I watched Searching for Bobby Fischer yesterday. It's a pretty remarkable film with a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Near the end of the movie, the seven-year-old prodigy plays in the championship game. After calculating the winning sequence of moves, he said to his opponent over the chess board:

"You've lost. You just don't know it."

Then, the child chess prodigy played the thirteen (I counted them) moves that led to a forced resignation from his opponent.


Is that where we are with the Gilman versus Richards matchup in Final X? As you know, Zane Richards beat Nick Suriano at the US Open to advance to Final X. He has improved by leaps and bounds by training in Russia and Azerbaijan with the ILLINOIS RTC. There is also a resident athlete at the IRTC named Erdenebat Belhbayar, who is a two-time World Medalist and Olympian for Mongolia.

He was in Zane's corner for the US Open final.

It goes without saying that Bryan Medlin, the head coach of the IRTC, and Belhbayar, are working days and staying up nights focused primarily on Thomas Gilman. Is the NLWC wrestler receiving the same amount of individualized attention?

I would guess not.

There are other Freestyle athletes in the room that will demand scouting and coaching and weight training attention from the staff. That's not to say they won't do a great job because they will. But will it be enough to get past a fellow who now has a 2700 Wrestling ELO rating?


I realize that international wrestlers are ranked by UWW and the media such as Flo and Intermat. But what if there was a numerical performance rating for what you've done recently as a wrestler, a rating like they have with ELO in chess.

In the past, I would have given Zane Richards an ELO Chess rating of about 2450, which is what you would expect from an International Master. Lately, though, his imaginary chess rating would have ballooned to over 2700. Maybe not at 2800+ like Magnus Carlson, the one-of-a-kind former World Champion of Chess, but Zane is certainly now a Grandmaster in Wrestling.

But you say, unlike Bobby Fischer, isn't Thomas Gilman still at the top of his game? Didn't he just techfall Darian Cruz to win a Pan Am title? Yes, Gilman may still be at the top of his game, and he certainly teched Cruz in Argentina, but last January Zane Richards also teched Darian Cruz while he was injured.


For Thomas Gilman, there was the recent Pan Am Championships where he wrestled a veteran pro in Darian Cruz. Zane Richards also wrestled him this year, and, in addition, he wrestled and beat Jakob Camacho, a very talented young Freestyler, teched the Mongolian World Bronze Medalist at the World Cup, beat the Iranian decisively in the World Cup Finals, and beat Nick Suriano in the US Open Finals.


Of course not. I just like clickbait titles. Thomas Gilman is a proud champion, and he will wrestle as hard as his battered body, which has had to make 57 kg for years, will allow. He will wrestle fiercely with as much guidance as his somewhat-distracted coaching staff can provide.

My prediction is that we will see three matches and that Zane's intelligence, and the skills he learned from the Russians, will prevail in the end.

Please note that Richards himself would never, ever boast about his chances or his past glories. He is very modest and humble. After big wins, he attributes his performance to everybody but himself. So, please direct any fire for the hyperbole in this post in my direction, not his.

He deserves heaps of praise for what he's accomplished, and Blessed Mother of God, I don't want to see any more of the pre-match hype like in the Flo tweet below (that I have altered for accuracy). As for all the millions of other Zaniacs out there: LET'S GO!



The ILLINI have poached Charlie Heydorn from the Ohio University Bobcats. Heydorn saw limited action in redshirt last year, but is projected to wrestle at 184 for the ILLINI. He was a Preseason Nationals All American in high school at Lake Forest, ILLINOIS. He was also a state placer and a two-year captain of their wrestling team.

Welcome aboard and welcome back, new Guardian! (He's the one with the Drax-like muscles in the lower left corner below).


Here he is back when he wrestled for the ILLINI in ... what? 1912?




Congratulations to the young men who got their calf skins! That is a huge life achievement. Also, congratulations to the parents behind them all the way.