RSSCategory: Carson’s Corner

Carson’s Corner: Sanderson in the Right Not to Grant Suriano Transfer

| August 8, 2017 | 1 Comment

Nick Suriano is out at Penn State. The loss is significant for sure, but Nittany Lion fans must move on from the shock. It isn’t the end of the world. The Nittany Lions are so talented from top to bottom; a national championship is still in their sights.

Will they be weaker without the Bergen Catholic (NJ) star? Of course. Suriano is a legit national championship contender, and Penn State has no one slotted in at 125. What they have is five returning national champs and the potential for seven or eight All-Americans in 2018, more than enough to capture the programs seventh national title in eight seasons.

Suriano, whether homesick or for other reasons, wants to transfer to Rutgers getting back to his hometown roots. He already withdrew from Penn State and is working out with the Scarlet Knights wrestling club. These are facts. No sense for Nittany Lion fans to jump into the cesspool of denial. He is out the door and headed for a messy divorce. Goodbye Nick, we hardly knew you.

I have no problem with Suriano going to a different school. That is his God-given right. What I find hard to believe is the flak Cael Sanderson is getting for refusing to release Suriano to Rutgers.

The media, especially in New Jersey, are vilifying Penn State and Sanderson. Even Jay Bilas stepped out from behind the world of hoops and voiced his opinion – opining that Suriano needs his release from bondage and Sanderson won’t allow it. Boo-hoo and cry me a river.

Word to all the haters – Sanderson is not blocking Suriano from wrestling, just not at Rutgers. The Big Ten has a rule which states if any athlete wants to depart one Big Ten school for another and not lose a year of eligibility, his former coach/school must sign a waiver allowing it. Sanderson won’t sign the waiver. I agree with his decision one thousand percent.

Sanderson and Penn State granted Suriano release to any school outside of the Big Ten. That’s what every coach would do. Why should Penn State, who invested considerable time and money on Suriano, let him go to a league competitor?

Do you think James Franklin, Urban Meyer or Jim Harbaugh would let one of their recruits leave to another Big Ten school? About as much as Coach K would have let Bilas transfer to North Carolina back in the day.

Decisions have consequences. Suriano wants to have his cake and eat it too, but sometimes life doesn’t work that way. He wants out of Penn State, fine. He’s trying to do it with zero consequences – that isn’t reality.

Suriano reportedly will appeal his transfer to a Big Ten committee. If the Big Ten approves Suriano’s waiver, he will have three years of eligibility remaining at Rutgers. If not, he must decide between three years outside of the nation’s premier wrestling conference or two at Rutgers after sitting out his sophomore season. There is an appeals process after the decision as well.

He made a commitment to the Nittany Lions, broke it, and left Sanderson and his teammates hanging. Cael expected Suriano to be his guy at 125 for three more years. He didn’t bother recruiting at the weight because he trusted Suriano’s promise to wrestle collegiately at Penn State.

Suriano broke that promise and if he wants to go to Rutgers, he should lose a year of eligibility or go to a team outside the Big Ten.

Carson’s Corner: The Penn State Wrestling Dynasty is Alive and Well

| May 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

In the world of physics, there is the Doppler Effect; in economics, we have the Accelerator effect, and the Zeigarnik effect is a staple of cognitive psychology.

Add to the list the phenomena sweeping college wrestling I like to call the Sanderson Effect. The Sanderson Effect gets its name from Cael Sanderson, head wrestling coach at Penn State.

The Nittany Lions own six of the last seven NCAA wrestling championships and shows no signs of slowing down soon.

In a dynasty eerie similar to Dan Gable’s Iowa squads of the seventies and eighties, Penn State is a machine mowing down everyone and everything in their path.

The key to their success?

Coaching of course, but the other huge piece of the puzzle is recruiting. Sanderson and his staff are on par with Nick Saban at Alabama, albeit in a different sport.

Case in point – the 2016 class brought them NCAA champ Mark Hall, future NCAA champion Nick Suriano and this coming season – Mason Manville. The class of 2017 has Nick Lee, Brady Berge, and Jarod Verkleeren joining the fray.

Go back into the recent past and two guys you may have heard of – David Taylor and Ed Ruth came to Happy Valley, kick-starting the Nittany Lion dominance.

And if that isn’t enough, the 2018 class may be the best Sanderson and company has ever recruited and could go down as one of the greatest in the history of the sport. Only time will tell.

Malvern Prep stud Michael Beard, who de-committed from Northwestern earlier in the year, picked Penn State as his choice on Wednesday. Beard, ranked the No. 5 recruit in the nation, joins a class that already features No. 2 Gavin Teasdale, No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young, No. 4 Travis Wittlake, No. 10 Seth Nevills and No. 37 Joe Lee.

The Nittany Lions have six of the top 40 recruits in the nation, four of the top five and five of the top 10. How sick is that?

Penn State recently won the 2017 NCAA Championship in St. Louis in March, crowning five consecutive underclassmen champions, and scoring a school-record 146.5 team points.

With a healthy Suriano and Jared Cortez, the Nittany Lions have a chance to field the greatest collegiate wrestling team ever assembled. (The best was the 1986 Iowa squad which featured five national champions and nine All-Americans in its lineup).

Think about the likely starting lineup in 2017-18: Suriano at 125, Cortez at 133, Lee at 141, 2x NCAA champ Zain Retherford at 149, NCAA champ Jason Nolf at 157, NCAA champ Vincenzo Joseph at 165, NCAA champ Mark Hall at 174, NCAA champ Bo Nickal at 184, NCAA qualifier Matt McCutcheon or Anthony Cassar at 197, and NCAA All-American Nick Nevills at heavyweight. Wow!

Want scarier? Only Retherford and McCutcheon are seniors. Mix in the 2017 and 2018 classes, and you have a recipe that makes other programs shake in their singlets.

Iowa, Oklahoma State, Ohio State and Arizona State are solid teams, and in a different time or era, each would walk away with multiple team titles. But this is Penn State’s time. It’s their moment to bask in the spotlight.

To all the Division I college wrestling teams out and about this great country, I have sobering news for you:

The Penn State/Cael Sanderson dynasty isn’t slowing down. It’s just getting started.



Penn State Wrestling Notes – 4

| December 9, 2015 | 0 Comments

Carson’s Corner: This Year Was Great, Next Year Could Be Even Better

| March 11, 2015 | 2 Comments

MugThe Mifflin County wrestling team had a very special 2014-15 season.

An 18-win regular season followed by a District 6 Dual Meet championship, a Northwest Regional team title (the first for any county school) and a top 10 finish at the PIAA championships.

Individually, the Huskies produced four regional champions (a county record), five state qualifiers and three PIAA medalists (both school records).

To top it off, coach Kirby Martin and his staff of Dale Searer, Joe Eckenroth and Adam Stout won the District 6 Class AAA Coaching Staff of the Year for the second time in four years.

Yes, no matter how you look at it, this was a great season for The Huskies. One of the best in county history.

Now for the kicker – next year could be even better.

The Huskies bring back all three PIAA medalists – Hayden Hidlay (third at 145), Noah Stewart (fourth at 160) and Trey Hartsock (seventh at 195) and both state qualifiers who didn’t place (Noah Myers at 120 and Trent Hidlay at 138).

In addition, regional qualifiers Kyle Smith (113) and Mike Bielski (182) return.  If Brandon Wilson and Isaac Maclay can bounce back from injuries, this could be the best team ever assembled in county history.

Wilson, injured each of the last two seasons, would have won districts and regionals at 182, if healthy. He was 19-5 and on a roll when he injured his knee the week of districts.

Maclay never got a chance to wrestle. He was injured during football and missed the entire wrestling season. He would have likely been in the starting lineup from day one.

Throw in Jonah Kile and Logan Wise, both a year older and experienced on the mats, add newcomers in junior high standouts Christian Fisher and Drayson Sullivan, and you have the makings of one very tough team to beat.

A potential lineup for next year could look like this:

106: Christian Fisher
113: Joey Taptich
120: Kyle Smith
126: Noah Myers
132: Jonah Kile
138: Logan Wise
145: Trent or Hayden Hidlay
152: Trent or Hayden Hidlay
160: Drayson Sullivan
170: Noah Stewart
182: Brandon Wilson or Mike Bielski
195: Trey Hartsock or Isaac Maclay
220: Hartsock or Maclay
285: Christian Smith or Gavin Erb

Not too shabby is it?

This lineup or something very close to it will be the favorite at districts and regionals and could end up a top 5 team in Hershey.

It all depends on the health of Wilson and Maclay and the maturation process of the younger wrestlers.

Make no mistake, 2014-15 was awesome and we must take the time and honor the accomplishments of these young men. But 2015-16 could be a season we never will forget.

No pressure Kirby.

My PIAA Predictions

I didn’t do near as well this year as I did last season in my annual PIAA predictions.

I was 21-7 combined last season – 11-3 in AAA and 10-4 in AA. This year I was 9-5 in both classes for an 18-10 record. Ugh!

John Michael Maclay even pointed out how bad my 106-AAA prediction was (Matt Parker placed fifth). Thanks buddy.

All kidding aside, D.J. Hollingshead losing shocked me the most and I thought Luke Pletcher would bounce back from his regional loss to A.C. Headlee. No such luck.

The Spencer Lee Machine

Spencer Lee (Franklin Regional) is the most dominate Pennsylvania High School wrestler since Cary Kolat was doing back flips way back when.

The sophomore, now 95-0 for a career, would probably be the top ranked wrestler in the nation in two weights – 113 and 120.

His march through the state tournament is more than impressive – a tech fall in 1:48 and three pins of 1:06, 1:17 and 2:38. If you count his freshman campaign, he is 8-0 with four falls, three technical falls and a major decision in Hershey.

He is a combination of solid technique, supreme athleticism and confidence through the roof. Look for an unbeaten career and four state titles for this young man.

Oliver Impresses

I am very impressed every time I see Jacob Oliver (Huntingdon) wrestle.

This was my second year covering the PIAA championships from MERF Radio and broadcasting Oliver’s matches.

He was fourth as a freshman and second this year, losing to Jake Wentzel of South Park, 4-2, in the finals.

Oliver is a solid, not flashy wrestler who is strong in all three phases – top, bottom and neutral. He came up short this year but a PIAA Gold medal is definitely in this young man’s future.

Local College Grapplers

Good luck to Kaleb Loht (Messiah) as he goes for his second Division III National title.

You couldn’t ask for a better script even in Hollywood. Loht, a senior, has a chance to not only win a second national championship, but set the all-time Messiah win record in the process. Plus, he gets to do it in his own backyard and the Giant Center in Hershey.

Also, wishing good luck to Joe Knarr (Penn State-DuBois) and Nick Grimm (Penn State-Mont Alto) at the NWCA Championships this week in Texas.

I’ve known Joe’s dad, Tom, for a long time, and covered Joe during his Mifflin County career. All I can say is thank God the son turned out different than the father.

Just kidding my friend. You should be very proud of Joe’s accomplishments on and off the mat.

Carson’s Corner: High Expectations for Huskies in 2014-15

| December 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

MugThe Mifflin County wrestling team is set to begin season number four with high expectations in 2014-15.

Under the direction of head coach Kirby Martin, the Huskies captured back-to-back District 6 Class AAA tournament titles as well as a D6 dual meet crown in 2013. Last season Mifflin County was 16-7 and finished third in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth.

A solid core group led by Hayden Hidlay (PIAA 6th at 138), state qualifiers Noah Stewart and Trey Hartsock, as well as regional qualifiers Noah Meyers, Isaac Underhill and Brandon Wilson has Martin feeling very confident about the squads potential.

“The attitude they bring every day to practice is contagious,” Martin said. “That’s something we just want to rub off on the entire team. The goal is to get each individual on the team working up to their standards and keep pushing everybody to get in better shape, develop better technique and get tougher mentally. That’s what I am looking for this season. My goal is to win more than we did last year. If we do that, the other goals will take care of themselves.”

Throw in a solid group of junior high grapplers led by Trent Hidlay, a PJW runner up last season, and it’s easy to see that Mifflin County will be a threat in districts, regionals and the Mid-Penn Commonwealth.

Let’s break down what I feel will happen in District 6 AAA and the Mid-Penn Commonwealth this season.

District 6 AAA

There’s only one team capable of hanging with the Huskies in 2014-15 and we all know who it is – Central Mountain. What a surprise.

The Wildcats return 12 starters from last year with state qualifiers Gavin Caprio and Demetri Probst leading the charge. Central Mountain also has back regional qualifiers Geo Barzona, Keenan Bottorf, Bryce Hanley, Loc Long, Isaac Porter and Emery Watson.

Make no mistake, the other six teams in District 6 have solid kids but for the fourth consecutive year, Mifflin County and Central Mountain will duke it out for the district crown.

The 0nly question to answer is  who will come out on top?

Mid-Penn Commonwealth

The always tough Mid-Penn Conference finds the Huskies in the top half of the Commonwealth division. Cumberland Valley is clearly the odds on favorite and rightly so.

The Eagles return nine starters with PIAA third-place finisher Patrick Duggan the mainstay for CV. State qualifiers Will Kaldes and Jackson Stanford return to a deep team also featuring regional qualifiers Trenton Cook, Felix Belga, Wyatt Long and Carl Reichert.

Former Mifflin County resident Quentin Milliken, along with Francis Duggan and Anthony Zaitsev give Cumberland Valley a trio of the top freshmen in the state. The strong just keep getting stronger.

The second tier of the Commonwealth consists of three teams – Mifflin County, Central Dauphin and Chambersburg.

The Rams are s0lid but not as dominate as they once were. State placewinners Tyshawn White (3rd at 113) and Zach Elvin (4th at 132) return. Jake Cherry, Mitch Pleskonko and Eli Robinson were regional qualifers.

Chambersburg has a solid group of eight starters back led by state qualifiers Garrett Kyner and David Rump.

Here are my predictions for the Mid-Penn Commonwealth in 2014-15:

1. Cumberland Valley
2. Mifflin County
3. Central Dauphin
4. Chambersburg
5. State College
6. Carlisle
7. CD East
8. Harrisburg

 Ephrata Duals

The Huskies kick off the season at the Ephrata Duals and once again the main competition for Mifflin County will come in the form of Downingtown East.

The Cougars beat the Huskies the last two years in Ephrata, winning the duals both years. Eight starters return, led by state qualifier Wade Cummings, so Downingtown East once again will be tough to defeat.

Biglerville, Daniel Boone, Ephrata, Garden Spot, Hempfield (D3), Lebanon, Reading and Columbia will be there, but the title should come down to the Cougars and Huskies.

Six state qualifiers will be in action at Ephrata – Hayden Hidlay (the only one to earn a medal in the group), Hartsock, Stewart, Cummings, Scott Cooper of Biglerville and Will Finkey of Garden Spot.

Another wrestling season begins. Isn’t it the best time of the year?