photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com
Last week we eased back into the college season. There were a handful of duals and open tournaments to follow. Week two was more of a typical week with most teams in action, be it in a dual/open/invitational/wrestle-off. As we always do, we’ve dug through all of the results and found ten performances that stood out from the rest.
10) Luke Weiland (Army West Point)
On Sunday, the Black Knight of Army West Point were in action in a pair of dual meets hosted by Chattanooga. Army went 2-0 on the day by defeating the Mocs, along with a Big Ten team in the Illinois Fighting Illini. One of three wrestlers that went undefeated on the day for head coach Kevin Ward’s team was Luke Weiland at 157 lbs. Weiland dropped out of the national rankings last week after going 1-1 at the season-opening “Battle at the Midway.” Luke may be back in the top-20 since he defeated #13 Eric Barone (Illinois) 8-3 and George Carpenter (Chattanooga), 6-1. Weiland has qualified for the NCAA Championships in each of the last two years after taking fourth place in the EIWA Championships both years.
9) Devan Turner (Oregon State)
One of the most challenging brackets at Saturday’s Mountaineer Invitational, presented by Appalachian State University, was 133 lbs. Returning Pac-12 runner-up Devan Turner was given the second seed and he proceeded to put up a major decision, 14-4 over Central Michigan’s Brock Bergelin, in his quarterfinal match. In the semi’s, Turner had to deal with returning NCAA qualifier Tim Rooney (Kent State). Turner got an early takedown with four nearfall points and never looked back. Devan ended up downing Rooney by the final score of 9-3. To win the championship, Turner needed to go through SoCon champion Codi Russell (Appalachian State) on his home mat. Like his semifinal match, Turner jumped out to an early 6-0 lead and held on to win 10-6. Russell started the weekend ranked 14th in the nation at 133 lbs. Turner was the only Beaver grappler to come home from the tournament with a title.
8) Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa)
It will be a reoccurring theme with some of the other wrestlers in the top performances of the week, but Taylor Lujan was making his debut at a new weight class on Sunday and showed no ill effects. Lujan was a 174 lber during his first three years at UNI, but will go 184 for his senior season. At the Cyclone Open, Taylor made the finals after logging first period falls in each of his first two matches. For the tournament title, Lujan would need to go through Iowa State’s Sam Colbray, the Big 12 runner-up at the weight in 2019. Lujan got the 7-5 win over his new conference-rival. These two could tangle multiple times during the remainder of the season. Both schools are at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and will clash in a dual meet, along with the Big 12 Championships.
7) AC Headlee (North Carolina)
In one of the headline dual meets of the week, the 18th ranked University of North Carolina traveled to Michigan to take on the #20 Wolverines. The Tarheels came away with a 19-17 win and were aided by an upset at 157 lbs. Senior AC Headlee, a two-time NCAA qualifier, had been UNC’s starter at 141 lbs for the past two seasons. He has moved up to 157 pounds this year and shined Friday night. Headlee was paired up with Michigan’s stud freshman, Will Lewan, ranked 12th in the nation and fresh off a 5-1, third-place showing at the Michigan State Open. AC held a 3-2 lead on the freshman, late in the third period, and was able to thwart Lewan’s late attack and even convert it for a match-clinching takedown, 5-2.
6) Thomas Penola (Purdue)
With three-time NCAA qualifier Christian Brunner at 197 lbs for the Boilermakers, it looked like redshirt freshman Thomas Penola may have to wait until next year to make his mark. That wasn’t the case on Saturday as Penola got to start in all three of Purdue’s duals at the Journeymen/NE Duals. Penola’s first opponent was UWW Junior Open champion Sam Schuyler (Buffalo), an opponent that had defeated Brunner last week at the Michigan State Open and was ranked 11th in the nation. That didn’t seem to matter to Penola, who scored early and often in an 8-6 win over the Bulls 197 lber. In his next match, Penola squared off with Utah Valley’s redshirt freshman Jayden Woodruff. Penola would get win number two of the day with a second-period fall. In the last match of the day for the Boilermakers, Penola edged Cade Belshay (Arizona State) by the score of 3-2. Purdue was able to get wins in the first two matches before falling by three points to ASU.
5) Zahid Valencia (Arizona State)
One of the preseason favorites for the Hodge Trophy, Zahid Valencia, got his senior season started off on the right foot. Valencia earned falls over national qualifiers Tyler Love (Virginia) and Max Lyon (Purdue) on Saturday, while his team won both of their dual meets at the Journeymen/NE Duals. At Sunday’s Collegiate Challenge, Valencia started the day with a tech fall victory over Rutgers tough freshman, Billy Janzer. Next up was three-time national qualifier Tanner Orndorff (Utah Valley), who was making his debut at 184 lbs, after spending the rest of his career at 197. Size didn’t seem to be a problem from Valencia, who himself was moving up from 174 lbs, and Zahid got a first-period fall while leading 6-0. In the final match, Zahid faced 2018 All-American Taylor Venz of Nebraska. Valencia was able to withstand an early onslaught from Venz that included a pair of first-period takedowns. After Venz’ third takedown of the match, early in the second period, Valencia trailed by three points. In the third, Zahid escaped then used a big double leg to take his first lead of the match, 8-7. Valencia needed to ride the Cornhusker for the last minute of the match to prevent a possible sudden victory period. He did get the rideout and escaped with a win and a 5-0 record on the young season.
4) Cole Matthews (Pittsburgh)
TOM’s DI Dual of the Week featured the 21st ranked Campbell Camels traveling to Pittsburgh to take on the #11 Panthers. One of the marquee matches of the afternoon was at 141 lbs, where 12th ranked Josh Heil (Campbell) met 18th ranked freshman, Cole Matthews (Pittsburgh). In the first period, Matthews got in deep on a reshot and Heil attempted to scramble out of the potential takedown. In the ensuing chaos, Cole was able to lock up a cradle. Matthews then rolled across his back to expose Heil’s back. Seconds later, the ref called for a fall with Matthews getting the win. It was a nice time for Cole to earn his first dual meet victory in a Panther singlet. The pin helped propel Pittsburgh to a 28-6 win over Campbell.
3) Isaiah White (Nebraska)
Before his big Sunday at the Journeyman Collegiate Classic, Isaiah White still had a tough test in the Cornhuskers “Nebraska Duals” on Thursday evening. Nebraska hosted a pair of in-state DII teams to the Devaney Center. One of those squads was Nebraska-Kearney, who featured a returning DII national champion, Matt Malcom, in their lineup at 165 lbs. White was able to get his hand raised after a 6-4 decision over Malcom. In pool competition in New York, White was tested in his first bout with Lehigh’s Brian Meyer. An early takedown, coupled with a second-period escape and riding time, helped him edge Meyer, 4-3. The second match was not quite as close as Isaiah racked up a major decision, 13-4, on Hofstra’s Ricky Stamm. For first-place, White needed to go through fellow-All-American Josh Shields (Arizona State). The two met last year at nationals and it was Isaiah who was victorious, 8-4. In this meeting, White pounced on Shields with under 15 seconds left in the opening period for a takedown and dumped the Sun Devil to his back for four points. That sequence was instrumental in the Cornhuskers 7-1 win.
2) Louie DePrez (Binghamton)
Louie DePrez got his season started as his school hosted the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open on Sunday. DePrez breezed through his first three matches with an 11-0 major and a 16-0 tech fall, preceding a 7-1 win over Kendall Elfstrum (Princeton) in the semifinals. That set up a match with the second-ranked 184 lber in the nation, Ben Darmstadt (Cornell). While trailing 2-0 in the second period, DePrez finished a single leg for a takedown then quickly locked up a tilt for another two points. Louie continued to build onto his lead and was a 7-2 winner. DePrez started the weekend ranked 10th in the nation, but will undoubtedly rise after his tournament title. This could be the first of many meetings between Louie and Darmstadt. Both teams have entered the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and also have a dual meet set for mid-February. They are both in the EIWA, as well.
1) Tate Orndorff (Utah Valley)