Freshmen ready to take center stage
More: Loss of two legends; Unique redshirt for Penn's Rappo
Logan Steiber of Ohio State won an NCAA title as a redshirt-freshman in 2012. Are there any first-year Division I starters who might achieve the same goal next March in Des Moines? A handful of rookies are off to solid starts this season.
Michigan’s Camryn Jackson, a redshirt-freshman 141-pounder from Lansing, Mich., knocked off All-American Michael Mangrum of Oregon State 10-8 in a dual in Corvallis, Ore., on Nov. 16. Jackson improved to 5-0 with a victory on Sunday at Stanford. The Wolverines know a thing or two about solid 141-pounders; Kellen Russell won NCAA titles at the weight class in 2011 and 2012. Michigan head coach Joe McFarland has another salty freshman in Taylor Massa, a 165-pound newcomer from St. John’s, Mich., who went 231-0 in high school. On Sunday, he had a solid win against Stanford’s Bret Baumbach.
North Carolina 125-pounder Nathan Kraisser, a native of Maryland, improved to 11-1 with a pair of victories on Sunday. One of his wins came against South Dakota State senior Trent Sprenkel, who entered the weekend ranked seventh nationally.
Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State beat Missouri’s Kyle Bradley in the 157-pound title bout at the Joe Parisi Open in St. Charles, Mo., on Saturday to open his collegiate career. The Wisconsin native competed for the United States at the FILA Junior World Championships in Thailand during the summer.
Cornell may have a good one at 125 pounds in Nahshon Garrett. A Californian, Garrett is now 10-0 after winning the New York Intercollegiates this past weekend, including a win against Hofstra All-American Steve Bonanno.
It might also be wise to learn how to pronounce Undrakhbayar Khishgnyam. The Citadel 141-pounder who is a native of Mongolia is off to a 9-1 start with the only loss coming to Virginia Tech’s talented Devin Carter in the final of the Hokie Open on Nov. 4.
• A different kind of redshirt: Two seasons ago, Mark Rappo won 28 matches, qualified for the NCAA Championship at 125 pounds and was an Academic All-American while studying finance at Penn. He did not wrestle in 2011-12, instead taking advantage in the real world with an internship with a firm on Wall Street. Rappo returned to the mat for the first time this past Sunday, winning three bouts before falling in the final of the Keystone Classic to Northwestern’s Dominick Malone.
• Two big losses for the sport: Two well-known members of the wrestling family, Jeff Blatnick and Les Anderson, will be missed.
Blatnick, 55, died October 24 following heart surgery. He was a two-time Division II heavyweight champion for Springfield (Mass.) and placed sixth in Division I in 1978. Blatnick made two Olympic teams in Greco-Roman and won a gold medal at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. He overcame Hodgkin’s lymphoma prior to winning gold in 1984. From 1988 to 2012, Blatnick was a broadcaster for both NCAA and international events.
Anderson, an NCAA champion in 1958 and 1960 for Iowa State, died Nov. 9 at the age of 74 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He went 61-1-1 in high school and nearly had his wrestling career derailed when he was diagnosed with polio his senior season. His coaching resumé included more than 30 years of service, including stints with Harold Nichols and Jim Gibbons at his alma mater.
• Clarion carousel: Troy Letters became Clarion’s third head coach in less than three seasons when the Pennsylvania school took off his interim tag last week. The 30-year-old, an NCAA champion for Lehigh in 2004, took over when Tim Dernlan, who was hired to replace Teague Moore before the 2011-12 campaign, was hired by Binghamton last May. Dernlan led the Eagles to an 18th-place finish at the 2012 Championship, the program’s highest finish in 25 years. Clarion gave Letters his first coaching victory on Sunday, beating Eastern Michigan on its home mats.
Penn State’s Ed Ruth, the 2012 champion at 174 pounds, started his junior campaign at 184 pounds in style, beating two-time All-American Robert Hamlin 11-9 in the Nittany Lions’ season-opening 29-6 victory against Lehigh on Nov. 16. … Kyle Reid of NCWA McKendree University beat Oklahoma State’s Blake Rosholt 10-4 in the 197-pound semifinals at the St. Parisi Open. Rosholt entered the weekend ranked sixth in Division I. … Lehigh 157-pounder Joey Napoli followed a Friday night victory against Penn State’s second-ranked Dylan Alton with a 6-0 win against sixth-ranked Frank Hickman of Bloomsburg on Saturday. … The Northeast Duals in Troy, N.Y., highlight the Thanksgiving weekend’s schedule. No. 8 Cornell is set to face No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 14 Central Michigan on Saturday. … The first big-time dual of the season is Dec. 2 in Minneapolis, featuring the No. 1 Gophers against Oklahoma State. … The last two seasons, Coe has outscored Central 82-3 in their Division III dual meets. On Nov. 14, third-ranked Coe edged Central 16-15, the difference being Ethan Ball’s major decision at 174 pounds. The Kohawks’ top-ranked 125-pounder, Jimmy Gotto, dropped a 4-2 decision to Daniel Page. … In its first year of Division II competition, Notre Dame (Ohio) already has the respect of coaches. The Falcons, who won back-to-back NAIA titles in 2010 and 2011 and claimed the NCWA Championship in 2012, opened the season ranked eighth. They hammered Mount Union 39-3 on Saturday.