There is an argument that transcends NCAA Divisions, fanbases, and even sports. Who deserves to be competing for national titles? Not just who gets to, but how do we decide who is going to compete. Look at the college football playoff system, or how the March Madness bracket is selected, people are always left upset. Even Division I wrestling is not free from controversy. The use of “wildcard” bids tries to assure the best 33 athletes head to the tournament, but it will always have its detractors. Do not even get me started on Division III wrestling!
Division II wrestling is no different, they just tried something new last year, which allows us to begin the argument from a fresh place. Instead of four regionals with the top four advancing to the national tournament, the country was divided into six Super Regionals. Instead of the top four punching their ticket to the national tournament, now each Super Regional sends the top three finishers to the dance. Yes, I understand that 18 wrestlers do not an even bracket make. The committee solved that problem by giving each weight two “pigtail” matches that take the championship bracket down to the traditional 16. Gone are the “true-fourth” matches to decide the final spot, now if you are wrestling in the consolation semifinals it is an all or nothing match. It made for some crazy results in the qualifying tournaments. When all was said and done, seven wrestlers that were ranked in the top five missed out on the tournament. In total, 28 wrestlers that were ranked in the top-12, to end the regular season, missed out on a trip to Cleveland.
At the end of the day, 180 athletes were headed to the national tournament where everyone began their season anew. That means every Super Regional was on equal footing with three wrestlers at each weight trying to finish in the top eight and become an All-American. There is obviously a limited sample size to jump to any conclusions, but when do I ever let something like “science” get in the way of my opinion. I decided to look at the results and decide using a totally scientific approach, as to which Super Regional was the toughest last season.
The math is pretty simple, there are 10 weights with a total of 80 All-American spots available. Every Super Regional has the same chance to advance its wrestlers to the podium. In a surprise to me, there was only one weight where an athlete from every region was represented on the podium, 165 was the “fairest” weight. The simplest way to decide who was best, was to add up the All-Americans, and that's where I started. I am obviously not going to tell you who was the best at the start of the article, I want you to actually read the whole thing! Be patient as I break down each Super Regionals performance where it mattered from worst to best.
Super Regional II
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