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Quartet of Big Ten 125-pounders shine in 2022 debuts, but what’s next?

Pictured: Michigan’s Nick Suriano (top) wrestling vs. Pitt’s Gage Curry (bottom) during a Michigan vs. Pitt dual meet at Fitzgerald Field House in Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday, January, 9. Photo by Sam Janicki / @SJanickiPhoto. 

If you have seen the latest TOM Takeaways story (1/10/22) or the newest TOM Individual D-1 National Rankings (1/11/22), you have noticed that there was a serious shake-up at 125 pounds.

The changes were a result of four long-awaited season debuts from 2019 NCAA champion Nick Suriano (Michigan), 2021 All-American Drew Hildebrandt (Penn State), 2021 NWCA All-American Michael DeAugustino (Northwestern), and  highly-toughed true freshman Drake Ayala (Iowa).

After solid opening weekends for each of them, all four guys find themselves within the top 11 spots nationally. As a conference, the Big Ten has eight of the best 20 125-pounders in the nation, according to The Open Mat.  

Let’s take a look at the upcoming schedules for these stellar Big Ten lightweights who made 2022 varsity debuts this past weekend: No. 1 Nick Suriano, No. 5 Drew Hildebrandt, No. 7 Michael DeAugustino, and No. 11 Drake Ayala.

No. 1 Nick Suriano (Michigan) – (2-0)

Jan: 14: No. 17 Malik Heinselman (Ohio State) – (11-1)

Jan. 21: No. 5 Drew Hildebrandt (Penn State) – (2-0)

Jan. 23: Dylan Shawver (Rutgers) – (13-3)

Jan 28: No. 12 Pat McKee (Minnesota) – (14-2)

Jan 30:  Zach Spence (Maryland) – (0-10)

Feb 4: Liam Cronin (Nebraska) – (3-3)

Feb 11: Jacob Moran (Indiana) – (8-4)

Feb. 13: Tristan Lujan (Michigan State) – (7-5)

Feb 20: Brock Bergelin (Central Michigan) – (10-6) 

Mar. 5-6: Big Ten Championships (Lincoln, Neb.)

Mar. 17-19: NCAA Championships (Detroit, MI)

Record vs. TOM-ranked opponents so far: 0-0

Potential TOM-ranked opponents left to face during the regular season: 3 of 9 (33%)

No. 5 Drew (Hildebrandt Penn State) – (2-0)

Jan. 16: Dylan Shawver (Rutgers) – (13-3)

Jan 21: No. 1 Nick Suriano (Michigan) – (2-0)

Jan. 23: Tristan Lujan (Michigan State) – (7-5)

Jan 28: No. 11 Drake Ayala (Iowa) – (11-3)

Feb. 4: No. 17 Malik Heinselman (Ohio State) – (11-1)

Feb 6: Liam Cronin (Nebraska) – (3-3)

Feb 20: Tyler Klinsky (Rider) – (7-3)

Mar. 5-6: Big Ten Championships (Lincoln, Neb.)

Mar. 17-19: NCAA Championships (Detroit, MI)

Record vs. TOM-ranked opponents so far: 0-0

Potential TOM-ranked opponents left to face during the regular season: 3 of 7 (43%)

No. 7 Michael DeAugustino (Northwestern) – (2-0)

Jan 14: No. 11 Drake Ayala (Iowa) – (11-3)

Jan 23: Liam Cronin (Nebraska) – (3-3)

Jan. 29: Justin Cardani (Illinois) – (9-2)

Feb 6: Zach Spence (Maryland) – (0-10)

Feb. 11: Tristan Lujan (Michigan State) – (7-5)

Feb 13: Bryce West (Northern Illinois) – (10-10)

Feb 19: No. 14 Devin Schroder (Purdue) – (12-2)

Mar. 5-6: Big Ten Championships (Lincoln, Neb.)

Mar. 17-19: NCAA Championships (Detroit, MI)

Record vs. TOM-ranked opponents so far: 2-0

Potential TOM-ranked opponents left to face during the regular season: 2 of 7 (29%)

No. 11 Drake Ayala (Iowa) – (11-3)

Jan 14: No. 7 Michael DeAugustino (Northwestern) – (2-0)

Jan. 16: Justin Cardani (Illinois) – (9-2)

Jan. 21: No. 17 Malik Heinselman (Ohio State) – (11-1)

Jan. 28: No. 5 Drew (Hildebrandt Penn State) – (2-0)

Feb 5: No. 10 Eric Barnett (Wisconsin) – (6-1)

Feb 12: No. 8 Trevor Mastrogiovanni (Oklahoma State) – (8-0)

Feb 20: Liam Cronin (Nebraska) – (3-3)

Mar. 5-6: Big Ten Championships (Lincoln, Neb.)

Mar. 17-19: NCAA Championships (Detroit, MI)

Record vs. TOM-ranked opponents so far: 3-3

Potential TOM-ranked opponents left to face during the regular season: 5 of 7 (71%)

What does it all mean?

The short answer absolutely nothing.

Only time will tell where these four lightweights finish at the end of the 2021-2022 season in Detroit, Michigan, but it would not surprise me if any (or all) of these four reach All-American status or higher. 

While none of the paths to the 125-pound crown will be easy, especially in B1G country, it would appear that true freshman Ayala clearly has the toughest regular-season schedule remaining.

Both Suriano and Hildebrandt have similar remaining matchups with regard to quantity (number of total matches) and difficulty (percentage vs. ranked opponents).

The NU Wildcat, DeAugustino, who had a pair of big ranked wins this past weekend, has the fewest quality (2) and percentage (29%) of ranked matchups left as of today.

Note: Rankings are subject to change on a weekly basis. Also, these are possible matchups. There is no guarantee every possible matchup will in fact materialize. 

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