wrestling-d1 flag

Shannon Scovel | NCAA.com | February 20, 2023

Penn State enters the postseason with six wrestlers ranked in the top-five

The most exciting college wrestlers to watch this season

Sunday afternoon marked the end of the regular season for all of the Big Ten wrestling programs around the country, as well as most of the other conferences nationally. These athletes will now shift their focus towards conference and national tournaments, but before we head into the postseason, here’s one final NCAA.com power ranking list, ordering wrestlers based on recent results, momentum, historic performance and general athletic resumes.

125 pounds

1. Spencer Lee, Iowa
2. Patrick Glory, Princeton
3. Liam Cronin, Nebraska
4. Matt Ramos, Purdue
5. Killian Cardinale, West Virginia

Iowa’s Spencer Lee, the No. 1 wrestler at this weight all season, wrapped up his dual career with the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday afternoon, pinning Oklahoma State’s Reece Witcraft in the first period to inspire a standing ovation from the Hawkeye faithful. Lee’s incredible run, however, is not over yet, as the three-time national champion will now head into the postseason and look to defend his title one last time.

The wrestler likely to be most competitive with Lee come March is Princeton’s Patrick Glory, the No. 2 wrestler in these power rankings once again. Glory did not wrestle this weekend against Bucknell, but he holds down the No. 2 spot as a result of his undefeated record. As the top-ranked EIWA wrestler, Glory will be expected to compete for a conference title and aim for one of the top two seeds at the national tournament, a seed that would put him in an ideal position to make another finals run.

PRINCETON WRESTLING: Tigers lead with strength and experience

Brandon Courtney, another returning national finalist, comes up short of making the power rankings this week after taking a loss in sudden victory to Liam Cronin, the surging Husker senior who holds down his No. 3 spot as a result of this bout. Cronin finishes out the dual season with an 18-3 record, the best of his career, and he’ll look to carry this momentum into the Big Ten tournament where he’s likely to see another tough top-five wrestler in Purdue’s Matt Ramos.

Though Ramos did not wrestle this weekend, he comes in at No. 4 on these last power rankings with his 26-3 record while undefeated Killian Cardinale rounds out the group, though Cardinale also did not wrestle last weekend or the weekend before. He’ll be the Big 12 favorite at the weight, and the conference tournament will be another good chance to see Cardinale in peak form before the national tournament.

133 pounds

1. Roman Bravo-Young, Penn State
2. Daton Fix, Oklahoma State
3. Vito Arujau, Cornell
4. Michael McGee, Arizona State
5. Connor McGonagle, Lehigh

Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young cruised through his last dual match as a Nittany Lion on Sunday, pinning Clarion’s Mason Prinkey in the second period. The No. 2 ranked wrestler on this list, Daton Fix, had to work a little harder for his wins over the weekend, but he too ended with bonus points. On Friday night, Fix topped Oklahoma’s Wyatt Henson 15-6 before beating Iowa’s Brody Teske 11-3. In the match against Teske, Fix entered the third period leading by just one point, but Daton Fix then did Daton Fix things and racked up near-fall points to earn the major. Fix is expected to roll through the Big 12 tournament again in two weeks and secure a fourth individual conference title, but the real test will come later in March when he’ll have a chance to work for a rematch against Bravo-Young at the national tournament.

Cornell’s Vito Arujau can’t be counted out of the title conversation either. With the exception of an earlier season loss to Virginia Tech’s Sam Latona, Arujau has looked elite, and he added to his strong resume over the weekend with a final dual win against Ohio State’s young star Jesse Mendez. Arujau gave up just one point in that bout, winning 6-1 to finish his dual season with a 16-1 record. He’s also a top contender in the EIWA and is on track for his second conference title.

LAST WEEK'S RANKINGS: Here's where the top five athletes in each weight stood before the weekend

Then, there’s Michael McGee. A consistent member of the “power rankings” list, McGee rounded out his dual season with two dominant wins over Romeo McNeil and Boo Dryden by tech fall and fall respectively. McGee’s only losses this year came against Arujau by decision, and he could potentially have another chance against the Cornell All-American again in March, depending on how the brackets fall. McGee’s best win came against No. 5 Connor McGonagle, and while the Lehigh lightweight did not compete this week, he still holds down this ranking heading into the postseason.

141 pounds

1. Andrew Alirez, Northern Colorado
2. Real Woods, Iowa
3. Cole Matthews, Pitt
4. Beau Bartlett, Penn State
5. Ryan Jack, N.C. State

The theme of 141 pounds this week was bonus points. No. 1 Andrew Alirez capped off his impressive, undefeated dual season with a second-period pin against Bryce Shelton while No. 2 Real Woods, No. 3 Cole Matthews and No. 4 Beau Bartlett all recorded major decisions. Woods shut down Oklahoma State’s Carter Young while Matthews put up 20 points against Christian Coleman of Duke in his 20-7 win. Bartlett’s major came by a standard eight points, and the Nittany Lion junior looks to be in good position to make a podium run in a few weeks.

The biggest shuffle in this weight this week came at the No. 5 spot with Nebraska’s Brock Hardy losing to Emilio Ysaguirre 10-4. This result pushed N.C. State’s Ryan Jack, a wrestler who has split matches with Hardy this year, into the final spot on the power rankings list. Jack’s taken just two losses this year, one to Hardy and another to Pitt’s Matthews by way of a 4-2 decision. He could have a shot against Matthews again in the ACC tournament before he resets for the NCAA championship and looks to earn All-American honors for the first time in his career.

149 pounds

1. Yianni Diakomihalis, Cornell
2. Sammy Sasso, Ohio State
3. Yahya Thomas, Northwestern
4. Austin Gomez, Wisconsin
5. Kyle Parco, Arizona State

Neither Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis nor Wisconsin’s Austin Gomez wrestled over the weekend, though both remain in the power rankings in their respective spots, as they are expected to back in time to compete in the postseason. Diakomihalis finished out his dual record with a 12-1 record, his lone loss coming against Gomez in November. His absence in his expected bout against Ohio State’s Sammy Sasso was notable, though Sasso handled Cornell’s backup Sal Jones, leading 6-2 before Jones was forced to injury default out of the dual. Sasso’s best wins this year came against Northwestern's Yayha Thomas, another top-five former All-American who did not wrestle over the weekend. Thomas ends his dual season with a 19-2 record with his only losses coming against Sasso.

STATE OF THE WEIGHT: The top contenders for a national title at 149 pounds

Sasso has just two losses on the year to Caleb Henson and Colin Realbuto, though he did take an exhibition loss to Wisconsin’s All-American Austin Gomez at the All-Star Classic. Gomez finished the year with a 10-2 record, his losses coming by decision against Iowa State’s Paniro Johnson and by injury default against Northwestern's Yayha Thomas on January 27. Gomez has not wrestled since his bout against Thomas, though he suggested in an interview with NCAA.com that he intends to return to the mat and compete for a national title in a few weeks.

All of these wrestlers, including No. 5 Kyle Parco of Arizona State who racked up two bonus-point wins over the weekend, make up one of the most interesting weight classes in the country and are set to compete in a wild national tournament bracket in a few weeks.

157 pounds

1. Peyton Robb, Nebraska
2. Austin O’Connor, North Carolina
3. Josh Humphreys, Lehigh
4. Jared Franek, North Dakota State
5. Bryce Andonian, Virginia Tech

This is tough. Last week I argued that Austin O’Connor should be No. 1 because of his bonus-point victory over Bryce Andonian. If I follow my own rules, Robb should get the top spot this week. O’Connor earned a solid win over a competitive Ed Scott in his dual over the weekend, but Robb took down Arizona State’s Max Wilner by tech fall. Willner is not currently ranked in the Top 33, but I like to see points on the board, so I’ll give Robb the edge this week. Both Robb and O’Connor are undefeated right now, and they’ll sort out this debate for No. 1 at nationals in March, but I’ll put Robb back on top for now as a reward for his win and his overall 23-0 record. Rankings are just for the fans, really. The results will be the results, and we’ll soon know which of these two guys can perform better when the lights are the brightest.

EXCITING WRESTLERS: Here are the 25 most interesting athletes identified at the start of the year

Robb wasn’t the only top-ranked middleweight to score bonus points though. No. 4 Jared Franek notched a tech fall over Caleb Gross of South Dakota State while No. 5 Bryce Andonian put himself back on track after his loss to O’Connor last weekend and finished out his dual season with a pin against Jake Keating, a quality opponent who finished in the Round of 16 last year.

No. 3 Josh Humphreys did not wrestle over the weekend as Lehigh wrapped up its dual schedule the week before, but Humphreys will be the favorite to take over the EIWA tournament next weekend. As a two-time Round of 12 finisher though, Humphreys is no doubt thinking about March as well. He has one last shot to end his career on the podium, and his record so far suggests he’s absolutely capable of earning that elusive top-eight finish.

165 pounds

1. David Carr, Iowa State
2. Keegan O'Toole, Missouri
3. Shane Griffith, Stanford
4. Cam Amine, Michigan
5. Quincy Monday, Princeton

David Carr. That’s the story of 165 pounds. The Iowa State junior surged into the top spot of the power rankings after his decisive 7-2 win over 2022 NCAA champion Keegan O’Toole on Wednesday night. Carr moves to 19-0 on the year while O’Toole ends the regular season with a 12-1 record. These two stars will likely meet again at the Big 12 tournament next weekend for another battle, but, for now, Carr stands alone at the top of 165 pounds.

ALL STARS: A complete recap of the 2022 NWCA All-Star exhibition dual in November

2021 NCAA champion Shane Griffith holds down his No. 3 spot with 2022 NCAA finalist Quincy Monday staying steady at No. 5. Griffith notched his final dual win of the regular season with a simple 2-0 result against Legend Lamer of Cal Poly, while Monday majored Chase Barlow of Bucknell.

All-American Cam Amine’s 3-1 win over Tracy Hubbard keeps him at No. 4, making him the highest-ranked Big 10 wrestler in a weight that could be particularly deep within the conference. Amine finished second last year at the Big Ten tournament to Iowa’s Alex Marinelli, but this year could be his chance to win gold, if he’s healthy.

174 pounds

1. Carter Starocci, Penn State
2. Mikey Labriola, Nebraska
3. Mekhi Lewis, Virginia Tech
4. Chris Foca, Cornell
5. Peyton Mocco, Missouri

Penn State's dangerous upperweight lineup begins with the dominance of 174-pounder Carter Starocci, the two-time NCAA champ who ended his regular season with a technical fall against Clarion on Sunday. Starocci is 16-0 on the year with his best wins Nelson Brands, All-Americans Ethan Smith and Jackson Turley as well as No. 13 DJ Washington and No. 14 Nelson Brands. Starocci is as dangerous as ever, but he could face a tricky Mikey Labriola in the Big Ten tournament next weekend.

Labriola, whose best win came against No. 3 Mekhi Lewis back in December, is 24-0 on the year and has put together the best regular season record of his career this year. He has yet to face Starocci this season, but he did finish off his undefeated dual schedule with a decision win over Cael Valencia of Arizona State on Sunday. While Starocci and Labriola battle for Big Ten supremacy, Virginia Tech's Mekhi Lewis will be looking to make some history of his own, as he chases his third ACC title and second NCAA title this March. Lewis ended his regular season with a third-period pin against Victor Marcelli of Virginia, and the Hokie veteran looks primed to make some noise on the national scene again.

PENN STATE TOPS IOWA: Nittany Lions earn victory in 23-14 Big Ten showdown

Chris Foca, the Cornell upperweight ranked No. 4 in the power rankings, did not wrestle over the weekend, though he was expected to face off against All-American Ethan Smith in an epic battle that would have provided more insight on how to accurately rank these two stars. Instead, both Foca and Smith sat out of the dual, with Foca thus ending his regular season with a 21-1 record and Smith concluding his regular season with a 15-5 record. Foca has the edge in the rankings because he has fewer losses, but Smith could be a problem for anyone he meets in his NCAA bracket. Smith has an argument to be No. 5 in this ranking, but I went with Missouri's Peyton Mocco for that last spot last week, and I'll stick to that decision again this week.

Mocco picked up a nice win against Oklahoma State All-American Dustin Plott 4-3 on Wednesday and followed that with a 7-5 win over a tough Julian Broderson of Iowa State. The win against Plott reverses a result from earlier this year in which Plott topped his Tiger foe 12-7. Mocco's only other losses came against Mekhi Lewis and Edmond Ruth of Illinois. Much like the other weight classes, these rankings are just for fun and not necessarily a prediction for final results. Mocco has kept his matches close, and he could make a run for a top spot on the podium, but this weight class is deep, adding intrigue to the storylines at 174 pounds.

184 pounds

1. Aaron Brooks, Penn State
2. Parker Keckeisen, Northern Iowa
3. Trent Hidlay, NC State
4. Marcus Coleman, Iowa State
5. Kaleb Romero, Ohio State

While weights like 165 pounds brought drama and excitement over the last week, 184 pounds played out in a quieter manner. No. 1 Aaron Brooks and No. 5 Kaleb Romero did not wrestle, while No. 2 Parker Keckeisen and No. 3 Trent Hidlay picked up technical falls over Drew Scharenbrock and Carson Tenold, respectively.  No. 4 Marcus Coleman also notched a win, securing a 4-2 decision over Colton Hawks. Brooks and Romero will likely meet in the Big Ten tournament, with Brooks holding the 2-0 advantage over Romero in their previous meetings. The Buckeye did keep the last bout within one point, but Brooks is still the favorite at this weight class.

DEFENDING CHAMPS: 5 takeaways from the 2022 ACC wrestling tournament

Coleman is the only athlete in the field with a career win over Brooks, but Coleman's losses to Parker Keckeisen and Trey Munoz keep him at No. 4. Munoz has a case to be in this Top 5 power ranking, particularly after his pin over Jared Priest on Sunday. He'll be the favorite in the Pac-12 conference and is a likely All-American as well, assuming he wrestles his national tournament like he's wrestled this regular season.

197 pounds

1. Nino Bonaccorsi, Pittsburgh
2. Michael Beard, Lehigh
3. Max Dean, Penn State
4. Rocky Elam, Missouri
5. Bernie Truax, Cal Poly

For the second time in his career, Pittsburgh senior Nino Bonacorssi ended the regular season undefeated. The last time he posted a record this strong, he finished second at NCAAs, but now Bonacorssi is after something bigger: he has the chance to win it all. The Panther wrapped up his dual schedule with a tech fall over Vincent Baker of Duke, and he'll now look to claim his third ACC championship at the weight before making his title run.

Standing in Bonaccorsi's way of national glory is a weight full of contenders, led by Lehigh's Michael Beard and Penn State's Max Dean, former teammates who come into the postseason with 16-2 and 18-2 records respectively. Beard beat Dean in December but lost to Bonaccorsi and Cal Poly's Bernie Truax, while Dean's second loss came against Ethan Laird of Rider. Truax comes in at No. 5 again this week after wins over Nick Stemmet and Tanner Harvey, while Rocky Elam of Missouri holds down the No. 4 spot after his 4-0 win over Yonger Bastida. Elam's lone loss on the year came against Luke Surber of Oklahoma State, but the win against All-American Bastida suggests that Elam is still ready to compete at peak form.

ALL-AMERICANS: Meet the 2022 NCAA wrestling placewinners

Dean is the only athlete in this weight to have won a title previously, though the remainder of the athletes in the Top 5 have all finished with All-American honors in the past. Can Bonaccorsi end his career with a championship, or will Dean or another member of this cast of characters take down the top-ranked upperweight and capture their own glory?

285 pounds

1. Mason Parris, Michigan
2. Greg Kerkvliet, Penn State
3. Tony Cassioppi, Iowa
4. Lucas Davison, Northwestern
5. Wyatt Hendrickson, Air Force

Michigan's Mason Parris has taken over heavyweight with authority. Undefeated on the season with a 25-0 record, Parris has beaten No. 2 Greg Kerkvliet, No. 3 Tony Cassioppi, No. 4 Lucas Davison and Wyatt Hendrickson, making him undeniably the best wrestler at the weight and someone in the mix for a Hodge Trophy, particularly in the unlikely scenario that three-time champ Spencer Lee drops a match. Parris rounded out his season with a major decision against Bryan Caves of Central Michigan, and he'll enter the postseason with a 68% bonus rate.

Bonus points are the name of the game at heavyweight though, as No. 2 Greg Kerkvliet and No. 5 Wyatt Hendrickson also have over 60% bonus. Kerkvliet added another bonus point win on Sunday with his pin over Austin Chapman of Clarion on Sunday, and he ends his regular season with a 13-1 record, his lone loss coming against Parris.

Kerkvliet's best win this year came against Iowa's Cassioppi, keeping Cassioppi at No. 3. The Hawk star has only lost to Kerkvliet and Parris, though Northwestern's Lucas Davison did give him quite the match earlier this year. The heavyweight division in the Big Ten is always fun, and this year is no exception.

DOMINANCE: Understanding the pinning power of Wyatt Hendrickson

Air Force's Wyatt Hendrickson rounds out the top five once again, largely due to his 83.33% bonus rate. Hendrickson recorded his 14th fall of the year on Sunday, and while he does have a loss to Parris, Hendrickson is strong and tough, making him a potential All-American contender again this year.


25 notable college wrestlers to watch in 2023-2024

With less than two months until the start of the 2023-2024 NCAA men’s wrestling season, it’s time to take stock of the field and evaluate the biggest names in the sport. Here are the 25 names you need to know heading into this season.

The college wrestling fan’s guide to the 2023 Senior World Championships

Here's what you need to know about the current and former college wrestlers competing in the 2023 Senior World Wrestling Championships from September 16-24, 2023.

The college wrestling fan's guide to Final X — highlighted by Kyle Snyder vs. J’den Cox

Breaking down all of the biggest matches in Final X, from a college wrestling fan's perspective.