Left photo by Mark Lundy, LutteLens.com, center photo by Brett Pierce, Campbellsville, right photo by Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com
This week saw the crowning of the first college national champions of 2018, a Michigan/Ohio State dual that lived up to the hype and then some, in addition to a top-ranked defending champion falling to a redshirt freshman. No one was safe as wrestlers were getting pinned when they looked like they were in control, 197s were moving up to heavyweight getting pins, and what we thought we knew, as so often happens, was proven false. Here are the top 10 college performances of the week!
10) Leaving the home crowd with a great memory
Kent State found themselves with more 197s than they needed which eventually forced Stephen Suglio up to heavyweight. On Senior Day, Suglio’s final appearance at home for the Golden Flashes, the man from Richfield, Ohio, provided a vital pin to help his team upset 18th-ranked Central Michigan. Trailing 4-2, Suglio reversed Matt Stencel, who has been ranked at times this season, to his back for a stunning fall. Flipping that result from three for the Chippewas to six for the home team made all the difference in a dual that ended, 21-13.
9) You can’t keep him out
Andrew Crone (Wisconsin) had climbed to 11th in the national rankings and was having a nice season. However, there appeared to be a distinct divide between the top eight at 157 and everyone else. The Badger senior broke down that wall on Friday night, proving he is an All-American candidate in an authoritative, 11-3, victory over eighth-ranked Tyler Berger (Nebraska). He nearly suffered a let down in his next match, getting pushed into overtime by Kyle Langenderfer (Illinois). Unphased, Crone took his foe to his back in sudden victory for an 8-2 victory.
8) He looked like he might be in trouble, but…
Tommy Thorn (Minnesota) had hit a bit of a rough patch lately, but seemed to be bouncing back, winning an early scramble against Ryan Diehl (Maryland), then going to work on top. As the Gopher All-American started to walk towards the head in pursuit of nearfall, however, Diehl sat up into him, locking around the arm and the waist with Thorn in trouble. The Terrapin rocked his opponent back just enough to secure a stunning fall that could jump-start the 2017 NCAA qualifier’s junior season.
7) True freshman vengeance
Those who follow high school wrestling might have been familiar with Rayvon Foley (Michigan State) coming into the season. He hadn’t quite broken through as a Spartan heading into Friday’s dual with Michigan, but he was developing a reputation as a guy who no one wanted to face and who might develop into something special down the road. He had battled fellow true-freshman Drew Mattin (Michigan) in Vegas earlier this season, eventually getting pinned in what had been a competitive match to that point. This time around, he controlled the action against the 12th ranked wrestler in the nation. Foley led 4-1 after one, then poured it on late in a 10-3 upset win.
6) Sweet revenge
Few things in wrestling are sweeter than getting a rematch against an opponent that bested you previously, then blowing their doors off. That is exactly what Stevan Micic (Michigan) got to do Sunday night against Luke Pletcher (Ohio State). The second-ranked Buckeye beat Micic in Vegas, 7-5, but the Wolverine, who lost his next match to Austin DeSanto (Drexel) had not lost since that day. Pletcher had not lost at all this season and opened the scoring with a takedown. From there, it was all Micic. The 2017 NCAA fourth-place finisher used lightning quick attacks in neutral and a hard ride to avenge the earlier loss in style, opening up a gap and separating himself. He did give up a meaningless escape at the end to make the final 11-5.
5) Getting over the hump
2017 Division II national champion Isaiah White has been strong for Nebraska this season and he has been close to being incredible. White’s four losses coming into his clash with fourth-ranked Evan Wick (Wisconsin) had all come against quality competition, none had been by more than two points, and two had taken more than seven minutes to decide the outcome. Still, the Cornhusker was lacking a marquee win. Then he went out and handled Wick in a 6-3 decision, taking the freshman down twice to get his hand raised. He is one to keep an eye on as we close in on the post-season.
4) Adding his name to a select group
With his team in a battle with their most hated rivals, Myles Amine (Michigan) knew an upset over third-ranked Bo Jordan (Ohio State) would give the Wolverines a chance to pull the upset. It was a tall order. Amine finished fourth at the NCAA tournament as a freshman, but the list of those who have beaten Jordan in college was a who’s who of studs. The entire list was Isaac Jordan (Wisconsin), Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State), Brian Realbuto (Cornell), Mark Hall (Penn State), and Zahid Valencia (Arizona State). Those guys have totaled 13 All-American awards, six finals appearances, and four NCAA titles. Hall and Valencia are likely to add to that haul. Now Amine can as well. After leading 3-1 entering the third, the sophomore found himself trailing by riding time as the clock ticked down. However, just before the buzzer, Myles secured the winning takedown, sending Crisler Arena into a frenzy.
3) He just keeps winning
Alex Marinelli’s redshirt freshman campaign has featured several points where he was supposed to take his first loss. It could have happened right out of the gate when he made his season debut against Richie Lewis (Rutgers). Marinelli won in overtime, beat Lewis again en route to a Midlands title, and has since beaten Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State), Te’Shan Campbell (Ohio State), Logan Massa (Michigan), and Nick Wanzek (Minnesota). Still, Saturday night had to be the end. The Hawkeye was facing defending national champion and top-ranked Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State). The undefeated Nittany Lion built a 5-2 lead entering the third period. Marinelli escaped, then locked his hands around his foe as the decisive sequence began. As he so often does, Joseph looked for his inside trip, choosing to attack instead of keeping his hips back defensively. This time, Alex was ready, stuffing the attempt and putting the champion on his back. Those six points proved enough as Marinelli remained undefeated, 9-6.
2) You can’t write it any better
One of the best stories that most college wrestling fans missed over the weekend saw it’s final chapter written by Kayla Miracle (Campbellsville). After a pulsating team battle between her squad and Simon Fraser, Miracle took the mat for the final bout of the 2018 WCWA National Championships needing to win to give the Tigers their first team championship. As if that weren’t enough, Miracle was attempting to become just the fourth four-time WCWA champion, joining Victoria Anthony (Simon Fraser), Helen Maroulis (Missouri Baptist/Simon Fraser), and Emily Webster (Oklahoma City). Did I mention her dad, Lee Miracle, is the Campbellsville head coach and only took the job when Kayla decided she would join him in Kentucky in a quest to build a championship program? With all that hanging in the balance, Miracle gave up the first takedown to Desiree Zavala (Grays Harbor) before bouncing back with a pair of takedowns. Off the second, she turked the bottom leg, putting Zavala on her back. It took a while to secure the fall, but it came just before the three minute mark, making history and setting off an emotional celebration in Oklahoma City.