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Big Ten Wrestling Season Finale and Rivalry Week recap

Penn State handled Ohio State and Michigan did the same with Michigan State, but not without upsets

Ohio State v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

Atinat: Well, the Big Ten wrestling regular season is officially over. Unfortunately, covid cancellations were the story of this week, and of the season. We finish with a 5-0 Iowa and a 6-0 Penn State who did not get to wrestle because of the coronavirus, and we had three duals cancelled this week, including both of the scheduled duals for the Hawkeyes. But, at this point, we should be glad at the wrestling we did get, and look forward to healthy Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

#6 Michigan 28, Michigan State 9

Atinat: Jack Medley got his second consecutive start at 125, perhaps signaling that he will get the go for Michigan at Big Tens there, while freshman Dylan Ragusin went at 133 pounds. Rayvon Foley got the start for the Michigan State Spartans, controlling Medley 7-2 and giving MSU their only lead of the day. Ragusin then defeated Jordan Hamdam via a pin, hipping over a whizzer for his second takedown and taking the Spartan straight to his back in the process. Drew Mattin was secure, if not dominant, in a 4-0 victory over Matt Santos to put Michigan up 9-3.

Michigan State freshman Peyton Omania used a pair of first period headlocks to get a 10-point lead on #5 Kanen Storr, and was able to hold onto a decision victory, 15-8, in what is only his third win of the year and certainly the biggest of his young career. Omania, a greco-roman specialist, looked brilliant with his upper body, and sent a message to the rest of the field at 149 pounds: stay away. Literally, attack from space. Don’t lock up with this kid.

#9 Will Lewan bounced back from a tough weekend with a 7-2 victory over Chase Saldate, thanks to three successful single-leg attacks. #13 Cameron Amine avoided a let-down against Jake Tucker, escaping with a 4-3 victory, and #6 Logan Massa bounced back from his loss (to some Penn State kid I’m sure we’ll never hear from again) by majoring Drew Hughes 16-6, putting Michigan up 19-6. #9 Layne Malczewski of Michigan State looked good, but gave up a third-period takedown and couldn’t find the major decision in a 6-2 victory.

#2 Myles Amine, in just his third match at 197 pounds, used an early lead to defeat #8 Cam Caffey 11-6, silencing the… me. It may have revealed more about Caffey, however, who garnered some attention after starting 4-0 against middle-of-the-conference competition. It’s Caffey’s second loss in three matches, but the other was a 6-5 decision against Eric Schultz. Amine is anywhere from first to third in the conference in my opinion, but he certainly made his argument for the former on Friday. #2 Mason Parris pinned Christian Rebottaro in 2:20 to finish the dual, and the Michigan Wolverines took it to their rivals 28-9. Lewan and Massa showed up after a tough weekend prior, but Kanen Storr was shocked by a young Peyton Omania. Rayvon Foley collected another victory in his quest for an All-American placement, and Layne Malczewski sharpened his game going into Big Tens. Both teams are where they reasonably want to be to end the regular season.

#2 Penn State 25, #13 Ohio State 12

Kind of...: I called for a 29-7 PSU win, but was wrong on the Ethan Smith/Joe Lee match at 165 (really wrong as Smith delivered a pin), so a 25-12 PSU victory wins me a “close, but no cigar” award. I’ll keep trying. In terms of breaking down the meet there’s a way that is complimentary toward OSU and one that is complimentary toward PSU. Because OTE is nothing if not a kind and loving site, let’s spread joy and do both!

OSU best-case: Malik Heinselman (125, 5-2 Dec) and Sammy Sasso (149, 6-3 Dec) weren’t dominant, but were clearly in control. Ethan Smith (165, Fall) pinned a ranked opponent. OSU gave up third period takedowns at 157 and HWT that cost them those matches, and dropped the 174 match in extra time. Flip each of those and OSU wins the dual 21-19. All three could go the other way next time. The Buckeyes aren’t rebuilding, but they’re not to be trifled with. Though they dropped both duals, OSU gave Michigan and PSU (the 2nd and 3rd best teams in the nation) plenty of competition. The Buckeyes should have multiple (five would be the max, probably) All-Americans and should be in line for a top 10 finish.

PSU best-case: Bravo-Young (133, 26-8 TF), Nick Lee (141, 15-3 MD), Aaron Brooks (184, 13-4 MD) and Michael Beard (197, Fall) WERE dominant. Carter Starocci (174, 2-1 TB1) has wrestled all of six college matches and now has two victories over top ten competition. Seth Nevills (HWT, 3-2) is an All-American threat. So is Brady Berge (157, 3-1). Are you really gonna write off Joe Lee (165)? PSU will need some luck to qualify all ten weights for nationals, but this team clearly looks like the 2nd best squad in the country and, with Sanderson’s record and Iowa coming off of a Covid pause, it’s not ridiculous to think...okay, it still is. Iowa is just stacked, but this is a team coming together, rapidly, before our eyes.

Northwestern 10, #9 Minnesota 29

Atinat: Well, I said it could be ugly if Northwestern didn’t get a break. They didn’t. The dual started at 157 pounds, where top-ranked Ryan Deakin wrestled his match of the season against #6 Brayton Lee and controlled it throughout, winning a 12-0 major decision. Yeah, he’s pretty good. Okay, Northwestern fans can stop reading.

Minnesota’s Andrew Sparks defeated David Ferrante in a high scoring 14-11 match which included 16 third-period points. Jake Allar then won a tossup match 6-5 over Troy Fisher to give Minnesota the 6-4 lead, and then freshman Isaiah Salazar made his collegiate debut for the Gophers with a splash, pinning Jack Jessen.

#14 Lucas Davison didn’t go for Northwestern, and his backup lost to Garrett Joles. Jack Heyob was able to last into the third period before being teched by Gable Steveson, and #15 Pat McKee used a last-minute cradle to knock off #7 Michael DeAugustino, giving Minnesota their sixth consecutive win and stretching their lead to 23-4.

Northwestern did get another bright spot in the return of their twelfth-ranked freshman Chris Cannon at 133 pounds, who led 6-0 before locking a standing cradle and flipping it over for the 4:13 fall.

Marcos Polanco scored a sudden victory takedown to defeat Colin Valdiviez, and Michael Blockhus scored his match’s only takedown early in the third to knock off #14 Yahya Thomas. Minnesota took the dual by 19, and got everything they could’ve asked for along the way.

#8 Nebraska 25, #12 Illinois 9

HWAHSQB: Nebraska pulled off several very close victories and won comfortably 25-9 in Champaign Sunday.

Cronin eeked out a win for the first time in four tries against Cardani. He scored a takedown with half a second left in the second period and got an escape when Cardani had :59 of riding time and won 4-3. Lucas Byrd had a workmanlike 11-8 win to improve to 7-1 on the year and will get a 4 or 5 seed in B1G.

Dylan Duncan pulled the upset big upset on Chad Red. (Ok, look I know he didn’t, but REFFFZZZ!!!!) The refs decided to time travel and not only reverse a call that was very close, but they also put time back on the clock and erased Duncan’s riding time advantage. Red used the extra time awarded by the time travelling officials to his advantage and won 4-3. Anyway, Chad Red should get the 4 seed and Duncan the 5 so they’ll likely get another shot at each other. If Duncan hadn’t been hosed by quality Big Ten officiating, the seeds would’ve been reversed so they’d go again either way.

# 10 Mike Carr was hurt and Nebraska’s Lovett cruised to a tech fall against undersized Danny Pucino. Danny Braunagel remained undefeated on the year with a 9-6 win over # 18 Peyton Robb. Robb had opened up a 6-3 lead, but a big 3rd period got the win for little Brauny. Braunagel is now in line for the #2 seed in the B1G championship. #4 ranked Labriola for Nebraska had an easy win by major decision 17-6.

Next up was our fourth ranked matchup of the night at the #Anarchy 184 weight class. #14 Zach Braunagel of Illinois versus # 16 Taylor Venz. Venz has been very up and down in his career. At his best, he was the last guy to beat Aaron Brooks. At his worst, he was a guy who didn’t have a good enough win to be in the #CHAOS wheel of trasch at 184. However, he came out on fire and fixed that up and joined the party by majoring Brauny 12-1. #1 ranked Cornhusker Eric Schultz had a rather pedestrian 4-1 win.

Lastly, we had a very even matchup at 285. Luffman is ranked 10, Lance 11. Luffman is 5-2 with losses to only Cassioppi and Steveson. Lance is 6-2 with losses to only Cassioppi and Steveson. They’re even close when you list fat boys alphabetically. Like I said, an even matchup. Predictably, this match went to the fourth OT before Luffman scored the first takedown of the match and won 4-2.

Maryland 0, #2 Penn State a lot

Kind of…: PSU won 44-0. 3 falls (Howard, Kerkvliet, J. Lee), 5 MDs, and two decisions (Bartlett at 149 and Gardner at 157, both backups). Kerkvliet making his PSU debut will be the discussion item from this. Was this for eligibility purposes? Will he get the nod at the B1G championships? If the latter, it will add to the intrigue, but Iowa is still the prohibitive favorite.

Atinat: So, Kerkvliet made his debut after having been announced out for the season because of injury. I noticed Minnesota freshman Isaiah Salazar also made a debut. In a normal year, this wouldn’t make any sense, as you’d just want to hold onto the redshirt. However, the rules this year are not normal.

“Winter sport student-athletes who compete during 2020-21 in Division I will receive both an additional season of competition and an additional year in which to complete it….”

That ruling from the Division I Council has some interesting implications. First, it gives us the opportunity for the first ever five-time champion, as anyone who redshirted last year or is a true freshman and competes this year will have five years of competition. More importantly though, it means that there is absolutely no reason to redshirt this year.

So, in short: if a freshman redshirts, they will have four years of eligibility to use over the next four years; if a freshman competes, they will have four years of eligibility to use over the next five years. Now, Kerkvliet did compete in a second match, which means any result besides injury at Big Tens will make him eligible for NCAAs, so there’s a good chance he gets the nod over Nevills, but for Salazar, his wrestling on Sunday ensured he will be able to redshirt next year and still have four years left to compete.

Indiana 3, Purdue 38

Atinat: This was the largest victory in this series in 101 years. Purdue took all but 174 pounds, where Indiana Hoosiers freshman DJ Washington proves to be their only bright spot. Purdue got major decisions from Devin Schroder, Parker Filius, and Kendall Coleman (all over unranked opponents), a tech fall from Max Lyon over a debuting Indiana freshman Santos Cantu, and falls from Gerrit Nijenhuis over Nick South and Griffin Parriot over Graham Rooks. That one was pretty special:


This week’s outstanding wrestling honors are split between two guys who hope to make a run at All-American honors this year. First, #10 Ethan Smith at 165 pounds handed Penn State redshirt freshman Joe Lee his second consecutive loss with a first period fall, coming via a reversal power half, stuck at 2:33. This tied up the dual going into the final four matches, though Ohio State couldn’t take another match on the night and lost 27-12.

The other outstanding wrestler is #15 Griffin Parriott, who pinned Indiana sophomore Graham Rooks in just 24 seconds with a twister. Parriott knew exactly what he wanted to do off the whistle, snapped Rooks’ head down, grabbed an underhook with his right and a chinstrap headlock with his left, and executed the twister before Rooks could react and get his legs set. Textbook stuff.

Upset of the week:

This one is pretty cool. Michigan State freshman Peyton Omania is a greco-roman style wrestler by forte, and was just 2-4 on the season coming into Friday’s dual. He lost his longtime greco coach prior to that dual, and then honored him with an amazing upset of #5 Kanen Storr, using two headlock throws to put Storr on his back, racking up a 12-2 lead halfway through the first period. He was able to hold onto that victory 15-8, giving Michigan State one of three match victories they’d have on the day and bolstering his own resume should he need to qualify for NCAAs via at-large bid.