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Crafting A TOM 2021-22 All-Transfer Team

2021 165-pound NCAA Champion Shane Griffith. (Image courtesy of Stanford Athletics/Shane Griffith’s Twitter. 

Since the transfer portal opened in October of 2018, it has been a frequently discussed and often ridiculed topic in college athletics. The portal has essentially brought a semblance of free agency to college athletics. With that, athletes get some more control over their careers (which they deserve), but it has made a Division I coach’s job exponentially more challenging concerning recruiting. Now, coaches have to re-recruit wrestlers that they have already signed on a season-by-season basis because athletes can find a new home at any moment quite easily.

This offseason, there are plenty of big-time transfers that have already happened, and there are still many talented Division I wrestlers currently looking for a new home.

With this in mind, here is The Open Mat’s All-Transfer Team. As the name would suggest, it’s a hypothetical starting 10 made from those in (or recently in) the transfer portal. At a few weights, there are even honorable mention selections because the choice was that tough.

125: Gage Curry (Transferring from American to ??)

Curry is a four-time NCAA qualifier who has wins over West Virginia 2021 NCAA finalist Brandon Courtney of Arizona State, 2021 All-American Killian Cardinale, and Illinois’ 2019 NCAA qualifier Justin Cardani, to name a few.

Honorable Mention: Joey Prada

Prada is a 2020 NCAA qualifier and a two-time third-place finisher at the ACC Championships for Virginia Tech.

133: Austin Gomez (Transferring from Iowa State to ??)

Gomez has had trouble with injuries during his time in Ames, so he medically retired from Iowa State in December 2020. However, earlier this month, he announced he was coming back to the mats but not in a Cyclones singlet. Injuries have greatly hampered his collegiate career, but the talent is there.   During the 2018-19 season, his healthiest as a collegiate wrestler, Gomez authored a 24-7 record as a redshirt freshman. He placed third at the Big 12 Championships that year. Those marks were good enough to qualify the then-redshirt freshman for the 2019 NCAA Championships, where he made it to the round of 12. Gomez hasn’t appeared in a match for Iowa State since his showing at the 2019 NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh. When healthy, he has shown that he can go toe-to-toe with anyone at the weight.

Honorable Mention: Nick Raimo (Transferred from Arizona State to Rutgers)

We haven’t seen much of Raimo on the college scene, but expectations are high. The now-Rutgers lightweight was a two-time New Jersey state champion in his sophomore and senior year and was a three-time state finalist. He was a nationally ranked recruit who ended his high school career 132-5. It should be interesting to see if Raimo can crack the starting 10 in a stacked room of lightweights in Piscataway.

141: Real Woods (Transferring from Stanford to ??)

Woods spectacularly burst onto the scene, going 22-1 wrestling unattached at 141 pounds in 2018-19. He logged 13 technical falls and knocked off two ranked opponents that season. As a redshirt freshman, he went 19-1 en route to a Pac-12 title at 141. His chance at NCAAs was taken away by the COVID-19 pandemic. While he didn’t see much mat time this past season, mainly focused on earning his Stanford degree at a much-accelerated rate due to Stanford’s decision to cut the program, the talent is obvious. Woods is one of the most coveted transfers in the country.

Honorable Mention: Kyle Parco (Transferring from Fresno State to Arizona State)

Sadly, with Fresno State discontinuing its program, Parco is one of many Fresno Bulldog looking for a new home. As a redshirt freshman this past season, Parco peaked at the right time and found the podium in St. Louis, finishing in sixth. He will be quite an excellent addition to the next school he chooses.

Honorable Mention: Gabriel Tagg (Leaving North Carolina for ??)

Like Riamo, Tagg hasn’t seen many live matches in college, but he was a prized recruit as a high schooler. Additionally, Tagg is quite the accomplished Freestyle competitor. The Colorado Springs, Colorado, native was a bronze medalist at the 2019 U.S. Junior World Championships, a U.S. Open Junior Freestyle Champion at 61 kg, and a 2019 Austria Flatz Open Champion for Team USA at 65 kg. Tagg has also trained at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in his hometown.

149: Jaden Abas (Transferring from Stanford to ??)

Abas is another very talented Stanford grappler in search of a home. Last year, in his first season in a varsity lineup for the Cardinal as a redshirt freshman, Abas was a Pac-12 champ and an All-American in St. Louis, finishing in seventh.

Honorable Mention: Cory Crooks (Transferred from Arizona to Oregon State)

Crooks brings some veteran leadership to Corvallis. He is a solid pickup for an Oregon State Beavers squad building something special under Chris Pendleton. He has a top-3 Pac 12 Championships finish to his credit from 2019-20. He also placed fifth at the U23 Nationals in Omaha in November 2020, with an overall record of 8-2.

157: Elijah Cleary (Transferring from Ohio State to  ??)

The 157-pound class was the most challenging weight to fill with a starter, as the portal isn’t deep at this weight. Maybe one of the 141-pounders or 149-pounders will move up? That said, I picked Elijah Cleary and Bo Pipher because they are both seasoned wrestlers who have been training at top programs in Ohio State Penn State under Tom Ryan and Cael Sanderson, respectively, for the last five seasons. In both instances, the experience they each possess will prove beneficial to their next institutions. 

Honorable Mention: Bo Pipher (Transferring from Penn State to ??)

Pipher, much like Cleary, brings a veteran presence with experience training in one of the best practice rooms in the country. In 2021-22 Pipher  (and Cleary for that matter) will be heading into his sixth season. Both have spent portions of their careers in the starting lineups.

165: Shane Griffith (Transferring from Stanford to ??)

Any time a reigning national champ is on the move, it’s a big deal. There is talk that Griffith will be bumping up to 174 for next season. Since he has been at 165 for most of his career, that’s the weight he will occupy for this article. As everyone knows, the Cardinal 165-pounder was a Pac-12 and NCAA champion at the weight in St. Louis. Like his fellow Cardinal teammates, he is one of the biggest transfer targets this offseason.

174: Andrew McNally (Transferred from Kent State to Wisconsin)

Ironically, both the “starter” and “honorable mention” are both tied to the Wisconsin Badgers in some form. Andrew McNally, a former Golden Flash, is transferring into Madison, while current Wisconsin 174-pounder Jared Krattiger (Honorable Mention) is transferring out. McNally three-time NCAA qualifier with nearly 120 college wins to his credit. In St. Louis, the MAC standout was just one win away from All-America status.

Honorable Mention: Jared Krattiger (Transferring from Wisconsin to ??)

Despite his decision to leave Wisconsin, Krattiger is a solid get for any program interested. Krattiger was actually in the portal week before McNally. Whoever picks up Krattiger is getting a guy who has been close but hasn’t managed to come out on top in the marquee matches just yet. While he hasn’t earned those signature wins, he has had some close contests with NCAA champ Carter Starocci, All-American Mikey Labriola, and others. Krattiger has a way to go yet, but there is a solid foundation there.

 184: Max Dean (Transferring from Cornell to ??)

This one shocked the wrestling world earlier this month. The Dean name is synonymous with Cornell wrestling. However, fears that the Ivy League would cancel its season again in 2021-22, as the conference did last year, sent the younger of the Dean brothers to the portal. While he hasn’t wrestled for the Big Red in some time, he is a star. Dean, a 2019 NCAA finalist and two-time All-American, is arguably one of the biggest (and most unexpected) names to grace the transfer portal all season. He is an instant title-contender wherever he lands. Including a grey shirt and an Olympic redshirt year, Dean is 91-18 on the collegiate level. Overall, he is 57-12, excluding redshirt and grey shirt action.

197: Greg Bulsak (Transferred from Clarion to Rutgers)

A three-time NCAA qualifier and a redshirt senior, Bulsak wrestled at 197 pounds the last two seasons. He became Clarion’s first MAC champion in 2020 and was seeded 10th in that year’s NCAA Tournament before the tournament was canceled. Bulsak’s arrival in Piscataway will add some depth to an already very talented crop of Scarlet Knight upper weights, arguably their most acclaimed trio of upper weights in recent memory.

285: Nathan Traxler (Transferring from Stanford to ???)

Yet another Stanford star finds his way onto that talent-laden TOM All-Transfer Portal Team. Traxler is a four-time NCAA qualifier and 2019 Pac-12 champ (197), with a sterling academic resume to match. He has spent significant time in the national polls throughout his career as well.

Honorable Mention: Gary Traub (Transferred from Ohio State to Oregon State)

Gary Traub, affectionately known as Gas Tank Gary, was also looking for a new stomping ground next year. Traub placed himself in the transfer portal back on March 22. The former walk-on turned college wrestling fan favorite has linked himself with Chris Pendleton and the Oregon State Beavers for the remainder of his college career. The Former buckeye has impressive wins over Lewis Fernandes, Luke Luffman, Seth Nevills, and Thomas Penola.

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