Brett Velasquez photo courtesy of SCSU athletics
This week was a bit awkward as the Southern Scuffle occurred on Tuesday/Wednesday and a relatively light dual schedule followed. There was also plenty of action at the non-DI level as the NWCA National Duals were conducted in Louisville, Kentucky. Here are some of the top 10 standouts from the last week of competition.
10) Anthony Ashnault (Rutgers)
The Scarlet Knight 149 lber, Anthony Ashnault, continued his blazing run out of the gates with a major decision victory on Sunday. Ashnault’s senior campaign has featured 13 consecutive wins including a title at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and now a 14-4 win over 2017 All-American and 15th-ranked Tommy Thorn (Minnesota). The win was the 11th bonus point victory for Anthony in 2018-19 and his second major of the year. This was also Ashnault’s 104th win in a Scarlet Knight singlet, which ties him for 11th in school history. Despite the big win from Ashnault, Rutgers ended up just short of pulling an upset on the Golden Gophers and fell 22-15.
9) Montorie Bridges (Wyoming)
A lot has been made about some of the losses that Wyoming All-American Montorie Bridges took at the beginning of the 2018-19 season, however after the past two weeks, it looks as if Bridges has righted the ship. On Friday at the Cowboy Duals, Montorie went 2-0 and downed a pair of previous NCAA qualifiers from North Carolina and American. Bridges’ 8-7 win over Gary Wayne Harding (North Carolina) was instrumental in Wyoming’s 20-15 upset of the 18th ranked Tar Heels. Montorie also held off 20th ranked Josh Terao (American) as the Cowboys rolled over American 25-14. After a narrow one-point loss to then-undefeated Tariq Wilson (NC State) at the South Beach Duals, Bridges has now racked up five straight victories.
8) Jay Albis (Johnson & Wales)
The Johnson & Wales wrestling team made program history on Saturday when they upset second-seeded Wartburg 18-17 at the NWCA National Duals DIII tournament. One of the standouts for the Wildcats was defending NCAA champion Jay Albis. Jay was one of three Johnson & Wales wrestlers (Da’Mani Burns, Khamri Thomas) that went 4-0 on the weekend. In the win over Wartburg, Albis dropped Brady Kyner 10-3. That helped propel Johnson & Wales to the finals of the National Duals for the first time in program history. Though the team would fall to Augsburg 20-13, Albis majored All-American and sixth-ranked Victor Gliva 11-2 to start the dual.
7) Myles Martin (Ohio State)
With ninth-ranked NC State heading into Columbus on Sunday evening, a match between Martin and number-four Nick Reenan at 184 lbs, appeared to be one of the most competitive and intriguing bouts of the night. Myles quickly displayed why he is the sole favorite for an NCAA title at the weight class with his 12-5 victory over Reenan. Like the previous eight matches for Martin this year, Reenan never had Martin in any sort of danger, and he cruised to a win that was actually closer on the scoreboard than the action would indicate. It was only the second decision win of the year for Myles, a 2016 NCAA Champion. With so many high-quality Hodge Trophy candidates around the country, Martin’s dominance tends to get overlooked and underappreciated.
6) Artie Bess (Grand View)
For the eighth consecutive season, Grand View earned a title at the NWCA National Duals. In the championship match, the Vikings defeated Life University 23-12, taking six of ten matches. Grand View set a National Duals record by winning their eighth straight title; previously Wartburg had the record with seven. The Vikings 71 dual winning streak is also the longest active dual streak in the nation. One of the standouts for Grand View in this tournament was Artie Bess at 184 lbs, who went 4-0 with a tech fall, two pins, and a forfeit. Bess was one of four Grand View wrestlers that finished the tournament undefeated.
5) Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State)
Two-time NCAA Champion Vincenzo Joseph ran his record to 13-0 with his second Southern Scuffle title in as many years. Joseph emerged as the victor in a weight class that was one of the deepest at the event and featured two returning All-Americans. After two pins in his first two matches, Joseph was challenged by true freshman Shane Griffith (Stanford) in the quarterfinals but prevailed 6-4. Next was a 15-5 major decision of 17th ranked Jesse Dellavecchia (Rider). For the final, Joseph met NCAA fourth-place finisher Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven). Joseph was able to strike late and pick up a 6-5 win over Marsteller. The regular decision wins over Griffith and Marsteller were the first matches this season in which Joseph has not registered bonus points.
4) Brett Velasquez (St. Cloud State)
Grand View was not the only school that left the NWCA National Duals with a winning streak intact. St. Cloud State captured their third consecutive title in the DII division and now has won 39 straight dual meets. As one may expect, one of the stars for the Huskies was their top-ranked 125lber Brett Velasquez. Brett went 4-0 on the weekend and picked up wins over the number two (Josh Portillo – Nebraska-Kearney), and number ten (Maleek Williams – Upper Iowa) ranked wrestlers at his weight class. Both Portillo and Williams are returning All-Americans. Williams was a national runner-up while Portillo defeated Velasquez 9-5 in the NCAA quarterfinals. In his other two matches at this event, Brett garnered a tech fall and a major decision.
3) Bo Nickal (Penn State)
Coming into the Southern Scuffle, most thought that Bo Nickal would destroy the field at 197 lbs and those people were correct. Bo went 5-for-5 will fall in all of his matches, only one of which made it out of the first period. The 197 lb weight class at that tournament was quite deep as well, but it did not matter as Nickal pinned eighth-ranked Nathan Traxler (Stanford) and ninth-ranked Tom Sleigh (Virginia Tech). At the Scuffle, Bo tallied his 100th win in the quarterfinals, then proceeded to get the 50th pin of his career against Traxler in the finals. It was the third Scuffle title for Nickal, all of which came at different weights. So far in 2018-19, Bo has earned bonus points in all 12 of his matches, nine of which have come by fall.
2) Mason Parris (Michigan)
One of the top recruits from the high school Class of 2018, Mason Parris spent the first two months of his collegiate career in redshirt. That changed Thursday night when he was brought out of redshirt, at 285 lbs, to face Oregon State. Parris’ first varsity match for the Wolverines would come against Amar Dhesi, a two-time All-American and Canadian world team member. Mason struck early and often and stunned the veteran with an 11-4 decision. What a way to make a debut for the freshman! Two nights later, against Arizona State, Parris earned a fall over Brady Daniel in 5:56. While competing unattached before the Dhesi match, Mason has accumulated an 18-3 record with wins coming over two NCAA qualifiers.
1) Tyler Berger (Nebraska)