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Chapman will share stories of Iowans on Oct. 18

October 18th, 2012 by Tom

 CHARLES CITY " The Floyd County Community Foundation is hosting an evening of powerful stories about Iowans on Oct. 18.

These stories will be presented by inspirational speaker Mike Chapman at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 502 Clark St.

This event is free and open to the public. The evening will begin with a social hour at 5 p.m., followed by Chapman's presentation at 6 p.m.

Chapman, a native of Waterloo, is the publisher of the Iowa History Journal.

He had a 35-year newspaper career from which he retired in 2002, and in 2009 he retired from an 11-year career serving as the executive director of the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum.

Chapman has written 23 books, 14 of them on wrestling, and his articles have appeared in dozens of national and regional magazines.

As a reporter, he has attended 43 NCAA wrestling tournaments, two Olympics and two World Championships. He has won numerous awards for journalism and writing and has been named National Wrestling Writer of the Year five times by four different amateur wrestling organizations.

Chapman is also the founder of WIN Magazine, one of the nation's top amateur wrestling publications; the WIN Memorabilia Show, which draws 8,000 fans each year to the NCAA Championships, and the Dan Hodge Trophy, which goes each year to the top college wrestler in the United States.

He has interviewed,  Ronald Reagan, Muhammad Ali, Robert Redford, Lou Ferrigno and many others.

Chapman has appeared on numerous TV shows - including the networks ESPN, A&E, Fox Sports and Iowa Public Television. He has been the guest on over 200 radio talk shows.

American University to host 2012 National Wrestling Coaches Associaton All-Star Classic

September 28th, 2012 by Tom

 American University will host the 47th annual All-Star Classic on November 3, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. The classic will be held in Bender Arena on the campus of American University in Washington D.C.

"It is the greatest wrestling that's going to happen in college this November," said American University head coach Teague Moore in an interview with Takedown Radio.

The event will feature 20 of the nation's top division one wrestlers, participants will be selected here in the upcoming weeks and each wrestler will be announced as they commit.

"Fans can expect to see high paced, action packed wrestling matches that many times have been the precursor to the year-end NCAA finals bouts," said Moore.

The All-Star Classic will be the largest wrestling event in history to be held in Washington D.C. National Wrestling Coaches Association Executive Director Mike Moyer hopes that the magnitude of the event in combination with Washington D.C. having one of the strongest wrestling spectator bases in America will cause the event to have great success.

"Sports fans and the wrestling public will have to recognize the current rise of this region's success," said Moore. "This event will change the perspective of wrestling for the DC area."

The NWCA selected American University, a historically successful wrestling program, as the location for the event due to its partnership with the Greater Washington Wrestlers in Business Network. The solid corporate support that existed within the relationship made American University a solid choice, said Moyer.

American University looks to use the attention their school will receive to show to the public and their student body the success that their wrestling program embodies.

"My hopes are that the student body will see the excitement that wrestling can bring to sports fans," said Moore. "They will recognize the wrestling community's commitment to the sport when so many out of town sports fans arrive on our campus. This will continue to bolster our reputation as a nationally prominent program in the sport of wrestling."

American University hopes to continue their recent success in this event. In both 2010 and 2011 recent graduate Ryan Flores won the 285 pound heavyweight weight class.

Tickets will be on sale later in September. Tickets will be $25 for reserve seating, $15 for general admission and $10 for group purchases of 20 tickets or more.

For additional information on this year's event visit the NWCA website at, http://www.nwcaonline.com/NWCAWebSite/Events/nwcaallstarclassic.aspx. More information on the All-Star Classic will also be released as the event gets closer.

NWCA was founded in 1928. The NWCA strives to promote and provide leadership for the advancement of amateur wrestling, primarily at the scholastic and collegiate levels.

Best NCAA Wrestlers Turned MMA Fighters

December 3rd, 2011 by Tom

By Brian Lopez-Benchimol

Of all the bases of martial arts to build upon a budding, MMA, career, wrestling has been one of the truer and more dominant.

Over the years, we have seen a steady increase in the amount of accomplished wrestlers entering the sport today, with some reaching great heights in becoming world champions in their respective organizations.

The NCAA wrestler represents the upper echelon of competitive athletes who have garnered praise from their conferences, often times having been scouted by larger universities due to their obvious prowess.

So, among the world's best MMA fighters today, who came from an NCAA background?

Ben Askren

Current Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, who recently defeated former UFC and Strikeforce veteran Jay Hieron in the first defense of his title, comes from a long and very prestigious background as an athlete.

Wrestling for the University of Missouri, Askren earned two state titles as a high school wrestler prior to his entry into the big leagues. As a collegiate wrestler, Askren became a runner-up at 174 pounds at the NCAA Division I championships in both 2004 and 2005. He later claimed the title in 2006 and 2007"making him one of the more accomplished athletes to have ever been as successfully competitive.

Askren parlayed his skills toward the 2008 Olympics. Though he came up short there, he has since rebounded with the success he has reached now, becoming an undefeated and highly touted mixed martial artist.

Joe Warren

Current Bellator featherweight champion-turned-bantamweight hopeful Joe Warren has enjoyed a lot of success as an MMA fighter while he is still gunning for a competitive amateur career as a wrestler.

Warren attended East Kentwood High School, where he won two state titles before attending the University of Michigan. His star really shined afterwards.

Warren took gold in two World Cup tournaments before earning first once again in the prestigious Pan American Games in 2006, making him an early favorite in the 2008 Olympic Games. However, Warren failed to qualify for the prestigious tournament after he had tested positive for marijuana in the pre-drug screenings.

He will now look to accomplish the feat that had slipped his grasp in years prior, as Warren will look to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games.

Chuck Liddell

The former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell came from a long history of athleticism as a youth.

At the age of 12, Liddell began Koei-Kan Karate and later took up football in high school, become a four-year starter at San Marcos High.

Liddell would later attend California Polytechnic State University, transitioning his skills to the mat, where he became an NCAA Division I wrestler for the school, though he failed to acquire any real title recognition.

No matter, as Liddell has since used his wrestling base, coupled with knockout power, to become one of the most recognized and popular fighters in the world of mixed martial arts. He has since been inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Cain Velasquez

The current UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez comes from a rich background as a wrestler.

Velasquez took to sports early, as he wrestled all four years at Kofa High School, winning the 5A Arizona Wrestling Championship twice, compiling an astonishing 110-10 record in those formative years.

Velasquez attended Iowa Central Community College, where he wrestled for one season and won the NJCAA National Championship.

The heavyweight great went to the prestigious Arizona State University, where he became a standout early on the NCAA Division I scene, placing fifth in the country in 2005 and fourth in 2006 while compiling an overall record 86-17.

Now, Velasquez enjoys the success of his MMA career, where he remains undefeated and presides as the UFC's undisputed heavyweight ruler.

Matt Hughes

The former two-time UFC welterweight champion built his illustrious career as a mixed martial artist thanks to his extensive wrestling background.

Hughes attended Hillsboro High School, where he became a two-time IHSA Class A State Wrestling Champion at 155 pounds. Next, Hughes attended Eastern Illinois University, where he immediately earned NCAA Division I All-American honors, placing eighth and fifth in his final two years at 157.

Though collegiate titles escaped him there, Hughes has since become one of the more accomplished mixed martial artist to have ever lived.

Randy Couture

How do you follow after such an illustrious photo like that?

As a youth, Couture wrestled early in life beginning in middle school before attending Lynwood High School, where he became state champion in his senior year.

Couture later attended Oklahoma State, where he became a two-time runner-up for the NCAA Division I championship while earning All-American honors. After his collegiate career, Couture went on to become a three-time Olympic alternate before transitioning to the world of mixed martial arts.

There, Couture first claimed the UFC heavyweight title in just his fourth bout as a professional. Since then, Couture has acquired a total of five titles in the organization"three in the heavyweight class and two as a 205-pounder, a feat that has been unmatched since.

Josh Koscheck

Koscheck comes from a long and rich background as an amateur wrestler and, on paper, was one of the best to enter the Octagon.

Coming into prominence at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Koscheck won all of his 42 matches as a junior, going on to become the Division I champion at 174 pounds.

The enigmatic Kosheck earned All-American honors after coming in fourth, second, first and third, respectively, in his four years at Edinboro. His accomplishments helped earn him three PSAC Wrestler of the Year awards while earning the Eastern Wrestling League Achievement Award on two separate occasions.

Since then, Koscheck has been regarded as one of the top-five welterweight fighters in MMA, having defeated the likes of Diego Sanchez, Paul Daley and Matt Hughes in his career, while challenging for a world title in the process.

Kevin Randleman

The future UFC heavyweight champion was always a powerhouse, even in his earlier days as a youth.

Randleman attended the prestigious Ohio State University, where he competed at 177 pounds. Randleman became the two-time NCAA Division I champion, earning All-American honors after his incredible and storied run of becoming one of the few men to earn the title back-to-back (in 1992 and 1993) after becoming a runner-up in 1991 as a sophomore.

After his collegiate career, Randleman moved into the world of mixed martial arts, where he first came into prominence in the UFC and became the undisputed champion in just his third bout with the organization.

In his career, Randleman holds notable victories over the likes of former champion Maurice Smith, Pedro Rizzo, Renato Sobral and former Pride great Mirko Cro Cop.

Phil Davis

One of the more promising stars in the mixed martial arts world, Phil Davis first built his star on the foundation built as a collegiate wrestler.

He began that career at Penn State, finishing fifth at the NCAA Division I championships in 2007. Davis would later earn the prestigious title in 2008 as a senior, graduating as a four-time All-American while compiling an overall 116-17 record.

Since then, Davis has gone on a tear as a professional mixed martial artist. Davis went on a 4-0 run is less than one year's time before being called up to the UFC, where he defeated former WEC champ Brian Stann in his debut.

Since then, Davis remains undefeated and has gone 5-0 inside the Octagon, with his last bout earning him top-10 status after defeating former Pride star Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

Shane Carwin

The powerhouse in Shane Carwin first built his base as a collegiate wrestler.

Carwin attended Western State College in 1996, where he became the NCAA Division II runner-up both in 1996 and 1997. Eventually, Carwin earned the NCAA Division II heavyweight national championship in 1999 and later became a volunteer coach for the University of North Colorado.

It was in that area where Carwin linked up with the Grudge Training Center, headed by top trainer Trevor Wittman. Since then, Carwin has earned world recognition, beginning his career with an 8-0 start before making his way to the UFC.

There, Carwin has earned knockout victories over the likes of Christian Wellisch, former title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga and former champ Frank Mir"the latter of which earned Carwin the interim title in the process.

Matt Hamill

Though Hamill competed on the Division III circuit in his amateur wrestling career, he deserves recognition nonetheless since he accomplished much while being deaf.

Hamill attended Rochester Institute of Technology in 1996. In 1997, 1998 and 1999, Hamill earned the NCAA Division III championship, competing at 167, 190 and 197 pounds, respectively.

Invited to the 2001 Summer Deaflympics, Hamill won a silver medal in Greco-Roman and gold as a freestyle wrestler.

Hamill then transitioned his skills to the mixed marital arts scene, where Hamill joined the UFC on the heels of his stint on The Ultimate Fighter on Season 3. Hamill became a top contender in the 205-pound class, where he earned impressive victories over Keith Jardine, top contender Mark Munoz and former champion Tito Ortiz.

Mark Coleman

Former UFC champ Mark Coleman, much like all successful heavyweight hopefuls, built his career on his collegiate career as a wrestler.

Beginning wrestling as a teen, Coleman attended Miami University in Ohio, where became the two-time Mid-American Conference champion. In his final year, Coleman transferred to the prestigious Ohio State, where he won the NCAA Division I title and clinched his spot as an All-American athlete.

Coleman earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team, placing second at the FILA Wrestling World Championships and seventh overall at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Coleman would later be labeled as the "godfather of ground-and-pound, "when he transitioned to the MMA scene, winning the UFC 10 Tournament in his debut as a pro in 1996.

Coleman would win the subsequent tournament before becoming the organization's first heavyweight champion by besting Dan Severn with a first-round submission. A subsequent Grand Prix title in the Pride organization built Coleman's star, where he was eventually inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Mark Munoz

On paper, Mark Munoz could very well be the best wrestler to ever enter the UFC.

Attending Vallejo High School, Munoz earned the California State Wrestling Championship twice at 189 pounds and the 1996 NHSCA national high school championship as well.

Munoz was later scouted and recruited by Oklahoma State University after having been one of the most-sought-after wrestlers in the country. Munoz earned two Big 12 titles while taking home the prestigious NCAA Division I title in his senior year.

Munoz also took his skills into international waters when he earned the silver medal at the FILA Junior World Wrestling Championships in 1998.

Since then, Munoz has become of the fast rising contenders in the middleweight division in the UFC, having bested the likes of Kendall Grove, Aaron Simpson, C.B. Dollaway and most recently Demian Maia, besting the former title challenger by decision.

Tyron Woodley

Current Strikeforce phenom Tyron Woodley came from humbling backgrounds as a youth.

Born 11th of 13, Woodley grew up in Ferguson, Missouri. When he was at McCluer High School, Woodley was a natural athlete, becoming a two-time state wrestling finalist before earning his first official title as a senior when he totaled a 48-0 record.

Woodley attended the University of Missouri, alongside Ben Askren, where he earned NCAA Division I honors and All-American stature. He became team captain from 2003-2005, earning the Big 12 title in 2003 before becoming runner-up in 2005.

Since then, Woodley has been coveted as one of the top prospects in MMA. Woodley is undefeated as a pro, holding notable victories over the likes of Andre Galvao, Tarec Saffiedine and former UFC contender and Strikeforce title challenger Paul Daley.

Mo Lawal

An international success in every sense of the word, "King "Mo first took to the MMA scene on the heels of a very extensive wrestling career that extended past his collegiate efforts.

Growing up in Texas, Lawal became a two-time high school state runner-up in 1997 and 1998 before taking the title in 1999 at the Texas state championships.

Lawal attended the University of Central Oklahoma, where he competed for three years in the Division II circuit, becoming the 2001 runner-up before taking the NCAA Division II title in 2002. He later earned the Big 12 title in 2003 before moving up to Division I.

Lawal took third before he went on to the international circuit, where he earned a litany of titles and totaled well over 20 medals and/or titles. Once an Olympic hopeful, Lawal transitioned to the world of mixed martial arts in 2008.

Lawal took a big splash in his MMA career when he defeated UFC veteran Travius Wiuff in his debut, knocking out the touted heavyweight in a little over two minutes. Eventually, Lawal became the Strikeforce 205-pound champion when he defeated Gegard Mousasi by decision.

Cole Konrad

A successful collegiate wrestler-turned-world champion"this story sounds familiar.

Cole Konrad began his career as an accomplished wrestling standout at Freedom High School, compiling an overall 101-15 record winning the Wisconsin state championship in 2002. Konrad entered the Junior National Championships, earning titles in both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling.

Konrad attended University of Minnesota, where as a junior, Konrad went undefeated, eventually parlaying his success to the NCAA Division I championship. Konrad again repeated the amazing feat as a senior, going undefeated again and taking the prestigious title in 2007.

At the Pan American Games in 2005, Konrad won the freestyle wrestling title in the 120 kg division.

Since then, "The Polar Bear "has become a hot MMA prospect. He has found lots of success as a pro, earning the Bellator heavyweight championship after defeating a bevy of opponents in the organization's first tournament.

Victories over Damian Grabowski and UFC veterans Neil Grove and former title challenger Paul Buentello anchor his list of accolades.

Don Frye

MMA great Don Frye has become one of the more notable fixtures in all of the sport, thanks to his moustache, persona and overall fighting skills that rely on his wrestling background.

Frye attended Buena High School in Sierra Vista, where he first found wrestling, and attended the prestigious Arizona State University, where fighters such as Cain Velasquez, C.B. Dollaway and Aaron Simpson have all called home at one point.

Frye won three Pac-10 titles in college, earning Division I All-American honors for his efforts which he later parlayed into Olympic run. In 1987, Frye won both the freestyle and Greco-Roman events during the Olympic qualifier, where in his senior year he finished out his career at Oklahoma State.

Since then, Frye has been recognized as a pioneer in MMA, winning the UFC 8 tournament upon his mixed martial arts debut and the heavyweight tourney in December of 1996. For some time, Frye held the record for fastest knockout in the UFC after he finished Thomas Ramirez with a KO punch in just eight seconds.

Jon Fitch

Despite convincing himself that he is not an athlete but a tireless worker, Fitch does come from a competitive background as a wrestler.

Attending Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Fitch wrestled at Purdue University as a walk-on. Fitch wrestled while under the watchful eye of mixed martial arts icon Tom Erikson.

A four-year letterman, Fitch became team captain of the Boilermakers, compiling an overall 97-12 record and earning NCAA Division I honors.

Though he went relatively unaccomplished as a collegiate athlete, Fitch has since become one of the more notable figures in mixed martial arts. He is considered universally as the consensus No. 2 fighter in the welterweight division.

Fitch has compiled an overall 13-1-1 record inside the Octagon and holds notable victories over the likes of Thiago Alves (twice), Diego Sanchez and Paulo Thiago, while having challenged for a world title against current champion Georges St-Pierre, turning in a "Fight of the Night "worthy performance in defeat.

Johny Hendricks

Hendricks attended the highly touted Oklahoma State University on the heels of a long and accomplished wrestling career in high school, where he earned three Oklahoma state titles whilst competing for Edmond Memorial High School.

In 2005 and 2006, Hendricks took home the NCAA Division I title, wrestling then at 165 pounds.

Hendricks finished second in 2007, making him a four-time All-American at the university, polishing off his career with three Big 12 titles before making his way to the world of mixed martial arts.

Since entering the Zuffa fold, Hendricks has gone 8-1 under both the WEC and UFC banners. He holds an overall 11-1 record, and his lone defeat comes at the hands of contender Rick Story.

Hendricks holds impressive wins over The Ultimate Fighter Season 7 winner Amir Sadollah and Charlie Brenneman"knocking out both men before the final bell.

Jake Rosholt

UFC veteran Jake Rosholt remains as accomplished as they come on the collegiate scene.

Beginning his career at Sandpoint High School, Rosholt would win three Idaho state titles and the national title in 2001 at 189 pounds.

Rosholt attended Oklahoma State University, where he won the NCAA Division I title in his freshman year, a feat that is rare.

Rosholt again claimed NCAA fame again in 2005 and 2006, earning All-American honors all four years of college while making him a legend in the wrestling scene. He's one of only a few men to earn three NCAA titles.

Following his accomplished collegiate career, Rosholt moved to the world of MMA, where he went uncontested in his five outings. He entered the UFC on the heels of his brief stint in the now-defunct WEC promotion.

In the organization, he picked up a convincing victory over perennial contender Chris Leben, submitting the heavy hitter with a third round arm-triangle choke.

Brock Lesnar

When Brock Lesnar was born in Webster, South Dakota, a star was born.

Lesnar picked up the wrestling bug at an early age when he attended Webster High School, securing a 33-0 record in his senior year.

Lesnar attended the University of Minnesota on scholarship, where he would take second place at the NCAA Division I championships. Lesnar vindicated himself in 2000 when he took the title, earning All-American honors in his final two years at the university.

In his four years as a collegiate wrestler, Lesnar compiled an astounding 106-5 record overall.

Though a stint as a WWE star soon followed, Lesnar eventually made his way to mixed marital arts, where he joined the UFC in February of 2008. In just his second professional bout, Lesnar took on former world champion Frank Mir, besting him early before succumbing to submission.

Eventually, Lesnar earned the heavyweight title when he defeated UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture and later avenged his defeat to Mir by successfully defending his title, TKO'ing the jiu-jitsu expert on second-round strikes.

A victory over Shane Carwin followed, legitimizing Lesnar's place a world-ranked MMA fighter.

Wrestling official Ross Thomas inducted into AAU Wrestling Hall of Fame

August 26th, 2011 by Tom

SMYRNA, Del. "

Smyrna High grad recognized for years of service as a top referee

Serving as a referee can often be like the Rodney Dangerfield of jobs -- no respect. But Ross Thomas of Smyrna recently received the ultimate recognition for his work as a referee when he was inducted into the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Thomas attended the induction ceremony June 25 in Orlando, Florida.

"I was really honored," he said. "There are a lot of big-time guys in the Hall of Fame -- wrestlers, coaches. It's a pretty neat honor. The head official for the AAU is the one who nominated me, Dave Bennetts of Butte, Montana. He worked with me at a lot of AAU tournaments."

Thomas' "day job" is teaching accounting and business education at Polytech near Woodside, where he just finished his 17th year.

His career as a wrestling official, though, spans 30 years, dating back to when he was in college. Thomas was recognized by the Amateur Athletic Union for working about 15 of those years at AAU events such as the Disney Duals and three AAU national tournaments in Detroit, Tulsa, and Des Moines. He was supervisor of officials at the Disney Duals this year and in 2009.

He's served as a referee at all levels of amateur wrestling, including college, high school, and youth tournaments.

"I worked a full college schedule, all over the country," he said.

He was selected to officiate the NCAA Wrestling Tournament four times from 2007 to 2010, the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament five times, and the Big Ten Conference Tournament once.

Thomas is also well known in Delaware high school wrestling circles. He served as a referee for the Beast of the East Tournament in Newark for 17 years including 10 years as head official, and he's officiated at 15 state tournaments.

Now, he's hanging up his whistle.

"I'm not going on the mat anymore," he said. "I took an assigner's job, sending officials out for three conferences: the ACC, the Southern Conference, and the Colonial Athletic Association."

He plans to stay involved in high school wrestling, serving on the Delaware Wrestling Alliance, the committee in charge of Beast of East Tournament that also awards scholarships to wrestlers.

Wrestling for Smyrna High

Thomas wrestled on the varsity team all four years at Smyrna High School, winning two Henlopen Conference titles and placing third in the state tournament in his senior year, 1980.

Ron Eby was the coach of the team during Thomas' freshman year.

"When I went from junior high to high school, I was in awe, because Mr. Eby was a legend," said Thomas. "It's neat to work with him now. We're on the Delaware Wrestling Alliance together now, so I still see him a lot."

"He always pushed the basics, being fundamentally sound," said Thomas. "That's what I remember -- nothing fancy, just solid, fundamental wrestling."

Buddy Lloyd took over as coach when Thomas was a sophomore.

"It was a different relationship because Buddy was so young. I think he was under 30. He'd wrestle us in practice. We'd compete with him, and we knew he had been a state champion," said Thomas.

He fondly remembers his years wrestling at Smyrna High.

"It was just amazing the amount of support we received. I mean, the whole town would show up for the CR and Sussex Central matches. That was fun. You lived for that stuff," he said. "A lot of people would support you at different tournaments far away in the summer, too. The whole town had a hand in it."

High praise from former coach

His former coach, Ron Eby, has followed Thomas' career as an official from the beginning.

"He's excellent. He does a tremendous job," said Eby. "Officials are always criticized, but he's the least-criticized official I've ever seen. He did so well in Delaware, and then he branched out and traveled all over the country weekend after weekend in order to build his credentials. Then he was nominated for the NCAA tournament finals which is the ultimate in wrestling officiating. He's exceptionally good. I don't think I've ever seen an official better at any level than Ross."

As for the AAU Hall of Fame induction, Eby said, "People in Delaware who know wrestling have seen how good he is, and to be selected for the NCAA tournament is tremendous. Now someone else is recognizing him at another level -- the AAU Hall of Fame -- that's some accomplishment."

Eby remembers that at Smyrna High School, he was glad to see Thomas that first day of practice his freshman year.

"He was a big, strong young man that we needed. We never had upper weights," said Eby. "He was a very successful wrestler, and continued to be when Buddy (Lloyd) coached him."

Eby went to the NCAA tournament several times and saw Thomas officiate.

"Of course I may be biased, but I always thought he was in the best 10 and the best 10 are selected for the finals," said Eby. "I remember one year, he was pictured in a big spread in a local newspaper where they were holding the tournament, and we were all so proud of him."

Now, Eby works with Thomas on the Delaware Wrestling Alliance.

"Ross volunteers an awful lot," Eby said. "He gets all the officials for Beast of the East tournament and he's served as treasurer of DWA for many years."

College career included his start as an official

Thomas wrestled at Virginia Tech his first two years in college and finished at Delaware State University.

"I got one match away from qualifying for the NCAA Tournament," he said. "That was tough."

He started refereeing high school junior varsity matches while he was still in college.

"I can remember all my college teammates at Del State used to come heckle me when I was refereeing," he laughed.

Thomas continued in the sport while serving in the U.S. Marines, wrestling on the All-Marine team for two years. Then, when he became a teacher at Polytech High School, he coached the Panthers wrestling team for three years.

Q&A with Ross Thomas

Q Why did you want to become a referee?

A It's a way to stay in the sport. Wrestling's a young man's sport. By the time you're 25, you've exhausted all your competitive opportunities. It's probably the most involved you can be in any sport as an official. You can do a lot to prevent injuries. One of the best compliments I received was from parents who told me they always thought their kid was safe out there when I was officiating.

Q What have been the highlights of your career as an official?

A Getting selected for the NCAA tournament because that's the top 20 referees in the country. I set a goal of being the first from Delaware to be selected for the NCAAs. No one's done that before. I'd also say the Big 10 tournament because that's the premier conference in the country for wrestling, and they only use eight referees. Some say that's harder than being selected for the NCAA tournament.

Q What was the most challenging part on the mat?

A When I was doing the big stuff, the NCAA tournament or the conference tournaments, there was a lot of pressure. You're on TV wearing a microphone, and you've got to watch what you say. In my first NCAA finals, I actually said a cuss word, broadcast live on ESPN. It was because one of the wrestlers was doing a dangerous move. It wasn't too big of a deal. I got scolded a bit, but I was trying to keep a guy from getting hurt."

Q How did you balance your teaching career with your work as a referee?

A I had to burn a few personal days to do that. But a lot of the Big 10 matches are Fridays to Sundays. I did a ton of running to the airport Fridays, then back on Sunday night on the red eye. The travel is the real grind of it.

Q What's the biggest change you've seen in high school wrestling?

A There's so much more knowledge out there now. If you were just a tough kid and started wrestling as a freshman, you could be pretty good by the time you were a senior. Now, everyone starts when they're six years old and they know a lot more by the time they get to high school.

Q What's been the biggest change at the college level?

A The number of colleges that have cut their wrestling program. That's a major concern. I think Division I is down to 83 or 84 programs. It's been more than cut in half over 30 years. When I wrestled, the SEC was big -- Alabama, Auburn, LSU all had it. Now it's all gone. In the ACC, only six out of 12 schools have it. That means there aren't as many opportunities for high school students to go on to compete at the college level.

Fausey Named to Amateur Wrestling News’ All-Rookie Team

July 17th, 2011 by Tom

Jon Fausey

Courtesy: VirginiaSports.com

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Virginia redshirt freshman Jon Fausey (Dalmatia, Pa.) was named to Amateur Wrestling News' All-Rookie Team, as announced recently by the publication. Fausey was named to the fourth team at 184 pounds.

Fausey went 29-10 at 184 during the 2010-11 season. He went 19-5 in dual matches and racked up four falls, two technical falls and eight major decisions. In contrast, all 10 of his losses came by decision (seven points or fewer).

An automatic qualifier to the NCAA Championships, Fausey took third place at the ACC Championships. He went 2-2 at NCAAs, picking up wins over Chattanooga's Jason McCroskey and Arizona State's Jake Meredith. His two NCAA losses each came to national seeds.

Fausey also was named to the VaSID All-State First Team this year and earned a spot on the 2011 All-ACC Academic Wrestling Team. He picked up the Virginia wrestling team's Freshman of the Year Award as well.

Remarkable Story of Cornell College Wrestling Dream Team of 1947

January 9th, 2011 by Tom

How a Small College Upset All Major Competitors to Win NCAA Wrestling Championship
Arno Niemand

Arno Niemand, longtime wrestling proponent, historian and member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, has written and published "The Dream Team of 1947, "a new book chronicling the extraordinary story of the 1947 wrestling team of Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

The book tells the true story of a dedicated coach named Paul Scott, a nurturing small college and town, three young superstars fresh out of high school, and five service veterans who all bonded as a team, winning the "grand slam "of amateur wrestling. Cornell was the only school outside of Oklahoma to win the NCAA team championship, something no other private school has accomplished to this day. The Great Depression, World War II, the GI Bill, struggles with scholastic achievement and a serious car crash all affect the team's future in this real-life drama.

"Every once in a while, something happens in the world of sports that reminds us all why we care, and this story continues to inspire all who have heard it, "commented Niemand. "It's the story of the greatest team you've never heard of."

"This wrestling history is so enjoyable that I wonder why it took so long to be written, "commented Dan Gable, NCAA, World and Olympic champion, and legendary former coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes. "Thanks for giving us another reason to love the sport."

More details can be found at http://dreamteam47.com. The book is currently available at Amazon.com and select book stores.

About Arno Niemand

Mr. Niemand is a 1956 graduate of Cornell University, where he was on the wrestling team. He was later inducted into the Cornell Hall of Distinguished Wrestling Alumni. He earned his MBA in 1958 from the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia. Throughout his life, Mr. Niemand has continued to support the sport of wrestling, and in 2008 received the FILA Gold Star, the highest award given to an individual by the world governing body of wrestling. In 2009, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, earning the Order of Merit.

As previous owner and chairman of Body Bar Inc., Niemand has sponsored the USA Wrestling Women's National Team since 2003.

SOURCE Arno Niemand

Finding The Next Gable, Smith, or Borlaug

January 16th, 2010 by Tom

It's time to come clean. I've lied in this blog for two and a half years. I've always claimed that I never wrestled and that isn't entirely true. I did win an 8th grade intramural championship at Frank L. Smart Junior High School. In 1963 every boy in Davenport, IA (it was a sexist world) was introduced to wrestling in some way. There were instructional units in our PE classes where we were taught the basics of the single leg takedown, the sitout and the half nelson. At the end of the unit the teacher would organize an intramural tournament and we were encouraged to enter.

At about the same time that I reached the apex of my wrestling glory, 130 miles to the northwest, in Waterloo, a kid named Gable was launching his career. It's a story of 2 choices. I opted for being a really bad basketball player and he chose to become one of America's greatest wrestlers. A few years later, in Del City, OK, some brothers named Smith were exposed to wrestling and chose to pursue their dreams "with John going on to win two Olympic Gold medals and four World Championships.

Long before I, or Dan Gable or the Smiths were born a kid named Norman Borlaug stepped on the mat in Cresco, IA. After his wrestling career at the University of Minnesota, he, too, made a choice "to go an to graduate school and earn a masters degree and PHD in plant pathology. His lifetime of food production research saved millions of people around the world from starvation and in 1970 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. Borlaug said of his wrestling background, "Wrestling taught me some valuable lessons. I always figured I could hold my own against the best in the world. It made me tough (my emphasis). Many times I drew on that strength."

So " what's the one common thread running threw Dr. Borlaug, Dan Gable, John Smith and me? We were all exposed to wrestling at an early age. We may have all taken divergent paths "but we all had the opportunity to learn the values of wrestling. I'm not sure that enough of today's youth gets that opportunity.

What's the answer? I don't know "but here's what I'm trying. I must begin by saying that I love NCAA Division III wrestling. Those guys really "get after it". I've attended a few NCAA Division III Championships and the Saturday morning session might be my favorite part of that event. Everyone wrestling then is already an All-American and is battling to determine his spot on the podium. I'll see more throws, reversals to pins "in general more excitement "in that one session than I might see in a whole season of Hawkeye dual meets. I know that the skill levels are different "but boy do I love watching DIII wrestlers.

What if kids who are new to wrestling got to see all of that fun and action? Would a few of them step on the mat for the first time? Would some of them get motivated enough to stick with the sport when it gets tough? I don't know "but I'm hoping to find out. I'm raising enough money ($10,000) to buy 1,000 tickets to the Saturday, March 6, 2010 morning session of the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, IA and giving them away to kids.

The tickets will go to a variety of kids. Many will be reserved for students at flood impacted elementary and middle schools in Cedar Rapids. Local youth organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs will also get some. Most will probably go to youth wrestling clubs. There is no geographical preference for the wrestling clubs " if you want to bring a group to Cedar Rapids, just let me know.
So far, support has been encouraging. Corporate pledges have reached over $4,000, including an extremely generous gift of $2,000 from the Cedar Rapids Marriott. When wrestling writer KJ Pilcher published an article about the project in the Cedar Rapids Gazette just before Christmas, I got another $600 in pledges in three days. Cornell College has allowed me to raise money on-site at wrestling events. To date a total of about $5,600 has come in.

Some folks have suggested that I should be happy with what has already been accomplished. That's like suggesting that Gable should have been satisfied with two NCAA titles after the loss to Owings or telling John Smith that a couple of international championships are enough for any man. I won't stop until we get 1,000 kids in that arena "and I may not stop then.

So, dear readers, I am asking you to help. Several of you already have and to those I offer my heartfelt thanks. But "there's still work to be done. Will you who haven't yet contributed join this elite group of fans?

If you want to make a pledge today email me at [email protected]. I'll collect on your pledge in a couple of weeks when tickets actually go on sale. If you want to just write a check now, please make it to, "Tickets for Kids" and send it to:

"Tickets for Kids"
c/o Jim Brown
130 24th St NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402-4936.

Your donation may just be the one that puts the next Gable or Smith or Borlaug on the mat.

Thank you,


PS If you have a group of kids that would like tickets, please email me.


2008 NCAA Champ PHIL DAVIS Makes UFC Debut Feb 6

January 15th, 2010 by Tom

Phil Davis, 2008 NCAA Division I 184-pound champ for Penn State, will be competing at UFC 109: Relentless at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Saturday, February 6.

Davis, who signed with UFC just last month, will be facing former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Brian Stann, who played football at the US Naval Academy.

A four-time NCAA All-American wrestler, Davis built a 116-20 collegiate career with the Nittany Lions. The 25-year-old Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native owns a 4-0 professional MMA record, having competed inside the Palace Fighting Championship, Ultimate Warrior Challenge and Ultimate Cage Fighting Challenge promotions. In Davis' most recent MMA event in June, he submitted David Baggett with a rear-naked choke in 3:37.

To read the rest of the story...


NCAA: Olympian/U of Minnesota’s Deitchler Ruled Ineligible For Season

January 14th, 2010 by Tom

University of Minnesota freshman wrestler and former Olympian, Jake Deitchler has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the 2009-10 academic year.

The University of Minnesota received initial notice in September and appealed the ruling hoping for a review of the situation. Deitchler has not competed for the Gophers this season, while awaiting the results of the final appeal. Deitchler's eligibility will be reinstated under the conditions that he is withheld from competition for the 2009-10 academic year, forfeit a year of eligibility and repay the $4,000 prize money he received.

A 2008 graduate of Anoka High School and an Anoka, Minn. native, Deitchler represented the United States at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Following the Olympics, Deitchler spent the 2008-09 academic year training and competing full-time with USA Wrestling at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"In the NCAA's ongoing effort to promote student-athlete welfare I do not think the NCAA is following or supporting their own ideology. The NCAA has handed a very young student athlete an overly harsh penalty, "head wrestling coach J Robinson said. "The punishment is quite severe and is a three part penalty. First; Deitchler must sit out a year, second he will lose one of his four years of eligibility, and third he must repay the money he received.

I understand that there needs to be a penalty, Robinson said but to deny a season of competition, take away an entire year of eligibility plus repay the money is excessive. People make mistakes, and as an 18 year-old kid who just represented his country in the Olympic Games and got lost in the moment I don't think this decision is in the best interest of the athlete, the NCAA, or the Olympic movement."

Robinson went on to add, "We had a very similar situation at Minnesota a few years ago where an athlete took money after the Olympics, in this case more money $6,000. The penalty the NCAA imposed was that the student athlete had to sit out two weeks and repay the money. That same year, this student athlete was eligible to compete in the NCAA Championships and became an NCAA All-American."

Deitchler will remain on the team and participate in all team practices, but cannot compete in 2009-10 for the University of Minnesota in any NCAA sanctioned events.

This is bigger than Jake Deitchler and I think it hurts our Olympic movement by setting a bad precedence. Robinson hopes that the NCAA will review and reverse their decision in the spirit of student athlete welfare and what best for a young student athlete that got caught up in the excitement of the Olympic Games while representing his country.

Robinson also said that Mario Mason has been reinstated and will resume competition with the team. Mason had been suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules, causing him to miss the Southern Scuffle and the Iowa State Dual.

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Iowa’s Brent Metcalf sets lofty goals for this season and beyond

November 29th, 2009 by Tom

Craig Sesker USA Wrestling

Iowa's Brent Metcalf shoots in on North Carolina State's Darrion Caldwell during the 2009 NCAA finals in St. Louis. Photo by Larry Slater.

IOWA CITY "Brent Metcalf took the college wrestling world by storm during the 2007-08 season.

Metcalf's first season as an Iowa Hawkeye was a memorable one as he won his first NCAA title, led Iowa to the national team title and won the Hodge Trophy as the best college wrestler in the country.

He came back strong again last season, extending his winning streak to 69 matches before he was upset by North Carolina State's Darrion Caldwell in the 2009 NCAA finals. Metcalf helped the Hawkeyes edge Ohio State for the team title last March. Iowa won the title without crowning an individual champion.

Metcalf jumped right into freestyle competition after the NCAAs and placed second at the 2009 U.S. Nationals. He fell short of placing at the U.S. World Team Trials.

He just started his senior season as the nation's top-ranked wrestler at 149 pounds for the No. 1 Iowa Hawkeyes.

Metcalf took time out of his busy schedule to grant an interview with USA Wrestling's Craig Sesker following a workout last week at the wrestling room in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

You and your Iowa Hawkeye team are favored to win NCAAs this year. How eager were you for this season to start?

We have a great group of veterans in this room, and we have a great group of young guys who are in here fighting hard every day. It's great to see, that's for sure. The young guys are really pushing the older guys and keeping them honest. The way last year ended, we are not in here feeling like we are the national champions and feeling like we are on top of the world. It was disappointing how we finished. We feel like we are still fighting for something because we really didn't get what we wanted. There are a lot of guys in here who are really motivated.

You are a senior now, how different is that for you?

It shouldn't be any different. You live and train the same way. The philosophy is the same whether you are a freshman or a senior, so for me it's not any different. You can't go into panic mode or think this is all or nothing because it's my last shot as a senior. For me, I have a job to do and I do it at the highest level that I possibly can. The biggest thing for us again is we're a little bit ornery and a little bit unsatisfied because we didn't get what we wanted last season.

What did you learn from finishing second at the NCAA tournament last season?

My philosophy on wrestling is the guy who wants it the most is going to win. If I'm going to answer the question "why did I lose the match? "because I didn't want it the most. Do I feel like I didn't want it the most? No, probably not, but that's got to be my answer because that's my philosophy. What I have to take away from that is I have to make sure I'm going out there to take a championship away from my opponent. You don't step out there to just continue what you're doing. It's not another match. You can't be complacent. You've got to get yourself amped up and get your mind and body ready to win a championship every single time. Especially in those big matches. I need to go out there and win and take what I want. I have to have extremely high motivation to win every time I go out there. I need to have a high sense of need and want and desire. If that's what was lacking last year, then that's what has to change this year. I felt good going into that match. I just have to work toward that perfect preparation to get ready for a big match.

Did you take a break after the World Team Trials?

After the World Team Trials, I took a pretty good break and spent time with my family and my fiancée. I'm not a big break guy. It's harder to take a break when you're not happy about how you've wrestled. I was still thinking about those losses. When you don't perform the way you wanted to it's hard to take your mind away from wrestling because you're constantly thinking about it.

You lost close matches at the 2009 World Team Trials to Olympian Doug Schwab and eventual Trials runner-up Jared Frayer. Does that just add more fuel to the fire when you compete internationally?

I don't know if losing is motivation. I think the fact that I didn't perform the way I performed against those guys in this practice room is what motivates me the most. I wrestled both those guys a lot in the room. I felt like I took a step back when I lost to them at the Trials. You can't concede anything to them, even if they are your coaches. I just need to learn from that and keep improving.

What kind of advice has Iowa head coach Tom Brands given you entering this season?

Just keep doing what I'm doing "continue to have that same drive and motivation. Once you get to being the best, you still have to find what pushed you to get to that level. You have to go back to your younger days and think about what you did when you were scrapping and trying to prove yourself.

What is it like being around twins Tom and Terry Brands on a daily basis?

It's an honor, and a dream come true. It's awesome. These guys were my idols when I was growing up. It's more than just wrestling when you talk about Tom and Terry Brands. They care about you personally and they take the time to get involved with your life and what you're doing off the mat. They are special people who live the right way. I've become a better person by being around them. They teach you how to lead a championship lifestyle "from the way you treat your girlfriend, to the way you treat your neighbor, to the way you treat your teammates, to the way you take care of yourself. They live by very high standards on and off the mat.

How excited are you about competing internationally in freestyle wrestling once you are done with your college career?

My goal is to win multiple World and Olympic championships. I have very high standards for what I want to do internationally. Last year, there was maybe too much focus on freestyle where I maybe looked past the NCAA Championships to the World Championships. Right now, the focus is on this season and Omaha 2010 for the NCAA Championships. I want to win the NCAA title and then worry about everything that comes after that.

Jake Herbert came right out of Northwestern earlier this year and won a silver medal in his first trip to the World Championships. Did you watch any of his matches at the World Championships in September?

It doesn't surprise me, what Jake Herbert did at the Worlds. He's a competitor. He wrestles offensively and he doesn't hold back out there. He goes to his offense and he works really hard out there to win. His style is similar to mine in that respect. I hope he's not happy with the silver and I know that he isn't. Hopefully, he will continue to work hard and he will get where he needs to be. It doesn't matter where you come from as long as you have that drive and focus to be the best. Like I said, I want to be the best wrestler in the World. I know I have to keep working hard to get there.

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