Today should have been a great day for the sport of wrestling, instead, it blew calls, missed matches, and left out a key portion of any wrestling score bug. Josh Heil got robbed of a chance to wrestle in the quarterfinals.
If you want a recap click here, but this is not that type of “piece”. The actual wrestling was great. There were tons of upsets and close finishes, and this has nothing to do with the on-the-mat product we saw today.
ESPN is supposed to help “grow the game” and help expand the brand for wresting, instead they didn’t add riding time to the standard scoreboard.
In case you don’t know what “riding time” is in wrestling, it is how long after a takedown, or starting in the top position. This is a rule unique to college wrestling, and something most young or uninformed fans would not know was a factor.
If one wrestler has over one minute of riding time at the end of the match it is an extra point. Essentially a match could be tied on the scoreboard, but that is often a deciding factor at high level college wrestling.
The 149 pound weight class was absolutely insane in the second round. There were three insanely close matches going on around the same time. ESPN clearly has the capability to show two matches at one time on the screen. They have done it before and did it later in the broadcast, but they completely ignored a one seed almost losing in the round of 16.
They tuned in with the main channel late, and it was behind the live mat feed on a different stream. On their website, you can chose to watch any single mat for the entire broadcast. It is a valuable tool, but when the main broadcast cut to it late many had already seen the result of the bout.
The NCAA Wrestling Refs
Boo Lewallen and Josh Heil wrestled an overtime match in the round of 16 as-well. In the alternating overtime period Heil, the 20 seed, got a reversal and had the 4 seed on the ropes. There was a great scramble in the match and a challenge-brick from the Oklahoma State coaching made the refs go review a call.
Wresting officials review their own calls. In the MLB, the crew chief calls into the New York offices for an impartial judgement. Most officials like to be right, and few will correct themselves if they are wrong. Like it or not their is a human element of wanting to be right.
Lewallen was down one point with seven seconds on the clock. He was attacking and did not score a takedown for sometime, and then Tim Johnson changed the match.
“Big upset guys… in the making. The clock actually didn’t start.”
The clock never started on the screen or on the mat. The five or six seconds Heil just had to fight off a takedown never ran off the clock. The ref can be heard saying to the timer, “you have to run it off” telling him to take some time off the clock.
He was overruled, and Lewallen got another shot at a takedown, the Oklahoma State wrestler scored at the very last second of the second seven-second period.
The points were actually awarded with no time left on the clock, essentially Lewallen got double the time that was actually left when he needed to score.
Campbell wrestling tweeted out what happened and some more behind the scenes information as to what happened.
Tim Shiels, NCAA Wrestling National Coordinator of Officials gave an interview right away to ESPN and Quint Kessenich. Pretty much Shiels says the scoring table did not have an accurate way of running clock??? Yeah I know sounds stupid, but most human beings can count time OR have a device that can do it for them.
” They can’t guess and say well it should have been three or four seconds… without the clock moving, we’ve got a clock error which is unfortunate” – Shiels
“You can’t use like a stopwatch to run independently with the video?” -Kessenich
“It’s not per se in the rulebook” – Shielsvia @NCAAWrestling on Twitter
Josh Heil got robbed by some stupid flaw in the system. He wrestled a great match for close to nine minutes of actual wrestling, and then some extra time tacked on against him while he was winning.
Overall, it could have been a better day to help grow the sport of wrestling. The broadcast had some misses, the refs had a huge miss, and those are things people tend to remember. I will say this again, but the wrestlers didn’t disappoint at all.
TL//DR: Josh Heil got robbed today and the wrestling world will remember.