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Big_Al

Why don't we see more Gene Mills ride?

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Gene Mills was one of the most dominating top-riding and pinning wrestlers of all-time. The foundation of his success on top was the half from the knees. Why don't we see this used more often?

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I had wondered how Gene had been so dominant with this. I knew the gist of the technique, of course, but I couldn't figure out how you could be that dangerous with it... so when he came to recruit me, my senior year of high school, I asked him to show me how he did it. He was very willing, and we spent some time doing technique on the carpet.

 

My conclusion, which I did not actually say aloud, was, "Oh. You have freakishly strong hands and wrists."

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Years ago Flo had a video of Gene running the "crusher" on David Taylor, which I believe was at a Scotty Burnett camp.

Think the Steiber bro's were also there.

 

You can go far with an unstoppable single/double and half.

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I only saw Mills once in person. Looking at some old match tapes, and having read a lot, its clear that part of Mills greatness was shared with Gable. He didn't fear getting tired, and he thought his conditioning was superior to almost everyone, which it turned out to be.

 

So he wasn't afraid of having points scored on him as long as enough calories were expended in doing it. Some of his matches were pure donnybrooks.

 

As it relates to the half nelson ride, it appears he just decided he was going to ride with it, learn to avoid the wing and step-over,(which he did) and roll around that way until the other guy screwed up and stuck himself (which he often/usually did).

 

I find Mills clinic tapes to be a complete hoot. What a funny guy. Its as though he's looking back on his career and subtly saying "Damn, it was fun to be that good." :)

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the Gene Mills spiral ride/turn from the half-nelson was the main move used by St Eds wresters during their national reign under coach Howard Ferguson who started in 1975 and had a dynasty by 1978 thru the 1980s.

 

Ferguson died an untimely death in 1989. Ferguson brought Mills in a number of times as a clinician. And st Eds used it constantly, they were known for it, looked for it and pinned many with it-- for them it was not a "ride", it was backpoints/pin. st Eds beat mighty # 1 Lawton Oklahoma with it in 3 straight matches with pins each wrestler coming from way down in score to pin, this was in 1992 or 1993.

 

under coach Greg Urbas and asst John Heffernan st Eds doesnt use it as much, they are more diversified on top now with the cross-leg Turk and that leg-tilt everyone uses. ...s/BobP

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I can validate what BobP stated. I was introduced to the spiral ride vs St.Eds opponent in the St.Eds tournament finals. I took the worse 6-0 beating in my career. (Meaning the score did not represent how bad I got my ass beat by Bubba Strauss.)I don't believe I gave up any back pts but I know I blew out every muscle in my neck defending. I could not lift my head for hours after the match.

Also, I had the pleasure of meeting Gene at TOC one year. Went out for some adult beverages with mutual friends. He is a very fun, funny, goofy and nice dude. Does not match the "mean Gene" Nick name. There is a great interview where he describes his match with his Russian opponent or the events leading up to and including the match. Very entertaining interview.

http://www.flowrestling.org/coverage/24 ... 0nJ7Ce9KSM

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Kenny Nelson was the Midwest City cosch. I helped recruit him to OU. Stan Abel taught him the spiral ride and the half nelson from the knees. Kenny was a state champion tennis player and was built like one. Billy Martin Jr. was at OSU at 126, the same weight as Kenny. He of course used the Granby Roll which was at that time being considered unstoppable. Stan had taken over in the spring of 1972. Next season he said we'll take care of the Granby Roll, here is the Spiral Ride. When Kenny took his team to the Virginia Duals some reporter asked him things went. He said we've wrestled 54 matches so far, and no ine has worked a Granby Roll on us yet.

 

We have a freshman at Midwest City whose dad wrestled for Kenny. Drew was using the half nelson to ride with, but wasn't turning people. I showed him he needed to get the far hand, and pull the opponent around him. I bought him the Gene Mills DVD as a Christmas present. He took 3rd in 6a at 106. He lost in overtime to the eventual state champ at regionals, and had beat him OT at dual state.

 

I was coaching some high school wrestlers in Scottsdale who would do whatever I asked, except they hated drilling the half nelson from the knees series, because they said it hurt so much. I said that is exactly why I'm teaching it and want you to drill it.

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coah4title asks, "Is that the same team that lost to Midwest City, OK at home ? MWC , at least in Oklahoma, was also known for spiral rides during that tenure and we'll into the late 90s."

 

 

answer: MWC came to st Eds 2 years in a row, beat st Eds in 1981, lost to them in 1982. Great teams both of them, REALLY great.

 

Lawton OK was AWN # 1 in 1993, that same year Northampton PA was # 1 by Rob Sherrill, i think he was Center Mat Press at the time. Back then rankings were not as prevalent as today, only those 2 were of national stature.

 

in a quad at st Eds, a truly SUPER quad in 1993, st Eds beat Lawton with those 3 come-from-behind spiral pins i refered to--- vying for # 1 mighty Walsh Jesuit beat st Eds but lost to Lawton, and there was a 4th team a very good Parkersburg South went 0 & 3. ...s/BobP

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Once you get the half in and secure the far wrist, you really can dominate an opponent. I think the difficult part is getting that position.

 

Here is a clip of him making it look easy

 

And a highlights clip

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I was a student of the Pinning Machine as a junior. I used to joke with him that we called it a "Mills half" because only he could do it.

 

Don't underestimate how much of a physical freak Mills was/is. He went from taking up wrestling (9th grade) to representing us on the 1980 Olympic team (redshirt junior at Syracuse) in less than eight years.

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I remember Randy Lewis mentioning Gene (who is one of his favorite wrestlers ever) as a guy who was highly successful in spite of his strength, or lack thereof, as traditionally measured. Apparently, Gene used to "brag" that he was once tested for physical strength along with his weight class of Olympic athletes from various countries and he scored lowest on the tests. I'll try to find a link to that post if I can.

 

Anyway, that just shows how overrated "lifting strength" is in wrestling. I'm sure Gene had a grip from hell to be able to torque elite world level wrestlers over like he did.

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Jake Varner practically pinned his way through his entire senior year and his last state tournament using what looked to be mean Gene's half series.

 

Varner did pin every CA opponent that year. In the finals, his opponent was literally a stall call away from being DQ'd before he opened up and got pinned in seconds.

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Much educated dialog above.

 

Tilts got steadily more popular through the late 80s and 90s and continue to gain popularity today.

Since there is so much time spent learning and drilling tilts, there is less time spent learning and drilling the high half series and less time attacking half nelsons in competition.

 

Gene's series still works. Steiber and Taylor use parts of it, though they obviously tie is a wider variety of techniques and tilts. New Yorkers Jess Jantzen, JP OConnor, Troy Nickerson all used high half series well, though most of their points in big matches were scores with roll through halfs and claws.

 

Gene is before my time, but from what I see of him on video and him teaching at my camps, his focus was and is on tenaciously running the high half. He shares many important subtle details.

 

I read Gene's book in jr high. Great stuff!

 

Ken

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Hunter Weber, current NDSU wrestler pinned his fair share of wrestlers in high school with a wrist and and half. He would work an entire match to get that move, once he got it, you knew it was over. He was relentless with it.

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[quote name="chertowcamps"

 

New Yorkers Jess Jantzen' date=' JP OConnor, Troy Nickerson all used high half series well, though most of their points in big matches were scores with roll through halfs and claws.

 

[/quote]

 

I find it a stretch to label the roll through tilts and claw ride series as using "a high half series well." Sure Jantzen would put his arm under yours and his hand on top of your head, but the way he scored with it has only a superficial resemblances to running a half.

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Bullying over an opponent of similar strength and ability with the high half series is not as common as it was decades ago. Even Gene would roll opponents over the top of him and suck back into crab and halfs in order to get back to a high half finish, though he did not roll around as much as Troy, JP, Jesse. The threat of roll throughs also make the high half work better. You have to be able to go in any direction. I consider it all the same series but you can look at roll throughs separately and high half series as a series in and of itself.

 

A few more thoughts...

I think Jantzen rode Esposito for an entire period in NCAA Finals largely with a with a high half. I have not watched the match for many years but that is gist of what I recall. Not ever certain it was Esposito but regardless, he was able to ride elite opponent with high half largely because Esposito was scared of the roll through.

 

Digging back into memory further -

I learned the half nelson roll through Tilts from Gene Mills by reading Carl Adams Wrestling Masters Magazine in high school. USA Wrestling Lifer Gary Abbot was the editor. He and Carl created a great publication in the 80s. I learned many holds from this resource.

 

Back to the 21st century, JP O'Connor scored a lot of back points tilting opponent to side opposite of the half rather than rolling through. He would also suck opponents back with half and tight waist.

Logan Steiber is able to take a loose near shoulder claw and do roll through tilt. Did it to Zain in Big Ten Finals. The series keeps evolving. Steiber is one of the few elite wrestlers who runs over other elite wrestlers with the high half. His combo of strength, aggression, and technique on top make him very impressive on top. Our sport keeps evolving but Gene's tenacity and creativity with the high half series definitely catalyzed an evolution of running half nelson from the knees which has led to a variety of other techniques.

 

Forgive me if this is all over the place. I am just talking tech informally off top of my head and not proofing.

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Bullying over an opponent of similar strength and ability with the high half series is not as common as it was decades ago. Even Gene would roll opponents over the top of him and suck back into crab and halfs in order to get back to a high half finish, though he did not roll around as much as Troy, JP, Jesse. The threat of roll throughs also make the high half work better. You have to be able to go in any direction. I consider it all the same series but you can look at roll throughs separately and high half series as a series in and of itself.

 

A few more thoughts...

I think Jantzen rode Esposito for an entire period in NCAA Finals largely with a with a high half. I have not watched the match for many years but that is gist of what I recall. Not ever certain it was Esposito but regardless, he was able to ride elite opponent with high half largely because Esposito was scared of the roll through.

 

Digging back into memory further -

I learned the half nelson roll through Tilts from Gene Mills by reading Carl Adams Wrestling Masters Magazine in high school. USA Wrestling Lifer Gary Abbot was the editor. He and Carl created a great publication in the 80s. I learned many holds from this resource.

 

Back to the 21st century, JP O'Connor scored a lot of back points tilting opponent to side opposite of the half rather than rolling through. He would also suck opponents back with half and tight waist.

Logan Steiber is able to take a loose near shoulder claw and do roll through tilt. Did it to Zain in Big Ten Finals. The series keeps evolving. Steiber is one of the few elite wrestlers who runs over other elite wrestlers with the high half. His combo of strength, aggression, and technique on top make him very impressive on top. Our sport keeps evolving but Gene's tenacity and creativity with the high half series definitely catalyzed an evolution of running half nelson from the knees which has led to a variety of other techniques.

 

Forgive me if this is all over the place. I am just talking tech informally off top of my head and not proofing.

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Some other wrestlers from recent years who had very good half nelson series were Jayson Ness, his brother Dylan Ness, and Kyle Dake. The Nesses were more Mills-style half nelson guys, especially Jayson. Dake was more like a bigger version of Nickerson, and pinned less, tilted more, with it.

 

Back to the original question, I think a major reason you don't see more Mills-style wrestling is that mat wrestling has fundamentally changed from Gene's era. Bottom man stalling is allowed for much longer now, many holds that were perfectly legal in the past are now potentially dangerous (and refs are very quick to call them as such), and stalemates are called much faster now even if the top man is legitimately working for a turn.

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I can attest that Hunter Weber's high school program has been teaching that move for more than 20 years- probably more like 30.

Marshall, Wisconsin High School, that is.

 

 

Hunter Weber, current NDSU wrestler pinned his fair share of wrestlers in high school with a wrist and and half. He would work an entire match to get that move, once he got it, you knew it was over. He was relentless with it.

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