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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Rex Holman added to this discussion on January 11, 2008

Did you find the staff and wrestlers at tOSU to be more helpful in that area (you certainly had a high level of success after the transfer), or did you just develop your skills in a way that allowed for more success against that Iowa style?

tOSU wrestling team in 1991-1992 had a coaching staff of Russ Hellickson, Jim Jordan, Mark Coleman and Ken Chertow. Upper weight wrestlers were Kevin Randleman, Jim Scavuzzo, Ray Mendoza, Rick Burlenski, Heath Eddleblutte, Dan Ritchie, Chad Miller, Brett Dreger and a few others that I cannot recall of the top of my head. (Blute, Ritchie, and Dreger quit in the Fall)

I was in survival mode when I transferred; so I was more concerned about working hard and establishing myself as the guy to beat.

As you found out, Hellickson is an old school coach who is more concerned about outworking your opponent rather than teaching you how to skillfully beat him. It is his MO. So, you get the three a day workouts that turned into 4 a day workouts beginning in January if you were in the starting line up.

This approach only works for a very few and takes everything you have to merely get through it let alone compete at the end of the week.

So, no one was actually teaching to beat Iowa in here's how you do it sense. i.e. keep him off your head , circle, he will get too aggressive with his hands and will make a mistake, capitalize on his mistake, don't be behind in points at the end of the second period, create scramble situations that score (let him get to your leg but make him go to his knees), etc. but most importantly get ready for a war.

Rather, the mindset evolved out of necessity. Hence, the change in approach from I am going out to wrestle and win to an approach of this guy is my enemy and there is no way I am going to give him an inch of position. A subtle, yet important change. It gave me more depth as a wrestler. I suspect you will see an evolution in D Schlatter's wrestling over the next couple of years as he will be forced to evolve as a wrestler by way of Brent Metcalf.

Minnesota always does a good job against Iowa. J Rob makes certain his guys are ready to go. Hartung and Eggum did a nice job against Fullhart in matches that I recall.

Iowa is returning to the days of old under Brands. Their guys look tough, nasty and machine-like. I am glad the dual is in Columbus, as you need to be more than a couple points better than your opponent to win in Carver-Hawkeye arena. Referees get swept up in the emotion of crowd energy.

Rex Holman

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Michael Rodriguez added to this discussion on January 11, 2008

I agree 100% with what you're saying. When I look back, I don't remember much pure instruction. I recall some good knee-under type stuff to keep your hips under you, but that's really it. Much more about position than specific technique. Truthfully, I learned a ton from working with teammates before or after practice.

During practice it was more about survival (particularly for guys who were not that talented coming in). Being a true frosh on that '90-'91 squad was a challenging experience. Guys like myself, Matt McCoy, Babe Sidon, Todd Chertow would have to bang with Adam and Marinelli and Ken Chertow was still going live every day back then, so that was always an added bonus.

I remember Russ preaching a style similar to what Iowa did, as far as constant pressure and constant attack. But I don't think it translated to the mat for many of our wrestlers. Adam was that way, and Marinelli scored a ton of points on top, but everyone else seemed to be more into minimizing mistakes that could get them scored on. To this day, that is the way I wrestle if I'm wrestling to win (not just playing around with a high school kid).

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Mark Niemann added to this discussion on January 11, 2008

Quote from Michael Rodriguez's post:

" To this day, that is the way I wrestle if I'm wrestling to win (not just playing around with a high school kid)."

...and how often is that?

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Michael Rodriguez added to this discussion on January 11, 2008

Quote from Mark Niemann's post:


Quote from Michael Rodriguez's post:

" To this day, that is the way I wrestle if I'm wrestling to win (not just playing around with a high school kid)."

...and how often is that?"

From time to time a college kid will come home for a weekend, or I'll lock up with the occasional coach. <smile>

Rex...You mention Blute, Richie and Dreger quit in the fall. I went out the spring before. As I recall there were a number of wrestlers who began their career on that team but either tranfered or just stopped wrestling. I don't think McCoy finished, I remember Bubba Taylor ended up transfering and winning an NAIA title, Scavuzzo had some injury problems, Randleman had his issues his senior season. There seemed to be a lot of turn-over. Did you see the same thing at Arizona State? Obviously there was some of that, since you left.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Vince DiSabato added to this discussion on January 11, 2008

It is always a pleasure to read the truth. It is a testament that Philosophy 101 was not the only contribution to your analysis of the sport but as an ambassador to the sport. True coaches stay up at nights wondering how THEY can make their pupils better.

I had the pleasure today to spend 30 minutes at lunch with Phil Anglim. I treasured each moment. We discussed the OSU program, HS wrestlers and the potential for the OSU program. Needless to say we are each excited.

For those of you that do not know, Phil Anglim was a two time state champ from Watterson here in Columbus and a two time captain for the Bucks. Phil was always a leader.

I recall in my early days of HS wrestling, Phil pulling Mark Zimmer and I aside and telling us that WE could be the best that state has ever seen. DUH... Zimmer was easy to predict and in retrospect, I question his prediction of myself. Perhaps, I was always too self-depricating and not so humble to appreciate all of my assets. Perhaps I was too smart to realize my own shortcomings. Not good for any athlete.

In our conversation we spoke of the Monroeville kids who are marvelous. We spoke of Collin Palmer and of David Taylor. The OSU needs them and if we are able to attract all of them, the OSU will be NCAA champs. We have no doubt provided they all attend and participate. Wishful thinking maybe...but now we believe that it is in our grasp.

Rex, the progress that you speak of are attainable at the OSU especially with Heskett, Tommy and of course Lou there. Coach Ryan has assembled a breeding ground for success...the right way. And to think that there was a chance to get Tom Brands?!?!

We also spoke of a potential walk on at 285 that can add to next years team.

We spoke extensively about the image and what the program should emote. That image is what it should be. We also spoke of kids who are so talented but it is easy to look good in December yet it takes nuts and guts to do it in March.

We spoke of my promising nephew/Godson who has so much talent and needs to focus on what it takes to move forward.

We spoke of his proteges. Phil made a statement of my former HS coach that was true... you cannot be Don Quixote. When it is your time to move on you must recognize it. Phil is at that stage so he said. He said that one of his proteges is the best athlete he has ever worked with, That says alot. He also said that the boy needs someone to drill with not an old man. Perhaps.

I differ with Phil on this. A great coach stays up at night wondering how he can improve his protege.

Phil gave me many reasons for his decision which are, age and self-deprication. His many proteges have Phil, a wonderful man, a wonderful husband and father and most importantly a man that any parent would want their child exposed be thankful for all that he has given them. I have been blessed to have Phil Anglim in my life.

Rex, I hope to see you next Friday as well as all the OSU alumni.


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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Rex Holman added to this discussion on January 13, 2008


I think there is a high rate of turnover in college wrestling in general. Most wrestlers realize the workload and commitment it takes to be successful. The question becomes, Are you willing to make that sacrifice?

Regarding individual turnover, there can be a lot of reasons that factor into whether a wrestler is willing to make that sacrifice. Blute said he did not have the fire anymore. Ritchie injured his shoulder just prior to the season. Randleman was at it as long as he was thanks in part to Coleman's efforts to keep him focused. I don't think his heart was in academics; he was an athlete first and foremost and one of the best ever. He has had more than his fair share of adversity in his life. Some of his own doing and some not.

Adversity takes a toll on the individual. If he does not have requisite defense mechanisms or groundedness of family to share the burden of this world, it adds up and is destructive.

I think some coaching staffs are better at adjusting to the individual needs of each wrestler and in doing so make the process doable rather than overwhelming.

Overwhelming situations are tough. As you will probably attest, myself included. However, they are a necessary part of our development.

Ultimately, the only things you can attempt to control are your attitude and behaviors. Outside circumstance plays a role in shaping who you are. The question becomes, How do you respond?

Let's take from EVO DEVO- (evolutionary development) -"all changes in form arise through changes in development"- This concept is used to explain evolutionary changes in physical traits. Let's take a leap of faith and transpose it onto personality/behavior traits.

The form( how you act and behave) is a result of the developmental situations in which you are confronted. You have a choice whether you realize it or not at the time of decision that will affect how you act and behave going forward.

Thus, wrestlers are confronted with situations and they respond in a predictable pattern. Hence, Tough times don't last, but tough guys do or You are only as good as your weakest moment.


I can feel your love for Phil Anglim and there is no doubt that he is a great person all the way around. He sounds like a great teacher that had a hugely positive influence on your life.

Rex Holman

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Vince DiSabato added to this discussion on January 16, 2008

I always love to read what you write, It is always toughtful and has great insight.

But if I may ask... were you and Ken Jr. not on Russ's staff? Were there not times when you or Kenny had the feeling that your input was not being appreciated or utilized? Were there not times that you even lamented to members of the team or others these feelings? May I ask why you felt then that you were even hired?

Russ did a wonderful job at tOSU. He fought so many battles for the program, some in vain and some that allow the program to prosper today. That should not be lost, ever. Russ allowed the program to evolve through those battles. Your father as well as my own have invested finances and belief in what Russ was trying to accomplish. To me he was our Abraham for the program.

In my original post I mentioned the promise that the program has today. I mentioned the pride that many alumni, prior to Russ, feel for the program and its potential.

In response to your original post Russ was a micromanager. Russ felt that he needed control of every aspect of the program. Was that needed at the time? Yes. He willed the program to what it was. My problem with Russ is simple... he insulated himself with his people and thus was not open to new ideas. You and Kenny were such people. Please understand this...I nor any of us ever doubted your passion for the program or for Russ but it did produce a stagnant room.

Today tOSU as well as every program across the landscape need macromanagers, Coach Ryan has done so. With the likes of Joe Heskett, Tommy Rowlands and of course Lou Rosselli (World Team Coach) the talent is blossoming. Much of the talent are Russ recruits that just bumped off the #1 team in D1.

I also am still fascinated that an asst to Coach Ryan was the runner-up in the coaching choice by Athletic Director Gene Smith other than a guy running the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Wonder why?

I also read what you posted, Rex. Things that are permissable in Iowa are not permissable elsewhere. Wonder why you are thankful that the meet is here at St. John's rather than in Carver Hawkeye. We both know that answer do we not?

Yes, Iowa is along the way that Gable had started. Kudos. But I will be the first to say this... I hit my knees at night thankful of the decision that Gene Smith made. To myself and others integrity still means alot.

Ken, we have known each other for quite some time. There were times where we butted heads but can you honestly tell me that our same interests were not in the child that we loved? I am proud of your son and what he learned along the way from you and Karen, Tom Rowlands Sr., myself, Stollie and Russ. It has formed him into a man that I am happy to call my friend.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Cliff Cahill added to this discussion on January 16, 2008

with the title I came in to find out how in college you can get say a Johnstone to always switch to double with head up - oh well - nice read though - Rex could write a book, What It Takes To Be A College Wrestler. Rex has surely been around the block a few times and could get his points across with lots of stories.

But really how do you get for example, Johnstone a junior in college to see, say a Dr. Jimmy Edwards, to cure the knee drops by keeping head up during a committed penetration with the angle change going across to the far leg changing from single to a double all in one motion with the drive never slowed down by knees on mat for any length of time while driving the opponent into the mat.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Ken Ramsey Sr. added to this discussion on January 16, 2008

Should not all head coaches micromanage their program? Are they not responsible for their program and ultimately assume the consequences on how their program performs? The assistants should always give input to give the head coach other perspectives (I am sure they did.), but ultimately he at this stage of his career probably had his own way to run his program. In Russ's case, he had always been very successful and he probably felt when things became bad for a few years that he should make sure to stay within the system that had always been a winning one for him. I think this bears it's self out in how well his last recruits are competing since they are healthy. (Humphrey, Jagger, Palmer, Johnstone, Picazo, & Bergman 6 of the 10 starters and 3 of the returning AAs.)

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Cliff Cahill added to this discussion on January 16, 2008

I would think he at least required to be aware of each micro because indeed he is responsible for entire program. And the head coach is the visionary. Russ being the father of Steelwood seem to have the vision that the top recruits require top facilities and he got it done and now they come.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Brian Nicola added to this discussion on January 16, 2008

I think when we talk about managing a program, it has to be on the head coach. That is why there is a HEAD coach. Even on the high school level, a coach is ultimately responsible for the character, the eligibility and, of course, the competitive success of his or her squad. In any sport. Across the board.

Given this, it is important for everyone to be on the same page. It doesn't mean everyone has to hit the exact same moves or wrestle the same way. When I started coaching in 1996 I was real into everyone wrestling the way I had. I also wanted everyone super-serious before they compete, etc. How productive is that?

Wrestlers need the basic skills. IMO, with my kids, we need to be able to do X, Y and Z to perfection. Then, they can innovate or add techniques. The same goes for warm-ups and mental prep.

My entire, long rambling post has staryed form the original thought. Coach Hellickson needed to micromanage, not b/c Kenny Ramsey, Rex, Chertow, Coleman or Jim Jordan was ignorant. He needed to manage because it was his job to make those decisions. Ultimately, the lack of success of tOSU cost him his job, but he is a smart enough man to understand that is how the game is played. And, it led Coach Ramsey to ERAU, where, it seems, he has instituted his own system (and done VERY well). And for Coach Ramsey, those decisions are his.

Regarding Coach Ryan macromanaging, I am not sure that is the right word. Does he allow his very talented assitants to contribute with technique and advice, trainign tips and the like. I'm sure. It is an amazing staff. My God, I almost overloaded with knowledge when I saw Coach Rosselli teach technique. It is astounding his breadth of knowledge. Unmatched, IMO.

However, I would bet that the decisions...especially the tough decisions...lie with Ryan. Bergman to 285? Weakley out of RS over Weinrich? etc.

So, I am not disputing that the sport has changed, and that Coach Ryan seems to have a great way of doing things. However, I think a good coach still makes the team's decisions at the end of the day. He does this b/c it is his job.

Just my opinion.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Cliff Cahill added to this discussion on January 16, 2008

Develop College Wrestling Skills

A very interesting subject for the fans. Of course Brian a team does not need to do all the same moves of their coach. Although, I think the Maple Heights had a distinct Milkovich style and a orchestrated warm up drill indicating their team moves.

Here is an interesting discussion with someone like Rex who lived through many many different wresting venues including college wrestling. Or you Brian a high school coach. let's say Brian you receive a wrestler from a feeder program that shoots with his head down on the mat with hips up hanging on with both hands to one leg with both knees stock on the mat. This wrestler does it every time. My assumption in this case study if you will is that a given is that the fundamentals agreed to by all coaches are the 7 Basic Skills shown in the Dan Gable US Army presentation. Thus the head most be up in chest area when penetrating via a level change and the movement does not stop as an angle change is made from single to double leg driving with a left or pressure to the mat. So the question is how do you develop the basic skills when you see a violation beyond style or strategy.

Is the methodology used to Develop College Wrestling Skills the same in high school as college? What is it?

Then there is always the starting question - can it be done or most you live with what is given to you given the person has been successful doing what they do for many years and being successful or they would not be a college wrestler. The inference I talk with the question is that there most be a difference in College skills compared to high school skills. Obviously, the recruiting process is to minimize any difference. But to make it interesting how do create a program that accepts a person from a high school skill set that does not do well in college and Develop College Wrestling Skills in the room?

Maybe Rex did not have this type of detail in mind when opening this thread but I thought I would give it a try. If not appropriate then I understand. But if it is going to be taken on as case study of discussion, I would like to use the prevailing dive to single with head buried into the mat on their knees - a position I never have seen Rex ever do by the way

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Rex Holman added to this discussion on January 16, 2008

Ken Sr.-

Always great to see or hear you. I wish I was in Florida. I have never much cared for cold winters. I love hearing your comments as you have a great depth of understanding and knowledge of wrestling.


You or anyone else for that matter can take the old school comment as a slam if you like, but I will express my reasons for saying so in terms of defining moments in my life. Let me rephrase the part about skill to better reflect my meaning. Developing a skillset was secondary to outworking your opponent. Russ is a great guy that I admire for a lot of reasons but he is old school in my sense of the definition.

I saved a clipping from BSB that reflects this mindset, “We have to do some things differently and that includes the coaches, We all have to reassess and some of the guys need to reexamine whether they are hungry enough. They are all good kids and they all feel bad right now, but maybe this will motivate them to lift an extra set when they are tired or run an extra mile when they think they can’t. Hellickson still believes despite the lackluster finish that things are looking up. I know what we have coming back and what we have coming in and we will be a better team, he said. But while you would like to think ahead, you can’t forget the now. It should eat away at these guys, and I think it will. We’ll see how everyone responds. Hungry, extra sets, and extra miles to me indicates an old school mentality. Wrestling to Russ is more about mindset than skillset. He believed that if you work hard enough physically, then the skillset would materialize. Terry McCann 101.

We did a lot of drilling at OSU on techniques that I never used. I was there for two years as an athlete and another 5 years as an assistant. It was the same techniques during the course of those same years. Nothing ever changed. Russ taught what he knew. I knew what Russ Taught. I went to his camps at Ohio Wesleyan and OSU, plus I had the videos. Russ was teaching the same technique that worked for him 1980. Russ has a body type of a strong bear, whereas I do not. I think you need to cater the technique to the individual and his needs. His hip series is awesome, but it was not for me. I remember him asking me to teach it one year during camps and I was like do I have to?

1995 World Championships in Atlanta; Kevin Jackson wrestled the Russian in the Finals and became World Champion. I was impressed. Russ was not as the score was probably 1-0, won on counter wrestling. That was wrestling in 1995. Counter wrestling was central to winning on the international stage. I lost a bunch of matches on misdirected aggressiveness as my wrestling was a reflection of my environment. You have to be a greater counter wrestler with one explosive shot and one turn to win on the international stage. Ask Kevin Jackson, Brandon Slay, or anybody for that matter who has recently won a medal.

Russ would not commit to USA wrestling after all the political power struggles that he saw within the governing bodies of wrestling. i.e. AAU, USWF, USAW. Couple that with the boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games and he was more than a little put off with international wrestling. I understand his pain. It sucked to to be the best guy in the world and not get the opportunity to show your greatness. Joe Heskett is going through this right now. To observe an earlier post, you can only control your attitude and behavior and how you react to adversity as outside forces are beyond your control.

Last situation, Jimmy Johnson, Big Ten Freshman of the Year comes up to me and explains that he is having a difficult time with school and really needs the weekend to prepare for finals WI quarter freshman year. We had Clarion Duals that weekend. Being the bleeding heart I was at the time, I asked for Russ to leave Jimmy home. After much heated debate, and quite a few “Jim Jordan never asked for time off”, he relented and Jimmy stayed home. I learned that Jim Jordan was the benchmark by which everyone was graded.

As far as why I got hired? The two guys ahead of me had already committed elsewhere. Kenny at Purdue and Adam at Illinois. When he hired me, he said, no one else seems to want the job, do you? I said, yeah. I was an NCAA Champion, fairly straight-laced and navigated successfully through his program( don’t take that the wrong way - I did not navigate through ASU and Bobby Douglas’s program successfully)

I was enrolled in phyics, chemistry and biology through the college of continuing ed and dropped those classes when he offered it up. It was a great honor for me to be alongside Russ and Jim, so it was a no-brainer.

I will go on and address other issues, but I have already devoted well over an hour to this addition and have some other things to do today.

Brain and Cliff-

Great to hear your input!

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Rex Holman added to this discussion on January 20, 2008

I see that there is an editor on board. I was hoping that we could work things out amongst ourselves as editing things breeds an environment of political correctness. However, I do understand that rules must be followed and that too much negativity can degenerate a discussion.

Hence, damned if you do and damned if you don’t.


Finishing from a low leg attack, head inside, outside or on the mat.

What to do? Be more selective with the shots.

Bad position is what it is and makes life on the mat difficult.

Position that is not strong can be won if: 1) your opponent is fatigued, 2)you are freakishly strong 3) you improve into good position.

Counting on someone to be out of shape in the Big Ten is like praying for snow in July. Not everyone is freakishly strong. Improving position seems to be the most viable route.

I once heard Dave Schultz say, “The key to wrestling is always improving position.” A simple maxim that underscores a universal truth. If you are always able to improve position, then at some point during the process barring a loss of position, you will end up scoring. Carry this over throughout an entire match and you will be the winner. If you are unable to improve position, you will either concede it (give up points) or reach a point of impasse (stalemate).

I have one memorable moment of head being down on the mat, in on a shot and scoring. NCAA semifinals v Keith Davison WI. I was able to score due to a combination of the above criteria. It was the third period and fatigue played a role, I wanted that leg so badly that strength did play a role and I did improve position by tripoding up using my head as one of the posts and doing a knee underneath penetration while slipping my head to the outside. That was the exception rather than the rule.

Simply put, A wrestler needs to get to the leg with position intact to score on a recurring basis. If the shot will not result in good position, then is it really worth taking?

btw, did you see Johnstone's savvy move of calling for a timeout after scoring the first td. It was brilliant. He is climbing and close to the top.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Hank Kornblut added to this discussion on January 20, 2008


You've offered great advice for wrestlers and coaches. One of my many flaws as a coach was a failure to better correct simple position mistakes. I can recall a couple of my wrestlers that frequently tied up with their elbows too far out. They'd get shot on all the time. Once actually did this on purpose because he had a great counter to the high crotch--but it failed miserably at the end of the season when he'd been scouted. It cost him dearly. I'd allowed him to get away with this style because I was young and didn't realize he wasn't going to win a state title with a wicked counter as his major offense.

On the other hand, Kore Sharpley, a 112 pounder in 1996, won a state title for the reason you state--position. He was in good shape, very strong, and short. He didn't use a lot of techniques but he always applied them perfectly. Most importantly, when on his feet he always had his arms in tight, kept his steps short and made himself nearly impossible to score on (at least for high school). I've always felt his greatest attribute was a great stance and that it won him the championship.

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