photo courtesy of Cam Kramer
This was quite the light weekend on the DI front. A couple open tournaments, combined with a Reno Tournament of Champions that was not as deep as previous seasons, and only eight duals were on the slate. Luckily, the toughest DII tournament of the year, the Midwest Classic, which was hosted by the University of Indianapolis, took place. Our own Bryce Villa was on site covering the tournament a provided excellent updates for DII fans. With a heavy emphasis on results from the Midwest Classic, here are the top performances of the week.
10) DJ Fehlman (Lock Haven)
An 0-4 showing at the Journeymen Collegiate Classic took DJ Fehlman from the top half of the national rankings to out of them completely. Since then, Fehlman has won 10 of 11 matches and could be poised to return to the top 20. The two-time national qualifier went 4-0 on the weekend for Lock Haven and clinched a hard-fought, 19-15 win against Navy on Friday. With his team holding onto a one-point lead in the final match of the dual, Fehlman took out a tough, Casey Cobb (Navy) 9-3 to confirm a Bald Eagle victory. Less than a month ago, DJ downed Cobb at the Navy Classic, as well. A day later, Fehlman racked up a pair of falls and a tech in LHU’s duals with Messiah, McDaniel, and Millersville. Fehlman appears to have righted the ship heading into the Southern Scuffle, which is the next event on Lock Haven’s calendar.
9) Wyatt Koelling (Missouri)
The 19th ranked Missouri Tigers extended their MAC Conference winning streak to 15 matches after a 28-11 win over Buffalo. One of the biggest wins of the afternoon for the Tigers was a fall by 197 lber Wyatt Koelling. Wyatt pinned Sam Schuyler, who has previously been ranked by TOM, in the closing seconds of the match. The Mizzou 197 lber was trailing 4-2 at the time of the fall. The win now brings Koelling’s record up to 10-1 and he’s on the cusp of cracking the top-20 at 197. Wyatt is still searching for his first trip to nationals, as he was the MAC’s top seed at the 2019 conference tournament, and settled for third place. Koelling has now won his last nine conference duals, a streak that dates back to the 2017-18 season.
8) Reece Witcraft (Oklahoma State)
In his first taste of Bedlam action, Reece Witcraft came through with flying colors and tallied an upset by knocking off 18th ranked Tony Madrigal (Oklahoma), 6-5. That match was highly entertaining with a few different scrambling sequences that made it fun for views. The true freshman Witcraft dropped his first dual in a Cowboy singlet on November 15th, but has come back to win his next three. Reece was one of seven OSU wrestlers that won on the day and helped their team cruise to a 23-9 victory over their in-state rivals. It was also the tenth straight win for the Cowboys in the series.
7) Austin O’Connor (North Carolina)
On Saturday, the top-ranked 149 lber in the land, Austin O’Connor, made his long-awaited season debut. Competing at the Cleveland State Open, Showing no signs of rust, O’Connor pinned his first three opponents, then racked up 24 points against Edinboro’s PJ Gohn. In the first-place match, O’Connor was pitted against a fellow Illinois-native, Trevor Chumbley (Northwestern). Chumbley is a two-time state champion that is redshirting for the Wildcats and had come into the match with a sparkling, 17-4 record. Even so, Chumbley couldn’t avoid surrendering bonus points to the Tar Heel 149 lber, losing 18-8. O’Connor will take his 5-0 mark on the season into a dual with Little Rock, then the Midlands. There are a variety of intriguing matchups for Austin at the Midlands, as six of the remaining top 12 opponents at 149 are slated to attend.
6) Marcus Povlick (McKendree)
The 125 lb weight class at the Midwest Classic seemed like it was the easiest bracket to predict. With the returning national champion and Midwest Classic champion Carlos Jacquez (Lindenwood) at the top of the class, it would be a shoo-in, right? That’s why they wrestle the matches! Jacques went down in the semis to Patrick Allis (Western Colorado), which opened things up for fourth-ranked Marcus Povlick. McKendree’s returning All-American Povlick started his tournament with back-to-back major decisions before shutting out 10th ranked Jacob Dunlap (Gannon) in the quarterfinals. Marcus secured a spot in the finals after getting by Tanner Cole (Central Oklahoma), 3-2. For the championship, he needed to cool down the hot freshman, Allis. The freshman had put up 26 points in consecutive matches against the national champion Jacquez and All-American Tyler Kreith (Maryville). He did an excellent job of containing the dangerous Allis and shut him out, 2-0. Povlick was one of three individual champions for the Bearcats who won their second straight Midwest Classic title
5) Montorie Bridges (Wyoming)
One of three champions on the day for Wyoming at the 2019 Reno Tournament of Champions, none had a tougher path to cross than 133 lber, Montorie Bridges. After a pair of falls to start the tournament, Bridges survived a challenge from Austin Wallace-Lister (Warner Pacific) and moved on with a 1-0 win. He then took out a pair of returning national qualifiers, in Devan Turner (Oregon State) and Noah Gonser (Campbell). Bridges downed Turner 4-2 in the semis and Gonser 4-1 in the championship bout. A takedown with only :03 remaining in the second period ended up the difference for Bridges in his first-place match with the 11th-ranked Gonser.
4) Trey Grine (Tiffin)
The 2019 DII national runner-up Trey Grine showed this weekend that he’s ready to move up another step on the podium in 2020 in Sioux Falls. Grine made the finals after downing Kameron Frame (Newman), currently ranked fourth at 157 lbs, 6-3. For the championship, Grine disposed of a tough Ty Lucas (Central Oklahoma), who had upset the second-ranked wrestler in the country earlier in the tournament. Perhaps Trey’s toughest test of the event came in the quarterfinals when he notched a narrow, 2-1 win over Indianapolis freshman Dawson Combest. Grine’s performance helped lead Tiffin to their highest finish ever at the Midwest Classic.
3) Sam Colbray (Iowa State)
A week ago, Sam Colbray had a rough showing at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. To Colbray’s credit, he competed in the most challenging bracket in the event, one that featured seven of the top eight wrestlers (at the time) in the nation. He wasn’t beaten by any slouches either, both losses came to former All-Americans, but any way you slice it, he went 2-2 and missed the podium. Colbray bounced back nicely Saturday night in the Cyclones 26-7 win over Chattanooga. Even though it wasn’t as tough as Vegas, Colbray was still pitted against one of the Mocs top grapplers in 18th ranked Matthew Waddell. Sam needed extra time, but was still able to gather a winning takedown in sudden victory, to get his hand raised, 3-1. Next up for Colbray and Iowa State is the Southern Scuffle on January 1st/2nd.
2) Robert Gambrall (Colorado School of Mines)
Robert Gambrall turned his one of the best performances of his career when he came away with the Midwest Classic title at 174 lbs. The fifth-ranked Gambrall edged 2018 DII national champion Bret Romanzak(Ashland), currently ranked third in the nation, 4-3 to capture his title. Romanzak wasn’t the only notable opponent that Robert needed to go through to win his weight, he also downed the two wrestlers directly below him in the rankings. #6 Martin Verhaeghe (Fort Hays State) was defeated by the score of 9-2 in the quarters, while #7 Hayden Bronne (Tiffin), fell to the tune of 6-2. This was the Colorado School of Mines first appearance at the Classic in the 41-year history of the event.
1) Heath Gray (Central Oklahoma)