Atinat: This weight is about Spencer Lee. Only four guys have ever won four NCAA titles, and Spencer Lee is looking to become number five. He’s undefeated on the year, with eight falls and four techs in 17 matches. He’s dominated the top of the weight, and he has a fairly straightforward draw. He could see Big Ten foes Jack Medley, Eric Barnett, and Matt Ramos before reaching the championship bout, where he is expected to meet Patrick Glory, the undefeated EIWA champion out of Princeton.
The biggest obstacle for Glory would be Liam Cronin, the Cornhuskers senior who took a serious step forward from his previous two NCAA appearances. Cronin took the three seed after finishing his regular season 18-3 and finishing second at Big Tens. He would be looking at a second round matchup with either Maryland’s Braxton Brown, who he beat 11-7 at Big Tens, or Mizzou’s Noah Surtin, who is very unpredictable and should be a name to watch for a deep run (or an 0-2 finish).
Other Big Ten guys looking for all-American honors include Purdue’s Matt Ramos (seeded fourth), Wisconsin’s Eric Barnett (the seven), Minnesota’s Pat McKee (eleven), Northwestern’s Michael DeAugustino (twelve), and Rutgers’ Dean Peterson. The latter two have tough roads, with DeAugustino starting with Wyoming freshman Jore Volk (a U20 freestyle national champion) and then likely drawing App State’s Caleb Smith (the SoCon champion and five seed); and Peterson starting with Jarrett Trombley (three-time national qualifier and ACC champion) and then likely seeing Matt Ramos second. Both of those guys are in Ramos’s potential path to the semifinal, meaning Ramos doesn’t exactly have the most straightforward path to all-American honors for a four seed.
Opposite Ramos’s quad is Spencer Lee’s, which includes Jack Medley and Eric Barnett alongside Lock Haven’s Anthony Noto, the MAC champion and eight seed, whose two losses on the year include Malik Heinselman.
I obviously have Spencer winning this weight, and even as well as Cronin is wrestling right now, I’m gonna say it’s Glory that he meets in the finals. I have Cronin finishing third, Ramos finishing fourth, DeAugustino and McKee placing top eight, Eric Barnett and Dean Peterson losing in the bloodrounds, and Medley and Brown losing before that.
HWAHSQB: 133 has more drama than 125, but only just a little. Roman Bravo-Young and Daton Fix are the very clear #1 and #2 guys in this weight class. They met in the finals the last two years and RBY has won both of them, winning in SV in 2021 and 3-2 last year. As close as those matches were, Fix was never really able to get a bead on RBY and I just don’t see him taking RBY down.
Beyond the top two spots which are already spoken for, there are plenty of legit contenders for the last six All-American spots. Really, any of the top 14 seeds would not surprise me if they make the podium. Lots of B1G guys fighting for those spots. You have surprise B1G finalist Aaron Nagao (Minnesota 8) 3rd place at B1G and returning AA (5th) Lucas Byrd (Illinois 10) Dylan Ragusin (Michigan 12) another returning AA (7th) Chris Cannon (Nerdwestern 13) and Jesse Mendez (OSU 14) Of that group, I really like Mendez, but I think he’s one year away so I’ll go with Byrd and Ragusin to make the podium. Give me Byrd at 7th and Ragusin at 8th and Mendez, Cannon and Nagao all falling in the blood round.
Other B1G participants at 133 include Joe Heilmann (Rutgers 17) Brody Teske (Iowa 24) and Taylot Lamont (Wisconsin 28) If anyone out of this group makes a surprise run and picks up a couple of wins, it will be Teske. I think he’s got a favorable first round matchup and could pull a rabbit or two out of his hat.
Atinat: Real Woods is the one seed, but there are five guys that I think have a chance at this weight. Woods, Hardy, and Bartlett are all in that tier, along with Northern Colorado’s Andrew Alirez and Pitt’s Cole Matthews. Ordinarily I wouldn’t include Bartlett in that tier, but he wrestles for Penn State, and they have voodoo devil magic. Other Big Ten guys include 12-seed Parker Filius, 17-seed Dylan D’Emilio, 18-seed Frankie Tal Shahar, 20-seed Jakob Bergeland, 23-seed Cole Mattin, 31-seed Joe Zargo, and 32-seed Kal Miller. Miller and D’Emilio would both likely see Real Woods if they win their first match, and so would need to do their damage on the backside. Likewise for Joe Zargo, who starts off with 2-seed Andrew Alirez. Mattin starts with Lachlan McNeil, a freshman at North Carolina who won the Canadian Freestyle Championship at 57kg on Sunday. Mattin beat McNeil in their dual meet in November, 7-3. Win that, and he’d likely face EIWA Champion Vince Cornella.
Bergeland starts with Okie State’s Carter Young, and Tal Shahar gets Virginia Tech’s Tom Crook. Parker Filius would see Cleveland Belton of Oregon State. Hardy starts with Jordan Titus of West Virgnia and would then see the winner of Bergeland/Young, and Bartlett starts with Shannon Hanna of Campbell and would then face the winner of Clay Carlson and Malyke Hines. If Bartlett gets to the quarterfinals, he’d probably see three-seed Cole Matthews, the preseason number one and ACC Champ. If Hardy gets there, Ryan Jack could be waiting for him. Jack is the five seed, with only his losses this year coming to Matthews and... Brock Hardy. Woods would see Allan Hart or Mosha Schwartz.
I’m gonna pick Real to win, because I can. Alirez beat Matthews at the unofficial All-Star Classic, so I’ll take him to finish second, but Hardy to finish third. Gimmie Bartlett fifth, between Matthews and Cornella, and Hart to beat Jack for seventh.