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Top 10 College Wrestling Performances of the Week – Jan. 28th, 2019

thornton, ben

photo courtesy of Richard Immel

This weekend dual action got of to a fast start on Friday with a clash between two undefeated top-five teams, along with more chaos at the 133 lb weight class. Although it ended with the most anticipated match of the week not occurring, we are sticking to discussing the positive and with that we present the top 10 college wrestling performances of the week.

10) Lock Haven

Two weeks after a subpar 1-2 showing at the Virginia Duals, Lock Haven bounced back in a big way winning both of their dual meets this week. On Friday, the Bald Eagles met #24 Arizona State in a dual meet that was held at Red Lion High School which in the area of Pennsylvania where their All-American Chance Marsteller grew up. Lock Haven along with Red Lion HS and the surrounding area did a great job promoting the dual and a packed house saw the Bald Eagles pull off a 23-14 upset of the Sun Devils. Though Marsteller fell in tiebreakers to fellow All-American Josh Shields in the night’s marquee, final match, Lock Haven was boosted by bonus point wins from Luke Werner at 125 lbs (pin) and Kyle Shoop at 141 lbs (tech-fall). Other winners for LHU include DJ Fehlman (133 lbs), Corey Hazel (184 lbs), Parker McClellan (197 lbs), and Thomas Haines (285 lbs). That wasn’t it for the Bald Eagles, they also shut out PSAC rival Millersville 45-0 on Sunday.

9) Mason Parris (Michigan)

As expected, TOM’s Dual of the Week came down to a battle of freshman 285 lbers when fifth-ranked Michigan traveled to wrestle bitter-rival, third-ranked Ohio State at The Schottenstein Center on Friday night. The Wolverines trailed the Buckeye 17-16 headed into the heavyweight bout between 10th ranked Mason Parris and 14th ranked Chase Singletary. Parris was the aggressor early and often, getting in on multiple shots in the first period, though he could not convert. That changed in the second period where he scored with a takedown to earn his first lead of the match. Another takedown in the third period iced the match for Parris who would win the match 6-3 and give his team a dual victory 19-17. Michigan improved to 9-0 on the year with the win. Earlier in the season, it was Singletary who gave Parris his first loss of the year, 15-9, at the Ohio Intercollegiate Open.

8) George Mason

For the first time in school history, George Mason defeated Edinboro 20-19 on Sunday in front of a home crowd. The Patriots now improved their 2018-19 record under second-year head coach Frank Beasley to 7-4, along with their third EWL win. By comparison, GMU went 4-13 last season and lost all six of their conference dual meets, though they did send three wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, the highest number for the program since 2001. Entering the final match of the dual, George Mason trailed Edinboro by three points, yet they had an ace in the hole, 285 lbs NCAA qualifier Matt Voss, currently the 13th-ranked wrestler in the country. Voss, a captain for GMU, came through for his team with an 11-2 major decision over Jon Spaulding which made the final score 20-19, in favor of the Patriots. In addition to Voss, Talha Farooq (125 lbs), Julio Alegria (141 lbs), Tejon Anthony (149 lbs), and Kolby Ho (157 lbs) were all victorious for George Mason.

7) Neal Richards (VMI)

We don’t often get to mention VMI, but their 174 lber Neal Richards was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the All-Academy Championships. Richards started his tournament with a fall over Brad Laughlin (Army West Point) and then an 11-4 decision in the semis against Randy Meneweather (Air Force), which set the stage for the championship finals against 20th-ranked Spencer Carey (Navy). The Keydet only needed 1:42 in which to earn a fall over Carey. The pin gave Neal his 15th consecutive win and he now runs his 2018-19 record to 22-3 on the season. Richards was an NCAA qualifier in 2016 as a freshman, and looks like he is back on track to earn a second trip to nationals and the first under first-year head coach Jim Gibson.

6) Mitch Finesilver (Duke)

Two wins this week brought sixth-ranked 149 lber Mitch Finesilver’s season record up to 22-3. The first of the two wins was a 10-0 major decision over new ACC rival Justin Oliver (NC State). Oliver, in his first year in Raleigh after spending four years at Central Michigan, entered the match just behind Finesilver in the rankings at number seven. These two have a history though, with Oliver dropping Finesilver in the Round of 12 at the 2016 NCAA Championships. It’s not necessarily surprising that the Blue Devil could have earned a win over Oliver, it’s sort of eye-popping that he was able to do so in a such a dominating manner. Mitch would go on to pick up win number two of the week on Sunday when he defeated Kevin Budock (Old Dominion) 8-2.

5) Ian Parker (Iowa State)

So far this year, it seemed as if maybe Ian Parker was getting overlooked despite his impressive 17-2 record. Coming into this week, Parker has not faced many of the top contenders at 141 lbs, which was probably accounted for some of the uncertainty surrounding him. Ian and the Cyclones made the always dangerous road trip to face both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, yet it was Parker who emerged from the two dual unscathed and with two more wins. First, on Friday, Ian got by 15th-ranked Dom Demas (Oklahoma) 4-3, by virtue of a stalling point in sudden victory. Next came two-time All-American Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) whom Parker dispatched of by the score of 6-3.

4) Ben Thornton (Purdue)

On Friday, top-ranked Penn State traveled to Purdue which meant 16th ranked Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) would square off with 18th-ranked Ben Thornton (Purdue). The Boilermaker Thornton wasted no time getting in on an early single leg after the opening whistle. Bravo-Young attempted to flip out of the hold, as doing so earlier in the season landed him an appearance on ESPN’s top plays. This time around it was not successful and Thornton was able to control the Nittany Lion freshman for a takedown. As the takedown was granted, Bravo-Young took injury time, as he appeared to injure the leg during the flip attempt. The match resumed and Thornton earned an escape on the restart that followed and added another to start the second period. Ben would get an insurance takedown as the buzzer sounded at the end of the second period to lead 6-0. He would go on to log a 7-3 win, which at the time, gave Purdue an early 6-0 lead over the defending national champions. Thornton is a senior that qualified for the NCAA Championships last year in Cleveland, for the first time.

3) Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech)

If an upset of Bravo-Young by Thornton wasn’t enough for the 133 lb weight class, we also saw second-ranked Micky Phillipi (Pittsburgh) fall to 13th ranked Korbin Myers, both on Friday night. Phillipi was TOM’s College Wrestler of the Week for January 21st, after handing Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) his first collegiate loss. Myers was ahead of Phillipi by a point, 3-2, in the third period; however, Phillipi was on top and had riding time locked up, effectively tying the match. Myers proceeded to get a reversal against Phillpi which extended his lead to 5-2. No other scoring occurred and the Panther received his riding time point, but it only brought the score to 5-3 in favor of Myers. Sunday, the Hokies traveled to Lehigh where Myers picked up a second win of the weekend, this one was a 4-1 decision over Brandon Paetzell.

2) Taylor Venz (Nebraska)

Taylor Venz hit a bit of a rough patch in December, losing in the Cliff Keen finals and then both Nebraska dual meets in North Carolina, but he looks like he has snapped out of it and is back after Sunday’s performance. Venz was tasked with facing second-ranked, undefeated,  Emery Parker (Illinois) the same wrestler who defeated him in the NCAA consolation finals last season for third place, 8-1. The pair had met two other times in 2017-18 and they split wins with each other. This time around it was Parker who struck first, though Venz used an escape then a late takedown to hold a 3-2 advantage after one period. Moving on to the third period, with a 5-2 lead and riding time now in his favor, Venz sunk in a half and was able to catch Parker as he tried to roll out of it. Parker went to his back and could now fight off, results in a pin for the Cornhusker. Taylor has now won five straight matches since the calendar has turned to 2019 and will certainly move up the rankings after his big win.

1) Stevan Micic (Michigan)

TOM’s College Wrestler of the Week – Jan. 28th, 2019

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