BTW Jaroslav and Junderdov are both pronounced with soft “J”s. Like “yogging”.
I’m not too excited about the so called team race at this year’s NCAA tourney. I’m pretty sure Penn State is going to get it’s fourpeat. But if they don’t, it’s just going to be one of the other established wrestling powers that does. Moreover, last year places 2 through 5 in the team standings were occupied by Okie State, Minnesota, Iowa and Cornell. College wrestling royalty the lot of them. Those 5 teams are (very probably) going to finish in the top 5 this year. Yawn.
What I am keen on, tho, is seeing seniors reach the podium for the first of their career. Because lets be honest, wrestling blows. It ruins college, and you don’t get those years back. You only get one socially acceptable shot at partying your face off and you can’t do that if your crash dieting and getting beaten up on a regular basis. To put up with four years (or five!) of that nonsense while forgoing your opportunity to live the Animal House live style is unconscionable to me. And so it is with only the highest level of esteem that I hold the kids that make such a sacrifice. And I like to see those sacrifices rewarded.
To get to the point, I decided to pick a rag tag team of scrappy underdogs to root for during tournament time. My criteria are that they be seniors on their last go round at the big dance, and that they can’t have attained All-American status ever before. I also tried to limit it to one wrestler per weight class and pick wrestlers from lesser established programs. But I broke those rules because its my list and I do what I want.
However, I did stick to those rules pretty closely.
So here are the best wrestlers to root for and everyone should do that because these guys are the best:
125 – Jared Germaine – Eastern Michigan
Jared is first wrestler germane to the list (haha, wordplay!). Germaine is unranked and doesn’t have much in the way of big wins on his resume, but his path to the 1/4s isn’t impossible (7-Taylor and 10-Terao before hitting Nahshon Garrett, who is unstoppable and will win the weight class). If that happens he’ll have to beat either 12-Lambert or 13-Silver in the R12 to medal. Not at all likely but that’s who I’m pulling for. Also the EMU is my favorite 3 letter large flightless bird. Either that or the GNU anyway.
133 – Joe Roth – Central Michigan
I’m sticking with the Michigan directionals for my one hundred and a third pounder, Joe Roth. Roth’s taken on just about every good wrestler in his weight class this year and only lost by razor thin margins, except to Joe Colon, who, like Garrett, is unstoppable and will win the weight class. Roth is a 12 seed but he’s in a super tough weight class and is going to have to go through some serious hammers to reach the podium. I got faith in my man, Roth, though. I also heard his uncle, Hyman, used to run things like a gangsta in Miami.
141 – Luke Vaith – Hofstra
Whoa, bigger pic than I thot it was. S’aight, it’s bad ass. Mr Vaith came all the way from Minnesota to wrestle at the Strongest (allegedly) of Islands as a Hofstra Frying Ducthperson (or Pride, whatever). He’s also qualified for the tourney twice already, so here’s to hoping 3rd time’s the charm. Luke has the honor of almost hastening Devin Carter’s season by injury, but Carter rehabbed his hamstring and is back in the tournament so no harm no foul. As an eight seed, Vaith has a pretty good shot at AA status, though he will have to battle through Evan Henderson in the 1/8 round. If he does that he will get beat by no 1 seed Michtell Port (who is not unstoppable but who will place highly) and then he’ll have some stiff competition in the consis, potentially either Ugi (UGI!), Lazor, CDards or Retherford. But even if Vaith doesn’t place, he will still graduate, and then he doesn’t have to live on terrible Long Island surrounded by awful FLIDS anymore. A real win-win!
149 – Eric Grajales – Michigan
I don’t care what anybody says about Grajajajajales, dude lays it all down on the mat, every time, and has wrestled in the most exciting matches I’ve seen all year. Hearing grandpas bitch about some kids’ gas tank is one of the things I despise most about of college wrestling. Hey shut up about gas tanks already. Grajales was a big time blue chip recruit out of Florida and will be making his 4th trip to the NCAAs. He’s had all sorts of crazy wins AND losses this season. No finish would be surprising, and that’s why I picked Grajales as my man at one forty nine, even though he wrestles at a massive, hugely endowed (get yer mind outta the gutter) university whose fans are annoying and don’t live in Michigan after they graduate because Michigan is cold, depressing and literally crumbling into dust.
157 – Nestor Taffur – Boston University
Everyone will be rooting for Taffur at the NCAAs, because assholes New Balance strong armed Boston University into dropping wrestling so that they could sponsor a lacrosse team. Because everyone loves lax bros, especially lax bros’ parents’ money. NintendoEntertainmentSystemTOR is from New Jersey and is therefore awesome and deserving of having the entire fandom in OKC rooting for him. As a 6 seed, Taffur has a very legit shot at getting that medal, and giving one last bird flip to the clueless admins at BU.
PS I threw out my Newd Balance sneaks as soon as I heard the news about BU. No joke.
165 – Ramon Santiago – Rider
Ramon is going to have a difficult time making AA this year. He’s unseeded, got tagged with a pigtail match and has the unstoppable magical unicorn called David Taylor on his side of the bracket. BUT, Ramon is from New Jersey and his name sounds like a Latino action movie star. So he’s my guy to keep hope alive at one sixty-five.
174 – Stephen Doty – Virginia
I picked Doty because his last name is a homonym with the last name of the former lead singer of Soul Coughing, Mike Doughty, and I like the song, Super Bon-Bon. It’s a good song. But I’ll be honest, I don’t care much for UVA. They’re all right, I guess, for a second tier college in Virginia. Wait, why did I pick Stephen Doty again? Oh well, I’m sure he’s a good dude, and I already downloaded the pic. Still, I think I’ll take a mulligan.
174 – Billy Curling – Old Dominion
I’m a much bigger fan of the tidewater region of VIrginia than the Piedmont. Thus, I feel much more comfortable with Billy Curling at seventy four. And Old Dominion deserves an All American for being a mid major with D-1 wrestling. Unfortunately, Curling is going to get bounced out of the championship bracket by Andrew Howe, who is beastly and probably going to win the weight class. Then he’ll have a bunch of tough matches to get to the final 8. But he will have the power of the New York Mets’ former AAA affiliate behind him. Go Tides!
184 – Nick Vetterlein – Virginia Tech
Gnarly Nick the North Jersey Native has a very outside shot at medaling. He’s a 16 seed, which means he’ll have to face off with #1 ranked Jimmy Schlepprock in the 2nd round. Sheptongs only beat him 3-2 this year, but Sheepshonk is probably my favorite wrestler of the year, so it’ll have to be the long hard slog of the consis for my Yunderdog at eighty-five. Go get ’em Nick Single Cousin (if my German is correct).
197 – Brandon Palik – Drexel
Might as well state right off the bat, I’ve made two selections at one ninety-seven and you’re just going to have to deal with it. I also have a soft spot for the Drexel Dragons, as Grandpa Hasek (not my grandfather’s real name) got his engineering diploma from said university, all the way back in Nineteen tickety two, because of the Kaiser yadda yadda yadda. There is a very real chance that Palik will go 0-2 and barbacoa but who cares, all the West Philadelphians will be cheering for him from the playgrounds where the spend most of their days, and so will I!
197 – Christian Boley – Maryland
I spent two years in grad school in Maryland at College Park, and that was enough. I literally can not imagine spending 5 years there. Maybe that’s why the student body is so fond of rioting. In any event, Boley is built like a He-Man action figure and has beaten all sorts of quality opponents over the course of his career, but has never put the pieces together the last two years at the NCAAs. He also had a woeful 0-2 ACC tournament this year. But if he’s rested and healthy, ninety seven is wide open (well, relatively anyway) and I truly think he can make it to the medal rounds. May the Turtle Power of Testudo be with you!
285 – T.J. Felix – Bosie State
Its been a full on clusterfun [sic] at heavyweight this year, so who knows if JT Felix will finish in the top 8 or not. I sure don’t know, what am I, some sort of fortune teller or precog? I guess what I’m saying is it’s late, I’m tired (apologies for the all the typos!) and I can’t think of anything else to say about Felix. Also, the dancing walrus weight class is fun, I don’t care what all the whiny skinnies say about it. Its the square-cube law! Look it up ding dongs, they are slower than lightweights because of science. ITS SCIENCE!
OK that’s the team. Like I said, they’re the best guys to root for, so don’t forget to root for this guys this weekend!