Even now, over two weeks after the 2020 US Nationals reached its conclusion inside the Xtream Sports Arena in Coralville, Iowa, the pair of champs from Northern Michigan’s National Training Site continue to dominate the conversation, much in the same way they dominated the competition.
Benji Peak (67 kg, Sunkist/NTS, 5PM #11), later named the event’s Outstanding Wrestler, didn’t just earn his first Senior crown, he enjoyed the most lopsided stat line of his contemporaries. Peak was credited with 44 offensive points in five matches. He also did not cede a single point in return, and not one of his opponents managed to reach the second minute of the first period. In total, Peak accumulated a staggeringly-low 4:14 of actual match time.
The numbers for now-three-time National champ Kendrick Sanders (77 kg, NYAC/NTS, 5PM #6) did not shake out much differently. Sanders piled up 33 points across his five bouts with four finishes, only going the distance against two-time Division III winner Ryan Epps (Minnesota Storm) in the semifinal. That match was the outlier. Sans the grueling 3-2 encounter with Epps, Sanders put in exactly eight minutes of work and averaged 7.75 offensive points per match en-route to earning his latest Open title.
One of the primary responsibilities to which our statistical categories are beholden is exploring the relationship between Attempts and overall efficiency. As outlined previously, Attempts — whether canvassed throughout an entire tournament or isolated on a match-by-match basis — tend to result in scores, if not for any other reason than because Attempts beget scoring opportunities. Another focus of Greco-Roman statistics is par terre’s influence on outcomes. Peak and Kendrick, going by both sets of parameters, provided plenty of data to uncover on the heels of the country’s first domestic tournament in ten months.
2020 US Nationals
– Jarod Maes (X-Factor) 9-0, TF
– Matt Floresca (Wrestling Rhinos) 11-0, TF
– Jessy Williams (NYAC/Spartan) 9-0, TF
– Nolan Baker (NYAC, 5PM #7) 9-0, TF
– Calvin Germinaro (Minnesota Storm, 5PM #8) 8-0, TF
“Per period” averages for Peak are a redundancy because he never reached the second period in any of his five matches on October 9. Therefore, all of the statistics parsed either by match or period are identical. The same holds true in a sense when it comes to his AMV (Average Margin of Victory). Peak’s CSPM (Cumulative Score Per Match) does not deviate from his OPA (Overall Points Average) because he did not surrender a point during the tournament — and since he won via technical superiority in each bout, his VFR (Victory Finish Rate) is a studly 100%.
What first stands out for Peak is his ACR (Attempt Conversion Rate). All six of the attempts for which he was credited yielded a score — two four-point sequences; a step-out; and three takedowns.
But what generated the lion’s share of Peak’s offense at the 2020 US Nationals was, of course, his par terre competency. The first two stats in the third section (highlighted in blue) tell the story. Peak’s PTSM (Par Terre Scores Per Match) of 4.8 is a very high average considering that he a) never went to par terre against Baker; and b) only had one PTO (Par Terre Opportunity) in the final opposite Germinaro, as two of the eight points Peak received in that bout were derived from a caution.
He spread the wealth, too. Peak positively bombed a pair of cascading lifts from PT, rolled three two-point gutwrenches, and nailed that title-clinching side lift against Germinaro. In addition, Peak capitalized on each PTO, which naturally means that his PTEP (Par Terre Execution Percentage) from the tournament was 100%.
2020 US Nationals
– Tony Raupp (Minot MatRats WC) 9-0, TF
– Timothy Johnson-Thompson (Rise) 8-0, TF
– Riley Briggs (NMU/NTS) 8-0, TF
– Ryan Epps (Minnesota Storm) 4-2
– Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm, 5PM #1) 8-0, TF
Again, there is not much of a delineation between “per match” and “per period” averages to be found since Sanders only had one match that required six minutes to complete, the outlier against Epps. If not for that semifinal, all of Sanders’ averages would be on par with Peak’s, with the exception of OPA.
Where it gets interesting for Sanders is Attempts. He averaged two per period and his conversion rate of 1.3 was just 3/10 above perfection. This is why digging into the numbers a little bit is important, because it allows for a closer look at why and how an athlete expressed a high degree of efficiency when compared to their opposition. For Peak, it was a mix of on-the-feet opportunities and par terre dynamics, whereas for Sanders, the majority of his meaningful scores were from standing. That is something to consider. Sanders has been much more associated with par terre scoring through the bulk of his career; yet in this tournament, it’s what he accomplished from his feet that paved the way for title #3.
As mentioned in the introduction to the latest Marquette Matters with NMU head coach Andy Bisek, prior to October 9 it had been 11 seasons since two Greco athletes who call the National Training Site home won Senior Open titles. For Peak, it was a big one, his first; for Sanders, his triumph over Smith represented his third, and second in the span of 18 months. Neither wrestler is currently qualified for the 2020ne US OIympic Team Trials but both can remedy that situation by placing in the top-2 in their respective weight categories at the “Last Chance” tournament next March.
For a little while longer, perhaps, particularly since no other Senior tournaments will be availed in the near future, taking a glance back at what transpired offers a worthwhile opportunity to delve a little deeper into what made those performances so profound. What Peak accomplished was meaningful, because he is still young and likely not all that close to touching the ceiling of his abilities. Sanders is a different case. His five bouts served as a potent reminder of what lies beneath the surface. It was the three dimensional audit of a skill-set so tremendous that fellow athletes and coaches of rivals alike can’t help but appreciate watching it in action.
Stats aid in connecting the dots. But it is the athletes who render the picture. 21 years into its existence, Northern Michigan is blending wrestlers from one generation to the next, and once again, an entire country is put back on notice.