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Roger Moore | NCAA.com | February 13, 2014

Living dangerously


There are very few variations when it comes to throwing a football or baseball, for shooting a basketball. Yes, there are subtle differences in technique, but, for the most part, the general start-to-finish procedure is the same when done correctly.

In wrestling, there are the basics – double- and single-leg attacks, duck-unders, et cetera – and various defensive counters to those attacks. Technique videos and Wrestling 101 books are available at an Internet site near you.

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And then there are those who might be considered on the fringe. Think snowboarders to the skiing establishment, the free spirited versus the traditionalist, living dangerously in opposition to a conservative nature.

Like a lightning flash, they produce, what most consider unorthodox, a move that brings oohs and aahs to those in attendance. The go-for-broke style does not always work, but when it does, it often provides the ultimate in wrestling – the pin.

Bottom line, collegiate wrestling needs more of them.

Like recycled musical styles or fashion, the modern wrestler who brings a little funk to the mat is nothing new. Pennsylvanians can spend countless hours retelling stories of Wade Schalles, “cement-mixers,” and Rob Rohn. Missourians and Wisconsinites will remind you of Ben Askren.

Of late, Minnesota junior 157-pounder Dylan Ness has provided a few of those I-don’t-believe-what-I-just-saw-moments thanks to his propensity to live a little dangerously.

In a Jan. 25 dual in always-festive Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Ness, who has a height advantage against most opponents, casually, with the aid of one of his long legs, flipped 2013 NCAA champion Derek St. John to his back for the decisive points with the match on the line. For those unfamiliar with the sport, at first it appears Ness is in big trouble. A split second later, however, and it is the Gopher who is obviously in control.

Last weekend, it was Penn State’s Dylan Alton who was on the receiving end of some Ness theatrics. The resulting pin brought a few thousand to their feet and, as expected, lit up Internet message boards and Twitter accounts nationwide.

Ness, who’s older brother Jayson provided some late dramatics in an NCAA finals victory not long ago, admits to “trying some different things from time to time and working on some moves that opponents might not be prepared for.”

After last Sunday’s victory against Alton, Ness said it was about “feeling the position and going for it.”

As a redshirt-freshman 149-pounder, Ness knocked off Oklahoma State’s second-seeded Jamal Parks in the quarterfinals and Pittsburgh’s Tyler Nauman in the semifinals before falling in the NCAA finals. Last March, after losing in the second round, Ness battled back with five victories and eventually took fourth.

This season, Ness, a Bloomington, Minn., product, is among a very competitive list of 157-pounders that includes Nebraska’s James Green, St. John, Oklahoma State’s Alex Dieringer, and Indiana’s Taylor Walsh, who, like Ness, brings a little funk to the table.

Dieringer, who beat Ness earlier this season, explains, “Until you wrestle [Ness] or guys like him, you really don’t know. I’m glad I got to wrestle him early in the season.”

And you can bet, a time or two, someone will get caught with something out-of-the-ordinary when facing Ness.

“[Dylan] Ness is good at getting you to take that shot; that’s his bread and butter,” said Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson this week. “You don’t want to play around in that position with Ness. Not very many people do that and live to tell about it.

“There’s no move that’s unstoppable. If there was, everyone would be doing it.”

Oklahoma State head coach John Smith wants his wrestlers to “recognize what is coming, to be ready for some of those moves that are out there.”

“It’s not something you can coach,” said UM head coach J Robinson after the Gopher win at Iowa. “It’s something that [Ness] has an ability to do and he has ability at any time to do what he did today. That’s why he’s so dangerous.”

Perhaps collegiate wrestling could use a little more danger in a day and age when, despite some changes to the scoring rules, there are still far too many seven-minute yawners.

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