If you follow wrestling, it’s very likely that you have noticed a significant change in wrestling styles over the past 3-5 years. Rules have changed a bit in folk style wrestling and outside of riding time; things have been pushed to be more action packed in the neutral position. Some scrambles from this past weekend’s NCAA championships were incredible, not just entertaining but downright impressive from a sports performance perspective. Coaches are promoting more offensive styles and big moves that were rarely seen before are used regularly in folk style. With the push for improved development in the American freestyle ranks coupled with a sweet four point near fall, it seems that offensive wrestlers are looking for bigger moves while the defensive wrestlers are taking more calculated shots that put them at less of a risk for back exposure.
So, where does that put us in the heavyweight division? I remember my college days of watching big heavyweights stumble around to 2-1 decisions. Fearing the size of one another, the matches typically ended with an escape point granted to each wrestler and then 2 stalling calls for one behemoth and one stalling call for the other. Those were the days when the heavyweight that stalled the least, won the match. Hopefully, after this weekend, those days are long gone.
Two years ago, when Nick Gwiazdowski won his first NCAA title, you could feel the tide turning. Tony Nelson’s passivity destroyed his legacy and “Gwiz” the legend was born. An aggressive, olive toned, push the pace heavyweight finally made the weight class enjoyable to watch. Add in guys like Adam Coon and World Champion Kyle Snyder, and all of a sudden people are hanging around during the semi-finals to watch these men take the mat!
Gwiz and Snyder pushed the pace all season, showing the country what it means to be the new generation of heavyweights. No longer (hopefully) will heavyweights resemble Vasily Alexeev, instead they will take the mat looking like a NFL defensive ends and middle linebackers. The best heavyweights pushed the pace, took shots and looked like the great heavyweights of years past: Kerry McCoy, Bruce Baumgartner and Stephen Neal.
Was it a shame that Gwiz lost to Snyder? Absolutely not!! He lost to a WORLD CHAMPION. In fact, Gwiz has sparked the changing of the guard for the entire heavyweight division. The most exciting match of the night also happens to be the best heavyweight match in NCAA history. The new breed will not only keep spectators more entertained but it will also carry over well to bringing home freestyle and Greco medals from international competition.