Some of the nation’s top high school wrestlers – along with former college mat champs Bubba Jenkins and Jordan Oliver – will be the star attractions at the “Who’s No. 1” event at Lehigh on Nov. 2, according to the Express-Times Thursday.
Dual-meet event sponsor Flowrestling.org describes Who’s No. 1 – a spinoff of a show of the same name on the amateur wrestling website -- as an “unprecedented event transcending the sport of wrestling and fusing its burgeoning popularity with MMA.” The announcement goes on to say, “Wrestling is the breeding stock of MMA. Look no further than the UFC where six of the eight title holders are former wrestlers while dozens more populate the rankings. The future contenders in MMA are today’s wrestling stars, making for an organic mingling of two sports.”
With that in mind, the first-ever Who’s No. 1 dual meet is a showcase for top-ranked prep mat stars that concludes with a wrestling match featuring emerging mixed martial arts star Jenkins, a 2011 NCAA champ for Arizona State, taking on Oliver, a two-time NCAA champ (2011 and 2013) who recently graduated from Oklahoma State. The two never wrestled each other in college.
Even the posters and program for the Who’s No. 1 dual meet have taken on the look of a major MMA event, right down to the photos of Jenkins and Oliver posing bare-chested like MMA fighters (as seen in the poster shown in this article).
High school participants
True to the dual-meet format announced for Who’s No. 1, Jenkins and Oliver will also head up teams of top high school wrestlers, some who have already committed to major college wrestling programs.
Starting off the evening will be two 132-pound bouts. First, in a battle of prep stars from the upper Midwest, Seth Gross, a senior from Apple Valley, Minn. who will be wrestling at the University of Iowa, will represent Team Oliver as he takes on Fredy Stroker, a junior from Bettendorf, Iowa for Team Bubba. In the second match at this weight, representing Team Oliver will be Zac Hall, a senior from St. Johns, Mich. who has committed to the University of Michigan, who will face Team Bubba’s Michael Kemerer, a senior from Franklin Reg., Pa. The winners of those two matches will wrestle later that evening to determine who’s No. 1 at 132.
Other matches include, at 160 pounds, Garrett Peppelman, a senior from Central Dauphin, Pa. (Team Oliver), who has signed with University of Virginia, vs. sophomore Mark Hall of Davison, Mich. (Team Bubba); at 120, senior Sean Russell of Collins Hill, Ga. (Team Oliver) vs. Nathan Boston, a senior from Woodford County, Ky. who has committed to Iowa State (Team Bubba); and, at 145, Joey Galasso, a senior from Pennsylvania who will wrestle at Cornell (Team Oliver) vs. senior Tyler Berger of Cook County, Oregon, committed to Nebraska (Team Bubba).
Additional match-ups at Who’s No. 1: at 152 pounds, Ryan Blees, a senior from Bismarck, N.D. who will wrestle at Oklahoma State (Team Oliver), vs. junior Fox Baldwin from Osceola, Fla. (Team Bubba); at 126, Ryan Milhof, another senior from Collins Hill, Ga. who is committed to Oklahoma State (Team Oliver) vs. Jered Cortez, a senior from Glenbard North, Ill. who will wrestle for the University of Illinois (Team Bubba); at 138, Blair Academy senior Joey McKenna (Team Oliver) vs. Kittanning, Pa. senior Jason Nolf, committed to Penn State (Team Bubba); and, to conclude the prep action, at 182 pounds, Johnny Sebastian, a senior from Bergen, N.J. (Team Oliver) will wrestle Blue Springs, Mo. senior Michael Pixley, a future Illinois wrestler (Team Bubba).
Honorary coach for Team Oliver will be Steve Powell, who coached the 2011 and 2013 NCAA champ at Easton Area High School in Pennsylvania, while Team Bubba will have Joey Strittmatter, Iowa Hawkeye mat alum who is now coach of Young Guns wrestling club, as its honorary coach.
Wrestling in the Snake Pit
The Who’s No. 1 dual-meet event will be held at the Leeman-Turner Arena inside Grace Hall – also known as the Snake Pit – on the Lehigh University campus in Bethlehem, Pa. on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 4 p.m. Eastern.
"We didn't choose the Snake Pit by accident," Flowrestling’s Willie Saylor told the Express-Time’s Ryan Holmes. "Having the nation's top wrestlers, in the best area for wrestling and in a venue where you can feel the tension is exactly what we wanted. We want to see people taking sides and getting behind these two teams. We aren't going to change the site from year-to-year, either. This is the perfect place for something like this and we are excited to see it happen."
Tickets may be purchased online lehightickets.com or by calling the Lehigh Athletic Ticket Office at (610) 7LU-GAME.
Busy time for Bubba
Never one to shy away from the media spotlight, Bubba Jenkins has made news in recent weeks. Just last month, it was announced that the former Arizona State/Penn State mat star would wrestle four-time NCAA champ Kyle Dake at the Grapple at the Garden 2 college mat event at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Dec. 1. Also in September, Jenkins suffered his first loss in his young MMA career with a TKO at the hands of LaRue Burley at Bellator 100. Jenkins is now 4-1 in MMA.
Want to know more? In addition to the Express-Times Oct. 24 article, check out these features at the Flowrestling.org website, including a basic outline of the event… as well as information on the participating wrestlers, including their Flowrestling.org rankings.
Watch a Flowrestling.org promotional video titled "Jenkins-Oliver Trailer" that has the two wrestlers talking about their plans for their Who's No. 1 match.
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