With Advent and Epiphany in the rearview mirror, we begin the heart of wrestling season. The early dust has settled, the contenders have stepped forward, and we’re moving into the dual season, where those contenders must “prove it” on a weekly basis. And everything you knew for certain on Thursday can change by Monday. Let’s see where the B1G wrestlers sit after the first month and a half.
|B1G Rank||125 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
And then there were two.
With back-to-back road wins over Ethan Lizak (MINN) and Tim Lambert (NEB), our Lion Nick Suriano proved the Big Ten title is now a two-man race. Round one of the fight with Iowa’s Thomas Gilman will happen in two weeks at Carver Hawkeye. It’ll be broadcast on BTN, 9pmET, Friday the 20th.
|B1G Rank||133 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
With Jered Cortez sidelined, the top 4 at this weight have put distance between themselves and the rest of the field. Iowa’s Clark is the best scrambler. Illinois’ Richards has the best neutral offense. Nebraska’s Montoya has the best top game. And Ohio State’s Tomasello has the single best shot - his lefty high c. If semi-finals were wrestled ten times, I’d wager that all 4 of them take the title at least once.
|B1G Rank||141 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Rutgers’ Ashnault is the defending B1G champ, and remains at the head of this weight. But after him, it’s pandemonium. Spots 2 thru 8 rotate week to week, and dual to dual. The next six weeks will be critical to securing a spot in the upper third, and thus giving yourself an easier second round match at Big Tens. Because from the quarters on, it’s gonna get bloody.
|B1G Rank||149 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
We move from the mud puddle of 141, to the crystal blue waters of 149, where you can see straight to the top of the podium. Zain Retherford is up there waving to us. Hello, Zain. We enjoy watching you destroy opponents. It brings us joy, and fills our hearts with gladness. Thank you for all of the arm bars, and body scissors, and the four different neutral attacks, two to each side, and the constant pressure, and the feats of strength, and the pulling of opponents’ feet, and the placing of those feet into the middle of their backs, while you lovingly move their necks toward the soles of those feet with your forearm, sweetly encouraging them to roll onto their backs, and take a restful nap.
|B1G Rank||157 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
|5||Van Brill (RUT)||16||15-6||1-2||1-1||1|
The best from all over the nation matriculate to Big Ten schools. And it turns out that the two at the top of the heap, Jason Nolf (Kittanning) and Michael Kemerer (Franklin Regional), spent 4+ years of weeknights wrestling each other at the Stritmatters’ Young Guns club. We’ll get to watch it live in two weeks, 1/20, at Carver Hawkeye. I’m thinking the fur will fly, and the scoreboard will get a serious workout.
|B1G Rank||165 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
We’ll have to wait a while to see how the top 4 at this weight settle things. I-Mar and Massa will face each other on January 20th. Cenzo and Ike Jordan face off the following week, 1/27, on Ike’s home mat. And the only other match up between these four in dual season will happen on February 10th, when PSU hosts Illinois.
The wildcard is Iowa’s true frosh Alex Marinelli. The Brands boys haven’t yet pulled his redshirt, and precious few Hawkeyes don’t sit their entire freshman seasons. But if they’re interested in chasing a conference and national title, then it seems putting Marinelli into the lineup would be a wise move. He’s good enough to reach the podium, and that’s 5 - 10+ team points more than current starter Joey Gunther is likely to deliver in March at St. Louis. And just 5 points would have moved the Hawks from 5th place to 3rd place in last year’s tournament. (They needed 42.5 to catch Penn State for 1st place...that’s about 5.25 Marinellis shy.) Something to think about, though.
|B1G Rank||174 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Bo Jordan holds the top spot in conference and nationally. But he’s not wrestled a ton of matches yet, first battling injuries, and most recently, - wait for it - paternity leave. The redshirt junior has a wife, two kids, a mortgage, and is just 4 payments shy of paying off his pickup truck, which he uses to haul firewood that he hand splits on the weekends. He also operates a cattle ranch when he’s not at wrestling practice, and still finds time to put on an authentic wild west cowboy show for the local elder care nursing facility most Thursday afternoons, after jello dessert and Wheel of Fortune.
The brothers Sanderson have a similar decision to the Brands-es, with respect to currently redshirting true frosh and Junior World Champ Mark Hall, who just beat the pants off the field at the Southern Scuffle. Similar, but not the same. For the Sandersons, the question is whether 110 - 115-ish points will win another national title, or whether they need the extra 10 - 15 points Mark Hall might deliver in order to rub the title in everyone’s face, with 120 - 130 team points.
Win the national title on Friday night, or redshirt Hall and wait until Saturday morning to clinch the title? I think they’ll pick Saturday morning, but it truly is a tough choice.
|B1G Rank||184 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Welp, this weight just got a whole lot easier to figure. Bo laid a whoopin’ on national runner-up TJ Dudley on Sunday, in Lincoln, NE. It was just shy of a major, but it won’t surprise me if it’s bonus next time.
Not that we’re writing off the rest of the field. Bo will get Gravina this Friday, Brooks at Carver in two weeks, a long anticipated bout with OSU’s Martin, and then he wraps up that grinder with our pick for “sleeper”, Illinois’ Emery Parker. But, come on, already. No one is crazy enough to bet against Bo.
|B1G Rank||197 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Minnesota’s Brett Pfarr looks to be a notch ahead of the pack here at 197. The big question from our perspective is Ohio State’s Kollin Moore. Moore, an RSFR, lost to Pfarr way back in November, by MD 15-7 at CKLV. One week later, Moore pushed Olympic Bronze medalist J’Den Cox to the limit in their early December dual. Notably, Moore scored 3 takedowns on Cox. I can’t remember Cox ever giving up 3 takedowns.
In any event, since then, it seems as though Moore gained a ton of confidence, and he’s burying guys not ranked 1st or 2nd nationally under an avalanche of offense. He majored recently ranked Jake Berkowitz 19-9, and did the same thing to still-ranked Ricky Robertson, 12-3. But we won’t know for sure until February. Moore finishes with matches against the rest of the B1G’s top 4: Mighty Mouse on 2/3, Nebraska’s Studebaker on 2/10, and a rematch with Pfarr on 2/12.
|B1G Rank||285 LBS||Natl.Rank||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
With decisive wins over Kroells (4-0) and Jensen (Fall 6:01) this weekend, young master Nevills cemented his spot in the upper ranks of B1G heavies. Nick knew it, we knew it - but it’s nice to have it settled, done, and proven correct. In the next few weeks, Nick gets a chance to pick his own seed at Big Tens. He’ll face Iowa’s Stoll (1/20), Wisconsin’s Medbery (1/27), and, probably, the Olympic Gold medalist Kyle Snyder (2/3). All of those are away from Rec Hall.