The latest NWCA poll tells nearly the exact same story as last week’s poll: Penn State continues to be dominant, and the Big Ten remains the deepest conference in the country.
The Nittany Lions extended their dual meet win streak to 52 after a 25-6 Big Ten win over No. 9 Nebraska, headlined by No. 1 157-pounder Jason Nolf handling No. 2 Tyler Berger in a 10-4 decision. No. 1 165-pounder Vincenzo Joseph also returned to the lineup with a win over No. 6 Isaiah White 2-0 after missing last week’s duals against Wisconsin and Northwestern. No. 1 Mark Hall followed his top-ranked teammates with a third Top 10 win of the day for the Nittany Lions when he took down No. 9 Mike Labriola 5-3.
Check out our recap of today's victory over Nebraska in Rec Hall! pic.twitter.com/1b6SlQHhyW— Penn State WRESTLING (@pennstateWREST) January 21, 2019
The other top 10 teams in action last week — No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Iowa, No. 5 Missouri, No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Minnesota, No. 8 N.C. State, No. 9 Nebraska and No. 10 Cornell — also earned wins, allowing the Cowboys, Hawkeyes, Tigers and Wolverines to stay undefeated.
No. 13 Pittsburgh, one of just two non-Big Ten teams in last week's top 25 to enter the weekend undefeated, fell to Oklahoma State 33-9, ending the Panther’s winning streak. The dual, however, did include one notable highlight for Pittsburgh, as No. 4 Micky Phillippi beat Oklahoma State’s No. 2 Daton Fix 3-1 just a week after Fix took down Rutgers' Nick Suriano in sudden victory. Earlier in the weekend, Fix picked up a ranked win when he beat West Virginia’s No. 15 Matthew Schmitt, but his loss to Phillipi could drop him a spot in the individual national rankings.
Top 25 changes
As has been the pattern for the past several weeks, the top 10 teams in the poll did not change this week, but teams in the bottom half of poll moved in and out of the top 25 after a packed weekend of duals. Utah Valley, previously No. 23, dropped off the list after falling to unranked Fresno State 26-10. The Wolverines did pull out a win against Western Wyoming, but the victory was not enough to stay in the top 25.
Arizona State fell from No. 21 to No. 23, taking Utah Valley's spot, while Lehigh, a team that has not been on the list yet in 2019, snagged the No. 24 ranking. The Mountain Hawks recorded another successful weekend of duals, taking down American and Navy and extending their winning streak to five matches. One of Lehigh's most notable wins this year came last weekend against then-No. 7 Cornell, and the Mountain Hawks carried that momentum into their recent conference contests.
Another non-Big Ten school grabbed a top 25 spot as Virginia came in at spot No. 25 after earning wins against VMI and Ohio. The Cavaliers are 11-6 for the season with No. 17 North Carolina next on the schedule.
Dual meet highlights
Though not much changes occurred among the top teams in this week's NWCA, individual results from this weekend tell a different, more surprising story.
Iowa's lightweights made news in their dual against Rutgers with 125-pounder and defending national champion Spencer Lee pinning his opponent in just 38 seconds, and 133-pound transfer No. 10 Austin DeSanto earning a statement win over Rutgers No. 3 Nick Suriano. The win marked DeSanto's sixth consecutive ranked victory and makes him a viable threat for an NCAA title. Suriano wrestled Lee in last year's 125-pound NCAA finals, and now that he has moved up a weight, he still can't escape Iowa.
Rider's Anthony Cefolo also made noise with his surprising pin against No. 7 Austin Gomez of Iowa State on Thursday. The win gave Rider some much-needed team points, but the Cyclones still prevailed in the team dual 29-17.
Back in the Big Ten, Northwestern also drew some attention with a win over then- No. 11 Wisconsin and a critical individual win from No. 19 Conan Jennings over Wisconsin heavyweight No. 9 Trent Hillger in overtime. Wisconsin has struggled the past two weekends, going 0-3 with two losses last weekend and the loss to Northwestern this weekend.
A major decision win from Hillger would have secured the match for the Badgers, but they'll have a chance solidify themselves as a competitive conference team when they take on No. 7 Minnesota at home next weekend.
Next week brings another set of big matches, including a battle between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 6 Michigan, two Big Ten duals for No. 1 Penn State and a top 25 dual for No. 4 Iowa. With just over 50 days until the NCAA tournament, the countdown is on, and the intensity is only increasing.
Full Top 25 Rankings:
|1||Penn State (16)||7-0||400||1|