The final week of the regular season is in the books and the final act featured some thrilling duals. We saw NC State host a pair of highly-ranked foes, the annual Army/Navy rivalry come down to the final bout, and 197 continued to be an absolute mess to rank. With the conference tournaments fast approaching, we also saw several wrestlers who had their best performances to date. If they can keep that sort of form over the next month or so, they will exceed expectations. Here are the top-10 performances in college wrestling this week!
10) It’s never too late
Coming into the season, many Hawkeye fans expected Vince Turk to make some noise at 141 pounds. Instead, he has struggled to find a rhythm and has split time in the starting lineup with Carter Happel. The last time we saw the opponent he faced on Sunday, 13th-ranked Ian Parker (Iowa State), the Cyclone was beating two-time national champion Dean Heil (Oklahoma State). That may not sound like a recipe for an Iowa win, but it isn’t too late to turn a season around. An early takedown and nearfall put the sophomore in front and his advantage continued to build with Turk tacking on a riding time point for an unexpected 13-5 major decision.
9) They want back in the rankings
While their teams didn’t have as much success as they had hoped for against Lehigh, Mike Longo (Oklahoma) and Nick Zanetta (Pitt) earned upset victories over 12th-ranked Luke Karam (Lehigh) that could help them build momentum as they head toward the post-season. Both Longo and Zanetta have slipped out of the top-20 after spending time in the rankings this season. The Sooner blanked Karam, 8-0, on Friday night, then Zanetta got him, 6-1, on Sunday. While there is cause for concern among the Lehigh faithful, all three are capable of springing an upset or two in March.
8) He has done this before
After the first five matches against NC State, the outlook was bleak for Virginia Tech. The Hokies had dropped four of the five and trailed 16-3. Wins at 165 and 174 helped close the gap, but they still needed to win the final three weights to retain the ACC regular season crown. That looked like a tall-order with undefeated and third-ranked Pete Renda (NC State) coming to the mat at 184. However, eighth-ranked Zack Zavatsky (Virginia Tech) was up to the task, earning a 3-2 decision that kept his team alive. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, Zavatsky beat Renda in two of three matches when they clashed in 2015-16. The Hokie junior needed that sort of win as he works towards his first All-American finish.
7) Another step forward for the Wolfpack
For the first time in the Pat Popolizio era, NC State beat Virginia Tech in what has become the annual dual to determine the ACC regular-season championship. Sean Fausz (125) and Kevin Jack (141) earned tech falls, 14th ranked Beau Donahue (149) took down 16th ranked Ryan Blees (Virginia Tech) in overtime, Hayden Hidlay (157) remained undefeated and 11th-ranked Mike Boykin sealed the dual with a sudden victory win over 20th-ranked Adam Dunn (Virginia Tech). It was the Wolfpack’s first win over the Hokies since 2008 and their first ACC dual crown since 2004.
6) He is back…was he ever really gone?
When Joey McKenna (Ohio State) fell by major decision to Tommy Thorn (Minnesota) in mid-January, many questioned whether he was a top-four contender in the deep 141-pound weight class. However, that remains the juniors only loss this season. McKenna picked up his second win over a top-10 foe over his past three matches, reminding everyone just how good he can be with an impressive 6-2 decision of fourth-ranked Kevin Jack (NC State). The Buckeye secured a pair of takedowns in the first three minutes of the match on his way to his best win of 2017-18.
5) A historic win
The 62nd dual between Army and Navy will be one long remembered by the Black Knights. Lucas Weiland (Army) knocked off Zack Davis (Navy) at 157, Andrew Mendel (Army) followed by upending Drew Daniels (Navy) at 165, before Ben Harvey (Army) stunned ninth-ranked Jadaen Bernstein (Navy), 7-6 to tie the dual at 12. Harvey had lost to the Midshipman four times previously, including last month at the All-Academy Championships. When Army claimed the final two bouts, at 197 and heavyweight, they claimed a shocking 18-15 victory. It was just the eighth win for Army in the series, the first time they’ve won two in a row over their rivals since they won three consecutive from 1960-62, and it was just the second time the program has ever beaten Navy in Annapolis.
4) Freshman coming on strong
Freshman Patrick Brucki (Princeton) may be one to keep an eye on as he heads into his first post-season. The Tiger pushed his record to 23-6 on the year when he made an early takedown of ninth-ranked Frank Mattiace (Penn) stand up in a 3-2 upset. Brucki has just one loss in 2018 and it came in a 9-6 scrap with top-ranked Ben Darmstadt (Cornell). On Sunday, Brucki kept his momentum rolling with a 13-5 major decision over Anthony Messner (Rutgers). Last year, Matt Kolodzik became the first freshman in program history to finish on the podium at the NCAA tournament. If Patrick continues wrestling like this, he could become the second.
3) Gunning for a national seed
Cam Kelly (Ohio) was clinging to a spot in the rankings after an upset loss last week. He won’t have to worry about that as he heads to the post-season after notching the biggest win of his career. Facing eighth-ranked Josh Terao (American), Kelly opened the scoring with a takedown, won a wild scramble for another, added two nearfall, then rode out Terao to lead 6-1 after three minutes. That was more than enough as the junior earned a 9-3 decision. On Sunday, Cam went to work on top against Jhared Simmons (Maryland) en route to a 16-1 tech fall.
2) If there’s time left on the clock…
Despite losing a hard-fought, 2-1, decision to fifth-ranked Jared Haught (Virginia Tech) on Friday night, Michael Macchiavello (NC State) opened a lot of people’s eyes this weekend. Doubling back on Sunday to face third-ranked Kollin Moore (Ohio State), the Wolfpack senior trailed 3-2 with one minute remaining in the match. However, a stalling point and a takedown with just 20 seconds to go put Macchiavello on top 5-3. During that sequence, Michael was called for locked hands, making it 5-4, and Moore escaped to tie the bout. The match looked destined for overtime, but Macchiavello didn’t want to wait. Wrestling his last match in front of the home crowd, he struck again, earning the two with two seconds left to upset Moore, 7-5!