnesota to start his own chiropractic practice and focus more on his family.

"I had more time to apply to wrestling that year as a coach," said Koslowski. "I studied a lot of tape and saw the tactics of the best wrestlers in the world. I knew if I wanted to wrestle again that I needed a break. As the coach, I worked out and wrestled every day. I thought to myself that I can still do it."

Koslowski returned to the mats in 1991 for another run at the Olympic Games. He won his sixth career U.S. Nationals title then earned a spot on the World Team. Although he did not surrender an offensive point, Koslowski placed seventh at the World meet. In 1992, Koslowski won his seventh national title then qualified for his second Olympic Games with a victory at the Olympic Trials.

In the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, Koslowski defeated 1988 Olympic champion Andzej Wronski of Poland in the opening match, then qualified for the gold-medal finals, where he was defeated by Cuba's World champion Hector Millian in a hard-fought battle in overtime. His silver medal was once again the top performance of a U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler at the Olympics.

"I felt like I was on a wave, and as long as I didn't get in my own way, I'd get a medal," said Dennis Koslowski. "I felt I did what I had to do to win. I was super confident."

Koslowski was the first U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler to win two Olympic medals. Only one person has matched his feat, the legendary Rulon Gardner. His three career Greco-Roman World and Olympic medals was also matched by Gardner, behind only Matt Ghaffari with four Greco-Roman medals. His seven national titles, two national runner-up finishes, four World Cup silver medals, two Pan American Games silver medals and four Concord Cup International titles stacks up with the best in American history.

"We have had many outstanding Greco-Roman wrestlers in the United States, but very few who were great. Dennis Koslowski was great and it is fitting that he will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame," said Dan Chandler, Koslowski's club coach and an Olympic team coach. "As a coach, it was always a pleasure to work with an athlete who was a true student of the sport. It was highlight of my coaching career to have worked with Dennis in Seoul and Barcelona."

Not only was Dennis Koslowski successful on the mat, but he wrestled with a passion and style that made him great.

"His discipline and belief was always there," said twin brother Duane. "A lot of people could have quit along the journey. When you had to wrestle him, he wore you out. There was not a lot of finesse. You could see World class guys who wrestled him and just quit. He wasn't going around you. He was going through you."

His chiropractor practice in Minneapolis has thrived, with Koslowski working with the NFL Minnesota Vikings as well as other important clients. He remained active in wrestling by coaching with the Minnesota Storm club and helping train other Greco-Roman wrestlers. Koslowski has been elected into the Div. III Wrestling Hall of Fame as well as the UM-Morris Athletic Hall of Fame.

"It is overwhelming," said Dennis Koslowski of being elected to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. "There are a lot of different roads to the Hall of Fame. I didn't have the pedigree coming out of high school and college. That is what I am most proud of. It is very exciting to tell my coaches, friends and training partners about this honor."

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