Photo of Nate Limmex (left) by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling, photo of Nathan Tomasello (middle) by Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com
Dual season is upon us and across college wrestling teams are battling for bragging rights, many across the mat from conference foes. The Virginia Duals gave us a twist on that format, with the oldest dual tournament featuring Division I teams will also be the only one this season. No matter how the competitions are set up or where they might take place, the wrestlers continue to put on a show. Narrowing the list of top performances down to 10 is never an easy job, but someone has to do it. Without further adieu, here are the 10 best performances in college wrestling from the past week!
10) Closing in style
Though the dual against defending national champion Penn State had already been clinched by the Nittany Lions, Adam Coon (Michigan) sent the home fans out into the cold January evening happy with a comprehensive victory against seventh-ranked Nick Nevills. Coon took a run at ending the match early, locking up a cradle in the first period, but had to settle for a 4-0 lead. That margin kept growing and the Michigan senior walked away with an 8-0 major decision in impressive fashion.
9) Scoring machine
While he might not break into our points per minute top-10 just yet, Scottie Boykin (Chattanooga) provided plenty of offense for the Mocs at the Virginia Duals. He had a 17-2 tech-fall over Kyle Conel (Kent State) and a 17-6 major decision of Noah Bushman (Old Dominion) sandwiched around his most important victory, an 8-7 decision over 13th ranked Jacob Holschlag (Northern Iowa). Boykin also received a forfeit to post a 4-0 record on the weekend.
8) A sight for sore eyes
As the Iowa State Cyclones headed for the Virginia Duals, they had won just two duals since the start of the 2016-17 season. By the time they headed home, they had tripled that total. 133 through 149 was a strength for Kevin Dresser’s team with Ian Parker (133), Kanen Storr (141), and Jarrett Degen (149) combining to win nine matches without a loss as Iowa State posted wins over Virginia (21-18), Old Dominion (25-12), Fresno State (25-16), and Lock Haven (FFT). Degen’s pin of Jake Keating (Virginia) kept that dual from going to criteria and he also upset 16th ranked Josh Maruca (Arizona State). The Cyclones would fall to the Sun Devils, but it was a weekend that provided further hope for a beleaguered fan-base.
7) Join the party
Lehigh has a deep and well-balanced team with few, if any, holes. However, their starting 149, Cortlandt Schuyler (Lehigh), had struggled to hit his stride while navigating a difficult early stretch of competition and entered the weekend just 4-6. He did already have a win over 15th ranked Michael Sprague (American) this season and made it two Friday, surviving a remarkable 16-12 scrap. He wasn’t done, though, taking out 20th ranked Jared Prince (Navy) on Sunday, 8-6, on the strength of three takedowns. After surviving the early tests, it appears Schuyler is ready to make a push in the second half of his junior season.
6) Two good options, one spot
After watching Ryan Millhof (Arizona State) struggle in Vegas and default out of the Midlands after a 12-2 loss to Devin Schroder (Purdue), it was fair to wonder if the All-American might be too hurt to show his best stuff this season. With Josh Kramer also an option for the Sun Devils, it seemed likely we’d see a lot of him at the Virginia Duals. In Arizona State’s opener, that looked like a great choice as Kramer keyed a route of Virginia with an 8-5 upset of ninth-ranked Louie Hayes. However, Millhof would be the man the rest of the way, surrendering just three points total over his three victories which included avenging an earlier loss to number 13 Jay Schwarm (Northern Iowa), 6-0. The strong performance of their 125s in addition to a couple of upsets from Ali Naser at 133 pushed Zeke Jones’ team to a Virginia Duals championship, topping defending champs Virginia Tech, 21-15 in the title tilt.
5) When hot and cold goes off
Few wrestlers in the NCAA have as confounding a resume as Kennedy Monday (North Carolina). The redshirt freshman entered the weekend sporting a .500 record with some head-scratching losses. However, he also had pinned eighth-ranked Tyler Berger (Nebraska), after also wrestling the Cornhusker close in Vegas, and beaten Jake Short (Minnesota). There is no question that Monday has the ability to be great when he is on. Friday night, he flashed his potential, crushing 10th ranked John Van Brill (Rutgers), 16-4, as the Tar Heels pushed Rutgers to the brink, eventually losing on criteria.
4) Another upset for Purdue
It seems that every week a Boilermaker is knocking off someone ranked above them and this time it was Nate Limmex (Purdue) who took his shot. The sophomore stayed unbeaten in the new year by notching the best win of his young career, taking down 10th ranked Chad Red (Nebraska), 5-3 on Friday night. That pushed Purdue out to a 12-9 lead in the dual and while they couldn’t hang on for the victory, it was another performance suggesting they could be a program on the rise.
3) Did you forget?
When you’re a three-time All-American, past NCAA champion, and have never finished outside the top three at the national tournament, you’ve earned the benefit of the doubt. However, for Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State) there were a few questions dogging him as he entered his senior season. He was headed back down to 125 after a season at 133. An injury kept Tomasello out of action in the early season, meaning he wrestled no matches this season before the calendar turned to 2018. The 125-pound weight class is well stocked with young talent and proven winners as well, leading some to wonder just where the Buckeye stacked up. We may not know with 100 percent certainty just yet, but there is no question he is still extremely good. In just his second match of the year, Nathan crushed returning NCAA finalist Ethan Lizak (Minnesota), 18-3, winning the battle in every position, including escaping from the dangerous Gopher. In case you forgot, Tomasello showed he is still a title contender.
2) He looks good in red
After a semester training with Finger Lakes Wrestling Club, Fredy Stroker’s transfer from Minnesota to Cornell is officially complete. Stroker made his debut for the Big Red at the Shorty Hitchcock Memorial Classic on Saturday, taking the title with a 4-0 record at 157 pounds. En route to victory, Stroker defeated 17th ranked Garett Hammond (Drexel), 6-4 in sudden victory, then knocked off number 10 John Van Brill (Rutgers), 4-2, in the finals. Expect Stroker to push Adam Santoro for the starting nod at 157 pounds in the near future.