Middle photo by Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com
The roller coaster ride that is college wrestling raced into week two, continuing to pick up steam. Arizona State’s trip north to take on a pair of top-three teams highlighted the dual action, pairing nicely with the usual smattering of individual tournaments. Every week, we learn a little more or, at least, we think we do. Once again this week there were a few stunning upsets, statements made, and wrestlers making their case to earn a starting nod. Here are nine of the best performances from week two!
9) Columbia can’t wait to get this wrestler back
Three-time NCAA qualifier Markus Scheidel is planning to return to Columbia for the second semester, but he looked to be in midseason form already at the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open. Scheidel had to survive a pair of close calls early, opening with a 14-13 and 3-2 decision to reach the semifinals. That must have been all he needed to get warmed up, though, as the Columbia single-season win record holder pinned Alex Smythe (Buffalo) to set up a showdown with an old rival, 17th ranked Justin Staudenmayer (Brown) in the finals. The two had split four matches between them over their college careers and it would be Scheidel claiming the 3-2 edge on this day. A reversal and two-point nearfall late in the second period staked the senior to a 7-2 lead and Markus kept that margin, winning 8-3 to earn the tournament title.
8) Moving up and making it look easy
Moving up to 184 pounds seems to suit Ryan Preisch (Lehigh) just fine. Preisch didn’t surrender a single point in posting wins in the Bucknell dual and the round robin at the Journeymen Collegiate Classic, outscoring the opposition 36-0 in total. The junior found the going a little tougher against 13th ranked Zach Zavatsky (Virginia Tech), the five seed at each of the past two NCAA tournaments, in the finals, but secured the winning takedown in sudden victory to win 4-2. With Jordan Kutler looking strong at 174, Lehigh’s lineup shuffle seems to be paying dividends already.
7) Guess who’s back?
While the 184 pound final at the Journeymen didn’t go Virginia Tech’s way, David Mcfadden made Hokie fans happy at 165. After opening his tournament with a tech-fall, McFadden survived the always dangerous Gordon Wolf (Lehigh), 11-7, to earn a spot in the finals. The 2016 All-American who redshirted last season clashed with fourth-ranked Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State) and found himself trailing 3-2 as the clock ticked down. Instead of settling for silver, Mcfadden found a way to score, stealing the match and the title for himself, 4-3. 165 pounds looks to be the top three, then everyone else, but a few more performances like this could see McFadden added to that conversation.
6) Not perfect, but darn good
For the second straight year, Oklahoma State bulked up a former 197 to fill a hole at 285. Derek White, who transferred in from Nebraska before last season, looked like he might follow in Austin Schafer’s footsteps, getting a 10-1 victory over Cory Daniel (North Carolina) on Saturday before going 2-1 against ranked opponents on Sunday. In his first big test, White took down number 20 Jordan Wood (Lehigh), a past Cadet world silver medalist, 3-2. He topped that in his next match, majoring 12th ranked Thomas Haines (Lock Haven), who Wood also beat on the day, 12-1. That put the Cowboy in the finals against eighth-ranked Michael Hughes (Hofstra) where he would fall, 1-0. Despite the loss, White’s weekend should see him rise into the top-20 and Oklahoma State once again has answered what was expected to be a question mark at 285.
5) True freshman starts on the right foot
Two-time Cadet world champion Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell) made his college wrestling debut at the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open on Sunday, proving to anyone watching that the injuries that have plagued him over the last year or so haven’t slowed him down. The true freshman had two tech-falls and a pin as he worked his way to the semifinals against another well-regarded prospect, Nick Lee (Penn State). Diakomihalis scored four takedowns to one for Lee and controlled the match in a 12-7 win. The final wasn’t as close. Yianni rolled to a 13-4 major decision over AJ Jaffe (Harvard) to win his first college tournament. It won’t be his last.
4) If there is time on the clock, there is time left to wrestle
Last season in the Southern Scuffle final, Scott Parker (Lehigh) was battling Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) when he was struck down by an injury and forced to default. Parker would miss more than a month, but return in time to become an All-American. After a major decision in the Bucknell dual, Parker navigated a difficult road at the Journeymen, topping both Josh Terao (American) and Dennis Gustafson (Virginia Tech), both ranked foes, by two points each. That earned the junior a rematch with Brock. Just as he did in the Scuffle final, Parker fell behind, but he got the full seven minutes this time and made the most of it. Trailing, in effect, 8-3 with 20 seconds left, Parker took Brock to his back for a six-point move, stunning the 2017 national fifth-place finisher, 9-8. With the two unlikely to meet the rest of the way, that big move could be huge when it comes time to seed the field in Cleveland.
3) Year of Zahid?
After going 38-1 as a redshirt freshman last season, no one is surprised to see Zahid Valencia (Arizona State) staking his claim as the man to beat at 174 pounds. However, the way he dismantled second-ranked Bo Jordan (Ohio State) on Sunday had to have raised a few eyebrows. After beating defending national champion Mark Hall (Penn State) in an unofficial bout at the All-Star Classic last weekend, Zahid continued his march through the other title contenders by first dropping fourth-ranked Myles Amine (Michigan), 4-2, then putting on a show in a 9-4 win over Jordan. What was expected to be a tight battle between two of the best in the weight wasn’t overly competitive and had many predicting Zahid would go undefeated. Jordan could get another shot at the Sun Devil sophomore in Vegas, but so far Valencia has had all the answers.
2) A good problem presents itself
Michigan was forced to forfeit 125 pounds against Arizona State Friday night as Austin Assad was too banged up to compete and their other two options are true freshmen. While no decision has been made to this point, one of those first years made his case over the weekend that he is ready to go right now. Drew Mattin wrestled unattached at the Eastern Michigan Open on Saturday, opening with an 11-0 victory over Drew Hildebrandt (Central Michigan). That was a nice win, but Mattin was just getting started. In the semifinals, he topped 2017 All-American Sean Russell (Edinboro), 6-3, then claimed the crown by knocking off 18th ranked Brock Hudkins (Northern Illinois), 6-5. When Assad gets healthy, he may still be given the chance to hold the spot, but if this is the level Mattin is going to compete at this season, it will be difficult to keep him on the sidelines.