As a note, all rankings are courtesy of Intermat, who do a good job and don’t charge me money to view them. Team rankings are dual rankings, not tournament.
Should Iowa be wary of a slow start coming off of covid pause? That’s more or less what Kind of... asked me after Michigan lost to Penn State on Sunday. Well, yes and no. Penn State came off their pause by losing a couple big matches to Indiana wrestlers (need I say more?), and Michigan looked pretty slow this weekend against a good and a very good team. So why should Iowa be the exception? Well, first, they’re older. They’ve been here before, and they know exactly how to prepare. Seriously, this team is starting six seniors and two juniors. They’re also very driven. Eight of those ten starters had All-American or better hopes, and dreams of team title, cut short this time last year. That’s not to say everyone isn’t driven, but Iowa hasn’t won a title in way too long, and they got robbed last year. But, perhaps most importantly, Iowa isn’t rushing back to competition. Michigan had, what, four days of practice before the Ohio State dual? Iowa is returning to practice today for Big Tens in two and a half weeks (they also may wrestle Wisconsin on Sunday, tbd). I’m not saying this is ideal, but with a different team, at a different moment, it could be a lot worse.
#2 Michigan Wolverines 18, #12 Ohio State Buckeyes 16
HWAHSQB: As I said this was going to be in the preview, this was a down to the wire dual of two evenly matched squads. Ok, so maybe I didn’t say that, but it was close. Perhaps Michigan was caught looking ahead to their makeup dual Sunday against PSU. The dual stood at 16-15 OSU advantage entering the winner-take-dual final match at 157. That match went to Will Lewan of Michigan in tie breaker 2 (wrestling equivalent of four OTs). Lewan won despite never really getting close to scoring on offense. Cleary was tantalizingly close to scoring on three occasions, but couldn’t quite get the two each time.
Bonus points were the difference as each time won five matches. Both teams added one major decision, but shaved bear Mason Parris beat Tate Orndorff by tech fall and those two bonus points were the margin of victory.
Other items of note, Kaleb Romero #3 at 174 was out for OSU with an ankle injury. Myles Amine made his first appearance of the season for the Wolverines. Amine has been ranked #1 at 184 all season, but took the mat at 197 Friday. He had been wrestling at 190 in international competition so I was surprised that he couldn’t make the cut to 184, but maybe there’s more at play there. Their other highly ranked wrestler who hadn’t appeared previously, Stevan Micic at 133, is still MIA. #2 ranked Sammy Sasso had little trouble handling #6 Kanen Storr at 149.
#10 Minnesota Gophers 27, Wisconsin Badgers 7
WSR: So that was disappointing. Like I said in the preview, Minnesota should beat the hell out of wisconsin. And they kinda did 27-7. But also there are some major concerns here. Patrick McKee continues to be Patrick McKee in that he can go out and beat almost anyone one day, and then give up a major decision to anyone else another. And Friday was give up a MD to Eric Barnett day! Awesome. Additionally, Jake Allar at 174 lost to Jared Krattinger in a battle of guys who probably shouldn’t make the NCAA tourney but could with an upset at the B1Gs. Additionally, Brayton Lee at 157 and Andrew Sparts at 165 just got decisions, which confuses the hell out of me. And possibly the most questionable thing of the day was Chris Bono going with multiple backups, including holding Chris Weiler out of the lineup at 184 (which robbed us of what should have been the best matchup of the day) and the continued usage of Peter Christensen at 285 over Trent Hillger. Maybe the latter was for confidence, but seeing your backup get dominated in the 1st and then pinned quickly in the 2nd period can’t be good for you. Either way, congratulations on the two wins in the match wisconsin. It was probably your most impressive performance of the year.
Purdue Boilermakers 21, Michigan State Spartans 12
Atinat: Michigan State started the day off with a big victory on the back of #13 Rayvon Foley, who used first and third period takedowns to knock off #11 Devin Schroder 10-4. However, that would be their only lead of the day. Purdue’s Jacob Rundell answered at 133 pounds with a 5-1 victory over Jordan Hamden, and Parker Filius earned a third-period tech fall over Jaden Enriquez to put the Boilermakers up 8-3. #15 Griffin Parriott majored Peyton Omania to stretch the lead to 11-3, and #7 Kendall Coleman used a double leg re-attack in sudden victory to prevail against Chase Saldate, making it 14-3 Purdue.
Michigan State got consecutive victories at 165 and 174 pounds, with Jake Tucker earning the decisive takedown with 50 seconds to go in his 3-1 win and Drew Hughes using a danger zone takedown in sudden victory to knock off Emil Soehnlen.
The only upset of the day came from Purdue’s #20 Max Lyon at the chaotic 184 pounds, who handed #8 Layne Malczewski his first loss of the year, 6-1. Lyon now has wins over the #8, #13, and #14 wrestlers at 184, but losses to #11, #12, #17, and #18. This weight is too much fun.
#6 Cam Caffey narrowly avoided being upset himself, when down 5-3 in the third he elevated a high crotch, pinning the near side arm down and taking #17 Thomas Penola straight to his back for a six-point move, riding him out to win 9-5. Purdue won the final bout, with heavyweight Jamarcus Grant using a straight-to-back reversal in the second to win 4-2.
This is a big victory for Purdue, who I expect will rise into the team rankings this week. However, their team still seems to be right on the verge of where they want to be, unable to get over the hump.
Michigan State has made some big steps as a program, but there’s still a ways to go if they want to compete with even the middle of the Big Ten. Still, Foley, Malczewski, and Caffey can all make All-American this year, which would make this a successful season for the Spartans.
Indiana Hoosiers 27, Maryland Terrapins 12
Atinat: Indiana started hot with a pair of first period pins, and never let the lead get closer than nine points for the rest of the duals on their way to their second win of the season. Fun fact, that’s their highest conference win total since 2017. It’s also their highest dual total since they last played Maryland.
Jacob Moran used a cradle to pin Zach Spence in 1:08, and Kyle Luigs pinned Jackson Cockrell in 2:26. Cayden Rooks couldn’t keep the party going, losing to Danny Bertoni 6-1. #18 Graham Rooks defeated Hunter Baxter 6-2 to put Indiana back up 12, but Michael Deotsch got the points right back for Maryland at 157 pounds. Nick South used sudden victory to beat Jonathan Spadafora, and Philip Spadafora lost sixteen seconds later to a pin set up by an outside trip from #16 freshman DJ Washington. Maryland won the next two with Kyle Cochran winning a major decision shutout and Jaron Smith edged Nick Willham 5-3. Rudy Streck finished the dual for Indiana in sudden victory, knocking off Garrett Kappes.
Both these teams are bad. Here, watch Washington pin a guy before the chyron was set:
Northwestern Wildcats 18, Wisconsin Badgers 17
Wisconsin and Northwestern
collided gently bumped into each other Sunday afternoon and the Wildcats posted an 18-17 victory, raising their dual meet record to 2-5 and sending Wisconsin to 1-6. As I predicted a 20-15 UW win, I was wrong, but flip one of Northwestern’s decisions to a UW victory and I would’ve nailed the score exactly. Basically, it came down to the fact that NW won both 141 and 165, the two weights where neither team had recorded a win this year.
NW sat #7 Michael DeAugustino (125) and #13 Chris Cannon (133), and Eric Barnett and Kyle Burwick each recorded major decisions to stake UW to an 8-0 lead. NW responded, though, by winning the next four, including the aforementioned
barnburners damp straw smokers (?) at 141 and 165, to build a 15-8 lead. The bonus points were recorded by #14 Yahya Thomas (149, MD) and Ryan Deakin (157, TF). This was Deakin’s season debut and he manhandled a competent Garrett Model.
UW rallied with wins at 174 and 184, but #11 Chris Weiler’s 11-4 win at 184 represented a missed opportunity as he spotted Jack Jessen a 4-2 lead in a sluggish first period before finding his form. Missing the majority decision meant NW still held a 15-14 lead. Then, even though NW sat #11 Lucas Davison at 197, Jon Halvorsen—wrestling up from 184—notched a 7-5 win over Andrew Salemme (the THIRD match of the day involved two wrestlers who were winless in dual meet competition...help me), meaning #12 Trent Hillger needed a major decision to tie the dual at 18 (in which case NW was probably going to win anyway), or a tech fall for the victory. Hillger was never threatened, but rode Jack Heyob the entire second period, and was unable to find any big scoring moves in the third, settling for a 5-1 win.
So, to make this simple, Northwestern sat three of their five ranked wrestlers and won anyway. They are clearly the better squad. The reason they won the dual is because they won all three of the worst matchups and because they scored three bonus points to UW’s two. You are now free to return your attention to more exciting things.
#3 Penn State Nittany Lions 18, #2 Michigan Wolverines 13
Atinat: Hey Michigan. What was that? The Wolverines looked as sluggish on Sunday as they did on Friday, and this time their opponent was good enough to punish them. The return of Myles Amine was not enough, and neither was his cousin Cameron’s upset of freshman Joe Lee.
We started the dual off with the debut of Penn State freshman Robert Howard against Michigan’s Jack Medley. I hated this decision. Dylan Ragusin is the better wrestler, and should have gotten the start at his weight. Instead, Howard narrowly defeated Medley 6-5, and Ragusin went on to hold #3 Roman Bravo-Young to a decision. Still, Michigan started in a 6-0 hole where I expected them to be tied. #20 Drew Mattin was able to hold the second-ranked Nick Lee to a decision as well, but freshman Terrell Barraclough was able to do the same to #6 Kanen Storr at 149 pounds despite two first period takedowns, so it was 9-3 Penn State after four matches.
I thought eighth-ranked Will Lewan looked poor in his match vs Ohio State, and certainly the offensive woes continued for the Wolverine on Sunday. #9 Brady Berge scored a takedown off of an inside ankle pick in the last minute of the third period and rode Lewan out to win 3-1. #16 Cameron Amine returned the favor for the Wolverines, knocking off eighth-ranked freshman Joe Lee thanks to an escape and a riding time point, but he put the exclamation point on the match by catching Lee in a roll-through attempt for a 2NF count, winning 4-1 and drawing the score back to a six point advantage for the technically-defending national champions.
At 174 pounds, top ten freshman Carter Starocci outlasted the defensive second-ranked Logan Massa, catching the Wolverine on an attempted roll in tiebreaks for a 4-count before escaping in the next tiebreak period and earning a point for an illegal move by Massa that I can only describe as a suicide headlock, scoring the upset 7-1. This upset nearly cemented the dual for Penn State, who would only need to win one dual past that point.
That dual came quickly, as despite a valiant effort from Jaden Bullock, #3 Aaron Brooks collected a 10-5 decision to seal it, barring team point deductions. Myles Amine was able to knock off #14 Michael Beard, though I didn’t think he looked particularly impressive doing so for a top-ranked (at 184 pounds) wrestler, and Mason Parris did find a major decision against the rising #7 Seth Nevills, but it was too little, too late for Michigan as they dropped this one 18-13.
While duals don’t technically mean anything, this is going to drastically hurt Michigan for the postseason tournaments. Besides the obvious morale hit, the updates to seeding after this will close the gap between the two in tournament scoring, and the absence of Stevan Micic (which I have to assume is permanent at this point) is going to cost Michigan dearly in March. Jack Medley and Dylan Ragusin are both good wrestlers, but they’re not cutting weight to make 133. Throw them into the stacked Big Ten field, and you’re hoping for a qualification where you were previously favored to have a finalist.
Penn State, on the other hand, couldn’t be happier. There’s still a bit of distance between them and Iowa, but with how young this team is, it’s hard to not imagine another run of titles coming from this roster. Only Nick Lee is a senior, and Brady Berge and Roman Bravo-Young are sophomores. Half of the starting lineup are freshmen, and lots of freshmen are waiting in the wings, including at 141 pounds behind Nick Lee.
Outstanding wrestler of the week awards this week are shared between two number ones. First, Ryan Deakin of Northwestern made his season debut at 157 pounds, where he teched Wisconsin’s Garrett Model. Model is ranked 23rd by the NWCA rankings (which have significant pull towards seedings at NCAAs), and Deakin blasted him. Second, up from 184 pounds, Michigan’s Myles Amine made his season debut with two wins over likely NCAA qualifiers at 197 pounds. He beat Ohio State’s Gavin Hoffman and Penn State’s #14 Michael Beard, each by a score of 8-5.
Upset of the week
I hate to say it, but Penn State’s Carter Starocci won a hell of a match on Sunday, knocking off #2 Logan Massa in tiebreakers. Starocci was the third overall recruit in the 2019 class and hyped up as the next great Penn State middleweight coming into the season, but had his collegiate debut crashed by DJ Washington of Indiana. Starocci, now ranked eighth in the country, restarted the hype train by outlasting Massa in a defensive struggle, catching the senior on his back during a roll attempt en route to a 7-1 (TB1) victory. Watch out for him.