The D1 wrestling season is almost here and the opening month will feature some tremendous match-ups across the country. Here are the five matches I am most anticipating from the November dual slate.
#5 – Nick Suriano (Penn State) versus #3 Connor Schram (Stanford) – 125, November 13th, at Penn State
The much heralded true freshman Suriano will get his first big test at the college level facing the returning All-American Schram. There are big expectations for Suriano after his incredible high school career, when he was 159-0 on his way to four-straight New Jersey state titles. Many will expect him to win this match, but given that it is so early in the year, Schram will be looking to give the youngster a rude introduction to high-level D1 wrestling. This is not a make or break match for either of these wrestlers, but I think Suriano needs the win more to establish himself as a true contender.
#4 – #9 Patricio Lugo (Edinboro) versus #7 Solomon Chishko (Virginia Tech) – 149, November 5th, at Virginia Tech
Chishko was sixth as a freshman in 2016, but he is moving up to 149 and will get his first taste of competition at the weight facing Lugo in this dual. Lugo spent his freshman year at 149 and reached the round of 12, losing only to national champ Zain Retherford (Penn State) and third-place finisher Lavion Mayes (Missouri) at the national tournament. It will be interesting to see how big Chishko looks and whether he can notch his first quality win at his new weight class. For Lugo, he’ll be looking to start putting together a regular season resume that gets him a better seed than #16, which he got last year. A win here would be a great start.
Dance has beaten Peters three times but the two did not meet all of last year. Joey had an outstanding regular season, earning the second seed at the NCAA tournament, but had a disastrous nationals to miss the podium for the second straight year. Peters was just the ninth seed in New York, but scored a pair of falls after his quarter-final loss to finish sixth and become a two-time All-American. Peters is always a threat to pin which makes his matches worth watching no matter who he is wrestling. Add to that Dance trying to come back to write a storybook ending in his senior year and this has everything you want in an early season match-up.
#2 – #4 Anthony Ashnault (Rutgers) versus #14 Matt Kolodzik (Princeton) – 141, November 19th, at Rutgers
At the 2015 Junior world team trials, Ashnault dominated Kolodzik, eventually locking up a cradle to get the fall. At last year’s Midlands, however, a redshirting Kolodzik initially exacted his revenge, knocking off Ashnault, 11-4, in the round of 16, but the two met again in the consolation semi-finals with Ashnault winning, 3-2. This budding rivalry will be renewed outside in High Point Solutions Stadium as Rutgers and Princeton face-off at the Battle at the Birthplace. Ashnault was fourth in the country last year and will be looking to defend his position as a title contender. Kolodzik will be looking to build his resume at the varsity level and serve notice to everyone that he will be there at the end of the year as well.
#1 – Zahid Valencia (Arizona State) versus #5 Bo Jordan (Ohio State) – 174, November 19th, at Arizona State
No matter what weight Zahid Valencia went this year, the dual against Ohio State was going to feature a huge match for him. It won’t be defending 174-pound national champion and sixth-ranked 184 Myles Martin across from him on November 19th but, instead, he will face fifth-ranked Bo Jordan who moves up to 174 after back-to-back third place finishes at 165. Valencia has beaten Martin several times over the years, including in freestyle in April, so it will be interesting to see if he can have similar success against Jordan. It will also be interesting to see the relative sizes of these two as Zahid flirted with going to 184 before coming down while Bo is moving up. I don’t expect Jordan to be small, but I do expect this to be an extremely competitive match.