The regular season is over…just like that. I know the wrestlers feel like the season is a grind and drags on, but from a fan or media members standpoint, it flies by. At least the dual season went out with a bang. Third-ranked Iowa traveled to number two Oklahoma State in a battle of traditional powerhouses with identical 14-0 records. It only took one match before the roof sounded like it was going to explode at Gallagher-Iba Arena and the host Cowboys went on to distance themselves from Iowa 27-12. That wasn’t all though, we had a #1 vs #2 matchup, chaos at the 149 lb weight class, a rivalry that transcends sports, and a compelling dual meet between former Big 12 foes Missouri and Iowa State.
So, before you get into tournament mode and make your own conference pre-seeds, enjoy the top 10 college performances of the week.
A trip through Pennsylvania on Saturday netted a pair of wins for Columbia, bringing their 2018-19 record up to 10-5 on the year. The 10 wins tied a school record for most wins in a season and it is their highest total since the 1980-81 season. Head coach Zach Tanelli’s squad, will finish the regular season 5-5 in the EIWA and 2-3 in Ivy League competition. The Lions started their weekend by taking seven of ten matches in a 30-9 win over Bloomsburg. Later that evening, Columbia traveled to Bucknell and won the first six matches then hung on to take the dual 20-16. One of the highlights of the Bucknell win was 157 lber Dan Reed upsetting #11th ranked Zach Hartman, 4-2. Reed was one of five Lion wrestlers (Matt Kazimir – 133, Danny Fongaro – 141, Cole Corrigan – 149, Laurence Kosoy – 165) to go 2-0 on the day.
9) Drew Hildebrandt (Central Michigan)
Drew Hildebrandt had a nice 2-0 weekend and will go into the postseason on a six-match winning streak at 125 lbs. The bigger of the two wins came on Friday night when he dropped eighth-ranked Rayvon Foley (Michigan State) 7-5 in sudden victory. It marked only the third time this season that Foley has suffered a loss. In early-November, at Michigan State Open, the pair met, and it was the Spartan who came out on top 9-4. On Sunday, Hildebrandt capped off his regular season with a 16-1 tech fall of Marshall Craig (Purdue). The two wins bring his season record up to 17-7. Drew, a sophomore, will be attempting to make the NCAA Championships for the first time when he and his Chippewa teammates head to the MAC Championships at Old Dominion University.
8) Army West Point
Lost in the hype surrounding the huge duals of this weekend was the Star Match, which features Army West Point squaring off against their biggest rival Navy. Army West Point was victorious, for a third consecutive season, after taking seven matches in the 22-10 win. It is only the second time in the history of the rivalry that the Black Knights have won three straight meetings. Head Coach Kevin Ward now brings his record against the Midshipmen up to 4-1. 285 lber Bobby Heald was the only Black Knight to earn bonus points when he won an 18-6 major decision. Other Army West Point grapplers that picked up wins include Trey Chalifoux – 125, Lane Peters – 133, Lucas Weiland – 157, Ben Harvey – 174, Noah Stewart – 184, and Rocco Caywood – 197. The 24th ranked Army West Point team finished the dual season with an 8-3 record and was 7-1 against EIWA foes.
Here is coach Ward explaining the “Beat Navy” tunnel back in October.
7) Pat Lugo (Iowa)
Despite being on the wrong side of a lopsided loss to Oklahoma State, Pat Lugo was one of the few bright spots for the Hawkeyes. Lugo was able to outscramble the dangerous Cowboy freshman, sixth-ranked Kaden Gfeller, and avoid any situations that would favor the young 149 lber. Pat was able to register two takedowns of Gfeller during his 7-4 victory. Lugo finishes the regular season 15-6 and on a seven-match winning streak and has only lost once since his fourth-place showing at the Midlands Championships. That loss came in sudden victory to undefeated, top-ranked Anthony Ashnault (Rutgers). He is clearly looking as good as he has ever looked, in an Iowa singlet, at the right time of year.
6) Mitch Finesilver (Duke)
Nobody really cared about that North Carolina/Duke basketball game last week, the bigger story was Friday night when the two schools met on the wrestling mat and the battle at 149 lbs. For the third time this season, #4 Austin O’Connor (North Carolina) and #7 Mitch Finesilver squared off. Finesilver took the initial match at the Hokie Open 3-2, then the freshman O’Connor evened the score with a 3-1 win at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Mitch hopped back in front by winning Friday’s dual 6-4. Finesilver got the winning takedown with just under 30 seconds remaining in the bout and was able to ride O’Connor for the remainder of the match. It was only the fourth loss of the year for the Tar Heel. Expect the two to meet again at the ACC Championships and possibly at nationals, as well. After losing a controversial match in the finals of the Southern Scuffle, Mitch has won his past nine bouts and is cruising into the conference tournament.
5) Sammy Colbray (Iowa State)
After Myles Martin (Ohio State) the rest of the 184 lb weight class is quite chaotic and Sammy Colbray did not help matters any with his big week. Colbray picked up, not one but two wins over opponents that entered the week in the top 15 nationally. On Thursday, in a hostile environment at a packed West Gym, Sammy downed Panther All-American Drew Foster, the fifth-ranked wrestler in the country, 8-5. Unfortunately for Colbray, the win was still not enough for the Cyclones against their in-state rival. Sunday Iowa State had tall task facing them as they hosted the sixth-ranked Missouri Tigers. That meant a matchup with 15th ranked Dylan Wisman for Colbray. Sammy edged Wisman 3-2, which also put a temporary halt to the Tigers, who had won weights 157-174. Once again, Iowa State could not overcome Missouri, but ISU’s 184 lber was a standout, as well.
4) John Erneste (Missouri)
In the same dual meet with Iowa State, Missouri got on the scoreboard after a 22-6 tech fall from John Erneste. John’s opponent was a dangerous one, 12th ranked Austin Gomez (Iowa State), a freshman that is capable of ending a match at any time with a pin. At the end of the first period, Erneste blew the match open after getting a takedown then locking Gomez in a spladle for an additional four points. As the bout progressed, John was able to put the Cyclone on his back on two more occasions, after countering big moves. The win comes just a week after Erneste suffered his fourth loss of the year to second-ranked Daton Fix.
3) Parker Kropman (Drexel)
Perhaps the most unlikely upset of the week occurred when Drexel’s Parker Kropman knocked off second-ranked Matt Kolodzik of Princeton on Friday. Kropman is a junior that transferred from Binghamton this season and is currently sporting a 9-6 record for the season. Parker has only competed for the Dragons since the new year. Before this win, the most significant victories on Kropman’s resume include defeating NCAA qualifiers Ryan Blees (Virginia Tech) and Frankie Garcia (Binghamton). Last year while competing unattached for Binghamton, Kropman was able to amass a 20-5 record in open tournaments.
2) Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell)
The match that set the tone for the rest of the weekend was a massive bout between number one and number two at 141 lbs when Yianni Diakomihalis took on Joey McKenna (Ohio State). At times this year, McKenna has appeared to be the most significant roadblock facing Yianni on his quest to repeat as a national champion. Diakomihalis was able to get two takedowns in the first period which set the groundwork for his 7-5 win over the returning NCAA third-place finisher in McKenna. Yianni has finished his regular season undefeated at 20-0, s atop the rankings at 141 lbs and only has one loss on his collegiate record.
1) Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State)