Moving Forward

With the Walsh Jesuit Ironman, one of the largest high school wrestling tournaments in the country, occurring over the weekend there is plenty of wrestling to cover. Unfortunately, the Las Vegas Invitational  Part 2 podcast for the 157 lbs to 285 lbs weight classes cannot be aired due to technical difficulties. 

Gable Steveson’s Persona

There is one topic they will touch on from the Las Vegas Invitational though, and that is Gable Steveson. From early on Ben has been skeptical of Steveson. Askren re-watched some of his matches has newfound respect. In essence, he believes Gable is playing a character and has realized the entertainment side of athletics. Steveson is putting on a persona of what he wants people to see. In the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational, as Steveson and his opponent go out of bounds he has an ankle hooked and an arm draped over his opponent’s shoulder. After the whistle is blown Steveson sits there for a couple of moments and all of a sudden slams his opponent. That moment of hesitation, where he is clearly pausing to think about his actions, caused Ben to realize it was premeditated. Ben believes that he has realized being vanilla isn’t going to earn the spotlight. People can love you and people can hate you, you just don’t want people not to care. Choosing to play a “bad guy” on the mat is not the only thing Steveson has done to earn Ben’s respect. 

The Entertainment Factor

Ben believes the sport of wrestling would benefit from some entertainment outside of what happens on the mat. He knows his opinion is unpopular. This added entertainment, showmanship, and drama is a model for successful organizations such as WWE and the UFC have proven draws attention. Some argue that wrestling shouldn’t have to appeal to the lowest common spectator. However, with the decline in viewership and ticket sales that momentarily had wrestling removed from the Olympics, Ben justifies his position. The results of wrestling matches would remain pure and the added spectators brought in wouldn’t defame the sport. Overall, more fans make it difficult for administrators when it’s time to make cuts or dissolve programs.

Ironman Team Race

The pair moves on to the Ironman Tournament. Matt mentions how tough of a competition this tournament was. Almost half of the top 100 ranked wrestlers attended including about 30% overall ranked wrestlers. Starting with the team race or lack thereof with Blair Wrestling winning their fourth straight Walsh Jesuit Ironman. The team outscored their closest opponent Wyoming Seminary by 100 with a total of 276.5 team points. This brings up the discussion of high school recruiting. Programs like Blair are able to get athletes from all over the U.S. and compete against schools who are recruiting area isn’t comparable. There is merit to the conversation of dividing teams into divisions.

132 lbs Breakdown

Jumping in at the 132 lbs semis No. 15 Frankie Tal-Shahar snuck one in on No. 2 Dylan D’Emilio defeating him 5-4 in his semifinal. No. 7 Shayne Van Ness was the ultimate winner in the 132 lbs weight class. After coming in unknown by many, he has been extremely impressive this year. Van Ness first caught Ben’s attention at Super 32 and since has continued to impress. Ben’s critique of Van Ness’s finals opponent No. 1 Jordan Decatur is his decision-making ability in tough situations. Ben believes this behavior is correctable through proper coaching and looks forward to the improvements it will cause. 

145 lbs Breakdown

Before wrapping up this week’s podcast the pair highlight No. 2 Ryan Anderson from Bethlehem Catholic. While he doesn’t necessarily look the part it doesn’t matter when you dominate to the extent he did. Anderson does not cut weight to wrestle at 145 lbs. There are two beliefs when it comes to cutting weight. On one hand, athletes avoid cutting weight because they think they can beat the best at their natural body weight. On the other hand, the athlete is undisciplined with their diet. This brings up the difference between a high school wrestler and a college wrestler’s maturity and what it takes to make the right decisions to go to class, eat right and work hard. Running out of time, Ben and Matt will discuss the rest of the Walsh Jesuit Ironman Tournament in the next episode. 


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The RUDIS Wrestling Podcast is hosted by Ben Askren and Matt Dernlan. Ben Askren, World Champion, and Olympic wrestler joins RUDIS from the T-Row & Funky Show in an official partnership as a content provider for all things RUDIS. Matt Dernlan joins from a D1 college coaching background with family roots grounded in Ohio wrestling with a collective 10 state titles on the shelf.