The final week of NCAA Division I wrestling is in the books. The postseason has already begun for many, but the top division finally joins the party next week with the Pac-12 tournament and the week after for the rest of the qualifiers. Before we get to that, lets take a look back at the final week which featured more spectacular performances, adding to all the outstanding moments we’ve seen all year long!
8) Pfarr sparks dismantling of Cyclones
When your older brother is ranked second in the country the season after winning his first All-American award while your own career record still sits under .500, it could be easy to get lost in the shadows. However, Chris Pfarr (Minnesota) stepped into a spotlight all his own on Sunday upsetting 2016 All-American Lelund Weatherspoon (Iowa State), 10-4, in the opening match of the Golden Gophers’ 40-7 walloping of the Cyclones. Pfarr had lost four consecutive matches entering this one, but you wouldn’t have known it by the way he wrestled. Said head coach Brandon Eggum after the dual, “Chris Pfarr’s win at 174 was key today. He upset a top-ranked wrestler at his weight class and our guys were pretty fired up after that. That was big. It got us on a roll.”
7) McCutcheon declares his intent at 197
Matt McCutcheon (Penn State) would probably prefer to be down at 184, like he was last year. However, even up at 197, he has his sites set on a high finish next month. The Nittany Lion junior had been good up a weight this season, but he had yet to defeat a top-10 opponent to prove he could become an All-American. That changed on Sunday as he knocked off fifth-ranked Preston Weigel (Oklahoma State), 4-3, as his team went on the road and thumped the second-ranked Cowboys, 27-13. After choosing neutral in the third period to stay out from under Weigel, McCutcheon needed a takedown. He got two and the victory.
6) Realbuto produces vital victory
In a tight dual meet, having an experienced senior you can rely on can be the difference between victory and defeat. That was the case for Cornell on Sunday. Third-ranked Brian Realbuto (Cornell), wrestling his final match at home after four years in the starting line-up, became the first wrestler to beat second-ranked Bo Jordan (Ohio State) at 174 pounds and only the third man to beat him in college, as the Big Red outlasted the Buckeyes, 19-18. Realbuto wasted no time, striking for a takedown just 16 seconds into the match. That would be the deciding factor in a 3-2 victory.
5) Crone’s best season gets better
Andrew Crone (Wisconsin) is having the best season of his career after winning just 26 matches combined over the last two seasons. His 24th win of this season was the best since he came to Madison as he rallied back after giving up the opening takedown to blast seventh-ranked Justin Oliver (Central Michigan), 14-5. The win was key as Wisconsin knocked off Central Michigan, 19-17. Both Crone and the Badgers end the regular season on four-match winning streaks after also notching wins against Michigan State on Friday. The junior from Delafield, Wisconsin, was just 20th in this week’s rankings but showed he has the potential to be a dangerous man this post-season.
4) Lugo shocks Sorensen
After taking care of business in a 12-6 win over Christian Monserrat (West Virginia) on Friday night, Patricio Lugo (Edinboro) stunned third-ranked Brandon Sorensen (Iowa). After a pair of first-period takedowns, the Edinboro sophomore had to come up with a third in sudden victory to get his hand raised, 7-5. Lugo entered the week ranked 10th in the country, but had thus far been unable to score the big win that proved he could compete with the best at the weight. Considering Sorensen was in the NCAA finals a year ago, I’d say this qualifies.
3) Pagano notches huge win
Sophomore Jordan Pagano (Rutgers) got the biggest win of his young career Friday when he took down fourth-ranked Ryan Preisch (Lehigh), 10-4. Pagano took Preisch down three times to keep his outstanding second semester rolling, running his record to 8-1 in 2017. Head coach Scott Goodale said of Pagano, “He keeps getting better and better. He’s got a lot of confidence. He lives a lifestyle that leads to moments like this. Good things are going to happen when you’re doing everything right. That’s been my message for 10 years and it’s happening to Jordan Pagano.” After breaking into the rankings last week, expect the man from South Brunswick, New Jersey, to continue to climb.
2) Solomon did what?!
The evolution of Jacob Kasper (Duke) from a nice story to one of the best heavyweights in the nation took place over a 20 match winning streak that included wins over fifth-ranked Ty Walz (Virginia Tech), sixth-ranked Austin Schafer (Oklahoma State), and seventh-ranked Michael Kroells (Minnesota) among others. That winning streak is over after Ryan Solomon (Pittsburgh), who has been in and out of the rankings this season, took down Kasper in the opening frame and did what so many have been unable to do in 2016-17, held the Duke junior to no offensive points. Solomon’s 4-3 win helped Pittsburgh put away Duke, 28-9.