Injuries are a part of life on the wrestling mat and each year they play a role as the season unfolds. Today, we look at five wrestlers who are coming back from injury and, if healthy, could give a major boost to their respective teams during the upcoming season.
Kyle Crutchmer (Oklahoma State)
The 2015 NCAA fifth-place finisher, Crutchmer was the highest returning placer at 174 a year ago. He had another successful campaign going before suffering a season-ending broken foot in the February version of Bedlam. A couple of surgeries later, Kyle is now preparing for a senior season that, if he can stay healthy, could end on Saturday night in St. Louis. The Cowboys will need him to be at his best to challenge for a team title. The good news here is that this was not a joint injury and the Cowboys expect Crutchmer to be ready to start the season. The bad news is Crutchmer’s off-season training could not have been ideal as he recovered so it may take him some time to be at his best once again.
Sam Stoll (Iowa)
Stoll looked to be on track for an All-American finish in his freshman year before injuring his knee in a dual with NC State, and Nick Gwiazdowski, on February 22nd. He gamely fought through the injury at Big 10s, going 2-2 before defaulting the seventh place match, and received an at-large bid to NCAAs. In the first round in New York, he aggravated the injury and was forced to default out of the tournament. On March 26th, Stoll tweeted “Day 1 into a long road to recovery.” Much like Crutchmer, Stoll’s off-season will not have been ideal. Unlike Crutchmer, it appears Stoll won’t be ready for a while yet, though he is expected to be back in the mix sometime around the start of 2017. Iowa is another team with title aspirations and Sam is a big part of that. They must be careful as he comes back, but also need to ensure he is wrestling at his best by March.
David McFadden (Va Tech)
McFadden was a rare true freshman All-American in 2016, finishing sixth at NCAAs just a year after winning his second New Jersey state title. However, he had knee surgery in the spring and Virginia Tech Head Coach Kevin Dresser said last month, “David might not be ready right away in November.” While the Hokies do expect McFadden to compete at some point, he does have a redshirt available if his recovery does not progress as expected. The team’s hopes would take a big hit without McFadden, but if, for some reason, he isn’t going to be 100% a redshirt would make sense. Keep an eye on this situation as the season begins.
Nick Nevills (Penn State)
Nevills is just one of the injury questions for the Nittany Lions heading into 2016-17, but he is the one that Penn State would have the hardest time replacing. Nevills is coming off two injuries, first a broken foot during his redshirt campaign and then, in October of 2015, a torn pectoral muscle that nearly cost him all of last year. He did return on February 12th but was unable to find his form in time to qualify for NCAAs. Because he entered the off-season relatively healthy, Nevills should be ahead of the rest of the wrestlers on this list when it comes to conditioning and preparation for the upcoming season. His challenge will be to stay healthy long enough to show his many talents. If he can do that, it will go a long way towards bringing another NCAA championship trophy back to Happy Valley.
Matt Manley (Missouri)
It seems that every year a wrestler under-performs at the NCAA tournament only for it to be revealed later that he was injured coming in. Such was the case with Manley who sustained ligament damage, that required off-season surgery, in his right knee at the MAC tournament before going 0-2 from the fifth seed in Madison Square Garden. Manley returns for his senior year on a team that quietly has a chance to do some serious damage if everything falls into place. Matt is, obviously, a major cog in that plan. According to Missouri, “Matt is practicing with the team and progressing well from his surgery. He is expected back in the lineup sometime in the first semester.” Just as with the others who spent the off-season recovering, Manley, when he does return, may start slowly, but expect him to get better and better. If he is healthy at the end he should be on the podium, even with the difficult field amassing at 141.
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