Undefeated freshmen, a sophomore playing the role of big brother, and almost every national title contender at 133 had a hand in the top college wrestling performances this week. A few outstanding weekends at the Virginia Duals also made the list as college wrestling season seems to get more interesting with each passing week. Honorable mention goes to the entire University of Indianapolis wrestling team after they upset the top-ranked team in Division II, St. Cloud State, 22-17, and the fifth -ranked team, Wisconsin-Parkside, 20-19, at the Ranger Duals. Outstanding work!
7) Valencia continues dominant freshman season
Zahid Valencia (Arizona State) is still undefeated after going 4-0 over the weekend at the Virginia Duals. The Sun Devil had been nothing but impressive, including earning a 12-3 win over Matt Reed (Oklahoma), entering the third-place dual against North Dakota State. As the dual unfolded, it was clear Arizona State needed to do something drastic to win. So, Arizona State head coach Zeke Jones decided to take a chance. “We gambled and put Petersen at 174 and bumped up Zahid to 184 to try and win the dual. Just like going for it on fourth-and-10 with a minute to go in football or running a trick play. That was a huge gamble and it paid off.” Zahid put an exclamation point on that move by pinning Tyler McNutt (North Dakota State) after Jacen Petersen had earned a 6-2 win at 174. In the end, it was just enough as Arizona State won, 20-19.
6) Brock shines early, hangs on late to beat Clark
Another undefeated freshman, sixth-ranked Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State), also survived the weekend with his flawless record intact. Brock had a stiffer challenge than Valencia, facing two-time NCAA finalist and three-time All-American Cory Clark (Iowa), who brought his number one national ranking into Gallagher-Iba Arena. Brock raced out to a 5-0 lead in the second period but watched the veteran Clark slowly chip away to get back in the bout. Late in the match, Clark scored a takedown to tie the match at six. If he rode out the period, he would secure riding time and defeat the young Cowboy. Instead, Brock escaped, and, controversially, the riding time for Clark was determined to be 59 seconds. That meant Kaid Brock defeated Cory Clark, 7-6. Said Oklahoma State head coach John Smith afterward, “If you dissect his match, it’s a good win. It was a little bit ugly in the way he finished it up. He’s wrestling a guy who is a multiple-time national finalist and someone that isn’t going to drop his head when he gets down and not be there at the end.”
5) McKenna keeps little brother at bay
Fifth-ranked Joey McKenna (Stanford) and third-ranked Matt Kolodizk (Princeton) are both products of Blair Academy with McKenna having been a year ahead of the Princeton freshman on some outstanding high school teams. Often times there is a bit of a psychological edge when an older teammate takes on a younger one. That may have been the case on Saturday as McKenna scored an early takedown, then refused to cut Kolodzik loose. In the end, it was a 4-0 win for the Stanford sophomore that included 4:25 in riding time. It was an excellent bounce back performance for McKenna after his upset loss in the Southern Scuffle semi-finals his last time out.
4) Tomasello makes himself the man to beat at 133
On a day when an undefeated freshman knocked off the number one wrestler in the country at 133, second-ranked Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State) may have had the most impressive result of the day in this weight class. The two-time All-American brought an 8-0 record into the match, but his matches against ranked opponents had largely been competitive affairs. Facing fifth-ranked Zane Richards (Illinois) on Sunday, many expected another good scrap between two national title contenders. Instead, Tomasello was in control from the opening whistle, earning three takedowns in the first period and rolling to a 12-4 major decision. The Ohio State junior had this to say after the match, “I wanted to go out there and be real aggressive and attack early. I felt like I did a good job of that and I am excited to get out there and continue to compete against him in Big Tens and NCAAs.”
3) Dance impresses as Virginia Tech wins Virginia Duals
On day one of the Virginia Duals, second-ranked Joey Dance (Virginia Tech) did what an undefeated senior should do in a dual format, wiping out both his opponents on his way to a pair of tech-falls. On day two, he would face more difficult opposition, but Dance was up to the challenge. First, he handed fourth-ranked Josh Rodriguez (North Dakota State) his first loss of the season, 5-3, then to kick-off the championship dual, Dance crushed #18 Christian Moody (Oklahoma), pinning the Sooner just as he was about to get another tech. Virginia Tech beat Oklahoma, 24-10, to take the tournament title.
2) Micic joins the party at 133
Eighth-ranked Stevan Micic (Michigan) had already dropped close matches to both Tomasello and Clark this season when he entered Sunday’s show down with third-ranked Eric Montoya (Nebraska). Montoya, a returning All-American, was riding high after downing Richards in the Midlands final and was still undefeated. Micic had been close but seemed to be a step behind the top-tier entering Sunday’s match. After this performance, no one should count him out. Micic was the better wrestler throughout, taking Montoya down four times on his way to a 13-7 decision. He also handled Billy Rappo (Maryland), 11-4, on Friday night. Look out for the Michigan freshman down the stretch. He is another tough competitor that could do big things at 133 pounds.