It’s about time to ring in the New Year… and for College Wrestling Examiner to look back at 2013.
In more ways than one, 2013 was one for the history books for the sport of wrestling, with a history-making conclusion to Kyle Dake’s stellar college mat career… and a once-in-a-lifetime death sentence from the International Olympic Committee that eliminated men’s and women’s wrestling from the Olympic roster in February, only to have the IOC reverse itself (thankfully) in September.
For each of the past five years, College Wrestling Examiner has attempted to rank the biggest stories that affect amateur wrestling… with the prime focus on the sport at the collegiate level. This year, there was an over-abundance of Top Ten-worthy stories. Among the items just missing our Year in Review list:
- Foxcatcher movie mania. For more than a year, wrestling fans have been eagerly anticipating the release of Foxcatcher, the Hollywood movie about wrestling brothers Mark and Dave Schultz. The film, starring Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell, was originally scheduled for limited release on Dec. 20; now it has been delayed until sometime in 2014.
- Jordan Burroughs has another golden year. How could the former University of Nebraska mat champ top last year’s gold-medal-winning performance at the London Olympics? Burroughs won his third consecutive world title and continued a 65-match win streak just days after surgery to repair a broken ankle. He also created a media sensation by saying that mixed martial arts might be too violent for him. If that weren’t enough, Burroughs also got married.
- Departures of long-serving head coaches. There were some significant changes at the top of some college programs. Most were retirements, including Dave Amato at Brown (after 30 years), Bruce Bennett at Navy (13 seasons), Tony Islas at Knox College (12 years), Jim Miller at Wartburg (22 seasons), Rande Stottlemyer at Pitt (34 years) and John Trudgeon at VMI (28 seasons). At least two coaches were released: Jim Beicher at Buffalo, and, in one of the most talked-about departures of the year, Robbie Waller at Lock Haven.
Here are the events that made College Wrestling Examiner’s Top Ten Stories of 2013:
- No. 10: College wrestling uses MMA, marketing ideas to build crowds. This year saw even more imaginative new ways to promote college wrestling and build greater attendance. Among the attention-getting events at individual schools: Missouri’s Black & Gold Alumni Match, and Chattanooga’s dinner-and-a-dual promotion. Other ideas involving the entire wrestling community included Elite Level Sports Marketing’s awards to colleges, coaches and wrestlers who were champs at using social media to promote their brands… along with changes at the 2013 NWCA All-Star Classic, including out-of-weight match-up and letting fans help decide the “main event” bouts to close the event.
- No. 9: Ruth, Martinez, York College suspended, Campolattano ousted. Towards the end of 2013, Penn State coach Cael Sanderson suspended two-time NCAA champ Ed Ruth for 30 days for an alleged DUI incident… while the entire York College of Pennsylvania wrestling team was suspended (then reinstated a week later) over hazing allegations. In August, Nebraska-Kearney’s Patrick Martinez was suspended by the NCAA for unsportsmanlike conduct at the Division II championships. In March, Ohio State 197-pounder Andrew Campolattano was “removed” (to use coach Tom Ryan’s word) from the team regarding drug charges that were later dismissed.
- No. 8: The Garden among sites for upcoming NCAA D1s. When the NCAA revealed the cities to host its Division I Wrestling Championships between 2015 and 2018, the organization went with a tried-and-true venue (St. Louis, 2015 and 2017)… revisited a host site from 1998 (Cleveland, 2018)… and made history by selecting New York’s Madison Square Garden for the 2016 NCAAs, sure to generate heavyweight national media coverage for the college nationals two years from now.
- No. 7: Death takes Carr, Gadson, Hammond, Kerr, Richards, others in the college wrestling family. During 2013, College Wrestling Examiner paid tribute to a number of wrestlers and coaches – along with mat historian Jay Hammond – who left us this year. One of the most disturbing: the death of 20-year-old Ben Richards of Georgia’s Darton State College, who died nearly two weeks after a heat-related collapse while on a five-mile outdoor run in early September.
- No. 6: Penn State wins third straight Div. I team title in exciting, MMA-flavored finals. The Nittany Lions successfully defended their team title at the 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Des Moines in March… this time, by just four points over Oklahoma State. The Div. I finals featured new elements to boost the excitement factor, including MMA-style pre-match visuals to introduce the finalists (with some wrestlers shown bare-chested in fight shorts, not in singlets), more dramatic lighting, smoke plumes, and revising the order of matches to feature the most anticipated match last. It all paid off in higher ratings.
- No. 5: New ventures for post-college wrestlers. A number of new opportunities for wrestlers to continue in the sport they love – and make some money doing it – took to the mats for the first time in 2013, including Agon Wrestling, Tour ACW (Association of Career Wrestlers), and Victory Wrestling Challenge.
- No. 4: Boston University eliminates wrestling. On April Fools’ Day, BU school administrators announced they were axing their mat program, effective at the end of the 2013-14 season. The Terriers and the wrestling community are fighting back. Among the weapons: an Amateur Wrestling News’ expose… and documentarians working on a film titled “It Hurts to Win” chronicling the current season.
- No. 3: More new college wrestling programs added, including four for women. The trend of small-enrollment, small-town, private colleges adding wrestling to their sports rosters continued in 2013… along with new programs at a couple larger-enrollment, urban/suburban schools. Four of these schools will now have women’s wrestling. If that weren’t enough good news, Fresno State’s new president announced the school was seriously considering reinstating its wrestling program.
- No. 2: IOC eliminates Olympic wrestling, then reinstates it. In February, the International Olympic Wrestling Committee’s Executive Board voted to remove wrestling as a core sport from the Olympics, effective in 2020… only to have the entire IOC vote to reinstate the sport on a provisional basis for the 2020 and 2024 Games.
- No. 1: Four titles in four weight classes for Kyle Dake. The Cornell University senior completed his collegiate career with four NCAA championships, each in a different weight class… becoming the first wrestler to do so. Dake also earned a number of honors, including the Hodge Award as best college wrestler, and Sports Illustrated’s Male College Athlete of the Year.
Best wishes to wrestlers, coaches and fans for 2014!
Two other wrestling writers weighed in with their choices for the top wrestling stories for 2013:
- Gary Abbott’s Top Ten list for TheMat.com. Abbott, writer for USA Wrestling – the governing body for the sport in the U.S. – put together his choices for the most significant stories, with an emphasis on freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.
- Mike Finn’s Top Ten list for WIN. Finn, editor for Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine, posted his top ten choices at the conclusion of the 2012-13 college wrestling season.
Fans “vote” for their top stories. What were the most-read College Wrestling Examiner stories of 2013? Thanks to Google Analytics – which we installed Memorial Day weekend -- we can now see how many individual fans read a particular story. Here are the ten stories which garnered the most readers this year:
- No. 10: Darton State wrestler Ben Richards dies (1,800+ readers)
- No. 9: High school mat star Chance Marsteller spurns Penn State for Oklahoma State (1,900+ readers)
- No. 8: Jordan Oliver defeats Bubba Jenkins at Flowrestling.org’s Who’s No. 1 high school wrestling showcase (2,800+ readers)
- No. 7: Former wrestlers Guira, Jantzen, Baumgartner help actor Mark Ruffalo train for Foxcatcher movie (3,400+ readers)
- No. 6: Death of Jimmy Carr, who, at age 17, was youngest U.S. wrestler to make an Olympic team (3,500+ readers)
- No. 5: Changes add excitement to 2013 NCAA Division I championships (3,600+ readers)
- No. 4: Agon Wrestling announces line-ups for its Agon I: The Revolution event (3,700+ readers)
- No. 3: Penn State’s Ed Ruth is suspended for 30 days (4,800+ readers)
- No. 2: Recap and results from Agon I: The Revolution (5,900+ readers)
- No. 1: Foxcatcher movie release announced for Dec. 20 (since delayed) (8,300+ readers)
You may be wondering why stories about the IOC decision and Kyle Dake are not among College Wrestling Examiner’s most-read stories. There are a couple possible explanations. One may be a matter of timing; a good number of our stories on the IOC and Dake were posted before our installation of Google Analytics in late May. Another possibility: These stories were more widely covered by other wrestling websites and publications, as well as the non-wrestling media… while a number of the stories that made our top ten readership list were not covered (or had limited coverage) by other media.
College Wrestling Examiner’s Year in Review: For the fifth straight year, College Wrestling Examiner will be taking a look at the Top Ten stories of the year. This concludes our choices for the ten most significant stories in the world of collegiate wrestling in 2013.
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