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Top 10 College Wrestling Performances of the Week – January 20th, 2020

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As we look back on another week of the collegiate wrestling season, you’ll notice that this one seemed to go according to plan. There were a few upsets here and there, as will happen during any week, but they were few and far between, both individual and team-wise. The top-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes hosted a top-ten opponent in Nebraska, which certainly had some important repercussions. There were also a handful of undefeated wrestlers that were able to grab notable wins and preserve their perfect records. And, as often is the case, we’ll mention a team that you may have overlooked that took a few positive steps forward. All of them will be included in this week’s version of the top performances of the week in college wrestling.

10) Mason Eaglin (Duke)

It’s been a rough season for the Duke Blue Devils, who have two of their top returners redshirting and are currently 0-9. One of the brights spots for head coach Glen Lanham’s group has been freshman 174 lber Mason Eaglin. Mason captured a pair of wins over the weekend and ran his 2019-20 record to 16-6. On Friday night, Eaglin put together an impressive 12-5 win over 17th ranked Jackson Hemauer (Fresno State). It was one of only two wins for Duke against the Bulldogs. On Sunday, Eaglin managed to get another victory, this time an 8-0 major decision over Albert Urias (CSU Bakersfield). That was the only win of the dual meet for Duke. With the win over Hemauer, Eaglin now has three wins on the year over national qualifiers from 2019. 

9) Davidson

A team that we don’t get to discuss very often Davidson of the Southern Conference. Head coach Andy Lausier’s crew got a pair of conference wins over the weekend to push their season record to 3-6. That total already exceeds last year’s output when the Wildcats went 2-13 and did not defeat any DI teams. With six dual meets left on Davidson’s schedule, don’t be surprised if they add to that total. On Friday, Davidson dropped The Citadel 27-18, before routing Presbyterian 36-8 Sunday. In the two dual, Davison tallied five wins by fall. Also, Five Wildcat wrestlers emerged from the weekend with a pair of wins, including Cian Fischer (125), Kyle Gorant (133), Hunter Costa (157), Steven Newell (174), and Gavin Henry (184 lbs).  

8) Wyatt Koelling (Missouri)

While the Missouri lineup may not have the firepower that past Tigers teams have had, their 197 lber Wyatt Koelling is quietly putting together an excellent season. Koelling added two more wins this weekend to bring his 19-20 record to 16-3. Wyatt has now won four in a row, three of which have come against MAC foes. Both of his wins this weekend were over opponents with winning records and came via identical 3-2 scores. Wyatt started the week with a win over 28th ranked Landon Pelham (Central Michigan), which stopped the Chippewa 97 lber’s brief two-match winning streak. Two days later, Koelling held off Kent State’s Colin McCracken. The Tigers would win both duals by a comfortable margin. Last year, Koelling went undefeated in conference dual competition, but had an off showing at the MAC Championships and missed the national tournament.

7) Jelani Embree (Michigan)

A minor injury suffered at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational kept Michigan’s Jelani Embree off the mat for over a month until his return this weekend. Jelani’s first match back saw him drop one of Maryland’s top grapplers, Kyle Jasenski, 8-3 in the Wolverines rout of the Terps. Again Minnesota, on Sunday, Embree had a huge 3-1 win in sudden victory, over #22 Owen Webster, to help Michigan pull off a 22-15 upset. Embree’s record now moves to 15-4. With Jelani in the lineup, Michigan pushed it’s record up to 4-2, which is remarkable considering the talent that has been redshirting this season. Expect him to rise up the 184 lb rankings, which have suddenly become very unpredictable. Like Koelling above, Embree had a decent 2018-19 season and seemed on the verge of making the national tournament before a poor showing at the conference meet. 

6) Doug Zapf (Penn)

A couple of strong years of recruiting have provided Penn head coach Roger Reina with a whole stable of young talent, one of which is their 141 lber, Doug Zapf. Doug is another competitor that may have slipped under the radar, but he is now on a nine-match winning streak after picking up a pair of wins this weekend. Doug was one of only three Quaker wrestlers to earn a win on Friday night during their 27-9 loss to Army West Point. Zapf edged returning national qualifier Corey Shie, 7-5. Against Binghamton, on Sunday, Zapf lit up the scoreboard and majored Kevin Kelly, 19-5. Coincidentally, 19-5 is also Zapf’s current record after the two recent wins. Pretty impressive stuff from someone who went 17-16 as a freshman last year and competed at 106 lbs in the 2016-17 season. 

5) Chas Tucker (Cornell)

On Friday, Cornell senior Chas Tucker had the opportunity to cool off one of the hottest freshmen in the country when he faced Sammy Alvarez (Rutgers). The ninth-ranked Alvarez was riding a ten-match winning streak that included a title-winning performance at the Southern Scuffle. Tucker stopped Alvarez’s momentum with a low-scoring 3-2 win. The victory was instrumental in Cornell’s 18-16 road win versus the Scarlet Knights. That wasn’t it for Tucker though, he had a match against another ranked freshman #27 Collin Gerardi (Virginia Tech) on Sunday. This time, Tucker was able to open up with the scoring, a bit. He got his hand raised after a 6-2 win over Gerardi. The pair of wins now brings Tucker’s season record up to a perfect, 21-0. Tucker, the fifth-ranked wrestler at the 133 lb weight class, is a two-time national qualifier that is still seeking to earn All-American honors for the first time. 

4) Dresden Simon (Central Michigan)

The 2019-20 season has indeed been a breakout year for Central Michigan freshman Dresden Simon. The junior spent his first two years in the CMU lineup bouncing between 133 and 149 lbs, but has seemingly found a home at 141. When Simon was last on the mat, he was an upset victim, falling to Northern Illinois’ Anthony Gibson 9-3. Dresden responded by earning a major decision victory on Friday night over Missouri All-American Grant Leeth. That win marked the second over a former All-American this year for Simon (Lock Haven’s Kyle Shoop was the other). Both wins happened to come via major decision. Not only did Simon major Leeth this weekend, but he also did the same to Saul Ervin (SIU Edwardsville). The 16th ranked Simon now has brought his season record up to 21-7. 

3) Luke Pletcher (Ohio State)

Lots of times on the top performances, we tend to focus on unheralded wrestlers or those that produce some sort of an upset. The top-ranked wrestlers who take care of business can often get ignored. Not this time with the top 141 lber in the land, Luke Pletcher. Since moving up to 141, Pletcher has unleashed his offense like never before. This weekend was no different as he was able to notch a major decision victory over #9 Tristan Moran (Wisconsin), who was featured prominently in last week’s top performances. Pletcher’s 11-3 win over Moran was his 11th bonus-point win of the season. On Sunday, Pletcher failed to secured bonus points, but still was to register a decisive 12-5 victory over 15th ranked Dylan Duncan (Illinois). Luke is now 18-0 and is facing another big weekend coming up. Friday’s opponent should be Iowa’s Max Murin, while All-American Mitch McKee (Minnesota) awaits on Sunday.

2) Abe Assad (Iowa)

Last weekend, Iowa head coach Tom Brands brought Abe Assad out of redshirt for the Hawkeyes trip through Indiana. The Midlands runner-up Assad, acquitted himself well in his official Iowa debut logging a pair of wins. This time around, there was a drastic change in the level of competition of his opponent, 2018 All-American Taylor Venz (Nebraska). The fifth-ranked Venz was a winner of his last three matches and had given two-time national champion Zahid Valencia (Arizona State) his toughest test of the season. Undaunted, Assad used a pair of takedowns, one in the second and another in the third period, to get by Venz, 6-4. That win will undoubtedly help Assad move up from his current ranking of ninth in the nation at 184 lbs. The true freshman Assad is now 18-3 on the year and 3-0 since having his redshirt removed. Abe now has tough matches against freshmen Rocky Jordan (Ohio State) and Aaron Brooks (Penn State) on the horizon. 

1) Noah Adams (West Virginia)

TOM’s College Wrestler of the Week – January 20th, 2020

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