Penn State Takedown performance at the Southern Scuffle

The stats you’ll find in the chart are simple. We only need to record the following:

  • Number of total seconds wrestled in neutral
  • Number of takedowns acquired

With that information (thanks to FloWrestling), we can get a sense of takedown frequency in two ways.

Number of Takedowns Per 7 minutes in Neutral
(420 / # of match seconds in neutral)* # of takedowns

Basically, this is the amount of takedowns one might record in a typical 7 minute match if mat wrestling were eliminated and we let everyone up once the takedown was secured. I like this stat better than that of traditional takedowns per 7 minutes because it doesn’t punish those who wrestle more frequently on the mat.

Number of Neutral Seconds per Takedown
(# of match seconds in neutral / # number of takedowns)

Straight forward. Demonstrates how long one typically wrestles in neutral before securing a takedown.

PSU Scuffle Performance (Takedowns)
Wrestler Match Seconds in Neutral # of Takedowns Takedowns per 7 minutes in Neutral Neutral Seconds per Takedown
Retherford 313  (5:13) 12 16.102 26.08
Nolf 439 (7:19) 13 12.437 33.77
Rasheed 480 (8:00) 11 9.625 43.64
Nickal 634 (10:34) 13 8.612 48.77
Lee 787 (13:07) 16 8.539 48.19
Joseph 956 (15:56) 17 7.469 56.24
Hall 641 (10:41) 9 5.897 71.22
Cortez 332 (5:32) 4 5.060 83.00
Cassar 1125 (18:45) 11 4.107 102.27
Keener 1202 (20:02) 10 3.494 120.20
Schnupp 557  (9:17) 4 2.932 139.25
Nevills 1240 (20:40) 3 1.106 413.33
TOTAL 8706 (145:06) 123 5.934 70.78

Quick Notes:

  • Small sample size/relatively poor quality of competition for Schnupp and Cortez, thus their numbers aren’t as reliable as others. Obviously, Schnupp cannot sustain that type of takedown ability, but kudos for going out and nabbing 4 of his own in losing efforts.
  • Zain outpacing Nolf was a surprise, but there were only two instances where he had to work for takedown. Once against Morris in the 1st period, and again in the 1st period against Heil. Nolf, on the other hand, looked looked like he was practicing his counters against Fox and that ultimately hurt him. Also, having a 1st round match would have likely given him a boost.
  • Rasheed’s numbers demonstrate just how great of a tournament he had.
  • Mark was probably below his average. Tough semi and final matches
  • Nevills— Ouch.
  • I didn’t have anyone double check the numbers. I could have made a couple of errors along the way. Just take it for what it is worth.

Bonus GIFs




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Cliff Keen Las Vegas Tidbits

It was the strongest tournament we will see until the NCAA Championships.  Here are some tidbits from a great wrestling weekend.

Top Freshman Performances by Point Differential

Name School Weight (Place) PF/7 PA/7 PD/7
Diakomihalis Cornell 141 (1st) 8.225 2.162 6.093
Venz Nebraska 184 (3rd) 12.483 7.098 5.385
LaMont Utah Valley 125 (1st) 8.112 3.206 4.916
Z. Wick Wisconsin 149 (7th) 10.152 6.022 4.130
Mattin Michigan 125 (4th) 8.486 4.747 3.734
DeSanto Drexel 133 (4th) 10.749 7.059 3.690
E. Wick Wisconsin 165(2nd) 8.590 5.199 3.391
Streck Purdue 285(5th) 9.784 7.066 2.718
Red Nebraska 141 (4th) 6.045 3.510 2.535
Dunn Virginia Tech 285(7th) 5.777 5.077 0.700
L. Hayes Virginia 125 (7th) 8.571 8.086 0.485
Storr Iowa St. 141 (8th) 4.286 5.571 -1.286
Sherman UNC 133 (8th) 4.167 6.500 -2.333


Takedowns/7 minutes for Ohio St. Starters

Wrestler Weight TD/7
Martin 184 4.923
Moore 197 4.367
M. Jordan 157 3.433
B. Jordan 174 3.179
Pletcher 133 2.068
Hayes 149 1.494
Campbell 165 1.039
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Week 2 Headlines

Beam Me to My Back, Scotty

Kaid Brock brings a 7-3 lead to the transporter and comes out on his back to lose in embarrassingly late fashion against Lehigh’s Scotty Parker.

New Addition to the Jordan Family

Zahid Valencia ousts Jeff Jordan as family patriarch, serves up a hearty L for son, Bo Jordan.

Te’Shan Campbell is Mmmm Mmmm Good

With a 14-0 beat-down, Campbell makes soup out of tomato can, Anthony Valencia.

Château de Preisch

Lord Ryan Preisch put the “feud” in feudalism; Zach Zavatsky still peasantry status.  ZZ pays his dues in 4-2 SV loss.

Shields Activated

ASU’s Josh Shields proves impenetrable to 149-pound All-Americans with weekend victories over Alec Pantaleo and Micah Jordan.  Welcome to 157, my dudes.

Derek White Wears Fruit of the Loom

“Just wait ‘til we get our Haines on you” proves empty threat as Derek “Whitey-Tighty” leaves Thomas Haines skidding to a 9-0 loss.

Mr. Rogers Cancelled

Not quite a wonderful day in the neighborhood as David McFadden downs OSU’s Chandler Rogers, 4-3, with a takedown in the final seconds.

Yi-on-Deez Nuts Yet?

Yianni Diakomiholis throttles the Bearcat Open competition in a stellar debut for the Cornell true freshman.


Well it was fun while it lasted, but big flashy chains go the way of the dab as white coaches adopt a “Pin Chain” for Ohio State’s wrestling team.

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Wrestling Headlines from Last Weekend (11/4-11/5)


Pull on this!
Zahid whips out a victory in a 3-2 thriller over Hall.

Yes, Massa’
Logan disenfranchises opponents at the Michigan State Open.

(And yes, it’s ok to be insensitive to the brutal institution of American chattel slavery—that the South pathetically fought to preserve—because it’s a Trump, Trump World)

We Hard-Lee Knew Ya. 
Brock Zacherl welcomes Nick Lee to Division 1 Wrestling; I welcome myself to the art of plagiarism.

Piccinnini Cruzes to 8-5 Victory
Darian Cruz left Picc-ing a tent. No, not that kind of pun, Cruz is literally on the street pitching a tent… because he’s a bum.

Lewallan scares off the 149-pound room competition at the OCU Open, beats every Stillwater Moran.

Take a Chance on Him
Marsteller dismantles bracket– credits bold, new strategy of taking on opponents one at a time. BAC found to be Pat Duggan’s wrestling career (0.0)

Hey, Princeton! Maybe it’s Time for a Medical School
No vaccine to prevent Ohio State champions in Princeton, New Jersey.

Gable Dan!
Rylee “Not Owings Larry” Streifel proves no match for HS stud, turns in transfer papers Monday morning.

Red, White, and ‘Blue Ox’
Chad Red, Isaiah White, and Mikey Labriola turn in strong performances for the young Nebraska Cornhuskers at the Daktroniks Open.

That S**T Cray
Rutgers fans applaud Nick Suriano as he murders College Park resident, Brandon Cray. Cray’s list of 2016-2017 accomplishments includes twice beating Penn State’s presumed starter, Devin Schnupp. Suriano is rumored to request a Manslaughter waiver from the Big 10. Cray was 20 years old.

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Breakdown of GOAT Steveson’s Dominance at the Daktronics Open

Well who couldn’t see this coming?  Young Gable Steveson, wrestling extraordinaire, dominates yet another tournament.  In what appears to be Steveson’s modus operandi, Gable sought out older competition by taking his talents to the Daktronics Open—making use of new rules that have lifted restrictions on high school wrestlers competing in collegiate opens.

But if I am being completely honest, I’ll admit that I didn’t really see this coming.  At least not in 2016.  When Gable Steveson bested Jordan Wood in Akron once again, I hilariously assumed that, while Steveson was really good, Jordan Wood was also overrated.  I even posted this scorching take shortly after1:

“I would bet against Wood ever making All-American”

And while I’m still not as high on Wood’s prospects as others, the truth is that Gable Steveson had more to do with that result than anything that may or may not be lacking from Wood’s skillset.  Gable Steveson is “that dude.”  For a few years now, he has demolished competition both domestically and on the world stage.  He may be the best prospect in my lifetime.  So when the 17-year-old entered the Daktronics Open, I knew it would present a great opportunity to evaluate the extent of his dominance.

Gable Steveson at the Daktronics Open

While some were quick to downplay Gable’s competition at the Daktronics open, I was a little higher on the wrestlers he eventually faced.  Fortunately, he managed to receive a draw that allowed him to wrestle the best possible competition.  In the end, he beat the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place wrestlers (along with another that placed top 8).  David Jensen and Rylee Streifel went a combined 45-19 wrestling mostly in open tournaments last year; Nathan Rose was a well-regarded High School wrestler and 3X Minnesota state champion; and Brandon Metz was one of the top Heavyweight recruits coming into the year (ranked no. 53 on FloWrestling’s 2017 Big Board).  Sure, he didn’t run across any All-Americans, or even any ranked wrestlers, but I felt his competition was just good enough to give us an indication of where he is in his development.

Point Differential

Listed below is each 285-pound wrestler’s Point Differential per 7 minutes of wrestling. Point differential is explained in further detail here

Wrestler Record Place PF/7 PA/7 PD/7
Steveson 4-0 1st 22.212 6.462 15.75
Metz 5-1 3rd 9.045 2.714 6.332
Grayson 3-2 5th 8.277 2.136 6.141
Macki 1-2 11.290 6.774 4.516
Jensen 3-2 4th 12.154 7.833 4.322
Streifel 3-1 2nd 8.0 4.25 3.75
Rose 2-2 7/8 12.458 11.034 1.424
Wreidt 2-2 7/8 4.75 4.75 0
Wolters 1-2 3.0 4.333 -1.333
Wilke 0-2 3.0 5.0 -2.0
Vough 3-3 6th 3.317 7.208 -3.896
Lettau 1-2 4.667 9.667 -5.0
Hill 0-2 3.252 14.632 -11.381
Aursvold 0-2 1.726 16.110 -14.384
Cash 0-2 8.235 25.735 -17.5
Dollison 1-2 8.077 27.821 -19.744


While sample size and quality of competition leave us a few outliers (in this case Vough and Macki), point differential is still a good indicator of wrestling ability and dominance.  As the data reveals, Gable lapped the field by accumulating a point differential 2.5 times that of his nearest counterpart.  Interestingly enough, every opponent Gable wrestled was near the top of the point differential standings, and that includes the burden of having to wrestle Gable in the first place.  Here is how Gable directly impacted their tournament performances, respectively.

Wrestler PD/7 (Excluding Gable match) Final PD/7   Decrease in PD/7
Streifel 7.333 3.75     49%
Metz 8.338 6.332     24%
Jensen 8.75 4.322     51%
Rose 9.366 1.424     85%


How good is a 15.75 PD?

It’s a really good.  Comparatively, dominant wrestlers such as Jason Nolf, Zain Retherford, and B0 Nickal sustained a PD/7 over 15 throughout the entire 2016-2017 season.  Coming into the Big Ten tournament,  Nolf had a point differential/7 minutes of 18.283.  Now while numbers for the Daktronics Open may be a tad inflated due to the nature of competition (it’s no Big 10 schedule), Steveson still came in at 4th out of 10 Daktronics Open champions (listed below).


Wrestler Team PF/7 PA/7 PD/7
McKee Minnesota 23.784 1.622 22.162
Venz Nebraska 23.359 1.374 21.985
Rotert SDSU 23.716 3.952 19.759
Steveson Unattached 22.212 6.462 15.75
Lizak Minnesota 15.601 1.232 14.370
Labriola Nebraska 16.203 6.173 10.031
McCrystal Nebraska 10.690 2.251 8.439
Wanzek Minnesota 12.461 4.815 7.647
Berger Nebraska 7.50 1.50 6.0
Red Nebraska 7.85 2.523 5.327


When you consider that Gable is a heavyweight, where scores tend to be lower and closer than most other weights, I find this performance to be even more impressive.  Right now, as a high-schooler, he’s showing a separation from the field that compares favorably to NCAA finalist, Ethan Lizak.

True Point Differential

Now, you might see the 6.462 points allowed and notice that it’s higher than most of the other wrestlers, but every point Gable gave up was an escape, and much of them came from playing the takedown/release game.  If you take out the escapes, reversals, and non-stalling penalty points in a match, you can determine a True Point Differential (TPD). His TPD results were as follows:

TPF/7 = 21.0

TPA/7 = 0

TPD/7 = 21.0

This puts him even closer to the elite trio of Mckee/Venz/Rotert.  For example, Taylor Venz’s TPD/7 doesn’t vary from his PD/7—it remains 21.985 when removing escapes, reversals, or penalty points.  Therefore, we can determine that Gable’s true offensive production is right near the top.

Takedown Efficiency

Gable Steveson had 20 takedowns in 17 minutes and 20 seconds of wrestling.  This puts his Takedowns per 7 minutes at 8.077.  At over a takedown per minute, Gable is establishing himself as an elite neutral wrestler.  Right now he is relying mostly on volume of takedowns, but it isn’t to say he can’t be efficient with them.  His Takedown efficiency score of 1.9 is well above average.  This means that Gable is netting 1.9 points per takedown sequence.  When he wanted to, Gable was able to demonstrate efficiency by:

  1. Getting a big move against Metz (6-points and a pin)
  2. Riding-out periods after securing takedowns in matches against Jensen and Rose
  3. Earning near-fall points in takedown sequences (4-point near-fall tilt against Rose, cradle leading to fall against Jensen)

Takedown Effieciency explained

Riding Time

Gable’s mat ability wasn’t nearly on showcase as his neutral wrestling this tournament, but he showed flashes of being able to handle D1 folkstyle mat wrestling whenever he was determined to wrestle on the mat.  Four times he rode a wrestler for over a minute, and the two times he found himself on bottom, he averaged only 12.5 seconds before earning an escape.  When you also take into account the near-fall he secured, he is looking like a clear, “plus” mat wrestler.

Compared to the Greats

Just for fun and perspective, I thought we could compare this tournament performance to one that Jason Nolf turned in last year with comparable competition.  Taking Nolf’s four matches (from the round-of-16 on) at last year’s Keystone Classic, here’s a side-by side glance of how Gable stacks up:

Gable Nolf
22.212 Points For/7 30.702
6.462 Points Against/7 9.825
15.75 Point Differential/7 20.877
21 True Point Differential/7 27.081
8.077 Takedowns/7 10.643
1.90 Takedown Efficiency Score 1.731


Right now, Gable doesn’t seem that far behind Nolf’s production.  Nolf is one of the best neutral wrestlers that D1 wrestling has ever seen, and while Nolf has already demonstrated that he can repeat similar performances against elite competition, I will be betting on Gable to do the same when he gets there.


Gable basically confirmed what the majority of us believe:  he’s set to become and all-time great.   In addition to everything mentioned above, he also passed the “eye test” by showing the ability to finish clean on his takedowns and shutting down any offense thrown his way.  He was never threatened this entire tournament and he may have taken it easy on his future teammate, Rylee Streifel.  Gable Steveson is an exceptional talent.  Let’s hope there’s something in the works for a run at Midlands next month.

1- Lesson in hot takery- Making predictions years in advance is always a great idea. If you’re right, you get to dig it up.  If you’re wrong, it’ll likely stay buried.
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Determining Takedown Efficiency

 A Guide to Takedown Efficiency 

As wrestling fans, coaches, or participants, we know that supplementing takedowns with good timing and solid mat wrestling  is essential to  successful wrestling tactics.  We understand that, unless you are Jason Nolf, it can be difficult to build an overwhelming lead with “1-point” takedowns.  What I mean by “1-point takedown” is a takedown in which an escape is eventually conceded without having secured near-fall or accumulated significant riding time.

Ideally, we want to increase our takedown efficiency by either 1) Scoring a 4 or 6-point move from neutral; 2) obtaining near-fall points sometime after a takedown is awarded; or 3) riding-out the period or match to prevent an escape with either good mat wrestling or exceptional timing (i.e. takedown with less than 15 seconds left in the period).

For an example of how takedown efficiency is meaningful, go ahead and watch the Alex Meyer/Mark Hall match posted below:

Takedowns for each wrestler were the same—both guys notching two in the match—and neither wrestler secured any near-fall points.  And yet, Alex Meyer scored a 7-5 victory.  Meyer, unlike Hall, scored his takedowns late in the periods (under 30 seconds) which allowed him a greater opportunity to ride-out each period (which he does).  Therefore, we can surmise that Meyer was more efficient with his takedowns than Hall–thus playing a critical role in the outcome of the match.

So, having reflected on this match, if we believe takedown efficiency to be important and we find it worthy of our time to explore it further, why not pursue a method or metric that attempts to measure efficiency in some form?

I suppose the point of this is post is to attempt to place a number to these situations that might confirm our conventional thinking.  In doing so, let us first examine the scoring opportunities that present themselves when a takedown is secured.

Takedown Sequence: An Operational Definition

The occurence of takedown and the ensuing mat action establishes a time period that I call a Takedown Sequence.  

Takedown Sequence as explained in 3 phases:

As the underpants gnomes best demonstrated in an episode of South Park, ideas are often best explained in phases.

So here goes:

Phase 1– Takedown

We all know the sound; the ritualistic, low-pitched bellow of “Twoooooo” that buzzes across a crowded gym.  This is our marker; this is where our takedown sequence begins. Well, officially our takedown sequence begins when the ref—not the crowd—awards the takedown, but you get the picture.

Phase 2– Mat Action

Because the wrestling action doesn’t immediately stop with the awarded takedown (with the exception of a takedown in SV or a buzzer-beater), the subsequent mat action makes up the second phase of a takedown sequence.  This is our meat.  This time period can last from anywhere from a second to nearly 3-minutes.

Phase 3– End of Sequence

The end of a takedown sequence occurs when the mat action ends.  This means that any of the following happens:

  • A pin
  • An escape is awarded
  • Time runs out in the period or match
  • A reversal is awarded the opposing wrestler, followed by either of the 3 outcomes listed above

Scoring a Takedown Sequence with NPG-OTS

Now that we have defined the concept of a takedown sequence, the next matter we encounter is determining how to score it.  For this we will use Net Points Gained in an Offensive Takedown Sequence (NPG-OTS).

Net Points Gained in an Offensive Takedown Sequence (NPG-OTS) will be defined here as the amount of points a wrestler has netted within a takedown sequence that he or she initiated.  This is determined as:

(Points secured by Wrestler A) – (Points secured by wrestler B)

Possibilities for points earned are as follows:

Wrestler A The wrestler who scores takedown

Phase 1

(2)- Initial Takedown.

Phase 2

(2) For each 2-point near-fall that occurs within mat action

(4) For each 4-point near-fall that occurs within mat action

(1) For each stall point or other penalty point by wrestler-B

(2) For each Reversal after giving up reversal

Note: near-fall points are awarded in the case of a pin taking place

Phase 3

(1) Escape after giving up a reversal


Wrestler B– Wrestler who gives up takedown

Phase 1

No points are possible

Phase 2

(1) For each Stall-point or other penalty point on wrestler-A

(2) For each Reversal

(2) For each 2-point near-fall after securing reversal

(4) For each 4-point near-fall after securing reversal

Phase 3

(1) Escape



 Example 1:  Wrestler-A gets a takedown, rides for 25 seconds, and gives up an escape to Wrestler B (which means the end of takedown sequence has occurred)

  • Wrestler A: 2 points for takedown in phase 1 (always 2); 0 points in mat action in phase 2;  0 points in phase 3 = 2 points
  • Wrestler B: 0 points possible for phase 1; 0 points in phase 2;  1 point in phase 3  = 1 point

(Wrestler A points) – (Wrestler B points) = 2-1 = 1

Wrestler A’s  Net Points Gained in an Offensive Takedown Sequence for that offensive takedown sequence = 1.  This would be considered a low efficiency takedown sequence.

Example 2:  Wrestler A gets a takedown, rides for 20 seconds, secures a 4-point near-fall, and time eventually runs out in the period (end of sequence).

  • Wrestler A: 2 points for takedown in phase 1; 4 points in mat action in phase 2, and 0 points at end of period for phase 3 = 6 points
  • Wrestler B; 0 points possible for phase 1 0 points in phase 2), 0 points at end of period for phase 3= 0 points

NPG-OTS in this takedown sequence = 6.  This would be considered a high efficiency takedown sequence.  We count the near-fall in the takedown sequence because the opportunity for near-fall is directly impacted by the occurrence of the initial takedown.  Without the takedown, the near-fall is never achieved.

Takedown Sequence- Efficiency and Volume

Calculating Takedown Efficiency Score (TES)

Takedown Efficiency Score (TES) = Combined Net Points Gained in an Offensive Takedown Sequences (C NPG-OTS) / number of Takedowns

This is the sum of Net Points Gained in every offensive takedown sequence and divided by the total number of takedowns.  Number of takedowns and takedown sequences are always the same. This gives us the average amount of points scored for each takedown sequence and tells us how proficient at scoring a wrestler is when faced with this opportunity.  The higher the score, the more efficient a wrestler is. This metric gives us an idea of who is doing most with their scoring opportunities. An average score will most likely fall somewhere between 1 and 2.

Factors that contribute to high efficiency:

  • Takedown + Rideout
  • 4 or 6-point move + Rideout
  • Takedown which leads to top wrestling and obtaining near-fall points
  • Takedown + sequence leading to Pin (Max efficiency)
  • Takedown + Forcing a stall point from the bottom wrestler

Factors that contribute to low efficiency

  • Takedown + escape
  • Takedown + Reversal while getting ridden out
  • Takedown + Reversal + conceding near-fall points or pin
  • Takedown + Penalty point such as locked hands or stalling on top

Takedown Efficiency Score is the average points a wrestler will net in a typical offensive takedown sequence

Volume– Takedowns/7 minutes (TD/7)

Though efficiency is important, we must also keep track of the volume of offensive takedown sequences (i.e. every time a takedown occurs).  If you aren’t scoring many takedowns, your efficiency matters less. On the other hand, a high volume of takedowns can help neutralize the impact of low efficiency.

Calculating Takedown Efficiency X Volume Score (TEVS)

Takedown efficiency score X Takedowns/7minutes = TEVS

This score resembles how many points you are netting from offensive takedown sequences in a typical 7-minute match. Volume and efficiency are factored and then adjusted for a typical 7-minute match.


Pins that are the result of a takedown sequence assume max takedown efficiency.  The total number of pins that occur within an offensive takedown sequence are recorded as Number of pins acquired in an offensive takedown sequence (Pins-OTS)


This something you could keep track of over the course of a dual, tournament or season for either individual matches or a team.  Of course, always consider that quality of competition matters, but you can always go back and try to figure out splits (i.e. vs. Top-10 opponents).  The higher the sample size, the better the stat reflects a trend.  Here’s an example of using these metrics in last year’s dual between Oklahoma State and Cornell.

Oklahoma State


Volume Efficiency X Volume

Max Efficiency


Match seconds (TD)









Piccinninni 264
Brock 420 6 7 1.116 6.0 7.0
Heil 420 2 3 1.5 2.0 3.0
Collica 217 6 15 2.5 11.613 29.032 1
Smith 420 5 5 1.0 5.0 5.0
Rogers 68
Crutchmer 420
Boyd 420
Weigel 420 1 2 2.0 1.0 2.0
Schafer 420 2 2 1.0 2..0 2.0
TEAM 3489 22 34 1.545 2.648 4.093 1


Cornell Efficiency Volume Efficiency X Volume Max Efficiency
Wrestler Match seconds TD C NPG-OTS TES TD/7 TEVS Pins-OTS
Baughman 264 1 1 1.0 1.591 1.591
Grey 420
Koll 420
Galasso 217
Simaz 420
Womack 68 1 8 8.0 6.176 49.412 1
Realbuto 420 1 1 1.0 1.0 1.0
Dean 420 6 7 1.166 6.0 7.0
Honis 420
Scott 420
TEAM 3489 9 17 1.889 1.083 2.046 1


Side-by-side Look at the dual (Point differential included):

Oklahoma State Cornell
23 Final Dual Score 19
6 Matches won 4
1 Pins 1
9.390 PF/7 5.899
5.899 PA/7 9.390
3.491 PD/7 -3.491
22 Takedowns 9
2.648 Takedowns/7 minutes 1.083
1.545 TES 1.889
4.093 TEVS 2.046


Oklahoma State dominated takedowns in this dual, thus creating more scoring sequence opportunities.  While Cornell was more efficient once securing the takedowns (thanks mostly to Brandon Womack), the volume wasn’t near enough to make it competitive with OSU—as reflected in the TEVS score in which OSU doubled the amount points accumulated via takedown sequences (per 7-minutes).

Stats here would suggest that, while Cornell kept it close with OSU, they overachieved for the most part by making the most out of some takedown opportunities.  If the dual were wrestled again, I would expect OSU to extend their margin of victory.

Riding Time

Now, because riding time points exist, logic tells us that a takedown with 90 seconds of riding time is inherently more efficient than a takedown with 15 seconds of riding time.  Though not reflected in the efficiency stats above, you can still keep track of riding time that is secured within an offensive takedown sequence.

It would be awesome if we could determine a riding time probability score that reflects the amount of riding time achieved, but that is beyond my capability. You see this in other sports, such as baseball, with things like win-probability and run probability, but that requires an incredible amount of data tracked across decades of situational outcomes.  So while we aren’t quite at that point with wrestling right now, knowing the riding time still holds some importance.

Below you see that the RT-point probability was around the same for each team.  Both teams averaged nearly identical seconds of riding time after securing a takedown.  In this case, neither team held an advantage in takedown efficiency as far as riding time is concerned.

Oklahoma State Cornell
455 (7:35) Riding Time acquired via Offensive Takedown Sequences 186 (3:06)
20.682 Avg. amount of Riding Time acquired per OTS (seconds) 20.667


My hope here is that by now you see some sort of reasoning in this conscious effort to measure takedown efficiency.  It’s by no means a perfect metric, but like Point Differential,  I  believe it’s a step in the right direction towards a more reflective wrestling community.  I’m also hopeful that the work here could be of some use in tracking the progress of a wrestler and/or alerting us to areas that need improvement. As the season moves forward, my goal is to show tendencies that emerge from various individual and team performances.  And as a final note, just like we can measure how efficient a wrestler’s offense is, we can also do the same for defense (i.e. how good is (insert wrestler) at limiting an opponent’s takedown efficiency).



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Point Differential Explained + a Closer Look at the 2016 Clarion Open

Breaking down 141-pound weight class at 2016 Clarion Open using Point Differential per 7 minutes

The 2017-2018 wrestling season is nearing!  The first weekend of Open tournaments will feature plenty of exciting wrestling, some of which is sure to occur at the Clarion Open.  As such, thanks to FloWrestling’s coverage of the 2016 event, I was able to break down the point differential (per 7 minutes) for the 141-pound weight in last year’s tournament.

Calculating Point Differential

This statistic is pretty straight forward. Points earned and points given up in a match are adjusted for a full 7-minute time period. Determining point differential is simple for a standard 7-minute match as your stats will not need to be adjusted. For example, in a 7-minute match scored 15-4, the winning wrestler will include the following:  Points For/7 minutes (PF/7) = 15; Points Against/7 minutes (PA/7) = 4; Point Differential/7 minutes (PD/7) = 11.

Where we make adjustments is when a match is shortened by either a tech-fall or a pin. In the case of a pin, the wrestler is allotted his points scored + the full scoring sequence before the time of fall. This includes any nearfall that would be awarded had a fall not been secured. No points for a defensive fall.

Let’s use Bo Nickal’s match against Sammy Brooks in last year’s dual between Penn State and Iowa as an example (see video below).

Bo Nickal hits his spladle, the takedown is awarded, and the ref immediately begins his count for nearfall points.  We can conceivably believe that had a fall not been secured, Nickal would have held the count for the full 4-points awarded for nearfall.  Thus, we award the two points for the takedown and the four for the nearfall.  Our points adjusted comes to 6, and the time of fall is recorded as 36 seconds.  This data is calculated in the formula as follows:

(420 seconds/match seconds) x Number of points adjusted

(420/36) x 6 = 70

Therefore Bo Nickal’s Points For/7minutes is 70.  The points against is still zero: (420/36) X 0 = 0

Now, that may seem a bit ridiculous to have a PF/7 min of 70– nobody can reasonably be expected to  score 70 points in 7 minutes– but statistics in sports will always have anomalies due to a small sample size and things tend to even out in the end. This rewards pins. Calculating Point Differential/7 minutes is simply PF/7 –PA/7.   Bo’s PD/7 for this match is 70.

In the case of a tech, you only need to adjust the score and the time.

OT/SV works the same way. Long, low scoring OT matches and rideout sequences will hurt your PF/7 minutes score because the time will be adjusted accordingly.

One thing that was considered, but ultimately wasn’t factored into the formula, was adding a riding time point for those who had a pin/tech when applicable.

141-pound results at the 2016 Clarion Open

Wrestler Team Record PF/7 PA/7 PD/7
Perry Lock Haven 3-1 18.381 2.774 15.607
Zacherl Clarion 4-0 16.056 2.919 13.136
Glorioso Lock Haven 5-1 11.835 1.052 10.783
Vath Edinboro 3-2 7.848 3.818 4.30
Fehlman Lock Haven 3-2 9.321 5.483 3.838
Kinyua Mercyhurst 5-2 8.407 5.11 3.297
Pipher Penn State 2-2 7.194 5.257 1.937
Eddins Pitt-Johnstown 3-2 5.40 3.60 1.80
Wherley Pitt-Johnstown 1-2 4 3 1
Driscoll Kent State 2-2 3.75 3 0.75
Myers Clarion 1-2 7.537 7.119 0.419
Ja. Smith West Virginia 4-2 4.119 4.119 0
Krenzelak Pitt-Johnstown 1-2 6.903 7.965 -1.062
Cahill Pitt-Johnstown 1-2 6.262 8.051 -1.789
Mullins Unrostered 1-2 8.247 11.781 -3.535
Root Unrostered 0-2 0.899 4.497 -3.597
McCoy Kent State 3-2 10.806 14.502 -3.697
Recco Edinboro 0-2 4.50 9.50 -5
Friery Penn State 0-2 3.50 10 -6.50
Burkhart Pitt-Johnstown 2-2 7.310 14.288 -6.978
Dowler Edinboro 1-2 4.234 11.855 -7.621
Davis Pitt-Johnstown 0-2 4.667 15.75 -11.083
Ju. Smith Pitt-Johnstown 0-2 3.631 18.103 -14.483
Henry Edinboro 0-2 3.022 18.129 -15.108
Wilson West Virginia 1-2 3.64 18.815 -15.173
Harris Mercyhurst 0-2 1.603 28.855 -27.252

Gold = 1st place in the tournament

Silver = 2nd

Bronze = 3rd-4th

Red = 5th-6th*

Blue = 7th-8th*

*- 5th-8th place matches were not wrestled.


Quality of competition and a limited sample size play a large role in the final results.  However, it’s pretty clear which two wrestlers were the class of the tournament.  Brock Zacherl and Ronnie Perry dominated their way to the finals before engaging in a close bout. The draw factors in because– with the exception of Bo Pipher who managed to keep his match with Zacherl a close bout– anyone who drew Zacherl or Perry were greatly affected in point differential.  No better example than Jake Smith of West Virginia.  Take out his match with Perry and his point differential jumps from 0 to 3.456, which would put him more in line with his placement. On the other hand, a few wrestlers who didn’t go deep in the tournament managed to put up a respectable point differential merely because they  avoided the best wrestlers in the weight.

Other notes:

Root/Fehlman match- There was a neutral fall in the 1st period of this match.  We can probably assume from looking at the rest of the tournament that Fehlman was a better wrestler, but his point differential won’t reflect that in this match simply because of a 0-0 neutral fall.  Fehlman was close to control before the fall, but nothing I saw was definitive so I left it at 0-0.   In this case,  Fehlman’s point differential suffered while Root was largely helped, remaining in the middle-tier despite going 0-2.

Glorioso- While Glorioso took third (exactly where his point differential places him), he didn’t separate himself as the stats might suggest. He had matches of 3-0, 3-1, and 4-1, but a couple other one-sided matches helped bolster his 10-point differential.  He also forfeited to his teammate, Ronnie Perry, which didn’t hurt his differential as it would have had he wrestled the 2x national qualifier.

Burkhart- He was a bit unlucky having to wrestle Perry (1st in point differential) and Fehlman (top 5). He otherwise won two matches, but two lopsided matches didn’t help his cause.  He ended up 20th out of 26 wrestlers.

McCoy- Much like Burkhart, two extremely poor matches to Zacherl and Glorioso made him an anomaly. While placing 4th/5th, he ended up 17th out of 26 wrestlers in point differential.  However, his PF/7 would have rated him 4th.

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Welcome to Content to Lose by Three

Stats matter.

And yet sometimes they don’t.  But of certain, there’s at least an appreciation from fans for those who document them. Even to the non-viewer, sports statisticians leave behind the gift of tiny information nuggets—enjoyed and easily digestible to fans in their depiction of events occurred. Thus, without even having watched a sporting event, stats provide a data-driven synopsis of events that 1) contribute to our understanding of the sport by breaking down larger events into smaller ones; 2) inspire a meaningful, analytical reflectiveness from fans and professionals; and 3) evoke an emotional response via our own imaginations (i.e. I see a home run and I’m thrilled; I read a home run and I’m still happy).

We use stats to shape our own sports narratives—sometimes with very little actual viewing (though good luck getting someone to admit this).  It’s how sports radio exists.  Just pull up a box score!  From an analytic perspective, stats are telling us more and more in their evolving complexity. If you’ve read a single paragraph about baseball in the last decade, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.  Even in professional golf, each individual golf stroke can be compared to a baseline of historic data to tell you the amount of “strokes gained (or lost) in that particular shot.  It puts a number to the usual “eye test” commentary that we’ve grown accustomed to (e.g. “that’s an average shot from that distance”).

And then there is wrestling—somehow remaining unaffected by this stats revolution and existing within the dark ages of sport.  Want to know how many takedowns Jason Nolf had in 2016 when he was mauling opponents with brutal catch-and-release tactics?  Good luck with that.  Even the most basic of stats, we have to hope that their particular program documents it.  Currently there is no outside source to my knowledge that is recording the statistical details of a match or season.  And as such, we know he’s elite but we don’t have the data (other than wins and losses) to compare with the greatest collegiate wrestlers in history.  We don’t have a general idea of what constitutes as an elite amount of takedowns for a season.  There is no 50-HR marker; no 300 strikeout milestone.

But even Brent Metcalf knows that stats matter.  When Brent Metcalf famously stated that Lance Palmer was “content to lose by 3” in the 2009 NCAA championship semifinal with Brent, it wasn’t a social commentary on the current state of mathematics and education in this country (6-2 = 4, Brent!)1, but rather he was expressing a frustration that the score didn’t reflect his dominance.  Point differential—unlike the NCWA championship duals—matters! Brent was just ahead of his time, and we shouldn’t have been so quick mock him when he not so contently lost by five to Darrion Caldwell in the legendary upset final the next day.

Metcalf discontented to lose

The purpose of this blog is to introduce some fun stats to the wrestling world.  Nothing advanced at the moment, and hardly anything cumulative due to viewer constraints, but let’s go-ahead and explore these opportunities. already has already opened that door by documenting extensive win/loss data for D1 wrestlers, and we should take it even further now.  The goal here is to contribute some statistical nuggets that emerge from the 2017-2018 wrestling season.  Some will be straight forward.  Some might be operationally defined (think Pro Football Focus).  As this blog unfolds, I would love your feedback on whether you believe they hold any value to our wrestling community.  Flame away!

  1. According to The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the USA ranked ranked 38th out of 71 countries in Math performance among 15-year olds. We should also note that most Hawkeyes and their fans can’t count past TWOOOOO
Posted in Stat Nuggets | Comments Off on Welcome to Content to Lose by Three