photo courtesy of Cam Kramer
It’s all over, at least the regular season, that is. Now we get down to the really fun parts of the season, the conference and national tournaments. Before looking forward to the postseason, we’re going to take a look back at the final week of the dual season. Our “Dual of the Week” featured a pair of programs considered in college wrestling royalty. That wasn’t enough, we also had another fun dual between ACC powers, the Star match between Army West Point and Navy, along with the Battle for New Jersey supremacy, and tons of fun non-conference battles. From all of those and more, we were able to come up with the top ten performances of the week.
10) Logan Parks (Central Michigan)
The Chippewas 157 lber finished his regular season in style by knocking off #16 Jake Tucker (Michigan State) 4-2, during Central Michigan’s victory over the in-state rival, Spartans. The win is Parks’ fourth in a row and puts him undefeated for the month of February and has him heading in the right direction with the postseason looming. That was much needed after Parks dropped three consecutive matches to MAC opponents during the middle of January, albeit against stiff competition. During his senior campaign, Parks has taken fifth at the Midlands, fourth at the Black Knight Invitational, and won the Mountaineer Invitational. He’ll try for his third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championships when CMU travels to Dekalb, Illinois, for the MAC tournament.
9) Northern Illinois
Speaking of Dekalb, Illinois…The team that resides there is on a hot streak and will be difficult for anyone in the conference to deal with. Head coach Ryan Ludwig’s squad put a 35-3 beating on Drexel to win their 13th dual of the year, against only four losses. This is the first time in 15 years that an NIU team has reached 13 wins. The Huskies have won five straight duals and have only tasted defeat once in the year 2020. Against Drexel, freshman 141 lber Anthony Gibson and #25 Brit Wilson at 184 lbs, both recorded falls for Northern Illinois. McCoy Kent (149) and Izzak Olejnik (165) both chipped in with major decision wins. The Huskies currently have five wrestlers among the top-33 in TOM’s DI National Rankings, as of February 18th.
8) Army West Point
In the entire history of the Army/Navy wrestling rivalry, one that dates back to 1957, Army has only defeated the Naval Academy nine times. After a 16-15 win by the Black Knights on Saturday, five of those wins have come under current head coach Kevin Ward. Ward has now won five of six matches against the Midshipmen, including four straight. That is the longest streak in Army’s favor during the series since they won three-in-a-row from 1960-62. Both teams split Saturday’s dual at five matches apiece, with Noah Stewart’s major decision coming at 184 lbs. Army was penalized a team point during the 149 lb match, which made the final score 15-15. Coach Ward’s team was ruled the victor after they went down to the “most team points criteria,” where they had a 29-26 edge. Also capturing wins for Army were Trey Chalifoux, Lane Peters, Lucas Weiland, and Ben Sullivan. The win gives Army ten wins in a season for the first time since the 08-09 season.
7) Tanner Smith (Chattanooga)
On Friday night, the Chattanooga Mocs picked up a win over Big Ten opponent Indiana, 26-10. One of the most notable victories for the Mocs came at 149 lbs when Tanner Smith stopped freshman Graham Rooks 12-8. Rooks came into the match ranked #15 in the nation and had won seven of his last nine bouts. Smith will finish the regular season on a modest three-match winning streak and has a 23-7 mark. This marks the third win for Tanner over a ranked opponent in the 2019-20 season. A national qualifier in 2019, as a freshman, #30 Smith is looking to solidify another berth to the NCAA Championships.
6) Randy Meneweather (Air Force)
If you blinked, you might have missed Randy Meneweather’s match against Northern Colorado’s Austin Matthews on Sunday. Meneweather was able to record a ten-second pin against the two-time national qualifier. The fall is Randy’s 15th of the year and he has now pinned his last four opponents. Talk about momentum, Meneweather moves into the postseason with an eight-match winning streak. The senior Meneweather has an excellent opportunity to qualify for his first national tournament after putting together a 23-5 regular season and elevating to 24th in the rankings. That’s a significant improvement from last year when he went 16-17 and went 0-2 at the Big 12 Championships.
5) Michael Blockhus (Northern Iowa)
You may have forgotten about it by now since it occurred on Thursday, but the 22nd ranked Panthers of Northern Iowa were able to knock off #11 Wisconsin 20-18. One of the most significant wins of the night for head coach Doug Schwab’s team came at 141 lbs when #20 Michael Blockhus downed #8 Tristan Moran (Wisconsin). It ended up being the only upset win of the evening in UNI’s favor. The Panther freshman was able to notch a decisive 9-4 win over a wrestler that was in the NCAA Round of 12 just a year ago. Blockhus’ focus is now on the Big 12 Championships, where he could meet a pair of opponents that are ranked in the top-six nationally (Dom Demas – Oklahoma and Ian Parker – Iowa State). Both have recent wins over the freshman in dual competition. Blockhus has shown significant improvement as Demas majored him at the CKLV Invitational and earlier this month, the pair went into tiebreakers.
4) Jordan Kutler (Lehigh)
While most in the college wrestling world are anticipating a rematch in the NCAA finals between #1 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) and #2 Mark Hall (Penn State), there’s another contender that tends to get overlooked. He’s a two-time All-American, himself, Jordan Kutler. Jordan concluded his regular season by turning in a pair of one-sided wins over Neil Antrassian (Penn) and #9 Anthony Valencia (Arizona State). After the 9-4 win over Valencia, Kutler has now won ten consecutive matches and is now 17-1 on the year. The only blemish on his record was a 7-2 loss to Hall. Before thinking about a rematch with the Penn State national champion, Kutler will aim to capture his third straight EIWA championship. Jordan’s two wins this week helped his team go undefeated and brought their 2019-20 dual record up to 12-3.
3) Pat Lugo (Iowa)
In one of the marquee matches from the Dual of the Week, a pair of All-Americans, each previously ranked #1 in the nation at 149 lbs squared off. When Pat Lugo and Boo Lewallen (Oklahoma State) took the center of the match Sunday night, most figured the match would be a low scoring, tactical affair. Lugo had other ideas. At just 2:21 in the first period, Lugo tossed the Cowboy to his back and was able to secure his first career fall at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The win brings Lugo’s season record up to 18-1 and he is a series threat for both Big Ten and NCAA gold. He looks to be in position to receive the second seed at the Big Ten Championships. Pat was one of two Hawkeyes that notched falls in their 34-6 romp over the Cowboys.
2) Jacori Teemer (Arizona State)
The freshmen at the 157 lb weight class have received a lot of attention this year and deservedly so. In the early going, it was Kendall Coleman (Purdue) who turned heads, while David Carr (Iowa State) proved to be as good as advertised. Will Lewan (Michigan) has been steady from day one and Jared Franek (North Dakota State) is legit. One guy that had a lot of pre-college hype and credentials that has been quiet for most of the year has been Jacori Teemer. He finally had his moment this week and logged a pair of notable wins. The first, and most significant, came against #7 Josh Humphreys (Lehigh) by the score of 8-6. He finished off the week, and the regular season, by edging #19 AC Headlee (North Carolina), 3-2. Jacori cruises into the postseason, a winner of his last eight matches. His most recent loss came via the aforementioned Carr, 4-1, in mid-January.
1) Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh)