While North Carolina State’s Nick Gwiazdowski and Oklahoma State’s Alex Dieringer moved their winning streaks to 79 and 70, respectively, Cornell’s Gabe Dean saw his 52-match streak end on Sunday in the Big Red’s 32-12 loss to No. 4 Oklahoma State.
Nolan Boyd, a junior, qualified for the NCAA championships the last two seasons and entered Sunday’s match in Ithaca, N.Y., with a solid 20-6 record and, depending on which service used, a ranking anywhere from 14 to 18. Two weekends ago Boyd beat Willie Micklus of Missouri, an All-American as a freshman and ranked fourth at the time. Knocking off Dean, the 2015 NCAA champion at 184 pounds, was a surprise to everyone – except Boyd, his teammates, and possibly his coach.
“Anytime you beat someone the quality of Dean in his home gym, no matter the circumstances, it’s big,” OSU head coach John Smith said. “Nolan (Boyd) has been close and he’s put together some nice wins this year. (Beating Dean) has to give you confidence going forward. (Nolan) continues to work hard, to get better. A guy with a long streak, an NCAA champion at his house … it was a big win.”
Boyd, like many wrestlers, claims to avoid rankings and the many social media traps available.
“I’ve been saying for a while that anybody inside the top 10 or 15 (at 184) can beat anybody,” said Boyd, who has a career record of 76-28 and been battling for a starting spot since his arrival in Stillwater. “(Dean) is tough, but I felt like somebody was going to beat him. I never really look at rankings, try to stay from that stuff, but I feel like I can go with anybody at the weight.
“When I got that (second-period) takedown, got to his ankle, I felt him kind of give up on the position. I felt something different about him, but I also felt that I was right in the match. It’s a confidence boost for me, but there is still a long ways to go in the season and I feel like I can still get stronger.”
Dean, a junior, stopped Ed Ruth’s long streak two seasons ago. Sunday’s setback put Dean’s career record at 107-6.
Who’s going where?
The Virginia Duals begat the National Duals. Now, it appears the National Duals begat the Bowl Dual Series. Determining the best dual team in the country has never been an easy task and the National Wrestling Coaches Association has tried annually to get everybody on board with a format suited to all. This year’s version has the Big Ten’s top eight teams hosting the highest ranked teams outside the Big Ten. If the match-ups were determined with the last USA Today/NWCA rankings, Penn State would host North Carolina State; Iowa would host Oklahoma State; and Michigan would welcome Missouri; and so-on, and so-on. With significant duals still remaining the Feb. 21 schedule is anything but set. North Carolina State hosts No. 10 Virginia Tech and No. 5 Missouri this weekend.
“I’ve been thrilled with the extraordinary level of support this event has received from all participating coaches and administrations,” NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer said. “Like any new concept, we’ve experienced some unanticipated challenges but the coaches and school administrators have been great at helping us navigate through these situations.”
The eight hosts are set: Penn State, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, Rutgers, Minnesota, Indiana. The visitors are to-be-determined with Oklahoma State, Missouri, North Carolina State, and Lehigh among those most likely heading to a Big Ten school for the one-day Feb. 21 event. Penn State and Iowa do not square off in a dual meet this season, so, if both win out, let the debate begin as to who is DI’s best dual squad.
The matchups will be announced this Sunday.
Staying in Ithaca
Cornell honored its seniors on Sunday and Nahshon Garrett did not disappoint. A day after singing the National Anthem and scoring a fall against Columbia in CU’s 71st straight Ivy League victory, Garrett, a native of California, picked up a 16-1 technical fall against Oklahoma State’s Gary Wayne Harding. It pushed Garrett’s record to 26-0 this season and 138-12 for his career, good for fourth in school history. Sunday’s victory pushed him past Kyle Dake on the school’s career chart with Travis Lee (143) up next. Mack Lewnes’s 150 top the list.
“It’s amazing,” Garrett told the Ithaca Journal following Sunday’s dual. “All the people that have supported the last four, five years in my career here. They’ve been here. The fact that they’ve struggled and toiled with me through the wins and the losses, it means a lot to see everyone stand up and honor me in that sense. It’s a very humbling thing.”
Garrett, a three-time All-American and former NCAA finalist, is ranked No. 1 at 133 pounds.
One down, two to go
North Carolina State has wrestled perhaps the toughest schedule in Division I this season. The Wolfpack have faced Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Missouri, wrestled at the Midlands, and moved to 21-0 with a win over a tough Nebraska squad in Lincoln over the weekend. The gauntlet is not done, however. NCSU hosts No. 10 Virginia Tech on Friday and No. 5 Missouri on Sunday. Raleigh has not seen duals of this magnitude in a while and the Wolfpack will try and heal Carolina Panther wounds and give the region something to think about besides ACC basketball.
“It’s a bit of a challenge, but it’s not like wrestling has not had success in the past (in North Carolina),” NCSU head coach Pat Popolizio said after his team won at Oklahoma State earlier this year. “To raise the program you have to wrestle a tough schedule and we put together a good one this year. We knew going in we had a good team and tough duals prepare you for the end of the season when it really counts.”
● Top-ranked Penn State continued to roll, beating the 2015 NCAA champion Ohio State Buckeyes in front of 15,983 at Bryce Jordan Center last Friday. It was the second largest crowd in PSU wrestling history, just behind the 15,996 against Pittsburgh in 2013. The Nittany Lions (13-0) won 24-14 and were never challenged, blowing open a 13-9 dual with wins by Bo Nickal (174), Matt McCutcheon (184), and a technical fall by unbeaten Morgan McIntosh at 197 pounds. Zain Retherford (149) and Jason Nolf (157) were there usual bonus-point selves.
PSU faces rival Lehigh in Bethlehem on Friday.
● Rutgers entered last weekend with a 13-3 record and ranked 12th in the country. But the Scarlett Knights dropped an 18-15 heartbreaker to unranked Wisconsin on Friday and suffered a 27-16 setback to No. 8 Michigan on Super Bowl Sunday. RU led Michigan 16-10 with three bouts to wrestle, but Dominic Abounader (184), Max Huntley (197), and Adam Coon (285) went tech, pin, pin to close the dual in front of 3,091.
● Second-ranked Iowa won its 21st straight Big Ten dual with a 45-0 pasting of Indiana on Senior Night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. In and out of the lineup throughout his career, Brody Grothus picked up a pin at 141 pounds for the Hawkeyes, who wrestle at Montana State-Northern this Friday.
● South Dakota State (12-5) beat Boise State for its 11th straight dual win, tying a school record from the 1973-73 season. Nate Rotert (197) and Seth Gross (141) had pins for the Jackrabbits, who host West Virginia this Friday.
● No. 25 Chattanooga suffered its first Southern Conference loss since 2012, falling to Appalachian State, 22-15. Vito Pasone opened the dual with a pin at 125 pounds and heavyweight Denzel Dejournette closed out the dual with a 6-0 win over Jared Johnson. The Mocs had won 27-straight league tilts.
● Princeton beat Brown to move to 3-0 in the Ivy League this season. If the Tigers beat Columbia Saturday afternoon they will face Cornell for the league championship later that evening. The Big Red take a 71-match conference win streak into the weekend.
● 14th-ranked North Carolina moved to 10-3 with a 27-20 win over No. 18 Virginia last Saturday. Evan Henderson’s pin at 149 pounds gave him 44 for his career, six shy of T.J. Jaworsky’s school-record 50. UNC hosts Navy and Duke this Wednesday.