After another busy week of matches across the nation, NCAA.com takes stock of the action in this week's DI College Wrestling Power Rankings. The Big Ten and Big 12 set the pace, with four of the top five teams in this week's rankings, but some other squads are hot on the trail. Plenty more action in the coming weeks on the mat.
1 – Penn State: Cael Sanderson’s Nittany Lions made a major statement on Sunday, whipping Oklahoma State, 27-13, in the title bout of the NWCA National Duals Championship Series. In front of a Gallagher-Iba Arena record crowd of 14,059, PSU (14-0) won seven of 10 bouts and could have won two more. PSU is the best dual team in the country, beating Oklahoma State, Iowa, Ohio State, and Nebraska this season. No doubt, winners of five of the last six NCAA titles, head to the Big Ten Championships as the team to beat.
2 – Oklahoma State: Despite losing seven of 10 to Penn State on Sunday, the Cowboys (14-1) had some individual positives, including Anthony Collica’s narrow loss to No. 1 Zain Retherford at 149 pounds and Kyle Crutchmer’s narrow loss to super freshman Mark Hall at 174 pounds. However, if the 34-time NCAA champion is to get No. 35 a much better team will have to show up in St. Louis for the NCAA Championships, March 16-18. OSU will be heavy favorites at the Big 12 Conference Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma, March 4-5.
3 – Iowa: Iowa (13-2) did not necessarily cooperate with NWCA wishes, traveling to No. 24 Edinboro for a National Duals matchup last Saturday night. The Hawkeyes easily beat the Fighting Scots and head to the Big Ten’s in Bloomington, Indiana, along with Ohio State, as PSU’s top challengers. Head coach Tom Brands has the same problem he had when the season started – finding a supporting cast for Thomas Gilman, Cory Clark and Brandon Sorenson. Rookie Michael Kemerer has filled one spot with Alex Meyer and Sammy Brooks remaining among the top eight all season.
4 – Virginia Tech: Despite a weekend of rumors surrounding head coach Kevin Dresser, the Hokies (18-1) rallied and beat a good Nebraska squad in one of the eight National Duals matchups. Tech lost just one dual this season and is the favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title in two weeks. Dresser has built a solid program and they have the individuals to crash the Big Ten/Big 12 party in St. Louis. Like all those in pursuit of PSU, a full team of 10, or at least seven or eight All-Americans, will be required.
5 – Ohio State: Missing Olympian and national champion Kyle Snyder, Ohio State (11-3) dropped a one-point dual to Cornell in Ithaca, New York, in one of the best duals of the NWCA’s docket. No doubt, the Buckeyes have a strong tournament squad with NCAA champions Nathan Tomasello, Myles Martin, and Snyder. The two Jordans, Micah and Bo, are also quite capable of reaching the big stage, along with rookie Kolin Moore. Head coach Tom Ryan’s program has won a national title; they will be right in the thick of things in Bloomington and St. Louis.
6 – Cornell: Late February, early March means Cornell (13-2) begins its annual building of momentum. The Big Red dropped Ohio State, getting big wins by Brian Realbuto and Gabe Dean, plus Brandon Womack and Dylan Palacio. CU heads to Bucknell, Pennsylvania, in two weeks in search of an 11th consecutive EIWA championship. The Big Red might not be able to challenge for top honors in St. Louis, but head coach Rob Koll’s group should be among the top eight.
7 – Nebraska: No team had a tougher closing stretch than Mark Manning’s Huskers, who lost to Ohio State, Iowa, and Virginia Tech in consecutive weeks. Eric Montoya, Tyler Berger, and T.J. Dudley are ranked inside the top five for NU (12-4). Like Cornell, the Huskers are a legitimate top 10 team in St. Louis; challenging for top four will require plenty of NU entrees wrestling above their seeds.
T8 – Missouri: The Tigers (10-5) did not participate in the National Duals, and enter the Mid-American Championships coming off a loss to Northern Iowa. But MU has J’Den Cox (197), Lavion Mayes (149), and a number of potential All-Americans for a team that seeks a fifth straight MAC title in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in two weeks.
T8 – Lehigh: Lehigh (10-4) jumps back into the top eight on the strength of its victory over Rutgers in the NWCA’s National Duals last weekend. LU does not have a Darryl Burley or Jon Trenge, but head coach Pat Santoro does have a balanced group of All-America candidates including Darian and Randy Cruz, Scott Parker, Mitch Minotti, and Ryan Preisch, among others. Lehigh and Cornell will battle for top honors at the 113th EIWA Championships, March 3-4.
Knocking on the door
North Carolina State, Rutgers, Illinois