Penn State has yet to compete as a full team in the 2019-2020 season, yet the Nittany Lions still maintain control of the No. 1 spot in this week’s poll heading into their first dual this weekend against Navy. Eleven underclassmen and redshirt athletes did compete this weekend at the Clarion Open with true freshmen Joe Lee and Carter Starocci winning the 165 and 174-pound weight classes. Both of those weights are currently filled in the lineup by two-time NCAA champion Vincenzo Joseph and 2017 champion Mark Hall, but the Lee and Starocci proved that they are ready to take over those positions next year.
The strong lineup for the team this year also includes 2019 heavyweight champ Anthony Cassar, All-Americans Nick Lee, Roman Bravo-Young and Shakur Rasheed as well as NCAA qualifier Brady Berge. Kyle Conel, a third-place finisher in 2018 and transfer from Kent State, is expected to fill the spot left by Hodge Trophy winner and 2019 graduate Bo Nickal at 197 pounds, and he could make his Nittany Lion debut this weekend. Michael Beard could be another option for Penn State at 197 pounds, and he finished second at the Clarion Open during his Penn State season debut.
STORYLINES TO WATCH: Seth Gross' title chase, Iowa's quest and three other storylines to know
Other than the Nittany Lions holding on to the No. 1 spot, here's what else we learned from the latest NWCA poll:
Top 5 hold steady
The No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes also did not put their team on the mat this weekend, but coach Tom Brands will hold wrestle-offs this Thursday and Friday which will give fans a first look at a squad that is expected to push Penn State for a title. Iowa’s first dual is Nov. 17 against UT-Chattanooga, two days after the No. 4 Oklahoma State Cowboys open their season against Drexel. No. 5 Nebraska will start its season on Thursday with the Nebraska Duals before competing in Journeyman on Sunday.
Ohio State holds down the No. 3 spot in the polls again after a strong showing at the Michigan State Open in which five wrestlers including Luke Pletcher, Sammy Sasso, Kaleb Romero, Kollin Moore and Carson Kharchla picked up titles. Pletcher had perhaps the biggest win of the weekend and showed his skills up at 141 by taking down last year’s fourth-place finisher and this year’s No. 1 ranked athlete, Dom Demas in overtime. Fellow Buckeye Sammy Sasso also made some noise at 149, earning bonus points in all five of his matches and winning the first title of his redshirt freshman season.
BATTLE ON THE MIDWAY: Photos, highlights and analysis from the 2019 dual
No. 7 Wisconsin put up a strong performance at the Battle on the Midway, but had a tight contest with Army in the AFC Duals, squeezing out a 16-15 win behind the dominant efforts of 2019 All-American Trent Hillger. Both Hillger and transfer Seth Gross recorded pins during the three-match day in San Diego as the Badgers picked up wins over the Black Knights, as well as Fresno State and Navy. Despite the three wins, they dropped down below No. 6 Minnesota in the latest poll after the Gophers beat Cal State Bakersfield 28-9. North Carolina State and Lehigh also each improved one spot in the poll, moving from No. 10 to No. 9 and No. 11 to No. 10 respectively.
Hokies take down Missouri to earn NCAA Wrestling Team of the Week Honors
No. 11 Virginia Tech made the biggest jump from No. 16 after taking down then No. 9 Missouri 29-10 in the biggest upset of the week. The Tigers, who went 16-1 and finished sixth in the NCAA tournament last year, lost big team points after a forfeit at 133 pounds, and they also lost matches at 125, 141, 157, 165, 184 and 285. Virginia Tech’s B.C. LaPrade pulled off the biggest upset of the night with his win over No. 10 Jarrett Jacques, but No. 17 Mitch Moore also made some noise at 141 pounds with his pin 26 seconds into the match against Dack Punke. Missouri dropped down to No. 13 with the loss, pushing Northern Iowa, Pittsburgh and Princeton down one spot each.
Full Top 25 Rankings
|1||Penn State (12)||(0-0)||348||1|
|3||Ohio State (1)||(0-0)||320||3|