Just when you think the regular season is winding down and NCAA wrestling is biding its time until the post-season, we have a week like this one. With the WCWA national tournament providing highlights and crowning champions, the Division I teams upped their game to keep pace. We’ve got a team winning their first conference dual since moving to their current league in unbelievable fashion, a couple of teammates pulling big upsets to win their team a conference dual title, and much more!
7) Ngati secures historic dual win for West Virginia
When West Virginia joined the Big 12 in the summer of 2012, they were ready to compete in a lot of sports. However, the wrestling team was stepping into a difficult situation facing traditional powers Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Iowa State in conference duals year in and year out. In their first 19 conference duals, the Mountaineers were winless. It looked like they were on their way to their 20th consecutive defeat on Sunday when Iowa State raced out to a 15-3 lead, but West Virginia clawed their way back into the dual. Still, the Cyclones led 20-16 entering heavyweight. If Joe Scanlan (Iowa State) could hold Brandon Ngati (West Virginia), who was 1-19 entering the match, to a decision, Iowa State would win their second dual of the season and West Virginia’s losing streak would continue. Then, in the second period with Scanlan leading 1-0, this happened:
— WVU Wrestling (@WVUWrestling) February 12, 2017
West Virginia got their first Big 12 dual win, 22-20, over Iowa State.
6) Is Freddie Rodriguez back?
Freddie Rodriguez (SIU-Edwardsville) started off this season by winning 10 straight matches. He didn’t lose his first match until a December 4th showdown with seventh-ranked Josh Rodriguez (North Dakota State). After a couple more major decisions for Freddie, something went wrong. He lost five of his next seven matches, with one of the wins being a forfeit. He didn’t just lose either. He was pinned. He was teched. He was majored, too. In the four losses that got out of the first period, he gave up 72 points. Then, the switch flipped again. Rodriguez has been on fire the last few weeks, earning five straight wins, all by bonus points. After putting down Charles Kearney (The Citadel), 15-5, on Thursday, the SIU-Edwardsville senior punctuated his recent run of success with a 13-2 major decision over 12th-ranked Nathan Kraisser (Campbell). As we head towards the post-season, keep an eye on Rodriguez. If he stays hot, the former NJCAA national champion could do a lot of damage.
5) Steiert avenges loss with a pin
Bryce Steiert (Northern Iowa) has just three losses on the year and he avenged one of them Sunday, pinning sixth-ranked Daniel Lewis (Missouri) in the first period. Steiert fell to Lewis in the Southern Scuffle semi-finals, 7-2, and gave up the first takedown here as well. However, the Panther sophomore reversed the Tiger, put him on his back and pinned him in 2:23. Steiert wasn’t the only Northern Iowa wrestler to secure a big win in the dual so we’ll save the final details for now. However, it wasn’t the only win for Steiert on the weekend. He also put away Tyler Rill, 7-3, in what turned out to be a vital match as Northern Iowa beat Buffalo, 22-16, on Friday.
4) Martin earns biggest win at 184 so far
Reports of Myles Martin’s (Ohio State) demise have been greatly exaggerated. Certainly, the 2016 national champion at 174 pounds has not yet shown he is likely to win another title. However, he didn’t show signs of that last year, right up until he went out and did it. This season, he hasn’t lost to anyone outside the top-10 except for Pete Renda (NC State) who was third in the country last season but is redshirting. He missed chances to score big wins against fourth-ranked Sam Brooks (Iowa) and second-ranked Bo Nickal (Penn State) over the last couple of weeks, leading many to wonder how high he could reasonably finish in March. This week, he showed he still has top four potential with wins over #13 Nicholas Gravina (Rutgers) and third-ranked, returning national finalist TJ Dudley (Nebraska). Neither match was overly close, ending 9-2 and 11-5, as Martin flashed the skills that will continue to give him a chance against anyone. To cap his excellent week, Martin clinched the Buckeye win over Minnesota on Sunday by majoring Bobby Steveson in the final match of a tie dual.
3) Thomsen bounces back
Max Thomsen (Northern Iowa) had only lost to wrestlers ranked in front of him until last Sunday when #15 Davion Jeffries (Oklahoma) upset the Panther redshirt freshman, 7-2. That must not have shaken the young man from La Porte City, Iowa, as he shut out Colt Cotten (Buffalo), 6-0, on Friday night before getting the biggest win of his young career and avenging an earlier loss, racing past second-ranked Lavion Mayes (Missouri) in a 9-2 victory on Sunday. The win helped Northern Iowa to a resounding 25-10 win over the Tigers which meant the MAC regular season title is heading to Cedar Falls.
2) Miracle crushes the field for her third WCWA title
Kayla Miracle (Campbellsville) became the 11th wrestler in WCWA history to claim three titles and the junior remained on track to join Victoria Anthony (Simon Fraser), Helen Maroulis (Simon Fraser), and Emily Webster (Oklahoma City) as a four-time champion next season. It is hard to see anyone stopping her after a dominant performance in Oklahoma City. Miracle, a two-time World Junior bronze medalist, opened the tournament with three consecutive falls, the longest taking just 1:26, then earned a 10-0 tech-fall in both the semi-finals and title bout to take the crown at 136. Campbellsville, coached by Kayla’s father, Lee Miracle, finished third as a team.