Christmas is less than a week away, but this week NCAA wrestling gave us a few early presents to unwrap. From three freshmen taking out highly ranked opponents to a couple of previously injured wrestlers flashing their old form and a tough veteran looking the best he’s ever been, week seven was one to remember!
6) David McFadden rolls in return to competition
When last we saw David McFadden (Virginia Tech), he was standing on the podium in New York City after finishing sixth in the country to cap his freshman campaign. After off-season knee surgery, McFadden had not yet been seen in 2016-17. That changed Saturday when McFadden rolled to a title at the Cleveland State Open with two falls, two tech-falls, and an 11-1 major decision.
5) Tanner Orndorff keys dual upset
In the penultimate match in Utah Valley’s dual against Oregon State Thursday night, Tanner Orndorff (Utah Valley) upset #12 Corey Griego (Oregon State), 8-4. It was Utah Valley’s fifth consecutive win in the dual and put the Wolverines up 16-13 with one match left. It would be just enough as Utah Valley won the dual on criteria. Orndorff, a redshirt freshman, secured his first victory over a top-20 opponent at the most opportune time.
4) Brian Realbuto is back
Brain Realbuto (Cornell) was also injured heading into the off-season last spring, but it is safe to say he is back as one of the top contenders at 174. The Cornell senior lost to Zahid Valencia (Arizona State) in Vegas, but bounced back to knock off fifth-ranked Kyle Crutchmer (Oklahoma State), 3-2, as Cornell came a lot closer to the Cowboys than most expected. Two days later, Realbuto blasted Hayden Hansen (Oklahoma), 16-0 as Cornell just got past the Sooners.
3) Vito Pasone goes two-for-two
Appalachian State senior Vito Pasone had a week to remember. First, he ambushed #11 Nathan Kraisser (Campbell), 9-3, helping his team to a 24-13 dual win. Pasone then bulldozed #14 Freddie Rodriguez (SIU-Edwardsville), 22-7, as the Mountaineers hammered the Cougars, 39-4. Pasone is a veteran that doesn’t beat himself, but this was a new level for him. If he can keep it up throughout the rest of the season, he could cap his career in style.
2) Drew Hughes punishes Reno field
It is safe to say that Michigan State true freshman Drew Hughes is strong on top. Hughes did not surrender a single point at the Reno Tournament of Champions, winning three matches by tech-fall and the final, over #10 Branson Ashworth (Wyoming), 2-0 in sudden victory, on his way to the championship. The Spartans finished second as a team in Reno and have exceeded most expectations in the early season. Hughes has been a big part of that and will continue to be as Michigan State rebuilds.