Grapevine Duals - Preview

Bloged in News and Information, The Dallas Report by Peter Dewey Tuesday December 26, 2006

By Peter Dewey

The New Year kicks off in a big way with the Dollarmur Grapevine Duals on January 5th and 6th. Showcasing the event will be the premier wrestling programs from Texas and Louisiana. Highland Park will be defending its 2006 title. New Orleans Jesuit wants to take home a 3rd title in the last 5 years at Grapevine. HP has won 5 of 8 UIL state championships since 1999 and is two time defending champions. NOJ has won 21 La. State Championships since 1972 and is three time defending champions.

In the last four years HP and NOJ have met at Grapevine and created a rivalry based on mutual respect, terrific wrestling and compelling drama. In 2003, the match was decided by two sophmore heavyweights who had not yet learned the heavyweight dance. The NOJ wrestler ended the match on his back but won 10-9. NOJ 37 HP 32. In 2004, HP needed a single win in the last four matches to secure a win. It was not to be. NOJ 34 HP 33. In 2005, NOJ had an awesome team that took it to a HP team that would win both State Duals and UIL. NOJ 50 HP 21. In 2006, the score was tied at 27 when HP took control and won the final four matches without yielding a single point. HP44 NOJ 27. Will they meet again in 2007? We can only hope so.

As compelling as the HP-NOJ rivalry is, the story this year may be the emergence of a half dozen programs who can stand toe-to-toe and slug it out against the likes of HP and NOJ. In the past many teams could compete and win a handful of matches but simply could not match the big boys up and down the line-up weight class by weight class. And to be a good dual team you simply can’t give away weights if want to be competitive on the 2nd day at Grapevine.

Simply stated a number of Texas programs are much more competitive in a Dual Meet format and five of the top eight Dual Meet teams will be at Grapevine (in bold)

Top Ten Dual Meet Teams
1. Bishop Lynch
2. Allen
3. Canyon Randall
4. Highland Park
5. Coppell
6. Cinco Ranch
7. Arlington Bowie
8. St. Marks

9. Arlington Martin
10. Cy-Fair

Format

28 teams are divided into four pools. On Friday each team will wrestle five matches against the other teams in its pool. The 6th and 7th round matches are Saturday morning. The top three teams from each pool advance into Saturday’s championship matches with the pool winners getting a well deserved bye in the first round. When this tournament gets down to eight teams the intensity really picks up and the semi-finals have given us two of the legendary showdowns between NOJ and Highland Park. Saturday afternoon is just some of the finest high school wrestling you can find in Texas.

Pool A

Allen, TX
St. Mark’s, TX
Dumas, TX
Colleyville, TX
Tahlequah, OK
The Colony, TX
Frisco, TX

Anyone that has been reading ITW should know that Allen is the hottest team going right now. They are winning everything in sight and truly have a well balanced team with tough wrestlers up and down the line-up. As we’ve said this is what it takes to knock off a HP or NOJ. St. Mark’s is a sneaky good program. There is a tendency to focus on their top wrestlers like superstar Ben Grisz or the sophmore sensation David Henry but I have watched this team several times and they do not give away any weights. They seem to always make it out of the Pool competition but then find the going tough. This year may be different. I know little about Dumas except that their kids wrestle tough every year but standouts - Torisk and Logan - have graduated. Colleyville is desperately looking for depth behind the brothers Sandoval. Tahlequah is always a threat to qualify for the championship round. The Colony and Frisco will be looking to gain experience and earn respect.

Pool B

Highland Park, TX
Carl Albert, OK
Houston Westside, TX
Keller, TX
SA Madison, TX
Westlake, TX
Trinity, TX

Defending champion Highland Park gets the #1 seed. We have already dissected their lineup in our preseason report. Coach Marzoula doesn’t let this bunch peak early but he will have them ready to go at Grapevine. This is a championship they want to defend. Carl Albert is a good Oklahoma program that has been to the finals at Grapevine before. If they get a #2 seed in this pool Coach Lujan must feel that they have one of their better teams. Westside is always tough. Keller has the Couch brothers and Lupardus but is looking for more depth. If Trinity is the last seed then this is a very strong pool. I have seen Trinity and they have some very talented wrestlers although maybe not quite enough. I believe they will win some duals.

Pool C

NO Jesuit, LA
Arlington Bowie, TX
Cinco Ranch, TX
Regis Jesuit, CO
Grapevine, TX
Dallas Jesuit, TX
Leander, TX

NOJ gets the #1 seed. They have been dominant in Louisiana again this year. And they went to the prestigous Tiger Invitational in North Carolina and took 3rd. But they are battling some injuries including a couple of defending State champs. They will need all hands on deck to win at Grapevine. In fact, first place in their pool is not a given this year. Arlington Bowie was hit hard by graduation but have filled all their holes and are wrestling well so far. They will need to turn it up a notch at Grapevine but I think they are capable of doing so. Cinco Ranch has not yet lived up to expectations largely do to a football playoff run that kept some key wrestlers off the mats for an extended period. All that rust should be knocked off now and there can be no excuses at Grapevine. We will finally see what CR has. It looks to be difficult for the other four teams to break into the top three but Grapevine is an up and coming program and all will get their chances on the mats.

Pool D

The Woodlands, TX
Lake Highlands, TX
Rockwall, TX
Elgin, OK
Vista Ridge, TX
Plano East, TX
Santa Fe, NM

Like Pool C, there appear to be three really strong teams at the top that will produce some very interesting duals. It would not surprise me if the pool winner has a loss. That’s how close I expect it to be between The WDL, LH and The Rock. It is actually hard to believe none of these three teams is in the Top Ten. But now is their chance to show the ranking gods whether they are a top program. The matches among these three should be excellent. Elgin could be a wild card as it is always dangerous to overlook an Okie team. Vista Ridge, Plano East and Santa Fe may not be on the level of the top three but they didn’t come to spectate and will be looking for an upset.

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