This week’s college wrestling action was full of shocking scores and crazy sequences, but the results from duals and Opens around the country did answer a few key questions that offer insight on what to expect moving forward. Remember, it’s still November and a lot can change, but let’s break down some of the key storylines from the weekend and how and how these results impact upcoming duals and rankings.
Hawks stay undefeated despite different lineups
The No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes started their season last weekend against California Baptist in dominant fashion, winning 44-3 and only giving up a bout at 125 pounds. This trend continued over on Friday and Saturday, as Iowa went 3-0 against Army, Sacred Heart and Buffalo led by heavyweight Tony Cassioppi who recorded pins in each of those three meetings. The Army dual created the most intrigue of these three meetings, as the Black Knights came to fight and topped Iowa at 125 pounds, 141 pounds and 174 pounds. Iowa’s lineup remains in flux, as three-time NCAA qualifier Spencer Lee has yet to make his return and All-American Real Woods is now out with an injury. Lineup battles continue at 133 pounds between Northern Iowa transfer Brody Teske and Cullan Schriever, and 174 pounds is still open as the Hawks await the return of both Nelson Brands and Brennan Swafford following their injuries. Despite missing several key starters and testing out some new talent, the Hawks look solid. They’ll have their biggest test of the year coming up against Iowa State on Dec. 4, and, if they want to compete with the Cyclones, their stars will need to show up and step up, if possible.
Max Murin, a multiple-time Round of 12 finisher, looks to be fighting with new intensity this year, as he racked up bonus points in all three of his matches this year. If Murin can wrestle like that against the Cyclones, Iowa will be in even better shape. Cobe Siebrecht and Patrick Kennedy have also been impressive for the Hawks in the middle weights, with Siebrecht notching a major against Army and Buffalo, and Kennedy securing a major and a tech in his bouts with Army and Sacred Heart. Hawk fans have high expectations for Kennedy, and his interview following the Army match suggest that he has similarly big goals for himself. There’s undoubtedly a focus and intensity within this Iowa program, but their true potential will really be assessed in just a few weeks. For now, the Hawks, and Hawkeye fans, can feel good about the power of this team and look forward to the return of several national qualifiers, All-American and national champions back into the lineup.
Arizona State pushes past Missouri despite injuries
Injuries and lineup changes remained a key storyline over the weekend across teams, particularly heading into the Arizona State vs. Missouri dual. The Tigers were favored on paper, particularly given the fact that Arizona State now has a hole at 157 pounds where All-American Jacori Teemer would be wrestling if he wasn't hurt. Additionally, NCAA finalist Brandon Courtney is out with an injury, but none of this slowed the Sun Devils. The depth of the team has never been more evident than it was this weekend.
Arizona State rolled out redshirt freshman Richard Figueroa in place of Courtney, and the backup lightweight notched a 6-4 decision win against Round of 12 finisher Noah Surtin, while teammate Michael McGee followed up with a decision win of his own against Connor Brown. The wins kept coming for Arizona State as newcomer Jesse Vasquez took down Round of 12 finisher Allan Hart at 141 pounds and Kyle Parco upset All-American Brock Mauller at 149 pounds. Missouri stopped this streak with back-to-back-to-back wins at 157, 165 and 174, but then the dual went back to being the ASU show.
Anthony Montalvo beat Sean Harman, and Cohlton Schultz, a 2022 NCAA finalist, put an exclamation mark on the night with a major decision over All-American Zach Elam. The lighter of the two Elam brothers, Rocky, did notch a win at 197 pounds against Kordell Norfleet, but this dual belonged to Arizona State.
Gomez leads Wisconsin to a rebound win
In a week defined by upsets, Wisconsin's Austin Gomez — last year's fourth-place finisher at 149 pounds who opened his season this year with a loss to Iowa State — propelled his Wisconsin Badgers to a win in one of the biggest duals of the weekend. The result proved to be a form of redemption for the Badgers after taking a lopsided loss to the Cyclones the weekend in which Gomez and his All-American teammates Dean Hamiti, Eric Barnett, Taylor LaMont and Trent Hillger all lost.
Saturday's match had a different tone, as Barnett came in and set the pace early with a win over Brett Unga. Cornell rallied for wins at 133 and 141, but Gomez changed the whole mood inside the Friedman Wrestling Center when he beat three-time NCAA champ Yianni Diakomihalis with a throw and two takedowns. Gomez wrestled a complete match, outscoring and outclassing the reigning champ. From there, Wisconsin had all the energy. Garret Model beat Cole Handlovic at 157 pounds, Dean Hamiti majored Julian Ramirez at 165 pounds, and Braxton Amos and Trent Hillger closed out the dual with wins over Jacob Cardenas and Lewis Fernandes. This was Wisconsin's moment, a moment they thought they might have against Iowa State, but instead one that required a painful early season loss first.
Cornell, on the other hand, was one of several Ivy League teams to struggle this weekend, with Princeton dropping to Indiana and Columbia taking Ls against Ohio State and Michigan. Indiana's win should give the Hooisers some confidence as they inch towards what will be a challenging Big Ten schedule in the coming months, but don't sleep on Princeton. Like Wisconsin, the Tigers are now due for a rebound dual, and they'll actually get that shot against the Badgers themselves on Dec. 4. Princeton was also missing key 125-pounder Patrick Glory in the dual, while Glory's points may still not have been enough to reverse the team result, he could have inserted some adrenaline into his team. The senior is 5-0 on the year after winning the Princeton Open, but he has yet to make his dual debut this season.
Speaking of individual Ivy League stars, Danny Fongaro and Lennox Wolak did give Columbia something to cheer about too against the Buckeyes when they captured wins at 149 and 174 pounds, respectively. Wolak’s win, in particular, marked a big resume-builder for him, as he took down All-American Ethan Smith with assertiveness, beating the Buckeye 8-6. His ability to rally for those points in a dual where all of the momentum belonged to Ohio State is worth noting, and Wolak will be a guy to follow as the season continues. The rest of the 174 pound weight class should be on alert. The overall dual against Ohio State was lopsided for Columbia, but these silver linings may have softened the blow. Similarly, Columbia's Josh Ogunsanya put up big points in the Lions' bout against Michigan, pinning Zack Mattin for six team points.
Maryland makes great strides, while Pitt still shows resilience
While the Nittany Lions, Hawks and Bucks hold down the top spots in the Big Ten right now, the Terps made a statement on Friday night in a back-and-forth battle against the No. 17 Panthers of Pittsburgh, and this complete team effort required standout performances from Maryland’s young talent and their experienced veterans. Head coach Alex Clemsen’s squad won five of the ten duals but pulled out the win due to bonus points from Braxton Brown. The young lightweight kicked off the dual with a pin over Colton Camacho to fire up the Maryland bench, and while Pitt won the next two bouts, as top-ten athletes Micky Phillippi and Cole Matthews performed as expected, Maryland’s grit was clear. The Terps were in the match.
Maryland notched a win at 149 pounds from redshirt freshman Ethan Miller, but the team really found its momentum at 157 pounds, as longtime Maryland middleweight Michael North outworked 2022 Round of 12 finisher Dazion Casto. Pitt’s Casto came out firing, looking for big moves, but North stayed patient, wearing down his opponent with each passing minute. North’s gas tank carried him into sudden victory where he ultimately found the takedown to take the individual victory and turn the tide in the match. The Panthers traded wins at 165 and 174, with Pitt’s Holden Heller earning the victory at the lighter of those two weights and Maryland’s Dom Solis notching the W up at 184 pounds. Maryland led 15-10 going into 184 pounds, where Pitt narrowed the score 15-13 folling Reece Heller’s win, setting up an epic top-20 197 pound bout that ultimately went to Pittsburgh’s Nino Bonaccorsi. Jaron Smith, Maryland’s eighth-year senior came in to finish the dual against Jake Slinger, and he knew this win — Maryland’s first ranked win since 2013 — came down to him.
An NCAA qualifier in 2022, Smith is certainly a visible leader on the Terps team. He’s experienced, he’s had success, and he wants to be on the mat. This moment was why Smith returned this last season. He topped Slinger 5-1 to elevate the Terps and bring national attention to a program that has been looking for a boost. Following the match, Smith told The Diamondback: “Those are the exact scenarios that I imagined I’d be able to fulfill when I was given the opportunity to come back.”
If Smith, and Maryland more generally, keep up this intensity, they could make a push to be in the national rankings and will be in the hunt to earn their first Big Ten dual win in program history.
This dual did not end hope for Pitt fans either though. The Panthers, to their enormous credit, immediately put this loss behind them and powered forward, stopping Lehigh two days later behind wins from Colton Camacho — the same athlete than Brown pinned on Friday — as well as Matthews, Holder Heller, Luca Augustine, Reece Heller, Nino Bonaccorsi and Dayton Pitzer. Reece Heller and Bonacorssi’s wins were particularly notable as Heller beat national qualier Tate Samuelson in a tight 7-6 decision and Bonacorssi beat 2021 NCAA All-American Michael Beard. These win helped the Panthers regroup after suffering an upset loss at 133 pounds and giving up a pin at 157 pounds. The upperweights carried this dual, and while Pitt was surely disappointed by the Maryland result, the ability to bounce back and take another ranked win shows how resilient and dangerous this Panther can be.
N.C. impresses with wins over Illinois, Central Michigan
The NC State Wolfpack, the team that has dominated the ACC for the last four seasons, continues to shine, starting its season with a 5-0 record before preparing to head to the Cliff Keen Invitational the weekend after Thanksgiving. Led by two-time place-winner Trent Hidlay, the Pack took down Illinois 27-12 and Central Michigan 26-12 with Hidlay, Ryan Jack, Jackson Arrington, Isaac Trumble and Owen Trephan all going 2-0 in their bouts. Trumble had the biggest win in the Illinois dual, as his decision victory against Zac Braunagel will no doubt move him up in the individual rankings at 197 pounds. Trumle has the potential to be an All-American this year, and these are the kinds of wins he'll need if he'll want to navigate the deep 197-pound bracket at nationals and finish in the top eight. The upperweight star is currently 5-0 on the year with the Braunagel win serving as his highest ranked win so far. Cliff Keen could be a great test for the Pack leader, but he'll likely get another shot at NCAA finalist Bonaccorsi in the Pack vs. Pitt dual, and Trumble is currently 2-1 against the Panther foe.
Trumble ices the dual with a ranked win. 11-4 decision will do it!— NC State Wrestling 🤼♂️ (@PackWrestle) November 19, 2022
NCSU-23 ILL-12 pic.twitter.com/fbJBf9niAu
The Central Michigan dual did not have as many ranked opportunities for N.C. State wrestlers, though Corbyn Munson did keep things interesting for the Chippewas when he beat Ed Scott 4-1 at 157 pounds. All of these results simply reinforce the unpredictability of this early season and the excitement of watching some guys finding their footing and break through. N.C. State's wins were ultimately expected though, and they'll once again be favorites to take home the ACC crown. The question for the Pack will be: can they start scoring enough points to enter the NCAA team trophy race?
Other ranked results:
- Oklahoma State over Wyoming 34-3
- North Dakota State over Binghamton 18-13
- Rutgers over Stanford 20-15
- Iowa State over Grand View 40-0
- Minnesota over Binghamton 19-15
- Ohio State over North Carolina 33-9