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Recapping a busy first weekend in Big Ten Wrestling

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The first week of conference action saw lots of debuts and lots of upsets

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Just this weekend, we saw season debuts for Hawkeyes Michael Kemerer and Drake Ayala (the latter his collegiate debut), as well as Rutgers’ Joey Olivieri (who also burned a redshirt), and team debuts for Nick Suriano with Michigan and Drew Hildebrandt with Penn State. Wisconsin had a fantastic weekend, and Purdue scored maybe the biggest team upset so far this year.

#18 Purdue Boilermakers 18, #8 Nebraska Cornhuskers 15

HWAHSQB: This is a BIG win for PU, not just a B1G one. According to BTN, this was the Boilers first win over a top ten team since 2004. So, yeah, the Huskers were somewhat short-handed thanks to injury and COVID, but let’s not take anything away from a big win for a program on the rise.

The dual started at 125# where now national title contender and absolute hammer on top, Devin Schroder did his thing to Nebraska’s backup for a major. Chad Red was also not able to go and the loss at 141 would prove key to the final tally. After claiming victories at 157 and 165, Purdue led 12-9, but the Runza fueled fans surely felt confident, being favored in all of the final four matches of the bout.

Up next were # 3 Mikey Labriola in the red and #21 Gerrit Nijenhuis for the black. Gerrit and his fabulous hair have been somewhat of a disappointment after being a very blue-chip recruit coming in, but he wrestled a fantastic match for the win. He matched Labriola’s quickness and defended his go-behinds extremely well and was able to come out of the backdoor on scrambles twice to score, including the late deciding takedown for easily the biggest win of his young career.

In the wacky, wild, world of 184, nothing is too shocking. Taylor Venz is more unpredictable than most at a weight where anything can happen. Venz, ranked 10, fell victim to a similar match as Labriola to #23 Max Lyon. Lyon won a couple scrambles and limited Venz’s offense for 7-2 win.

Nebraska would claim the decision at 197 where #4 Eric Schultz beat #15 Thomas Penola, which left Nebraska needing a pin from #11 HWT Christian Lance to tie the dual. Lance won 11-4 which allowed the Boilermakers to escape with an 18-15 victory,

#1 Iowa Hawkeyes 22, #13 Minnesota Gophers 10

Atinat: That wasn’t the prettiest dual, and the team may not be the happiest about it, but it sure was fun to watch! The dual kicked off at 165 pounds, where Marinelli saw Cael Carlson, a third-year freshman with a 14-7 record. Carlson was coming off a third-place finish at the Scuffle where he lost to Keegan O’Toole, and he gave Marinelli a fight in a 5-6 defeat. Then, at 174 pounds, Michael Kemerer made his return for the Hawkeyes, nearly blowing the roof off the place. He threw #23 Bailee O’Reilly to his back quickly but was unable to cover, and after racking up points in the first period, he cooled to a 9-2 decision victory. Abe Assad got the Hawkeyes their first (and only) bonus point of the night by majoring the Gopher backup, and Jacob Warner stretched the lead to 13-0 with his 6-4 decision over #30 Michial Foy that was too close for comfort. Steveson had a dominant major victory over Cassioppi in a match where it didn’t look like Cass even did anything wrong, cutting the team score to 13-4 at the break.

Then came the second big surprise of the night, when at 125 pounds the Hawkeyes pulled the redshirt off of star recruit Drake Ayala. After scoring an early takedown, Ayala’s night went less than storybook, losing an 8-6 decision to #7 Pat McKee thanks to second period back-points for the Gopher senior. It’s the third loss of the year for Ayala, both to McKee and overall. DeSanto fired off to a quick lead on Jake Gliva, but a long stoppage to review locked hands killed momentum, and DeSanto looked lost throughout the decision victory for the Pennsylvania native. Jaydin Eierman had a methodical victory over #19 Jake Bergeland, and #12 Max Murin did his usual stuff, winning just 3-1 over #25 Michael Blockhus. The final match was a fun one, with Kaleb Young getting an early takedown on #4 Brayton Lee, but Lee getting an answer late to take a 4-3 victory and put up some points for the Gophers to end their dual loss.

Lots of disappointments here for Iowa, but mostly just out of guys who won. DeSanto, Murin, Marinelli, and Warner all need to be scoring bonus points against guys like this in the tournaments in March. Ayala is showing a ton of potential and really just needs to work on bottom, Young put up a good fight against a good wrestler (though one he has beaten before and could’ve beaten on Friday), and Cassioppi never had a chance.

#16 Wisconsin Badgers 19, #15 Northwestern Wildcats 15

Kind of...: It’s a sign that Chris Bono’s rebuild is ahead of schedule that Wisconsin was pretty mediocre against Northwestern, but still came away with the dual victory. That said, Wisconsin WAS generally pretty mediocre.

#17 Michael DeAugustino “upset” #4 Eric Barnett at 125. Yes, Barnett was more highly ranked, but I would bet this is Barnett’s high water mark and the lower DeAugustino is ranked all year. It was DeAugustino’s season debut. #9 Chris Cannon’s win over #33 Kyle Burwick was not an upset, and Frakie Tal Shahar’s win over #24 Joey Zargo was a minor upset, though disappointing because rsFR Zargo had been handling business thus far. Add it all together and UW was down 9-0 to start when a 6-3 lead was probably expected.

Fortunately #11 Austin Gomez reversed the momentum with an upset over #4 Yahya Thomas. Thomas took 3rd at the NCAAs last year, but if Gomez is fully healthy, this result isn’t a fluke. #3 Ryan Deakin defeated #33 Garrett Model, but Model did well to stop Northwestern from earning any bonus points. With it 12-3 halfway through, UW still had to like their chances, bein favored in each remaining match.

#8 Dean Hamiti rolled through backup Erich Byelick in a 13-1 MD. #17 Andrew McNally won a nervy 3-1 decision of Troy Fisher with a 3rd period takedown. #33 Chris Weiler’s 8-0 MD decision over Jon Halvorsen put UW up 14-12. So when Braxton Amos TF’d Wildcat backup 20-5 (in 3:45), UW had locked up the dual victory with their 19-12 lead. This was fortunate because #14 Lucas Davison upset #5 Trent Hillger 4-3 to make the final score UW 19, NW 15.

Neither Barnett nor Hillger are likely to finish as high as they were ranked in this meet, so once that disappointment subsides, there positives are Gomez’s performance, Hamiti maintaining his dominance, and Amos dominating a weaker opponent. Amos should come on strong as he gets used to folkstyle at the college level. If so, UW has five legit All-American candidates. And there are more on the way. Overall, no reason not to continue to be encouraged.

#12 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 29, Indiana Hoosiers 7

Atinat: Only Devon Britton, the 133-pound backup, and heavyweight Boone McDermott lost for the Scarlet Knights, who got a tech fall from Jackson Turley at 174 and majors at 125, 141, and 197 pounds. 125 featured two Intermat-ranked guys, with #30 Dylan Shawver beating #25 Jacob Moran 13-2, and 184 saw fifth-ranked John Poznanski, a third-year freshman, beat #8 DJ Washington of Indiana. Sammy Alvarez did not weigh in for the Scarlet Knights, and has not wrestled since not-Midlands. His status is uncertain, and freshman Joey Olivieri’s redshirt was pulled on Sunday against the Badgers.

#2 Penn State Nittany Lions 46, Maryland Terrapins 0

Kind of...: As somebody who wants Maryland to cease to be a laughingstock, and who was heartened by earlier dual victories this year, I have nothing to say about this dual meet.

#7 Ohio State Buckeyes 27, Michigan State Spartans 14

HWAHSQB: This match featured nine ranked wrestlers, (6 OSU, 3 MSU) but none of them faced off against each other. None of the ranked guys were upset so it was pretty much chalk. MSU’s Rayvon Foley won a 16-0 techinical fall. Kaleb Romero and Sammy Sasso picked up pins and Carson Kharchla scored a major decision for the Buckeyes.

#16 Wisconsin 19, #12 Rutgers 14

Kind of...: This was encouraging! Wrestlestat predicted a 22-10 Rutgers win even accounting for Sammy Alvarez being scratched at 133. Instead, the Badgers won at three weights where they were (minor) underdogs, and took home an impressive dual meet win.

#4 Eric Barnett rebounded with a win over #30 Dylan Shawver. UW dropped the next two, neither unexpectedly, really. While not ranked, true frosh Joey Olivieri was a top 100 recruit and Wrestlestat predicted him to defeat #33 Kyle Burwick, which he did, 4-3. Sebastian Rivera TF’d Joey Zargo 19-3, in a match even more dominant that Rivera’s MD over Zargo at Matmen. Not a good week for Zargo. But not a crisis either.

With UW trailing 8-3, #11 Austin Gomez seized momentum for the Badgers for the second time on the weekend, this time with a MD win over #19 Mike van Brill. When #33 Garrett Model won a tossup over Robert Kanniard, UW had a 10-8 lead midway through. Andrew Clark somewhat surprisingly held #8 Dean Hamiti to a decision, but when #17 Andrew McNally defeated #26 Jackson Turley, the Badgers had a 16-8 lead, and pretty much only needed to win one of the remaining three matches.

Which was good, because Rutgers was definitely game. #5 John Poznanski defeated #33 Chris Weiler 12-5, and Weiler pretty much used everything he had to avoid the MD. After #7 Greg Bulsak defeated #24 Braxton Amos, 8-7, it was 16-14 UW, and HWT would decide the dual meet. #5 Trent Hillger sealed the UW victory with a 6-3 win over Boone McDermott.

Teamwise, it was a great win. Gomez, Model, and McNally all looked impressive in the middle of the lineup. Hillger won, but did not look all that great. Amos’s loss was disappointing in that he looked like the better wrestler for much of the match, but he clearly has little experience on bottom. Currently there are 13 B1G wrestlers ranked at 197, and Amos is 9th of those. That said, Bulsak is 4th, and Amos is very close to him. Besides the mystery that is Cam Caffey, I don’t think anybody else outside the top four of Dean/Warner/Schultz/Bulsak is beating Amos in March. Overall, really nice weekend for the Badgers. Next Sunday sees UW visit Minnesota, which will be a real good test.

#13 Minnesota 31, #15 Northwestern 9

Atinat: The dual started with a Wildcat forfeit at 157 pounds, and then Cael Carlson pinned his unranked foe to give the Gophers a quick 12-0 lead. Minnesota would go on to win the next three toss-up matches, including 197 by fall, before Gable Steveson came out to do what he does, majoring Lucas Davison. Northwestern finally got in the win column with a HUGE upset of Pat McKee by Michael DeAugustino in a comeback 8-7 regular decision, and ninth-ranked Chris Cannon followed with a ranked win of his own. Jake Bergeland gave the Gophers their final points of the night with a 2-0 win, and Yahya Thomas bounced back from his loss Friday with a 6-1 decision over Michael Blockhus.

Two observations here. First, Northwestern is a tad overrated. They’re probably 20th or so in the country, but decidedly fourth-tier in the Big Ten, below Illinois, Rutgers, Purdue, and obviously Minnesota and Wisconsin. Second, 125 is gonna be FUN this year. Right now, it’s probably Suriano-Hildebrandt-everyone else, but that everyone else is a huge question mark with McKee, Barnett, and Schroder all losing this weekend (as well as Ayala).

#2 Penn State 29, Indiana 11

Atinat: Backups Baylor Shunk, Brandon Meredith, and Tony Negron were the only defeats for Penn State, with Shunk losing by tech fall. Drew Hildebrandt did not find bonus points, but Creighton Edsell, Carter Starocci, Aaron Brooks, Max Dean, and Greg Kerkvliet all did. Indiana is worst or second-worst in the conference, and Penn State is best or second-best, so there’s no surprises here.

#1 Iowa 36, #18 Purdue 4

Atinat: Well that was everything the Minnesota dual wasn’t. We started at 125 pounds, where Drake Ayala took on his second top-ten opponent in as many attached matches, but this time he never went underneath his foe and scored two takedowns (plus a stall point and 3+ minutes of riding time) to knock of #5 Devin Schroder 6-1. No Austin DeSanto for Iowa at 133 (apparently something he chose to do), and Jesse Ybarra just doesn’t have what it takes yet, giving up a major decision to Matt Ramos. Eierman defeated Parker Filius with just a riding time point, giving up a takedown in the third to tie the match but getting out in time to preserve that minute plus and win 7-6. Max Murin looked dominant against his Purdue foe, scoring a major decision, and then Kaleb Young majored the Purdue backup at 157 pounds as Kendall Coleman appears to be MIA.

Marinelli teched his unranked foe, and then Kemerer did the same to the Gerrit Nijenhuis who had defeated Mikey Labriola just two days prior. Kemerer used a cradle and a leg turk to get 12 back points in a 17-1 third-period tech fall. Assad beat Lyon 6-3, just getting the wheels going on the chaos carnival that is 184 pounds, and then Jacob Warner shut out Thomas Penola 3-0 at 197. Cassioppi pinned Michael Woulfe, who looked very undersized and who may have been unconscious during the pin.

Aside from Eierman (and Ybarra), everyone did really well and that was a lot of fun to watch. I don’t have much to say here! Ayala is very fun to watch, and while he has some stuff to work on, his potential is sky-high. Next up for the Hawkeyes are Northwestern and Illinois, and the Boilermakers have Michigan State.

#4 Michigan Wolverines 29, #25 Pitt 12

Atiant: This dual happened because a Pitt opponent had to cancel (Covid) and Michigan (and Army) was free this weekend. It started at 174, and Logan Massa and Myles Amine each pinned unranked opponents. Ninth-ranked Pat Brucki scored a minor upset over #8 Nino Bonaccorsi in a huge win for NCAA seeding implications, and then Mason Parris and Nick Suriano, the latter debuting for the Wolverines, scored major decisions to put Michigan up 23-0 at the break.

#7 Micky Phillippi defeated Jack Medley 5-2, and then #23 Cole Matthews scored a big upset, defeating #3 Stevan Micic 11-5. Micic is up from 133 this year, so adjusting to the weight may be a journey for him. Michigan won two tossup decisions, then forfeited 165 pounds to #13 Jake Wentzel to end the dual 29-12.

This Michigan team is full of questions for me, so I’m excited to see them on BTN this Friday against Ohio State. Suriano and Micic especially are two spots where I’m curious to see how they match up at their new weights.

Poll

Most surprising individual upset

  • 57%
    Nijenhuis over Labriola
    (19 votes)
  • 21%
    Deaugustino over McKee
    (7 votes)
  • 18%
    Matthews over Micic
    (6 votes)
  • 3%
    Someone else I’ll shout in the comments!
    (1 vote)
33 votes total Vote Now