Iowa, and wrestling as a whole in my opinion, got some bad news this week, as three-time national champion Spencer Lee announced that he will undergo season-ending ACL surgery after his knee wasn’t responding well to start this year. It throws a wrench in the defending-national champion Hawkeyes’ plans to repeat this March. Penn State adds Drew Hildebrandt and Michigan gets Nick Suriano, both at 125 pounds, radically changing the lightweight landscape this year.
Sounds like Jesse Ybarra will get the nod on Friday, but Tom Brands said both him and Drake are the options moving forward, so we'll see what happens.— Cody Goodwin (@codygoodwin) January 5, 2022
Kind of...: B1G schools had a really good go of it overall at the Matmen Open, taking seven championships and Wisconsin, Illinois, and Rutgers finishing 3, 4, 5 in the team standings despite not sending totally full squads. Parentheses are seeds, NOT overall rankings.
125: (3) Justin Cardani (ILL), 1ST; (1) Dylan Shawver, (RUT) 5TH. Cardani path to the title featured three close wins. But a title is a title, and he should make a jump up the rankings in a suddenly wide open weight class.
133: (1) Lucas Byrd (ILL), 1ST; (5) Drew Mattin (MICH), 3RD; Joey Olivieri (RUT), 5TH [(3) Sammy Alvarez (RUT) was pinned in the quarters and forfeited his consolation match.] Byrd looked dominant until the final where he edged fellow top-10 ranked Micky Phillippi of Byrd. Byrd is for real, and should be shooting for the semis this year.
141: (1) Sebastian Rivera (RUT), 1ST; (5) Joseph Zargo (UW), 4TH; (2) Parker Filius (PUR), 5TH; We Rachel (ILL), 7TH. Rivera was dominant: Fall, TF, MD, TF. It was Zargo who stayed closes to him, and he added to a nice showing with a SV win over Filius in the consolation bracket.
149: (2) Austin Gomez (UW), 2ND; (6) Anthony White (RUT) 4TH; Al DeSantis (RUT), 7TH; Christian Kanzler (ILL), 8TH. Gomez fell in the final to Josh Heil (CAMP) in SV. Gomez had several shots that he couldn’t quite finish. Both he and Heil are potential All-Americans.
157: (1) Kendall Coleman (PUR) 6TH; Garrett Model (UW), 8TH [Coleman had reached the semis, but then withdrew.] Don’t know if Coleman got hurt or if the withdrawal was precautionary. Obviously hoping for the latter. Pitt’s Elijah Cleary won the title.
165: (3) Dean Hamiti (UW) 1ST; (6) Danny Braunagel (ILL), 6TH. Quite possibly the story of the even was Hamiti’s performance. The true frosh was Seabass-like in going TF, MD, Fall, and TF through the bracket. The last three wins were all over to 20 wrestlers, and you should expect Hamiti to vault into the top 10 in the next rankings.
174: (3) Gerrit Nijenhuis (PUR), 5TH; Connor O’Neill (RUT), 6TH. Edmond Ruth (Unattached) won the weight.
184: (2) Myles Amine (MICH), 1ST; (7) Zac Braunagel (ILL), 4TH. Amine’s title came at the expense of Mark Hall (Unattached) the former PSU wrestler who went 117-6 with a title, two seconds and almost certainly another top-2 finish (Covid) for the Nittany Lions. Though Hall wrestled at 174 in college, this is still a very impressive win for Amine. Is he a threat to current Nittany Lion Aaron Brooks? Um, maybe.
197: (2) Greg Bulsak (RUT), 1ST; (3) Braxton Amos (UW), 3RD. Bulsak caught Amos in a four-point move while riding him in the second, and then finished a very good performance by upsetting 2021 finalist and current #2 Nino Bonaccorsi of Pitt. The highly-touted Amos looks good, not great, for UW so far. Bulsak looks great, and should move into the top 10.
HWT: (1) Trent Hillger (UW), 1S; (3) Luke Luffman (ILL), 3RD; Michael Woulfe (PUR), 5TH; Boone McDermott (RUT), 8TH. As is often the case, 285 was pretty chalky. Hillger is somewhere in the 5-8 range overall. Luffman has an outside shot a All-American status, but has work to do.
Final Thoughts: I really like Rutgers’ squad. Intermat has them at #15 in tournament scoring (8th among B1G schools). I would bet on them to finish higher in each. Given that it doesn’t take a lot of points to move up spots in that 10-20 range, I also am higher on Wisconsin than I was, but that’s almost all just Hamiti’s performance. He might score 10 points himself in March. Illinois looks to have a nice 1-2 punch at 125 and 133, but the jury is still out on Cardani. Purdue might be in some trouble (though Devin Schroder didn’t wrestle at Matmen)
Atinat: I’m gonna do this by team. So,
Iowa: Iowa sent some backups and guys on redshirts after the Hawkeye Open fell through. They sent a total of fourteen guys, including future big names Drake Ayala and Patrick Kennedy. Ayala finished third after losing to Minnesota’s Pat McKee for the second time this year, but beating Missouri’s star freshman Noah Surtin twice. Iowa had two fourth-place finishers, a fifth-place finisher, and two sixth-place finishers. All in all, this was a good look at some young guys for the Hawks.
Michigan State: The Spartans finished third as a team, with 133-pound Rayvon Foley taking an individual title and three other Michigan State wrestlers finished in the top 6. Despite some individual performance letdowns, they did finish the best out of the Big Ten teams who went.
Minnesota: Minnesota only sent eight guys, but seven of eight were starters and six of them placed (though that includes Garrett Joles finishing eighth at 197). Pat McKee won the 125 pound bracket, though he won the championship bout by medical forfeit. Freshman Aaron Nagao finished second at 133 pounds, and Bailee O’Reilly and Cael Carlson finished third.
Others: Maryland sent a bunch of dudes but the only one really worth mentioning is Kyle Cochran knocking off the 3, 2, and 1 seeds to win the 184 pound bracket. He jumped from 32nd to 12th in the Intermat rankings, making him the highest-ranked Terrapin wrestler in... a while, probably. Penn State sent some backups, with only Michael Beard placing, finishing second at 197 pounds. Michigan’s JT Correll was the only other Big Ten wrestler, going 0-2.
Michigan at Arizona State
Atinat: That was a disappointment. Covid reduced the dual to just four matches, with the event no longer being scored as a team event. Jack Medley and Dylan Ragusin both lost to top-5 guys, and Stevan Micic and Myles Amine both won their bouts over unranked guys.
Ohio State at American Cancelled
Indiana at Ohio
Atinat: Like the Michigan “dual,” this event was also restricted, with only six matches taking place. Indiana went 2-4, with Brock Hudkins and DJ Washington winning and Jacob Moran, both Rooks brothers, and Sammy Cokeley losing decisions.
#13 Minnesota Gophers at #1 Iowa Hawkeyes, Friday at 8PM on BTN
Atinat: With Spencer Lee out for the season, the question for Iowa going forward is whether Drake Ayala will have his redshirt pulled. For this weekend, the probables just include Jesse Ybarra at 125 pounds. They also have Brennan Swafford as the lone option at 174 pounds, with the juco transfer getting his redshirt pulled allegedly due to an injury to Nelson Brands. The Hawkeyes are still heavily favored, with advantages on paper at six of ten weights (with neither 174 pounder ranked). The big matches to watch are Max Murin-Michael Blockhus at 149, Kaleb Young-Brayton Lee at 157, the 174 match, and Tony Cassioppi-Gable Steveson match at heavyweight.
#2 Penn State Nittany Lions at Maryland Terrapins, Friday at 6PM on BTN+
Atinat: Can Kyle Cochran keep the momentum going against defending champion Aaron Brooks? Probably not! Will Central Michigan-transfer Drew Hildebrandt impress in his Penn State debut? Almost certainly!
Indiana Hoosiers at #12 Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Friday at 6PM on BTN+
#15 Northwestern Wildcats at #16 Wisconsin Badgers, Friday at 7PM on BTN+
Kind of...: Assuming the expected starters go (and the dual happens, of course), I would expect Wisconsin to win comfortably, which would be a bit deceptive as these two squads are both pretty good nationally, but middle of the pack (at best) in the B1G. Wrestlestat says 24-10 UW. I say 24-11. Thought we disagree in two spots because I don’t see Gomez beathing Yahya Thomas at 149, but I also don’t see Lucas Davison beating Hillger at HWT. NW’s best chance at a dual upset would be Davison winning at HWT, Frankie Tal-Shahar knocking off Zargo at 141, and Deakin racking up the bonus points at 157. UW’s Chris Weiler has been struggling at 184, but NW doesn’t have anybody there who can pull the upset.
#18 Purdue Boilermakers at #8 Nebraska Cornhuskers, Friday at 7PM on BTN+
Atinat: Purdue would need some big upsets to stay in this one. #25 Parker Filius appeared to be sliding last time we saw him, and he would need to correct that to beat #9 Chad Red. Likewise, #10 Kendall Coleman would need to beat #6 Peyton Robb, though he did win at Big Tens the last time they wrestled. Nebraska has three top-ten guys, plus #11 Christian Lance, to end the dual, and Purdue would need to steal a victory somewhere in there to have a shot. Gimmie the Huskers by 20 or so.
Any big upsets?
This poll is closed
Chad Red (141)
Peyton Robb (157)
#7 Ohio State at Michigan State, Saturday at 4PM on BTN+
#12 Rutgers at #16 Wisconsin, Sunday at noon on BTN+
Kind of...: Wrestlestat calls this 19-13 for Rutgers. Rutgers shouldn’t give up bonus points at 125 or 149, but could get them at 133 (pending Alvarez’s availability) and/or 141. UW’s chances may hinge at 157 where Garrett Model has shown some improvement. Hamiti should roll at 165, which brings up another crucial match: Jackson Turley and Andrew McNally at 174. McNally is ranked higher, but Turley won the only matchup betweenthem, last March at the NCAAs. John Poznanski gives Rutgers the clear edge over Weiler at 184, and Bulsak just got done beating Amos at 197, so deserves the edge until the frosh proves otherwise. Will be very interesting to see if Amos makes any adjustments, though. I see more bonus points so will say 20-15 Rutgers.
Who you got?
This poll is closed
Northwestern at #13 Minnesota, Sunday at 1PM on BTN+
Atinat: Michael DeAugustino upset Eric Barnett on Friday, and he’ll get a shot to keep that momentum going against #7 Pat McKee. Minnesota freshman Andrew Nagao was successful in slowing down third-ranked Austin DeSanto, falling just 7-5, and he’ll get a chance at a signature win against #9 Chris Cannon at 133 pounds. There will be a top-5 matchup at 157 pounds with second-ranked Ryan Deakin going for the Wildcats and #4 Brayton Lee stepping up for the Goofs, though Deakin is 2-0 in their careers with two shutout major decisions. Minnesota could sweep the heavyweights, though, so they’re very much the favorites in this dual. If we start at 125 pounds, you can watch the lightweights and then flip to the 2PM dual of your choice before things get ugly. Or stick around to watch Gable do unnatural things.
Indiana at #2 Penn State, Sunday at 2PM on BTN+
Atinat: Indiana might stand a chance at 149, and DJ Washington is 10-1 this year at 184 pounds and will see defending-national champion Aaron Brooks. If neither of those Hoosiers get it done, Penn State should sweep em.
#18 Purdue at #1 Iowa, Sunday at 2PM on BTN
Atinat: Drake Ayala’s debut was one of two major storylines for Iowa’s Friday dual, with the other being Michael Kemerer’s return. Ayala lost an exciting bout with McKee for the third time this year, but look for him to make a statement against fifth-ranked Devin Schroder. Kaleb Young may have a chance to make up for a disappointing finish against Brayton Lee as he faces tenth-ranked Kendall Coleman, though Coleman did not go Friday against Nebraska. Gerrit Nijenhuis had one of the biggest upsets of the year on Friday, defeating Mikey Labriola 6-4, and if Kemerer goes again, he’ll have his hands full (that said, I don’t expect Kemerer to go). Max Lyon also got a big upset over #10 Taylor Venz, and will likely get a shot at Abe Assad, who has looked good in his three Hawkeye matches this year. The Hawkeyes are favored in this dual, obviously, but the above matches will be interesting to watch for everyone involved. As an Iowa fan, I’m also interested in seeing Murin, Marinelli, and Warner all respond after underwhelming victories on Friday.
Enjoy the open thread!