With the 2016-17 season in the books, it is award season for college wrestling. Our annual awards, the Tommies, are coming soon, but before we get to that we’re rolling out our 2017 NCAA Wrestling Division I All-Freshman Team. Congratulations to these 30 wrestlers on a fine start to their college careers. All freshmen who were not redshirting were eligible to make one of the three teams.
Nick Suriano, Penn State
An injury in a February 19th match against Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State) ultimately proved to be a season-ender, but that shouldn’t overshadow what Suriano did throughout his true freshman campaign. He entered that match in Stillwater 16-1, with his only loss coming to Thomas Gilman (Iowa). He beat the eventual national champion, Darian Cruz (Lehigh), 7-0. He also beat the other national finalist, Ethan Lizak (Minnesota), 8-6. He was one of the best in the country when he was healthy which earns him the top spot at 125.
2nd Team: Nick Piccininni, Oklahoma State – Big 12 champion, 4th at NCAAs
3rd Team: Jack Mueller, Virginia – 2nd in the ACC, 6th at NCAAs
Stevan Micic, Michigan
Despite facing the incredibly tough Big 10 field at 133 pounds, Micic proved he could compete with anyone this season, running up a 29-7 record that included wins over Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State), Zane Richards (Illinois) three times, and Eric Montoya (Nebraska) twice. After finishing third at the Big 10 tournament, Micic looked strong in St. Louis, only falling to national champions Cory Clark (Iowa) and Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State) on his way to a fourth-place finish. He’ll return next season to a loaded Wolverine squad looking for more.
2nd Team: Kaid Brock, Oklahoma State – 2nd in the Big 12, 5th at NCAAs
3rd Team: Mitch McKee, Minnesota – 6th in the Big 10, R12 at NCAAs
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article omitted Jaydin Eierman. TOM regrets the error.
Jaydin Eierman, Missouri
After starting the season at 133 pounds and struggling with the cut, Eierman moved up to 141 for the Southern Scuffle and began to look like the dangerous wrestler many expected him to be. His only losses after making the move were to two-time national champion Dean Heil (Oklahoma State) twice, national finalist George DiCamillo (Virginia) twice, and 2016 national finalist Bryce Meredith (Wyoming). As the season went along, Eierman continued to improve and after winning the MAC title he entered the national tournament as the eight seed. After a quarterfinal loss to Heil, he notched his best wins of the season, beating three seed Joey McKenna (Stanford) in the round of 12 and topping fellow outstanding freshman Matt Kolodzik (Princeton) to reach the top six. His fifth place finish made it four years in a row that Missouri has put a freshman on the podium. Eierman finished the season 29-7.
2nd Team: Matt Kolodzik, Princeton – EIWA champion, 7th at NCAAs
3rd Team: Luke Pletcher, Ohio State – 4th in the Big 10, R16 at NCAAs
Max Thomsen, Northern Iowa
It was a year of success for Thomsen, who finished 31-7, reaching the MAC title bout and the NCAA semi-finals before losing to three-time All-American Lavion Mayes (Missouri) both times. However, it may have been his final match of the season where we learned the most about him. Fighting for fifth place on Saturday morning, having lost his last two matches, Thomsen handled the six-seed Solomon Chishko (Virginia Tech), 10-4, avenging a loss from earlier in the year. A sixth-place finish would have still been an excellent finish for the freshman, but instead Thomsen ended the year in style.
2nd Team: Josh Maruca, Arizona State – Pac-12 champion, R16 NCAAs
3rd Team: Hunter Ladnier, Harvard – 2nd in the EIWA, NCAA Qualifier
Michael Kemerer, Iowa
Entering this season, Kemerer was among several contenders for the number two spot behind Jason Nolf (Penn State). By January, there was little debate that the Hawkeye freshman was the clear second man at 157. His final record of 33-3 included two losses to Nolf, but it was that third loss that will drive Kemerer this off-season. Two-time All-American Dylan Palacio (Cornell) pinned Kemerer in the NCAA quarter-finals, ending any chance for a rematch with Nolf in the NCAA finals. However, like a true champion, the man from Murrysville, PA, posted three straight major decisions before besting Joe Smith (Oklahoma State) in sudden victory to finish third.
2nd Team: Jordan Kutler, Lehigh – 13-1, Southern Scuffle champion
3rd Team: Josh Shields, Arizona State – Pac-12 champion, NCAA Qualifier
Vincenzo Joseph, Penn State
A very good regular season was just the beginning for Joseph. Entering the Big 10 tournament, the freshman from Pittsburgh, PA, had lost to Isaac Jordan (Wisconsin) and Isaiah Martinez (Illinois) while he had yet to face fellow freshman phenom Logan Massa (Michigan). In Bloomington, Joseph avenged the loss to Jordan in the third-place match after a loss to Martinez in the semi-finals. That put him on Massa’s side of the bracket in St. Louis. After topping the Wolverine, 5-4, in the semi-finals, Joseph famously upset Martinez, pinning the two-time national champion in 5:26 to finish his season 22-4 and win the national title.
2nd Team: Logan Massa, Michigan – 2nd in the Big 10, 3rd at NCAAs
3rd Team: Anthony Valencia, Arizona State – Pac-12 champion, R12 at NCAAs
Mark Hall, Penn State
Hall’s long list of accolades now includes NCAA champion, but his true freshman year was not without difficulty. The 2016 Junior world champion already had a loss when he was pulled out of redshirt in January. He promptly lost his first match as a starter to Alex Meyer (Iowa), 7-5, and fell again in the Big 10 finals to Bo Jordan (Ohio State). Still, 174 was a deep weight at the NCAA tournament and Hall, wrestling from the five seed, always looked like a potential title threat. He proved to be just that bombarding fourth-seeded Zach Epperly (Virginia Tech), 10-2, in the quarter-finals before dealing Zahid Valencia (Arizona State) his only loss of the year, 4-3, in the semi-finals. Hall capped his fantastic run and season by avenging his loss to Jordan to win a national title.
2nd Team: Zahid Valencia, Arizona State – Pac-12 champion, 3rd at NCAAs
3rd Team: Myles Amine, Michigan – 3rd in the Big 10, 4th at NCAAs
Dakota Geer, Edinboro
This was one of the toughest weights all year long, but Geer acquitted himself nicely, fighting his way to a 31-10 record. He was an EWL champion, earning the 14 seed in St. Louis. The bracket can be unkind to double-digit seeds and after being pushed onto the back side by three seed Sammy Brooks (Iowa), Geer won one match before he caught the six-seed, Myles Martin (Ohio State), who was working his way back to a fifth-place finish. Despite his All-American bid being cut short, Geer had a nice year and will be a threat next season.
2nd Team:Bobby Steveson, Minnesota – 7th in the Big 10, NCAA Qualifier
3rd Team: Hunter Ritter, Wisconsin – 8th in the Big 10, NCAA Qualifier
Kollin Moore, Ohio State
Few wrestlers were more fun to watch this season than Moore who only lost to the national finalists, J’den Cox (Missouri) and Brett Pfarr (Minnesota), on his way to a 33-4 overall record. The Burbank, OH, native also beat Pfarr for a Big 10 title before the Golden Gopher senior outscored him, 13-9, in St. Louis. Given Moore’s improvement over the past two years and the fact that the top two graduate this year, the Buckeye 197 has put himself in prime position to dominate for the next three seasons. You never know what might happen and who might emerge, but with Moore’s attacking style, the weight class is in good hands.
2nd Team: Jacob Holschlag, Northern Iowa – 3rd in the MAC, NCAA Qualifier
3rd Team: Cash Wilcke, Iowa – 8th in the Big 10, R12 at NCAAs
Austin Myers, Missouri
It can be difficult walking in as a freshman and taking on the massive men that inhabit this weight class. After redshirting at West Virginia last year, that was the task that faced Myers. An up and down year sparked questions about how good the Campbell County, KY, product really was following a 189-0 high school career, but he kept fighting, earning an automatic bid by finishing third at the MAC tournament. He was the only freshman heavyweight to make it to St. Louis where he lost two hard fought decisions.
2nd Team: Kerry Powers, Air Force – 18-15, 2-2 at the Big 12 tournament
3rd Team: Ben Stone, Wisconsin – 11-3 backing up Connor Medbery, pinned Jacob Kasper (Duke)