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Shannon Scovel | NCAA.com | February 26, 2019

College wrestling rankings: Penn State, Oklahoma State end dual season undefeated, hold top two spots in NWCA poll

Iowa's Spencer Lee will get pushed to retain his title at 125

In a dominating 47-3 performance against Buffalo on Sunday afternoon, the Penn State Nittany Lions wrapped up their perfect dual meet season undefeated behind pins from No. 1-ranked wrestlers Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph, Mark Hall and Bo Nickal, as well as No. 2 Shakur Rasheed. The win helped Penn State finish with its fourth consecutive undefeated dual meet season and gave the Nittany Lions a fitting finale to an illustrious year. The team, which held the No. 1 ranking all season long, will take the mat next at the Big Ten Championships on March 9 when the Nittany Lions will aim to take down the Ohio State Buckeyes and claim the conference crown for the first time since 2016. 

Behind Penn State, Oklahoma State held its No. 2 ranking in the poll this week after a wild dual against No. 3 Iowa in which the Cowboys prevailed 27-12 to maintain their undefeated season and send the Hawkeyes back to Iowa City with a loss. The Cowboys won all four top-5 matchups, the most notable being then-No. 4 Nick Piccininni’s pin against defending national champion then-No. 2 Spencer Lee at 125 pounds. Lee’s loss moves him to 16-2 on the season while Piccininni stays undefeated and will chase his third Big 12 individual title next month. 

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The remainder of the Top 10 in the latest NWCA rankings stayed the same, with Iowa and Cornell recording the only losses of the group. The Big Red dropped to No. 6 Ohio State 25-9, as Ohio State seniors Micah Jordan, Myles Martin and Te’Shan Campbell ended their dual meet careers with a win. Buckeye senior Joey McKenna dropped a close 7-5 decision against No. 1 Yianni Diakomihalis in what could be an NCAA championship rematch at 141 pounds.  

As the dual meet season concludes, and here’s what you need to know about where all of these squads stand in the latest NWCA poll heading into championship season

Iowa State, Purdue fall

The Iowa State Cyclones ended a strong dual meet season over the weekend with two losses, sending the previously ranked No. 11 Cyclones down to No. 15. The team put up its third season loss against then-No. 17 Northern Iowa on Thursday and then fell again to close out the regular season with a 23-15 loss to No. 5 Missouri. Iowa State’s then-No. 8 Austin Gomez picked up a tech fall against Northern Iowa’s Jack Skudlarczyk in the first dual of the weekend before suffering a tech fall against No. 9 John Erneste of Missouri. Iowa State's No. 10 Sam Colbray added a ranked win against No. 11 Drew Foster from Northern Iowa in the first dual as well, but the Panthers still pulled out the win behind victories from Jay Schwarm, Josh Alber, Max Thomsen, Bryce Steiert, Taylor Lujan, and Carter Isley. The win bumped the Panthers from No. 17 to No. 14. 

The standout star for Iowa State, despite both the losses, was Willie Miklus, a redshirt senior transfer from Missouri who picked up two weeks over the weekend in his final regular season outing. 

The Purdue Boilermakers also dropped just one spot in the latest ranking after losing to unranked Central Michigan 20-15. Central Michigan senior Matt Stencel, who leads the nation in falls for Division I, picked up his final regular season win of the year with a 4-1 decision over Purdue heavyweight Jacob Aven. Teammates Drew Hildebrandt, Dresden Simon, Logan Parks, and  Jordan Atienza also notched wins in the upset victory over the Boilermakers. Stanford snuck into No. 24 to take Purdue's spot, and Army moved up to No. 23. 

Notable wins

The biggest wins from final weekend of the 2018-2019 wrestling dual meet season came from Stillwater, as the Oklahoma State Cowboys took down the previously undefeated Hawkeyes behind an electrifying sold out crowd on senior night. Then-No. 4 Nick Piccininni’s pin over Lee, as previously mentioned, headlined the dual, while No. 2 Daton Fix also picked up a top-5 win against Iowa’s No. 3 Austin DeSanto and then-No. 6 Preston Weigel notched a top-10 victory with his 5-3 decision over then-No. 4 Jacob Warner. Oklahoma State’s No. 2 Derek White closed out the dual with a gritty 3-1 win over No. 8 Sam Stoll to wrap up his senior dual meet season. On the Hawkeye side, senior No. 2 Alex Marinelli ended his undefeated regular season for Iowa with a pin over Jonce Blaylock, and teammate No. 9 Pat Lugo picked up an upset victory over Oklahoma State’s No. 7 Kaden Gfeller. The match provided everything wrestling fans could possibly want in a dual between these two legendary programs, but this wasn’t the only rivalry dual that shook up the individual rankings this week. 

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In the ACC, Virginia Tech’s then-No. 4 Zack Zavatsky topped North Carolina State’s then-No. 3 Nick Reenan in the Hokies tight 17-16 loss against the Wolfpack to move above Reenan the individual rankings. North Carolina State’s narrow win, despite Reenan’s loss, allowed the Wolfpack to claim part of the ACC title with the North Carolina Tar Heels, but the close battle between the Wolfpack, Hokies and Heels sets up a competitive ACC tournament on March 9. ACC foe Duke, though not ranked in the Top 25, will bring its own collection of ranked wrestlers to the conference tournament, led by No. 4 Mitch Finesilver, a senior who picked up a big upset win over North Carolina’s then-No. 5 Austin O’Connor 6-4 in the Blue Devil’s loss to UNC. Finesilver is one of four siblings wrestling for the Blue Devils, all four of whom picked up wins against the Tar Heels and appear to be peaking at the right time of the season.

Looking ahead

As has been the trend for the entire season, Big Ten teams continue to dominate the NWCA rankings, making the conference tournament on March 9 a must-watch event. Penn State paces the conference in its traditional No. 1 spot, but No. 6 Ohio State will be looking for its third consecutive title, while No. 3 Iowa, No. 4 Michigan, No. 7 Nebraska and No. 8 Minnesota will be looking to shake things up themselves in the competitive Big Ten. 

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The Big 12, led by No. 2 undefeated Oklahoma State, will hold its conference championship on March 9, and the Cowboys have the clear No. 1 spot in that conference. Missouri leads the way for the MAC and will fight for a conference championship title on March 8. Leading the way for the EIWA in the rankings is Cornell, and the Big Red will hope to rebound from their loss to No. 6 Ohio State to claim another EIWA title. The ACC could be one of the most interesting conference championships with North Carolina State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh all sitting inside the Top 16. 

Lock Haven sits as the only EWL team in the Top 25 and will head into the postseason chasing another conference title, while Stanford will aim to pick up a first-place team trophy in the Pac-12 before sending athletes to Pittsburgh for nationals. 

With two weeks before these tournaments begin, here’s a look at the current Top 25: 

Rank school record points previous rank
1 Penn State (16) 14-0 400 1
2 Oklahoma State 15-0 384 2
3 Iowa 14-1 357 3
4 Michigan 13-1 357 4
5 Missouri 16-1 337 5
6 Ohio State 12-2 325 6
7 Nebraska 12-5 298 7
8 Minnesota 14-3 283 8
9 Cornell 13-3 274 9
10 NC State 16-3 260 10
11 Wyoming 16-4 236 12
12 North Carolina 12-7 203 13
13 Virginia Tech 9-5 202 14
14 Northern Iowa 7-5 195 17
15 Iowa State 10-4 178 11
16 Pittsburgh 13-3 174 15
17 Wisconsin 9-6 149 16
18 Rutgers 12-6 133 18
19 Princeton 9-6 112 19
20 Lehigh 9-9 94 20
21 Lock Haven 10-3 81 21
22 Virginia 12-10 54 23
23 Army West Point 8-3 51 24
24 Stanford 9-4 20 25
25 Purdue 7-10 18 24

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