photo courtesy of Richard Immel
What a week it was! Highlighted by an incredible dual between the top two teams in the land on Friday night, this week had a little bit of everything. For the first time this year, we had two number one-ranked wrestlers go down in the same week. The dual in Iowa City aside, there were still five other matches that took place between teams ranked in the top-15. One of them came down to a fall in its final match. Early season tournaments are fun, but they can’t match the intensity of two bitter rivals fighting tooth and nail in back-and-forth affairs. We saw that happen in plenty of instances this week, with ranked and unranked teams, alike. With so much going on it, it was quite difficult narrowing our top ten performances of the week, but here we go…
10) Randy Meneweather (Air Force)
You may not have realized it, but one of the most prolific pinners in the nation resides at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is the Falcons 165 lber Randy Meneweather. Randy added a pair of pins over the weekend to bring his season total to 14. That gives him the outright team lead now, over Cody Surratt, who has 12. Nine of those falls have come against DI competition, which should place him amongst the national leaders when the NCAA Awards Standings are next updated. Coming into this year, Meneweather only had 13 total falls scattered across his first three seasons (one of which was lost due to injury). Randy’s season record is now up to 22-5 and he’s likely to rise from his current spot in the rankings at #24.
9) Jordan Kutler (Lehigh)
Second-ranked 174 lber Jordan Kutler went about his business like usual on Friday and picked up a solid win over a quality opponent. Kutler and the Lehigh team traveled to West Orange, New Jersey, to meet Army West Point in a dual that was held at the high school of the late Army wrestler CJ Morgan. CJ passed away over the summer after an accident in a military vehicle during a training exercise. Both programs should be commended for being able to come together and arrange this dual meet to honor Mr. Morgan’s memory.
On the mat, Kutler took on two-time NCAA Round of 12 finisher Ben Harvey, who is currently ranked 15th at the 174 lb weight class. Kutler ended the bout in the second period with a fall, which is his third on the year. Jordan’s record now moves to 14-1 and he has registered bonus points in eight of those wins. He is now 4-0 in his career against the tough Harvey.
8) Luke Luffman (Illinois)
With all of the focus on the superpowers of the Big Ten, sometimes the performances of the remaining teams can get overlooked. That certainly could be the case with Illinois this season. The Illini are quietly putting along, still relatively unnoticed, after posting a pair of conference wins over the weekend, which brings their record to 7-3. Illinois has received a boost from four freshmen that have secured spots in the starting lineup, one of which is true freshman, Luke Luffman, at 285 lbs. Luffman was the only first-year guy on the squad to have went 2-0 this weekend. On Friday, Luffman edged #32 Christian Rebottaro (Michigan State) to lock up the Illini’s 18-12 win over the Spartans. Two days later, with his team down three points, Luffman not only got a win, but he did also earned a bonus point in a 14-4 win over Jack Heyob (Northwestern). That extra point separated Illinois from in-state rival Northwestern, 19-18. Luffman’s record is now 13-6 and he’s likely to move up from his current ranking of #28.
7) Justin Patrick (Cleveland State)
One of the best turnaround stories in the country that you may have missed is going on at Cleveland State. Head Coach, Josh Moore’s Vikings, brought their 2019-20 record to 8-3 after downing Kent State 16-15 on Saturday. The win was CSU’s first against Kent State since the 2003-04 season. Perhaps the biggest win of the day for the Vikings came at 133 lbs when Justin Patrick knocked off #17 Tim Rooney (Kent State), 4-3. That ended up being the difference-maker for Cleveland State. Patrick was also in action Sunday as CSU took on new-MAC rival Central Michigan. Though his team lost, Justin was able to grab win number two on the weekend by downing Drew Marten in a shootout, 11-10. Patrick is a graduate-transfer from Buffalo who is now 17-9 on the year.
6) Kordell Norfleet (Arizona State)
In addition to Iowa/Penn State, another massive dual that took place on Friday involved 12th ranked Stanford heading to take on #5 Arizona State in a battle for Pac-12 supremacy. The Sun Devils were able to turn away the Cardinal 28-12. One of the most anticipated matches of the dual took place at 197 lb when #8 Nathan Traxler and #9 Kordell Norfleet met. Traxler is the reigning conference champion and was a Round of 12 finisher in Pittsburgh last season. The pair needed to go to a second sudden victory period before Norfleet got a takedown to win, 6-4. Norfleet has only two losses on his record this year, both coming to top-ranked Kollin Moore (Ohio State). Kordell was a national qualifier as a true freshman and was sidelined for the remainder of the 2018-19 season after an injury in mid-December.
5) Cam Caffey (Michigan State)
This weekend saw Cam Caffey continue his hot streak with a pair of high-profile wins. On Friday, Caffey got by #15 Zac Braunagel (Illinois) by the score of 7-6. This is notable because Braunagel majored Caffey at the Michigan State Open the first weekend of the season. Even more impressive was his 3-2 win on Sunday against Iowa’s freshman sensation Abe Assad. Abe was able to get to Caffey’s legs on multiple occasions, but the Spartan was able to fend him off and avoid giving up a takedown. The MSU 184 lber was the only Spartan to get his hand raised against the Hawkeyes. With his two wins this weekend, Caffey has now won six consecutive matches and is 21-6 overall. Just a week ago, Caffey notched a win over Nebraska All-American Taylor Venz, as well.
4) Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State)
Although Vincenzo Joseph’s team came out on the wrong end of the mega dual at Iowa, he should be commended for his win that evening. Even though he has two national titles to his credit, Joseph entered Friday with an 0-2 career record against the Hawkeyes undefeated 165 lber, #2 Alex Marinelli. Big moves were front and center in their first two meetings and they were on this occasion, as well. Unlike past meetings, it was Joseph who was able to capitalize. Vincenzo seemed to bait Marinelli, expecting that he would go to one of his signature, inside trips. Instead, Joseph attacked with a lateral drop and took Marinelli to his back for six points. That early deficit proved to be too much for Marinelli and the Nittany Lion held on to win, 7-5. Joseph capped off his weekend by pinning Maryland’s Kyle Jasenski for his fourth fall in ten matches. Vincenzo can’t be content to rest on this win as he has two-time All-American Evan Wick (Wisconsin) looming on Friday.
3) Isaiah White (Nebraska)
A fun dual between #4 Ohio State and #6 Wisconsin came down to the final match at 165 lbs with the Buckeyes leading 14-13. That meant the winner between #5 Isaiah White and #13 Ethan Smith would carry his team to victory. Trailing 4-3 with about ten seconds left in the match, White stuffed a shot by Smith. Not content to just collect two points for a takedown, White locked in a cradle and quickly brought the Buckeye to his back and secured a fall with only two seconds remaining on the clock. The pin set off a raucous celebration for the Cornhusker bench and White brought his season record to 13-3. The win also snapped a three-match losing streak for the Husker 165 lber, who has recently been defeated by three of the top four wrestlers at the weight class. The rest of the regular season should prove to be more manageable for White, who will not see another opponent ranked higher than 22nd.
2) Brock Mauller (Missouri)
Last week at this time, there was plenty of debate centering around who should be ranked number one at 149 lbs. 2018 All-American Boo Lewallen (Oklahoma State) got the nod based on his track record, his undefeated mark, and a decisive win over star freshman Brayton Lee (Minnesota). His reign atop the weight class will be short-lived as Lewallen was knocked off by Missouri All-American Brock Mauller on Sunday. Mauller got a takedown in sudden victory to emerge victorious over Lewallen, 5-3. Since a loss at the South Beach Duals in late-December, Brock has reeled off nine straight wins and put the rest of the country on notice as he’s a legit title contender himself.
1) Michael Kemerer (Iowa)