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Top 10 College Wrestling Performances of the Week – Nov. 19th, 2018

findlay, matt

photo courtesy of UVU athletics

The third week of the college wrestling season is in the books and what a weekend it was. There were eight dual meets that took place between teams that are current ranked in the top 20 (#2 Oklahoma State vs. #11 Minnesota, #3 Ohio State vs. #10 Arizona State, #4 Iowa vs. #18 Princeton, #6 Michigan vs. #9 Lehigh, #7 Nebraska vs. #15 Wisconsin, #8 Missouri vs. #13 Virginia Tech,  Virginia Tech vs. #20 Northwestern, and #15 Wisconsin vs. #18 Princeton). Individually, two of the brightest young stars, Junior World Champions, Gable Steveson (Minnesota) and Daton Fix (Oklahoma State), made their dual meet debuts for their respective schools. Also, Penn State took the Keystone Classic by storm, and various open tournaments had interesting results. All of that being said, here are the top 10 College Performances of the Week.

10) Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State)

Last Sunday the true freshman Roman Bravo-Young gave Penn State fans a hint of what is to come with his pin over Kent State’s Tim Rooney, during his Rec Hall debut. Bravo-Young was just as impressive yesterday at the Keystone Classic when he won all three of his match, the first two coming on first-period falls. The Arizona native then lit up the scoreboard in the final, registering a 24-9 tech fall over Chandler Olson (Drexel). Roman now brings his record to 4-0 for the season with three pins. Though he has yet to face any ranked opponents, Bravo-Young’s dominance has demonstrated that he will more than solidify a 133 lb weight class that has given the Nittany Lions the past two years. Looking ahead at the Penn State schedule, the first prominent clash with a top opponent could on December 2nd when in-state rival Lehigh (2x AA Scott Parker) travels to State College. Parker has yet to compete this year for the Mountain Hawks, so we may end up waiting until the Southern Scuffle (Jan 1/Jan2) to see precisely where Bravo-Young belongs at 133 lbs.

9) North Dakota State

NDSU started the year with a pair of dual wins, each impressive in their own way. Their home opener on November 4th, saw the Bison knock off Northwestern 26-17. Roger Kish’s crew then hosted Northern Illinois and took nine of ten matches from the Huskies. After hosting the Bison Open last weekend, North Dakota State returned to dual action when the traveled out west to meet Fresno State. The Bison and Bulldogs had an entertaining, back and forth affair that was not settled until the final match when 125 lber Brent Fleetwood gave North Dakota State a tech fall and the dual victory. Two days later NDSU entered the Roadrunner Open and came away with five individual champions (Fleetwood, Cam Sykora – 133, Gavin Sutton – 141, Cordell Eaton – 197, and Brandon Metz – 285), and seven wrestlers that placed in the top three. North Dakota State’s performance thus far in the season has proven that they can be a threat in the Big 12.

8) Dan Reed (Columbia)

For a team that is loaded with talented freshmen up and down the lineup, it was one of Columbia’ seniors Dan Reed that shined brightest Sunday at Army West Point’s, Black Knight Invitational. Through three years of competition for the Lions, Reed had amassed a 22-31 career record, so he was probably an unlikely candidate to come out of the Black Knight Invitational as the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. In his first match of the tournament, in the 157 lb weight class, Reed upset the 10th ranked wrestler in the nation Luke Weiland (Army West Point). After a semifinal win, Dan was then matched up against 15th ranked Alex Klucker (Lock Haven). Reed would capture his title with a 12-3 major decision victory over the NCAA qualifier from Lock Haven. For the season Reed’s record is now 7-1, with the lone blemish a 10-7 loss to 11th ranked Larry Early (Old Dominion) at the Princeton Open.

7) Casey Cobb (Navy)

Another wrestler that seemed unlikely to be mentioned on the top performances of the week was Navy’s Casey Cobb, a sophomore that did not see any action for the Midshipmen in 2017-18. Cobb ended up winning the 133 lb title at the Navy Classic on Saturday. Sometimes the wrestlers mentioned on this list are ones that dominate their tournaments (like Bravo-Young), but Cobb won his championships with four close, hard-fought victories, the widest margin being only three points. The field at 133 lbs was quite talented, and Casey needed to defeat a pair of NCAA qualifiers to sit atop the podium. In the quarters, Cobb got by Noah Gonser (Campbell) 5-2, and then in the final, he knocked off Anthony Tutolo (Michigan State) 7-5. This was the first tournament win of any sort for Cobb in his time at the Naval Academy.

6) Ryan Christensen (Wisconsin)

For being a guy that had qualified for the NCAA Championships in all three of his previous seasons for Wisconsin, Ryan Christensen seemed to get overlooked nationally. Maybe not after this weekend. Christensen went 3-0 in dual competition, starting with a last-second pin over 10th ranked Mike Labriola (Nebraska) in their meet Friday. That fall was instrumental in the Badgers 22-21 upset of the seventh-ranked Huskers. Sunday Wisconsin would host two non-conference opponents in Princeton and Utah Valley. Princeton sent out a tough freshman Travis Stefanik who Christensen was able to handle 6-4. To close out his weekend, Ryan disposed of 15th ranked Kimball Bastian (Utah Valley) by a 3-1 score. The combination of wins will be sure to boost Christensen from his current ranking of 20th in the nation at 174 lbs.

5) Cory Daniel (North Carolina)

College wrestling can be rough sometimes (or most of the time). Heading into the 285 lb bout in North Carolina’s dual meet with 10th ranked Arizona State, the Tar Heels held a slim 16-15 lead, but they had an ace-in-the-hole. Two-time NCAA qualifier and 14th ranked Cory Daniel was ready to take the mat and close things out for the upset-minded Tar Heels. It wasn’t that simple, however. Cory’s ASU opponent happened to be his younger brother Brady, a redshirt freshman. The Daniel brother battled it out, with big brother Cory prevailing 12-3. The win locked up a team victory for UNC over their heavily favored hosts, 20-15. The Daniel brothers had family in attendance for the match my feelings go out to them (particularly mom) having to watch two of your boys go at it with the dual result hanging in the balance. The win improved

4) Shayne Oster (Northwestern)

Perhaps the upset that helped propel Northwestern to their upset of Virginia Tech was Shayne Oster’s win over 17th ranked Ryan Blees (Virginia Tech) at 149 lbs. A late reversal from Oster put the match into sudden victory, and the match needed to go into tiebreakers before it was the Wildcat wrestler that came out on top 8-7. Northwestern would ultimately win 20-16 and unseat the 13th ranked Hokies. So far this year, Shayne has only participated in two matches for Northwestern, and the Blees win brought his record to 1-1. This was also the first dual meet for the Wildcats in a renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena.

3) Matt Findlay (Utah Valley)

The Wolverines continue to grab ahold of the country and force fans to take notice of their exploits. On Saturday Utah Valley went 3-0 at the Northern Illinois duals, then Sunday they gave undefeated Wisconsin all they could handle before falling 22-17. One of the bright spots for head coach Greg Williams’ squad is the emergence of sophomore 141 lber Matt Findlay. Matt was instrumental in the Wolverines upset of Rutgers and in their narrow loss to Nebraska, last weekend. This time around, Findlay went 3-0 at Northern Illinois, which was highlighted by a 10-5 victory over NCAA qualifier Taylor Ortz (Clarion). On Sunday, Matt had an identical 10-5 final score in his win over dangerous 14th ranked Tristan Moran (Wisconsin). Findlay is now 6-0 on the season.

2) Daton Fix (Oklahoma State)

Lost in some of the hype surrounding Gable Steveson’s first collegiate match was that this weekend would be the first time that Daton Fix would officially compete for the Cowboys. Fix appeared to have a daunting slate of opponents with 2018 NCAA Champion Seth Gross (South Dakota State) on Saturday and 2017 NCAA Runner-Up Ethan Lizak (Minnesota) on Sunday. The Gross match never materialized on Saturday because Seth did not even weigh in, after re-aggravating a pre-existing injury earlier in the week. Daton would wrestle SDSU’s backup Spencer Huber, who he teched 19-1. The Lizak match did happen, and it featured one of the most extended scrambles that you’ll ever see, a flurry that resulted in OSU losing a team point because head coach John Smith was not happy that Fix was not awarded a takedown. At that point of the match, Fix had already picked up one takedown, with one of his signature throw-by’s. He also was able to gain a reversal after Lizak, one of the sports toughest on top, chose that position to start the third period. Daton went on to take the match by a 6-1 score.

1) Gable Steveson (Minnesota)

TOM’s College Wrestler of the Week – November 19th, 2018

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