Right photo by Mark Lundy, LutteLens.com
Last week, we covered the top 10 redshirting freshmen in the country. This week, it’s time for the non-freshmen to get their due. Unlike the true freshmen we introduced you to last week, these guys have all spent time in the line-up for their school but, for one reason or another, redshirted this season. These are guys we’ve seen at the NCAA tournament and notching big wins in the past. They are likely to do the same or better when they return. We used this season’s results to rank the freshmen but considering we have college level results to go off of for this group, we relied more on past accomplishments and what they might do in 2018-19. Last year’s version of this list was incredibly deep with strong wrestlers not even making the top 10. This year isn’t quite that strong, but there is still plenty of talent we won’t see in Cleveland that we can look forward to watching next season. Without further ado, we present the top 10 redshirting non-freshmen in the country for 2017-18!
10) Joey Goodhart (Drexel), 285 pounds
The two time NCAA qualifier was an EIWA runner-up a season ago as a junior. He is one more good season away from cracking 100 career wins and will join a Drexel team that has worked its way into the top-25 on the dual side. Goodhart beat Nathan Butler (Stanford) last January and has been solid wrestling unattached this season. He won’t be on a lot of people’s radars heading into 2018-19, but with eight of the current top-20, including five of the top seven graduating, Joey will be a nice weapon for the Dragons.
9) Brent Fleetwood (North Dakota State), 125 pounds
After three seasons as the starter for Central Michigan during which he accumulated 56 wins and qualified for the NCAA tournament twice, Fleetwood transferred to North Dakota State where he is currently redshirting. We haven’t seen him much this season, but he did win the North Country Open in January. While Fleetwood is a tough veteran, he might have trouble getting in the lineup for the Bison unless others shuffle weights next season. Freshman Paul Bianchi (125) and sophomore Cam Sykora (133) occupy the first two weights and have been good this year. The lower weights are looking strong in Fargo.
8) Matt Zovistoski (Appalachian State), 149 pounds
Zovistoski improved from posting a 16-12 record as a true freshman to going 28-10 a year ago, winning a SoCon title and punching his ticket to the NCAAs. He won a pair of matches in St. Louis before bowing out in the round of 16 after a 10-9 loss to Steve Bleise (Northern Illinois). Matt has not had the best redshirt season, but we’ve seen plenty of examples of wrestlers who struggle when they are out of the lineup, then snap back in upon their return. With Gavin Londoff just a sophomore, we might see a battle for the starting job next season or some lineup shuffling for the Mountaineers.
7) Josh Heil (Campbell), 149 pounds
Though he was an NCAA qualifier last season after winning a SoCon title, Heil was 0-2 in St. Louis and seemed a longshot to make this list when he lost to both Zovistoski and Londoff at the Hokie Open to start his redshirt season. However, he has been strong since and made the Southern Scuffle finals by taking down Jared Prince (Navy) and 2017 All-American Max Thomsen (Northern Iowa). The losses to the two Mountaineers are understandable and considering the growth he has shown over the year, Cary Kolat and company must be excited to have Heil back in the starting squad next season.
6) Nick Reenan (NC State), 184 pounds
Reenan was good last year, finishing 20-13 and qualifying for the NCAA tournament as a true freshman. However, considering how highly regarded he was coming out of high school, it is fair to say the Texan will be expecting to do more when he returns to the Wolfpack lineup. He flashed his considerable potential when he beat Zack Zavatsky (Virginia Tech) at the Hokie Open during his redshirt campaign. Other than an injury default, he has only lost to ranked opponents in working his way to a 21-4 record competing unattached. With Pete Renda wrestling his senior season in 2017-18, Reenan will slot right in when the All-American is gone.
5) Dakota Geer (Edinboro), 184 pounds
The 2017 EWL freshman of the year was also the number one 184 on TOM’s All-Freshman Team a year ago after compiling a 31-10 record and winning a conference title. He was the 14-seed at nationals but caught a pair of top six-seeds, Sam Brooks (Iowa) and Myles Martin (Ohio State) before the round of 12. Geer’s redshirt campaign has been solid, though he’ll be looking to flip losses to Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt) and Louie DePrez (Binghamton) if they meet again next season. With the Fighting Scots having just one senior starter, getting Dakota back next season should make for a stout crew.
4) Shakur Laney (Ohio), 125/133 pounds
In this sport, the smallest of margins can make all the difference. That was the case for Laney last season. After earning his way into the NCAA tournament for the second time, he started the 2017 edition with a win, wrestling as the 13 seed. In the round of 16, he battled fourth-seeded Darian Cruz (Lehigh) to a stand-still, with neither wrestler able to break through for a takedown. Cruz would wind up surviving the test, 1-0, and go on to win a national title. Laney dropped to the consolations and would be eliminated by fifth-seeded Tim Lambert (Nebraska) in the round of 16. We haven’t seen Shakur on the mat this season, but he remains on the roster. Assuming he returns next season, he’ll add even more depth to the wild 125-pound weight class.
3) Patricio Lugo (Iowa), 149 pounds
Through two years in the lineup at Edinboro, Lugo compiled a 63-18 record. He qualified for the NCAA tournament both years and went as far as the round of 12 in 2016. In the process, he beat All-Americans Paul Fox (Stanford), BJ Clagon (Rider), Sal Mastriani (Virginia Tech), Solomon Chishko (Virginia Tech), and Brandon Sorensen (Iowa). However, after going 1-2 in St. Louis, Lugo decided to transfer to Iowa where he is expected to replace Sorensen in 2018-19. He finished fourth at the Midlands as a redshirt, knocking off yet another All-American in Matt Kolodzik (Princeton).
2) Bryce Steiert (Northern Iowa), 165 pounds
In 2015-16, Steiert was the first true freshman to start at UNI since Joey Lazor in 2010. During his first two seasons, he compiled a 45-17 record, reached the MAC finals twice, and established himself as someone that seemed destined to All-American before his career was over. That time almost came at last year’s NCAA tournament when Steiert, wrestling from the 11-seed worked his way into the round of 12 before falling to Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State). While competing unattached, Bryce has continued posting strong results, reaching the Southern Scuffle finals by dealing Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven), currently ranked fifth in the country, his only loss of the season so far. Steiert would fall to defending national champion Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State) in the final, but that has been his only setback this season. When he returns in 2018-19, don’t expect too many more.
1) Joe Smith (Oklahoma State), 165/174 pounds
Despite the fact that Smith has earned All-American honors in his first two seasons, it hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride. He was set to redshirt in 2015-16, but saw it pulled in mid-January to start at 157. That didn’t seem to bother him much as he won a Big 12 title and finished seventh in the country, only losing to Isaiah Martinez (Illinois), Jason Nolf (Penn State), and Dylan Palacio (Cornell) all season. Smith’s sophomore campaign didn’t start until mid-December as he battled back from injuries, but he finished strong, beating Palacio en route to a fourth-place finish. He is 7-0 unattached this year, but those competitions have come at 165 and 174. Getting back to 157 might not be in the cards for Joe raising the question of how the Cowboy lineup will shuffle next season. Regardless, having the two-time All-American in the fold will be a plus.