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JohnnyThompsonnum1

Going down a Division. How do you guys feel about it?

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When a wrestler goes from wrestling Division I to wrestling in a smaller division, I personally don't have a problem with it. There are various reasons why someone would opt to go from wrestling DI to wrestling DII, DIII or NAIA. It might not even have anything to do with wrestling at all. It might be do to one of many varying reasons.

 

Yet I know that some fans do look down upon wrestlers who end up going to small divisions to wrestle, after giving the DI route a go and deciding it's not for them.

 

Examples would be

 

Ricky LaForge who wrestled initially for Hofstra and then went on to Delaware Valley where he took 2nd in the NCAA DIII championships.

 

Quincy Osbourne who initially wrestled for Minnesota and then went on to wrestle for Augsburg were he won an NCAA DIII championship.

 

Jason Knipp who wrestled for Iowa State and then transferred to Wartburg where he took 5th in the NCAA DIII championships.

 

Mike Benefiel who wrestled for Oklahoma State and then transferred to Elmhurst where he won the NCAA DIII title.

 

Ryak Finch who wrestled for Iowa State is going to wrestle in the NAIA this year for Grand View in Des Moines.

 

The only thing I can see is that maybe sometimes fans feel that these wrestlers go down to a level of competition that they are far superior to (Marcus LeVassuer of Augsberg) and never really challenge themselves and easily walk through the competition. A thought of it being unfair to the other competition perhaps?

 

Thoughts?

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I'm a big fan of going down a division. So many wrestlers have this idea that if you're going to do something, you should do it at the highest level. I think that's admirable, but often misguided. I've seen a lot of wrestlers being 50/50 wrestlers for their whole career in D1 and sticking with the D1 level basically just to say they did it. I think those wrestlers should strongly consider going down to D2 or D3. Theres so much more to college than wrestling, and wrestling takes up so much time. If going down a division can increase how competitive you are and allow you to actually experience different sides of college, then I think that is absolutely something to do. Just my two cents.

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I'm a big fan of going down a division. So many wrestlers have this idea that if you're going to do something, you should do it at the highest level. I think that's admirable, but often misguided. I've seen a lot of wrestlers being 50/50 wrestlers for their whole career in D1 and sticking with the D1 level basically just to say they did it. I think those wrestlers should strongly consider going down to D2 or D3. Theres so much more to college than wrestling, and wrestling takes up so much time. If going down a division can increase how competitive you are and allow you to actually experience different sides of college, then I think that is absolutely something to do. Just my two cents.

 

 

What if the D1 school that they're already at is the best choice for them, academically speaking?

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I have a hard time relating to what you are putting down here.

 

Personally, I wasn't a whole lot over 55-60% at D-1. Probably about that. Regardless, it was really a neat thing to mix it up with the best of the best, and once in a while you get to surprise yourself.

 

If you think we missed out on a lot of stuff in college, every opportunity was given...just not all were followed up on.

You can go snow-skiing the rest of your life. What's another 4 years of waiting?

 

I'm a big fan of going down a division. So many wrestlers have this idea that if you're going to do something, you should do it at the highest level. I think that's admirable, but often misguided. I've seen a lot of wrestlers being 50/50 wrestlers for their whole career in D1 and sticking with the D1 level basically just to say they did it. I think those wrestlers should strongly consider going down to D2 or D3. Theres so much more to college than wrestling, and wrestling takes up so much time. If going down a division can increase how competitive you are and allow you to actually experience different sides of college, then I think that is absolutely something to do. Just my two cents.

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What if the D1 school that they're already at is the best choice for them, academically speaking?

 

Then that is a tough call, especially deep into a major. There are some D3 schools that are very solid that could be options, but again, a tough choice.

 

I have a hard time relating to what you are putting down here.

 

Personally, I wasn't a whole lot over 55-60% at D-1. Probably about that. Regardless, it was really a neat thing to mix it up with the best of the best, and once in a while you get to surprise yourself.

 

If you think we missed out on a lot of stuff in college, every opportunity was given...just not all were followed up on.

You can go snow-skiing the rest of your life. What's another 4 years of waiting?

 

I just want to be clear that I'm not bashing people who are 50/50 in D1 and who are enjoying it, handling the workload, and still having time to be a college kid. I do think theres a lot of D1 wrestlers who aren't seeing the success they want who are also having trouble juggling the workload while also exploring other interests they have. You say every opportunity was given, and I agree, but I think theres a lot of stuff D1 won't allow that may be more lenient in D3. Study abroad is an example. Spending a lot of time in a research lab is another. Getting a time intensive internship. I personally feel I got as much out of working in a lab as I did out of wrestling in terms of skill sets and how to approach things mentally.

 

I wouldn't call dropping down a division snow-skiing. Other divisions are still tough and take a lot of time, but they may give some wrestlers more time to do other things in college.

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Why does it have to be "going down" a division? How about competing "in another" division? I'm not trying to pick a fight here, but, in my opinion, one of the reasons our sport is in trouble is that we, domestically, make young athletes feel like they have failed if they continue to compete post high school at a non-D1 school. We spout off all the time about how global wrestling is in support of saving the sport at the Olympics, yet continue to use vernacular that demeans a young person's opportunity/decision to compete at an institution that is not D-1! That being said, I am not the speech police, but shouldn't we support any kid that goes on to compete in college?

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Jeff Pfaffinger and Matt Shankey left Iowa for Minnesota-Mankato and Augsburg, respectively. Neither were finding their way into Iowa's starting lineup. Pfaffinger had a good career at MN-Mankato and Shankey was a two-time DIII champ at Augsburg. I would have to say they made pretty good decisions. But their later successes had everything to do with their continued hard work and dedication.

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I have no problem with any wrestler competing in any division.

 

I don't think some people realize how elite college wrestlers of all divisions really are. We have a problem in our sport with only focusing on the top few athletes and disregarding the rest. If you look at other sports you see lots of guys go pro out of lower D1 and even D2 and D3 programs. The talent spread is no different in wrestling, we see guys from lower tiered D1 schools become All-Americans, make runs at the Olympics and have guys at D2/D3 levels that are just as talented.

 

 

Let's look at how the spreads should be based simply on the numbers of programs at the high school level.

 

Sport HS Teams/D1 Teams/ Ratio

Wrestling/ 10,407/ 77/ 135

Basketball/18,099/ 347/ 52

Football (D1)/14,241/252/ 57

 

Looking at the numbers, these are the number of D1 wrestling programs that would be needed for the same difficulty in making a D1 wrestling roster as making a D1 football or D1 basketball roster.

 

Basketball - 200 Wrestling Programs

Football - 184 Wrestling Programs

 

We all know that individual talent can very greatly on a team. We have watched as national champions have been crowned at schools not thought of as being able to produce national champions and we've had D2 wrestlers become Olympians just as other sports have D2 athletes go pro all the time.

 

Since it is hard to draw parallels between individuals, I will do so with programs to see what the correlation is based on the participation numbers and correlation to college opportunities.

 

***

Wrestling = Basketball = Football

Virginia Tech = Georgetown = Texas

Oregon State = Saint Louis = Michigan

Rutgers = NC State = Penn State

Edinboro = Stanford = West Virginia

St Cloud State = Tennessee = Minnesota

*** Used the Dual Index by SHP and the Saragin ratings to compare

 

 

D2 programs in wrestling are more like D1 FCS programs in football than they are to D2 programs in basketball.

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Why does it have to be "going down" a division? How about competing "in another" division? I'm not trying to pick a fight here, but, in my opinion, one of the reasons our sport is in trouble is that we, domestically, make young athletes feel like they have failed if they continue to compete post high school at a non-D1 school. We spout off all the time about how global wrestling is in support of saving the sport at the Olympics, yet continue to use vernacular that demeans a young person's opportunity/decision to compete at an institution that is not D-1! That being said, I am not the speech police, but shouldn't we support any kid that goes on to compete in college?

 

To be fair, isn't that true in all sports? In even (especially?) the most popular sports D1 is the goal. D1 should be the goal in wrestling. But if you aren't good enough or for whatever reason there is absolutely nothing wrong with going D2 or D3. I am glad there are so many great D2 and D3 (and NAIA and NWCA) programs.

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It probably is true in all sports. I once counseled a young basketball player regarding the same thing. He didn't get any D1 attention, and that was the end of it. He did not compete at all in college, though the experience would have likely helped him pay for his education and opened many doors for him. Whoever the kid was listening to likely had never been through a college workout, in any sport, and was likely one of the many "armchair quarterback" types we all encounter daily. It is this mentality, specifically, that I would like to see us, as wrestling fans/coaches/writers etc. move away from. As I see it, it is detrimental to the sport, to all sports. We have to be smarter than the other guys. As I've stated before, the top D-1 guys are the cream of the crop in wrestling, but no one is going to convince me that there aren't individuals AND teams in the other classifications who would not be competitive in D-1. We have to start embracing our sport as a whole domestically. There are too few opportunities for our kids to compete post H.S. in any division.

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I've never understood why all the collegiate divisions need to be folkstyle. I'd love to see DII, DIII, or NAIA move to freestyle - not all but at least one. It would give athletes another viable option. No doubt some blue chippers would opt to go that route as well.

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I'm a big fan of going down a division. So many wrestlers have this idea that if you're going to do something, you should do it at the highest level. I think that's admirable, but often misguided. I've seen a lot of wrestlers being 50/50 wrestlers for their whole career in D1 and sticking with the D1 level basically just to say they did it. I think those wrestlers should strongly consider going down to D2 or D3. Theres so much more to college than wrestling, and wrestling takes up so much time. If going down a division can increase how competitive you are and allow you to actually experience different sides of college, then I think that is absolutely something to do. Just my two cents.

 

Simple math. The average wrestler is going to be about 50/50. Every match, somebody wins and somebody loses. Some of the wrestler will win most of their matches, some will lose most of em while the larger percentage will have a record of about 50/50. Your suggestion is that most wrestlers should a change divisions. After they take your advise the demographics are shifted and the next year most wrestlers will need to change divisions again.

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Some guys just have a better fit closer to home. Getting away from home isn't for everyone. Even the ones that weren't getting in the lineup.

 

Duane Bastress is a pretty good recent example.

 

Or Chad Lowman at Grand View. He was at Old Dominion (H.S. teammates with the Nicholsons) and went back to Des Moines and won an NAIA title this year (beating Iowa State transfer Joey Cozart, who was at Lindsey Wilson).

 

Coming out of high school, would anyone have thought Lowman would be in the same league as Cozart? That's not a shot on Joey, but sometimes the right fit is the right fit, even if it isn't Division I.

 

Division II and NAIA are scholarship divisions. If it helps you get a degree, that's the end goal.

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I've never understood why all the collegiate divisions need to be folkstyle. I'd love to see DII, DIII, or NAIA move to freestyle - not all but at least one. It would give athletes another viable option. No doubt some blue chippers would opt to go that route as well.

 

Good point.

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Some guys just have a better fit closer to home. Getting away from home isn't for everyone. Even the ones that weren't getting in the lineup.

 

Duane Bastress is a pretty good recent example.

 

Or Chad Lowman at Grand View. He was at Old Dominion (H.S. teammates with the Nicholsons) and went back to Des Moines and won an NAIA title this year (beating Iowa State transfer Joey Cozart, who was at Lindsey Wilson).

 

Coming out of high school, would anyone have thought Lowman would be in the same league as Cozart? That's not a shot on Joey, but sometimes the right fit is the right fit, even if it isn't Division I.

 

Division II and NAIA are scholarship divisions. If it helps you get a degree, that's the end goal.

 

I do think a year wrestling Division I does teach preparation and shows the work needed to be good. You take a guy that knows what it is like to train hard and compete with the best (though he might not be on the same level, skill-wise) and put them in DIII room, it's a totally different world. It's not a cut on DIII, there's just a different level of preparation involved. Putting that kind of work ethic on a DIII level, a guy can really excell, as well as really pushing a team to another level (same Bastress example- they knocked off Clarion his senior year).

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Sport HS Teams/D1 Teams/ Ratio

Wrestling/ 10,407/ 77/ 135

Basketball/18,099/ 347/ 52

Football (D1)/14,241/252/ 57

 

Looking at the numbers, these are the number of D1 wrestling programs that would be needed for the same difficulty in making a D1 wrestling roster as making a D1 football or D1 basketball roster.

 

Basketball - 200 Wrestling Programs

Football - 184 Wrestling Programs

 

I like your thinking, but you also have to take into consideration the number of members on the team. Wrestling closely compares to basketball, in terms of number of members on the team. Football, however, isn't even close. 85 scholarships for football. 85 for 24 starting positions (kicker/punter tossed it) I'm not saying that wreslting should have 85. But even Basketball has 13 for 5 starting positions. I believe that the NCAA should paralell scholarships in wrestling to match that of basketball. Hell, just take away 3 or 4 from football.

 

But the Football program will scream that it can't compete with 4 less scholarships. But really, is it necessary to have that many? Can't the 4th string outside left linebacker also play outside right linebacker? Do you need both on scholarship?

 

That's where I think reform needs to be made. How about only allowing enough scholarships for the number of starting positions? Football gets 24 (kicker and punter tossed in), Baseball 9, Basketball 5, wrestling 10. Could you imagine the crap-storm that this would cause in the SEC?

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Sport HS Teams/D1 Teams/ Ratio

Wrestling/ 10,407/ 77/ 135

Basketball/18,099/ 347/ 52

Football (D1)/14,241/252/ 57

 

Looking at the numbers, these are the number of D1 wrestling programs that would be needed for the same difficulty in making a D1 wrestling roster as making a D1 football or D1 basketball roster.

 

Basketball - 200 Wrestling Programs

Football - 184 Wrestling Programs

 

I like your thinking, but you also have to take into consideration the number of members on the team. Wrestling closely compares to basketball, in terms of number of members on the team. Football, however, isn't even close. 85 scholarships for football. 85 for 24 starting positions (kicker/punter tossed it) I'm not saying that wreslting should have 85. But even Basketball has 13 for 5 starting positions. I believe that the NCAA should paralell scholarships in wrestling to match that of basketball. Hell, just take away 3 or 4 from football.

 

But the Football program will scream that it can't compete with 4 less scholarships. But really, is it necessary to have that many? Can't the 4th string outside left linebacker also play outside right linebacker? Do you need both on scholarship?

 

That's where I think reform needs to be made. How about only allowing enough scholarships for the number of starting positions? Football gets 24 (kicker and punter tossed in), Baseball 9, Basketball 5, wrestling 10. Could you imagine the crap-storm that this would cause in the SEC?

 

This is the reason I used teams rather than athletes. For the most part, the team sizes remain fairly constant from high school to college. The obvious difference, as you've stated, is football where high school teams are typically 40-50 athletes and college is closer to 100. For this reason, my estimates are actually conservative.

 

A reduction in scholarships for football would help wrestling and it would further disperse talent in college football. But I don't see that happening as the self proclaimed 'student athlete rights activist' would cry foul and the power conferences would support them to ensure we don't see more Boise States and TCUs rise to power.

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I'm fine with it.

 

Guys who the time and work in to making the tournament/medal stand in DI aren't trying to find the easiest way to glory. There usually is a lot more to it at that point than simply wanting to be an AA/Champ in a division other than DI.

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Sometimes academics wise it's a better choice to go to a D2 or NAIA. Wrestling is still going to be difficult no matter where you go, you still have to train hard in order to win, moving to one of those schools from D1 isn't going to automatically give you anything, and often times the competition can be just as good. The year Bubba Jenkins won a D1 title he lost during the regular season to one of the Chang brothers (Tyler?) from Embry-Riddle. If I remember correctly Chang didn't even win an NAIA title that year and placed 3rd or 4th at nationals.

 

It's no different than transferring. Sometimes it's academics, sometimes it's wrestling. Or you aren't happy with the situation (everything together) and decide you need a change.

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