One of the interesting things about Division III wrestling is the variety you see in wrestlers and styles. In Division I, there is also plenty of variety, but you tend to get a lot of homogeneous wrestling as well because the talent is so tightly bunched that the slightest inefficiency can be the difference between 0-2 and All-American. This leaves out some wrestlers with pretty unique styles that toil away in DIII. Of course, at the top of DIII, wrestlers like that don’t find much more success than they would in DI, but I think the sport is richer, and more interesting for their inclusion.
When I think of wrestlers like this, my mind is always immediately drawn to Mike Markovic of John Carroll. He wrestled 149, and graduated in 2002, I believe. He was very tall and his main tactic was to either take a poor shot or force the other wrestler to snap him down. He would then reach up and around his opponents arm and trap it to his own body. Because he was so tall, he could wrap his arm all the way around his opponent’s and capture the wrist as well. He would then sit through to the other side, capture the other arm and work for the fall with his back on the opponent’s chest and his feet toward the bottom wrestler’s head. I have no idea what this move is called. Bobby Gingerich of North Central has been known to do it as well, but he is a much, much more well-rounded wrestler. He pinned Elmhurst’s Tyler Ludwig with it in the consolation finals of the 2006 Great Lakes Regional. In 2001, Markovic very nearly made the NCAA finals with this move. He pinned the eventual 3rd place finisher (who got revenge in the consolation finals), and had the eventual champ (and future 3x finalist) Garrett Kurth of Luther on his back with it. Kurth avoided the fall and went on to win the tournament. That was 2001. In 2002, Markovic was 0-2 at the NCAA tournament, as his secret was most definitely out. I was in his weight class both of those years. I was pretty sure I could stay out of the move, but not so sure that I wanted to try. It didn’t matter how much better than him a wrestler was; he usually only needed to get it once.
As an interesting side note, I traveled to Eastern Europe with a group of wrestlers from Duke University in 2005. We wrestled against a few different clubs along the way, and in more than one country, wrestlers were trying to hit this move on us. One tried on me and failed, but another pinned one of our guys with it. Later on, the winner’s father was speaking with our one Russian-speaking wrestler and called it a “cadet move,” which I imagine roughly translates to “junior high move” in English.
Beyond this move, there are others who live and die by the cement mixer as well as 2006 NCAA 133 lb. champ Mike Lopez of Luther who is also a well-rounded wrestler, but he won a lot of moves with what could charitably be called a tight front headlock, but looks a lot like choking the opponent out. It’s legal because he doesn’t cut off the opponent’s breathing, but that doesn’t make it seem any more pleasant. It’s hard to say how much he wore down Augsburg’s Jafari Vanier in the finals, but I have to believe it had an impact in Vaniers inability to ride or escape from Lopez in the tiebreaker.
Finally, there is always a wide range in the physical attributes of the wrestlers. In 2007, Muhlenberg national qualifier Billy Hall looks to be around 6’1″. That’s not remarkable until you realize he wrestled 133 this season. On the other hand, 133 lb. national champion Dave Morgan of Kings is generously listed at 5’2″ on the King’s website. Put that together, and you have wrestlers 11 inches apart at one of the lightest weight classes. The two actually wrestled in a dual meet on January 24th, with Morgan topping Hall 16-6. Both are back for 2007-2008 and could meet again, a match I’d like to see.