It always seemed an especially cruel aspect of wrestling, that the season began before Thanksgiving and Christmas feasting. Endless tables of food, mom's punkin pie, relatives eating themselves into turkey-coma, and you - the wrestler - going for an early morning run on Turkey day.
A lot of action on the mats this past weekend. Let's take a look at the updated Big Ten individual standings, and recap how our Lions performed at the Keystone Classic (hint: pretty good).
As always, the "National Rank" is courtesy of our pals at Intermat. And we're introducing a new column to the tables this week: "Quality Wins". For our purposes, a quality win is a victory over an opponent who grabbed an automatic bid to NCAAs last year. If you're a wrestling newbie, uncertain what that means: it's roughly the top 25. Quality wins are a big deal at NCAA selection time, and during the season, they'll help us separate the middle of the pack guys in conference.
|B1G Rank||125 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Another great performance from Nick Suriano this weekend. Nick took the title at the Keystone Classic, going a perfect 4-0 on the day, with a pin, two majors, and a 4-2 decision over Drexel's Zach Fuentes, an NCAA qualifier last season.
|B1G Rank||133 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Jered Cortez was cruising along but dropped a 5-4 decision to notorious leg rider Kevin Devoy of Drexel in the semi-finals. Dropped to the consolation bracket, Cortez put a whoppin' on the rest of the field, taking 3rd by fall.
The big news in conference was Minnesota deciding not to redshirt true freshman Mitch McKee. McKee, a freestyle phenom, wrestled this weekend for the Gophers in their dual against South Dakota State. McKee lost to SDSU's Seth Gross, who made the blood round at 141 last year (and was on the junior world team).
|B1G Rank||141 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Jimmy had a rough day at the Palestra. The top seed at the tournament, Jimmy began with a major decision over Rider's Fidelibus (14-5), but lost his next match to unranked Kyle Springer of Eastern Michigan. Springer's a senior, but he also went 0-2 at last year's MAC championships, failing to qualify for NCAAs. Bounced to the wrestlebacks way too early, Jimmy won 3 in a row, but got pinned by a guy from Appalachian State that I don't know anything about. I. Enriquez is what's on the bracket. If you know something, leave us a clue in the comments.
As Matt Millen learned during the PSU at Rutgers broadcast, Rutgers' Anthony Ashnault lost to Princeton's Matt Kolodzik, the Blair Academy redshirt, on a final seconds takedown. But things weren't all bad in conference. Nebraska's McCrystal knocked off last year's national runner-up, Bryce Meredith, in a convincing 6-2 win. That, plus McCrystal's impressive 8-4 decision over Navy's Jared Prince a week ago, pushes the Husker up the national rankings (and up our conference table, too).
|B1G Rank||149 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Zain wrestled 5 matches. He scored 5 pins, including one on Pitt's Mikey Racciato in the semi-finals. Here is our surprise at this result.
Ohio State's Micah Jordan just missed the major over Arizona State's Josh Marcua (formerly of Franklin Regional). OHST won the dual 27-15 over Zeke Jones' Sun Devils. Wisconsin junior Andrew Crone took the title at the Wolfpack (NC State) Open, running his record to 10-0 on the season. But the biggest news came from Michigan's Zac Hall, who scored two quality wins, with dual meet victories over Oklahoma's Davion Jeffries (Dec 9-3 ), and Oregon State's Joey Delgado (MD 14-4).
|B1G Rank||157 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
|9||Van Brill (RUT)||6-1||0-0||0-0||0|
Jason Nolf destroyed everyone at the Keystone Classic. That was expected. He also did this, which is jaw-dropping:
Bruh... pic.twitter.com/6JtK6zkrrU— FloWrestling (@FloWrestling) November 21, 2016
What are you supposed to do with that? Bethea is a very good wrestler, an NCAA qualifier. He's in cleanly on a blast double leg. And then, TA-DA!...magic. Unbelievable.
|B1G Rank||165 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Cenzo went to work. He entered as the 4-seed in the tournament, and left as the champion. That included an outstanding 12-5 win over Rider's Chad Walsh, who placed 5th at last year's NCAA tournament. Way to bounce back from the mistakes against Subjeck in the Stanford dual.
Rutgers' Richie Lewis, a top 10 dude at 157 last year, wrestled up at 165 in the Knights' dual against Princeton. So we're ranking him here instead. Zeke Jordan won the title at the Wolfpack Open. Not much else happening here, though.
|B1G Rank||174 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
|4||Morelli (PSU)||12 (Rasheed)||6-1||0-0||0-0||1|
Penn State's Shakur Rasheed outlasted Penn State's Geno Morelli, 2-1 UTB, in the final at the Keystone Classic. Geno had 3 pins and a 6-0 decision in the semis to make the final. Rasheed had 2 pins, 1 tech, and an impressive 7-2 decision in the semis over Northwestern's Johnny Sebastian. They're very close, and this back-and-forth will probably go on all year.
Rutgers' Phil Backukas came close to upsetting Princeton's Jonathan Schliefer, but fell short in OT. Wisconsin's Ryan Christensen won a title at the Wolfpack Open. And Michigan's Myles Amine got a ranking from Intermat for the first time ever. This weight is sneaky-deep. There won't be any layups at Big Tens this March.
|B1G Rank||184 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Bo kilt everyone, and took the title at the Keystone Classic. 4 matches, 4 pins, including the finals victory over newly-ranked Mitch Sliga of Northwestern.
Why do I rank Bo behind Ohio State's Myles Martin in this table? Because angry Bo is a whole lotta fun to watch. So's happy Bo, for that matter. But angry Bo's throws go just a little bit farther.
|B1G Rank||197 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Mouse's making waves here at 197lbs. He scored four excellent wins at the Classic, and took home the title over Penn's Frank Mattiace, a guy who's won matches at NCAAs. Mouse's two quality wins was more than enough for us to bump him up the table, despite the Intermat rankings not catching up just yet.
Keep an eye on Wisconsin's Ricky Robertson. He put a 15-0 TF whoopin' on NC State's Malik McDonald at the Wolfpack Open.
|B1G Rank||285 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
How about Nick Nevills? Two pins, a 9-1 major over NCAA qualifier Joey Goodhart, and a comfortable 8-3 decision in the final over (previously) top-5 ranked Denzel Dejournette of App State. Healthy Nick is the best Nick.
Meanwhile, Olympic gold medalist Kyle Snyder decided to wrestle a folkstyle match this weekend, because he'd get to face (previously) top-5 ranked Tanner Hall of Arizona State. Snyder destroyed Sasquatch, via 20-8 major. Snyder's...you know...pretty good. And at maybe 230 - 240lbs, routinely giving up 30+ lbs to most other shaved bears, he's gotta be stupid strong. I remember thinking last year, "well let's see him get off bottom with Adam Coon's 285lbs laying on his back." And Snyder does. With ease. Sort of a, "yeah, I'm just gonna stand up, control wrists, and turn in. Can do it all day, actually. Put another hundred on my back if you want. No big deal."
What a freak.