All the athletes at WNO were top notch and most are clearly bound for success at the next level. It was impressive to see this gathering of High School talent at one duel meet. Another creative idea from Willie Saylor and well executed onsite by FLO. Here’s the round up.
Most Compelling Matches:
1. Nick Suriano vs. Daton Fix; may have wrestled the best high school match ever. It was a 33:12 marathon with flurries of activity thoughout the match. Over this half hour event I never saw Fix come out of his stance or good position. At times Suriano showed facial frustration but quickly got control and focus back. Fix was in on so many deep shots; I still can’t believe that he couldn’t finish. Suriano has incredible hips, unique to him, but reminiscent of Kellen Russell’s gyro hips always landing in better position than they started in. His counters are going to work very well at the next level. So will his mental toughness. Suriano is very clear about his college and international goals-championship is what he wants. I’ll put up a post match interview with Suriano later this week. Throughout the 27:12 overtime, the crowd broke into “who wants it” chants; at the end of the match the crowd was noticeably exhausted! A pretty tremendous environment for such a great match. If these guys stay at the same weights the wrestling public is in for some serious competition between these two young men. Oh yea it was Suriano who finished the takedown at 33:12 into the match to win 3-1.
2. Ke-Shawn Hayes vs. Matt Kolodzik was interesting for a few reasons. Hayes was a very highly regarded recruit before recently committing to Ohio State. Kolodzik is reportedly committed to UVA, but after the match he wouldn’t comment on it. Kolodzik won 4-0 but totally dominated Hayes, took him down, rode him for the entire 2nd period and got a relatively quick escape in the 3rd. Hayes wasn’t really in this match. Kolodzik’s skills will translate well at the next level. Where will it be? Kolodzik’s stock jumped the most at this event except for Mark Hall. I’m guessing that he’s getting a lot of phone calls today.
3. Vincenzo Joseph vs. Fredy Stroker. They have history with Joseph recently blowing Stroker out at Fargo; Stroker had many extenuating circumstances in the run up to that match (accident, surgery, etc). Joseph won a close 3-2 match this time around. Post match Joseph was surprised how much Stroker changed up his style and position from their Fargo match. Joseph has shown he knows how to win big and small, which is a very transferable skill at the next level. Fredy ain’t no slouch either, and made lots of adjustments. You can see my interview with VJ later this week. See him warming up h
4. Anthony Valencia (#1 #4# in the country) vs. Mark Hall (#2 #4# in the country). Valencia won their last meeting by 1 point and was talking about a major decision at this event. He was right it was the night’s only bonus decision but it was Mark Hall who dominated the match from the opening whistle to the last second. Hall took home a 10-1 major that included scores form all three positions. Try and find out the last time Valencia gave up back points? I couldn’t find it but it has to have been a long time. Hall totally changed up his strategy from their last meeting and his adjustments were spot on. He lowered his stance and used his arms to keep Valencia from blasting double leg shots. He overpowered Valencia in two upper body locks for takedowns. He also was able to out scramble Valencia from all positions. The only time Valencia threatened to score was a wild scramble where he had Hall flat on his back for a split second but couldn’t control it and ended up still remaining on bottom with no points scored. Valencia has shades of David Taylor and Hall has shades of Kyle Dake; both look like can’t miss recruits. The question is where will Hall go to college. He teased the PSU nation with mentions of Sanderson and Taylor in a pre match interview. Everybody wants him and he’s getting lots of attention from JB, DT and many other wrestling greats trying to get him to their school. He said that it’s been a stressful process and hopes to announce his decision after the season. Just another great kid and his skills will translate very well at the next level. I hope that he picks a PA school so I can watch him “live” for 5 years. You can see his full interview here in a few days.
5. Another thing the Flo did that was innovative was have a pro match between Robert “The Vermonster” Hamlin and Chris Perry with a hybrid of folk and freestyle rules. These guys wrestled shirtless as well but toweled off the sweat like freestyle matches making for less slippery action and technique. Hamlin has been a little quiet on the national level and I thought that Perry would have the advantage. However Hamlin after giving up the first point on a push out did the scoring for the rest of the match. In a pre-match interview Perry said that he is solely focused on being on the world team next year and Olympic team after that. He’s got a long hill to climb, but is a single-minded person from a determined wrestling family. You can see his interview here later this week. It was a good match and I hope Flo, unlike others that have tried this approach, can make enough money to grow this element of the sport.
Overall Lehigh was a great host university for the event. Fans got to see some great wrestling, meet and greet great senior wrestlers and share in the growth of the sport with several electric moments that won’t soon be forgotten. If you liked this event send Willie a message. It was his baby conceptually and it was a beautiful night for the sport. I interviewed him after the event and you can see that here soon as well. Follow my blog to get updates.