photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com
The Open Mat’s College Wrestler of the Week award goes to the University of Michigan’s 285 lber Mason Parris. On Saturday night, Parris closed out the Wolverines dual with Iowa by pinning undefeated, redshirt freshman Anthony Cassioppi. The meeting between the big men, ranked number two (Parris) and three (Cassioppi) in the nation, was one of the most anticipated matches of the weekend. Though this was their first collegiate meeting, the two are far from strangers. The two had most recently met in Fargo after their senior years of high school and it was Cassioppi who was dominant, registering a 12-2 tech fall in the first period. That was a much different version of Parris, however. Mason was a three-sport star in high school, that has never focused solely on wrestling, and had competed at 220 lbs, just a few months earlier.
Mason jumped out to an early lead on the Hawkeyes big man after he notched a takedown with his signature dump. The move has reached the “you know its coming, but can’t stop it” status for frustrated 285 lbers around the country. Parris went to end the match quickly with an arm-bar, but was reversed after getting overzealous with the maneuver. After an escape, it was Cassioppi who went on the offensive. Once again, it was Mason who ended up scoring after spinning out of the leg attack for a second takedown. The second period started with Parris on the bottom while holding a 5-3 lead. Following an escape, Cassioppi continued to attack and got in on Mason’s leg. This time Parris used an ankle pick to take Anthony to his hips and he the Wolverine was able to lock up a turk. With :29 seconds left in the second period, Parris was able to secure the fall.
The pin brought Parris’ 2019-20 record to 23-0 and gave Cassioppi his first official collegiate loss. Mason now has nine falls during those 23 wins and has captured bonus points in over 65% of his matches. This was also Parris’ sixth win of the year over opponents currently ranked in the top-eight at 285 lbs. Mason is a true sophomore that was brought out of redshirt last year in early January. He proceeded to rack up a record of 33-9 and advanced to the NCAA Round of 12 before his elimination. Though he missed out on All-American status, Parris did notch five wins against four wrestlers that went on to finish in the top-eight in Pittsburgh as a true freshman. After the collegiate season was over, Parris went to Tallinn, Estonia, for the Junior World Championships and came home with the gold medal at 125 kgs.
All that is standing between Parris and an undefeated regular season are dual meets against #16 David Jensen (Nebraska), #5 Trent Hillger (Wisconsin), #27 Jon Spaulding (Edinboro) over the next two weekends. Since Gable Steveson (Minnesota) is still undefeated, Mason would likely receive the second seed at the 2020 Big Ten Championships.