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Previewing B1G Wrestling Championships - 141 lbs.

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Four All-Americans (and two conference champions) battle for the conference title

Wrestling: USA Wrestling Senior National Championships Iowa City Press-Citizen-USA TODAY NETWORK

3/2: The Big Ten official pre-seeds were released after this article was published. For this weight, in order, they are: Eierman (IA), Lee (PSU), Rivera (RU), Red (NE), Duncan (ILL), Polanco (MN), D’Emilio (OSU), Mattin (MI), Filius (PU), Rooks (IU), Bertoni (MD), Santos (MSU), Valdiviez (NW), Dentino (UW)

The Big Ten will send its champion along with the next seven wrestlers at 141 pounds into the NCAAs, and others will have a shot at one of six remaining at-large bids. The Big Ten is incredibly strong at this weight, with three of the top five in the Intermat poll, and four of the top five in the National Wrestling Coaches Association coaches ranking. It includes three unbeaten wrestlers in #1 Jaydin Eierman, #2 Nick Lee, and #4 Sebastian Rivera. They are listed in what I expect to be their seeding order.

Contenders:

  1. Jaydin Eierman, Iowa Hawkeyes: A three-time All-American and the defending 3rd place winner at 141 pounds, he transferred to Iowa in 2019 after three years at Mizzou, where he also won three MAC championships and twice won conference wrestler of the year. He is the top-ranked wrestler in the country, with wins over Chad Red and Dylan Duncan, among others.
  2. Nick Lee, Penn State Nittany Lions: A two-time All-American and a Big Ten finalist at this weight last year, his only loss last year was to Luke Pletcher in the finals. He’s second-ranked in both the Intermat and coaches rankings, and while he has found bonus points in all his matches, he hasn’t exactly faced a murderer’s row, going without a match against a ranked wrestler on the season.
  3. Sebastian Rivera, Rutgers Scarlet Knights: A two-time Big Ten champion (at 125 pounds in 2019 and at 133 pounds in 2020) and a two-time All-American in his two trips to NCAAs, he transferred to Rutgers this year from Northwestern, and also bumped up to 141 pounds. He is 4-0 with three major decisions and a close decision over Parker Filius. While there’s no question about Rivera’s ability, with career wins over Spencer Lee, RBY, Seth Gross, and Vita Arujau, he’s largely untested at this weight. His best win was nearly two months ago against Drew Mattin.

Sure qualifiers:

4. Chad Red, Nebraska Cornhuskers: A two-time All-American and last year’s third-place finisher, senior #8 Chad Red looks for more this year. He’s 7-1 on the year, with his best win coming over Dylan Duncan. His lone loss came by decision to Jaydin Eierman in his second match of the year. However, he’s only earned bonus points once this year, pinning Cayden Rooks.

5. Dylan Duncan, Illinois Fighting Illini: A senior, three-time national qualifier, he’s 4-2 on the season, with a pin over Indiana’s Paul Konrath and two major decisions. His losses come by fall against Jaydin Eierman, and by a terrible no-good decision to Chad Red.

6. Ohio State Buckeyes: It’s still unsure who Ohio State will submit at 141 pounds. True freshman Anthony Echemendia took over following some poor results from Dylan D’Emilio and rattled off three wins before being injured in a match with Jaydin Eierman. D’Emilio wrestled the last three duals for the Buckeyes, defeating Parker Filius and Drew Mattin before falling to Nick Lee. He will likely get the go for Ohio State.

Can punch their ticket:

7. Drew Mattin, Michigan Wolverines: A junior with a 3-3 record, he reached the round of sixteen as a freshman and a sophomore at 125 pounds before redshirting last year. Mattin is near top of a muddy section in the weight. He’s largely unproven, but should win his first round match and set up a good path towards qualifying in the loser’s bracket.

8. Marcos Polanco, Minnesota Golden Gophers: A redshirt freshman, Polanco has accrued a 5-4 record, with losses to four of the top five seeds. Still, his wins have all come over starters likely to be seeded below him, so if he can hold his results, he will compete for an NCAA allocation.

9. Parker Filius, Purdue Boilermakers: A junior who earned an at-large bid for last year’s NCAAs, he’s 2-5 on this season. His losses all come to those listed above him, including Polanco and D’Emilio. He will look to avenge some of those losses in order to qualify directly. Otherwise, his at-large resume would be weak, with his best performance coming in a 6-7 loss to Rivera.

The rest:

10. Michigan State Spartans: It isn’t totally clear who will go for Michigan State, but Matt Santos, a senior with an 0-2 record, got the start on Friday against Michigan. They also have Jake Spiess, a senior transferred from Eastern Michigan, and Jaden Enriquez, a junior. It’s fairly impossible to seed 10-14 without knowing who will go for Michigan State, but I don’t think it matters.

11. Danny Bertoni, Maryland Terrapins: A junior, 2-5 on the season with wins over Northwestern’s Tal-Shahar and Indiana’s Rooks.

12. Cayden Rooks, Indiana Hoosiers: A sophomore up from 133 pounds last year, Rooks has close wins over Northwestern’s Valdiviez and Michigan State’s Santos.

13. Northwestern Wildcats: The Wildcats have used two 141-pounders in duals this season, with junior Colin Valdiviez defeating Wisconsin’s Dominic Dentino but losing four other matches, and freshman Frankie Tal-Shahar going 0-3.

14. Wisconsin Badgers: Neither Trey Escobar, a redshirt freshman, nor Dominic Dentino, a sophomore, have earned a win in a dual meet for Wisconsin at 141 pounds. First round: Sebastian Rivera, Rutgers

This weight is fairly predictable, and so I have few upsets in my predicted results. I have Eierman winning it all over Lee, Rivera taking third over Red, Duncan taking fifth over D’Emilio, and Mattin taking seventh over Polanco. I don’t think Filius earns an at-large bid, so only those eight would represent the Big Ten in St. Louis.

Eierman genuinely looks like one of the pound-for-pound best in the country right now. There isn’t a position on the mat where he doesn’t look comfortable. Lee is obviously a dynamic wrestler, but Eierman majored him in the consolation semifinals in 2018 in their only meeting (Lee did win a close decision in freestyle more recently). I haven’t seen much special from Rivera this season, but he’s still a top-tier guy, and I don’t think he loses twice. The Red-Duncan rematch is one I’m particularly looking forward to, since I think Duncan got boned. I have it mostly chalk because a lot of these have already happened, but a lot of these matchups are rematches of close decisions. This should be a very fun weight, and I don’t expect to be right about exact finishes. Still, only Filius could sneak into an allocation spot, I think.