NCAA Division I Finals - 2020
This is the post I was planning to do once we had results from the D1 Nationals. Of course, I was gonna journey to the tournament, as I've done almost every year since 2005. God bless my wife... She was prepared to watch our two crazy kids on her own for four days. Flights were booked. Hotel rooms, booked. Plans to see old wrestling teammates, coaches, fans, and friends were solidified. It's my favorite time of the year, and there were match-ups I was dying to see.
Well, the wheel turns, the world turned upside down, and here we are quarantined. It's hard to imagine how the competitors are handling this. Being an NCAA All-American is a title that these young men work their whole lives for. The amount of sacrifices you have to make to be successful in college wrestling are endless. These guys choose to endure that suffering for the chance to stand on the podium in March. For the 330 Division 1 competitors, plus all the D2 and D3 guys as well, they won't have that chance to see if they paid a big enough price to earn that illusive All-American plaque. The amount of pain they must be feeling is hard to describe. For a lot of these athletes, they will lose camp opportunities that come from success at the Nationals. Now that's not the reason they compete, but those big camp paychecks are certainly nice for a poor college student.
Even though I finished short of my goal of becoming a National Champion, the closure I had at the end of the tournament was a good feeling. After 15 years of investment, it was nice to see the finish line and allowed me to make decisions about my future. For the Seniors that qualified for the 2020 Nationals, they will never get that closure and will always wonder, 'what if'. Some may lose job opportunities in this sport! If you remember 2018, Lock Haven's Ronnie Perry came out of nowhere to make the national finals. Now, Ronnie Perry is the head women's wrestling coach at Lock Haven. Would he be coaching in college if he didn't get the chance to take 2nd his senior year? It's hard to say...
All of that being said, I'm planning on running a series on the results I expected from each weight class. FITS Assistant Coach, Ben Brosius and I will fill out our brackets separately, and then come together to talk about the differences and the matches we struggled to pick. You'll hear about our coin-flip matches, upset picks, and of course our 8 All-Americans.
Leave a comment below with any thoughts you have, either on the shutdown of the tournament, one of the wrestlers that you know well, results that you had expected, or just good old team pride. Look forward to the Pick 'Em Series!