photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com
While most of the attention this week was trained on the Senior level wrestlers that were competing in Fort Worth, Texas, at US Nationals, some collegiate teams were in action. Many decided to take the weekend off for the holidays or in preparation for the Midlands and the Southern Scuffle that is looming. In any case, there were still plenty of excellent individual and team performances from the last week. Here are the top ten college performances of the week and make sure to have a happy holiday season!
10) Tye Varndell (Edinboro)
One of only two wrestlers for Edinboro to go undefeated at the West Virginia quad on Sunday was 133 lber Tye Varndell. The true freshman went 3-0 and fought for close decision wins versus opponents from VMI, Hofstra and, host West Virginia. In his last appearance for the Fighting Scots, Tye had gone 2-2 at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. One of the losses came to 13th ranked Mosha Schwartz (Northern Colorado), while the other came to Tim Rooney (Kent State). On the first weekend of the season, Varndell defeated Rooney, 7-5. Varndell’s record now is 12-5 on the year and he already owns wins over two returning national qualifiers. Tye and his teammates combined to win two of the three duals on Sunday.
9) Brayton Lee (Minnesota)
The last time that Brayton Lee took the mat, he was getting his hand raised in Las Vegas after winning the 149 lb bracket at the Cliff Keen. Lee kept the ball rolling as he earned a dual meet victory for the Gophers against South Dakota State on Friday night. Brayton’s opponent was two-time national qualifier Henry Pohlmeyer, one of the veteran standouts for the Jackrabbits. Lee grinded out a 4-3 win with the difference being the Minnesota freshman’s ability to lock down a riding time point. He has now won six consecutive matches after suffering his only loss of the year, to Oklahoma State All-American Boo Lewallen.
On Saturday night Clarion picked up their first MAC Conference win ever! Ok, “ever” only consists of this year, their first in the conference, and two dual meets before Saturday. Perhaps a much more impressive stat is that head coach Keith Ferarro’s Golden Eagles defeated PSAC rival Lock Haven for the first time since the 2013-14 season. As dual meets tend to do, this one came down to the result of the 285 lb weight class. The Golden Eagles Ty Bagoly pulled through with a 3-0 win that gave his team a 20-16 win. The biggest upset in favor of Clarion came at 157 lbs when Avery Shay pulled off a 7-1 win over two-time EWL champion Alex Klucker. Jake Gromacki (125), Brock Zacherl (149), and Greg Bulsak (197) all logged wins for Clarion.
7) Jahi Jones (Maryland)
You may notice a theme as you scroll through the top ten performances of the week as there are a few guys that have had solid seasons, yet flown under the radar. Someone that fits that billing is Maryland’s 157 lber Jahi Jones. Jahi brought his record to 10-2 after he knocked off Taleb Rahmani of Pittsburgh, currently ranked #10 in the nation, on Friday. With his win over the 2019 NCAA Round of 12 finisher Rahmani, Jones now had two wins this season over returning national qualifiers. Jones, a senior, has shown flashes over the years, but has had difficulty staying healthy for the Terps. Jahi’s 10 wins are already the second-highest total of his career in College Park. As the calendar turns to the New Year, Maryland will get into its Big Ten schedule and Jones will get tested often.
6) Noah Adams (West Virginia)
It’s been a rough year thus far for the West Virginia Mountaineers, but one of the bright spots all season has been the performance of their 197 lber, Noah Adams. With a dual win on Friday, then three more at West Virginia’s quad on Sunday, Adams ran his 2019-20 record to a perfect 16-0. Against VMI’s Zach Brown, Adams was able to notch his third fall of the year. He only had two in 34 matches as a freshman last season. Noah was one of six WVU wrestlers to go 3-0 during Sunday’s quad and is only three victories short of his mark for his entire 2018-19 season. Not only did Noah and his five teammates go undefeated, but West Virginia picked up their first three wins of the year. Next up for the ninth-ranked Adams is the Southern Scuffle, where his unbeaten record is sure to get tested.
5) Kevin Parker (Princeton)
After spending the first three years of his career at 184 lbs, Kevin Parker dropped down to 174 for his senior season at Princeton. At first glance, Parker’s 1-2 record, entering the week, appeared to be below the standards for a former national qualifier. However, his two losses came at the hands of the #2 (Jordan Kutler – Lehigh) and #3 (Michael Kemerer – Iowa) ranked wrestlers in the nation. Sandwiched in between those losses was a 5-2 win at Oklahoma State over Andrew Shomers, a former NCAA qualifier, himself. During Thursday’s clash with #25 Rider, Parker had the task of dealing with #15 Dean Sherry. Kevin came out on top in a high-scoring affair, 9-8, against the two-time EWL champion, Sherry. Parker’s win help spark the Tigers to a 32-9 romp over their in-state competitors.
4) Bryce Andonian (Virginia Tech)
In Virginia Tech’s first dual meet since the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, the Hokie coaching staff had a surprise at 149 lbs. True freshman Bryce Andonian was pulled from redshirt and inserted in the Virginia Tech for their dual on Saturday with Chattanooga. Andonian’s first dual opponent was no slouch himself, #19 Tanner Smith, who came into the match sporting a 10-3 record. Bryce struck with a takedown in the first and second periods, on his way to a 5-3 win over the 2019 national qualifier. While competing unattached in two earlier events, Andonian won 9 of his 11 matches. There was only one match, among his nine wins, where Andonian did not collect bonus points. Even so, the victory over Smith is easily the biggest win of his young collegiate career.
3) Shane Griffith (Stanford)
Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but Stanford’s 165 lb freshman Shane Griffith is quietly putting together an excellent season. This isn’t necessarily a surprise as Griffith had an outstanding 24-2 redshirt campaign where he finished third in the Southern Scuffle. Even so, Shane hasn’t received some of the attention other freshmen have garnered, perhaps due to wrestling on the West Coast. Whatever’s the case, Griffith extended his undefeated streak to 12 after Stanford’s 26-11 win over Drexel. Against Drexel, Griffith faced Ebed Jarrell, a returning NCAA qualifier that was given the 12th seed at the NCAA Championships in 2019. Like the previous 11 times he has taken the mat this year, Shane got his hand raised, after he cruised to an 8-2 victory. Next on the agenda for Griffith and the Cardinal is a trip to the Scuffle on New Year’s.
2) Kendall Coleman (Purdue)
After Wednesday night, I assumed that SIU Edwardsville’s Justin Ruffin would make the top ten performances after he knocked off returning All-American Larry Early (Old Dominion) 3-1 in tiebreakers. Ruffin’s week wasn’t finished, however. One night later, he would have to face one of the top freshmen in the nation, ninth-ranked Kendall Coleman. Kendall’s Boilermakers had been out of action since the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. At that tournament, Coleman placed fourth, which is more than respectable for a freshman, but he did suffer his first two losses of the year. It’s safe to say that Coleman responded well, as he rolled to a major decision against the 2019 national qualifier Ruffin, 14-2. The win now gives Kendall seven bonus point victories among his 17 wins.
1) Quincy Monday (Princeton)