Greetings, wrestling fam. Penn State blasted long time foe Lehigh at the Bryce Jordan Center last Sunday, about 10 hours after we all finished watching the football team win its first Big Ten conference championship game. A few days before that, the annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas (CKLV) tournament pitted a bunch of really good wrestling squads in a battle royale. Consequently, this week’s individual conference standings have been juggled a bit. Let’s get to the action.
|B1G Rank||125 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
True freshman Nick Suriano continues to impress everyone. This time it was a commanding 7-0 win over past All-American Darian Cruz. Nick - and we mean this as a compliment - Nick is a psycho killer. He wrestles like he’s on the verge of taking a swing at you, for all seven minutes. It’s a lot of fun to watch.
Another notable in the conference was Ohio State’s redshirt freshman Jose Rodriguez, who made the final of the CKLV, where he dropped a tight 4-3 match to VaTech’s Joey Dance. Rodriguez also scored a 4-3 decision over CMU’s Brent Fleetwood, an NCAA qualifier last year, in the second round to post his first “quality win” in our table.
Minnesota’s Ethan Lizak - suspended by the University until January - didn’t travel with his teammates to the CKLV. Instead, he drove a few hours south to wrestle in the UNI Open. He took the title, destroying past qualifier Kyle Larson (Iowa State) in the semi-final, MD 10-1, and housing Illinois’ new 125-lb starter Piotrowski TF 16-0 in the final.
The emergence of Rodriguez and Lizak, plus Indiana’s talented Oliver, and Wisconsin’s Jimenez (if/when he comes off the shelf) has greatly improved the conference’s depth at this weight compared to recent seasons.
|B1G Rank||133 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Jered Cortez didn’t look like Jered Cortez on Sunday, getting bullied by Lehigh’s Scotty Parker. He looked lethargic - slow, weak, and probably under the weather. He drops a spot in the list this week.
The rest of the weight class gave us big news. Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello won the title at CKLV in his first matches of the season. But he didn’t blow anyone away. He eeked out a close 3-2 win in the final over Michigan’s Stevan Micic - and didn’t score any bonus after an opening round TF over a VaTech backup. That aspect - not just NaTo’s ability to win, but score bonus - will be something to keep an eye on, as he handles the bump up to 133 from 125.
The other rumor is a downer - Iowa’s Cory Clark is believed to have suffered a serious injury in the practice room, and sat out the Hawks’ dual versus South Dakota State, missing a big matchup with SDSU’s (and former Iowa teammate) Seth Gross. If true, losing Clark, the national runner-up the last two years, would stomp a mudhole in Iowa’s chances of a team title. And, as a senior, it would really stink for Clark, who is one of our favorites for his toughness. Get well, Cory, and come back strong.
|B1G Rank||141 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Jimmy got to #3 Randy Cruz’s right leg about 58 times, but finished 0, as Cruz dove for an ankle and scrambled to a stalemate each time. (Anyone else stunned that Randy Cruz is ranked #3 by Intermat?)
While Jimmy works on his right-handed high crotch finishes this week, he’ll need to keep an eye on what’s happening behind him in the standings. Wisconsin’s Cole Martin dropped a 6-3 decision to #1 Joey McKenna in the second round - and then wrestled back to finish 3rd at CKLV, including a 0:44 WBF over past qualifier Joey Palmer (Oregon State). Additionally, Iowa’s Topher Carton continues an undefeated start to his season that’s included a surprising amount of bonus wins. And, last but not least, Ohio State’s super-frosh Ke-Shawn Hayes incurred an injury at CKLV, has been ruled out for the season, and will be replaced by true-super-frosh Luke Pletcher, a 3x PIAA Champ from Latrobe.
|B1G Rank||149 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Speaking of finishing takedowns - Zain pulled in a leg on Lehigh’s #10 Laike Gardner that 99.9% of humans have no chance of pulling. Then he finished quickly, turked the leg, bow-and-arrowed Gardner, and pinned him in 3:55. Festivus Feats of Strength. Zain strong like bull.
Some folks are whispering, “well maybe Ohio State’s Micah Jordan has something for Zain,” after Jordan turned in an impressive CKLV. “No,” is the answer. Not to belittle Micah - he’s an excellent wrestler. But I don’t believe he’s the stylistic matchup to beat Zain. Micah will get low, use his go-go-gadget arms to tap at Zain’s right ankle - and then he’ll get buried under Zain’s fists o’ fury. In my opinion, at least. Frank Molinaro, Brent Metcalf, some juiced-up Eastern European - you need to be able to trade blows to the head in the center of the mat without losing position, and do so at a very, very high level, because the blows you’ll be absorbing are not soft and cuddly. And, of course, you absolutely can not get taken down, because chances are you’re getting turned via brute strength. My suggestion would be to train with a silverback gorilla. That’ll give you the best feel before taking the mat.
|B1G Rank||157 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
|6||Van Brill (RUT)||20||8-1||0-0||0-0||0|
My brother and I are sitting in BJC watching Jason Nolf. No words are spoken. No words need to be spoken - just a look, maybe a muted guffaw or chuckle, and a shake of the head.
Scoring takedowns on D1 wrestlers is incredibly difficult. In my opinion, average Joe off the street is more likely to get a hit off an MLB pitcher than he is to score a takedwon on a D1 wrestler. And if you believe that analogy even a little bit, then here is Jason Nolf in baseball terms: Nolf has a .954 batting average with 194 home runs in 200 plate appearances. Twice Mariano Rivera got him to ground out to shortstop - and one of those went to video replay. But that’s it. He’s reached base every other time, and usually he goes yard. Frequently, he jacks the ball outside the park via 600’ moon shots.
So when folks - like me - guffaw as Nolf turns down the easy go-behind takedown that would end the match, it’s not because he’s showboating, or trying to embarrass his opponent. It’s because Nolf, unlike everyone else on planet Earth save maybe 10 people, is waiting / baiting for one of the many pitches that he can launch into outer space, rather than take the intentional walk. And that is guffaw-worthy, because everyone else on planet Earth, save those 10-ish dudes, is taking the free pass to first base.
Anyhow, let’s move along.
|B1G Rank||165 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
According to Cael, Cenzo was battling the flu. He scored 5 takedowns anyhow.
The eyebrow-raiser, though, came at CKLV as Michigan frosh Logan Massa put on a show with an 8-7 win over national runner-up Zeke Jordan in the final. That bumps Massa up to 2nd in our conference standings. The top spot remains I-Mar’s, as he turned in a dominant win over Mizzou’s Daniel Lewis at the UNI Open.
|B1G Rank||174 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
|5||Morelli (PSU)||14 (Rasheed)||6-1||0-0||0-0||1|
Some folks wondered what happened to Rasheed in losing to Lehigh’s Ryan Preisch, 6-3. Those folks shouldn’t have been so surprised. Preisch is good, and was also a career 3-0 against Rasheed and Morelli. I actually came away pleased, thinking Rasheed had closed the gap.
Another name we’ll have to learn is Michigan’s Miles Amine. Amine dropped a close 4-3 decision to Arizona State’s Zahid Valencia at CKLV, and then made a run through the wrestlebacks to finish 3rd. He beat two qualifiers - Minnesota’s Wanzek and Wisconsin’s Christensen - along the way, as well as two past All-Americans (Stanford’s Jim Wilson by MD 9-1, and Iowa State’s Lelund Weatherspoon 4-2 in the 3rd place bout). Although Ohio State was at CKLV, top dog Bo Jordan didn’t wrestle there. He found a local open tournament and worked everyone over as he comes back from injury.
|B1G Rank||184 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Lehigh’s Kyle Gentile shot a right handed high crotch. Bo used what looked like a jiu-jitsu arm bar to counter the shot, come over the top, and pinned him. If someone has a better description, please add it to the comments. In any event, see the 157 write up: scoring takedowns is hard to do.
Myles Martin avoided a rematch with Cornell’s Gabe Dean by losing to VaTech’s Zach Zavatsky in the CKLV semis, 6-4. So Bo takes the top spot in our standings.
|B1G Rank||197 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Another great effort from Mighty Mouse, who posted a MD 12-2 over Lehigh’s Ben Haas. He holds on to the second spot in our standings.
Minnesota’s Brett Pfarr put on a show at CKLV. Pfarr bonused everyone, including Ohio State’s freshman Kollin Moore (15-7), and last year’s 4th place finisher Jared Haught of VaTech, 14-1 in the final. That one got our attention.
|B1G Rank||285 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Nick Nevills wrapped up the BJC dual vs Lehigh with a fantastic effort against the Engineers’ Vollaro. Nick was working towards a major decision, but ran out of time (and slipped at the end, giving up a takedown). Very encouraging stuff from Nick. He looks podium bound at this point, in the mix between 4 - 6.
VaTech’s Ty Walz closed the gap with Wisconsin’s Connor Medbery - but hasn’t reversed it. Medbery won 6-4 in the CKLV final over Walz, and also posted a convincing 4-2 win over Minnesota’s Mike Kroells. The top 2 in our standings - Snyder and Medbery - have cleared the pack to this point, both in conference and nationally.