STATE COLLEGE The stars of yesteryear graced the sidelines at the National Duals this weekend.
Among them were three-time national champions Lincoln McIllvary and Joe Williams and two-time winner Kerry McCoy. And then there was fabled Iowa State wrestler and Iowa coach Dan Gable the father of American wrestling.
Though he signed hundreds of autographs and gracefully allowed himself to be interviewed, Gable was not the story of the weekend.
Gable was overshadowed by a legend in the making Cael Sanderson, whose 101st consecutive victory on Saturday overtook Gable”s all-time record.
It was a mark of endurance that defined a sport in quite the same way as Joe DiMaggio”s hitting streak defined baseball.
The results of this weekend demonstrated a passing of the torch atop the team rankings as well.
“It was Iowa, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Oklahoma State at the top,” McCoy, now an assistant coach at Lehigh, said. “But now there a lot more teams getting better.”
Neither Iowa school made it to the finals this weekend, which presents the question: Will a team defeat Iowa in the national championships? And if so, who will it be?
One might not want to look any further than the teams in the finals Minnesota and Oklahoma State.
Each team took a different road to the finals.
Oklahoma State demolished Iowa State 25-13 in the semifinals while Minnesota stole a victory from Iowa after trailing 17-6.
In most other dual tournaments that match would have been the highlight, but Iowa”s 20-18 win over the Wolverines showed the top teams in the nation that Michigan can compete.
“They”ve got a good team this year,” Iowa coach Jim Zalesky said. “Dual meets are about how you match up. They won all the close matches.”
Until the last match, Michigan wrestlers who aspired to win an individual title looked to Otto Olson.
The fourth, sixth and ninth-ranked wrestlers lined up opposite Olson, and all came away wondering how to beat the best 174-pounder in the nation.
“He”s ranked number one and I don”t think many people can stay with him,” Zalesky said. “He is a real good scrambler and he keeps the pressure on guys the whole time.”
But Oklahoma”s 12th-ranked Michael Barger pinned Olson in an upset, partly due to the fatigue Olson had acquired in his previous matches.
“Otto told me that he was tired,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said. “That sums it up right there.”
This Michigan team is not yet in the same class as the legends that watched it, but it is striving for the top.
“There are still a lot of things that we need to accomplish before March,” McFarland said.