The top 10 college wrestling teams in this week’s NWCA poll held steady, but the previous week still featured a slew of action-packed duals that shook up the standings in the bottom half of the Top 25. Here are the key takeaways from this week’s rankings and the main headlines you need to know heading into the winter tournaments.
First, the new poll:
Hawkeyes, Cyclones beat Army, but Black Knights earn credit for the fight
No. 1 Iowa and No. 13 Iowa State picked up wins this weekend at home against Army, with the former stemming from an unexpected, last-minute matchup that occurred primarily because of Army’s willingness to add a match to its schedule.
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The Hawkeyes were originally scheduled to compete against Oregon State this weekend, but travel plans prevented the Beavers from making the trip out to Iowa City, leaving Brands and Co. without an opponent. Given that the Black Knights were taking on Iowa State earlier in the weekend, Brands called Army and asked if they would be interesting in tacking on a dual on Sunday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, a request that was immediately met with enthusiasm from the Army team, according to reporting from Cody Goodwin of the Des Moines Register and Zach Bogle of Stalemates.
Highlights from Sunday's win in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Ames next Sunday. pic.twitter.com/v3Ycl33sM8— Iowa Hawkeye Wrestling (@Hawks_Wrestling) November 29, 2021
Following a 25-9 loss to Iowa State where Army picked up an upset win at 149 pounds as well as victories at 165 and 285 pounds, the Black Knights rolled into Hawkeye territory where they fell 36-7 to No. 1. The team Iowa put on the mat mirrored its lineup in previous early season duals so far this year, as the Hawkeyes still don’t have all of their starters back in their expected weight classes, but even with this altered roster, they still roared to the win. Austin DeSanto and Nelson Brands earned bonus point wins for Iowa via a tech fall and a major decision, while Jaydin Eierman, Alex Marinelli and Tony Cassioppi picked up pins in the dual.
For the Black Knights, P.J. Ogunsanya led the way, following his upset win over Iowa State’s Jarrett Degen with a major decision over Iowa’s Cobe Siebrect. Army’s 197-pounder J.T. Brown also put up points for his team with a 4-1 win over Zach Glazier of the Hawkeyes. These matches weren't enough for a team win, but they are a good sign of things to come from Army.
"It was great getting a win for Army and a unique experience that I will never forget,” Ogunsanya said, per the Army press release. “I think the most memorable part of my match was hearing the crowd go dead silent after taking the guy down and putting him on his back. Although I got the win, I will continue to keep improving myself and my brothers so that we are ready to make a statement once conference and NCAAs arrive."
In addition to Iowa and Iowa State’s win over Army and Iowa State’s shutout against Cal Baptist 39-0, No. 5 Oklahoma State, No. 8 Ohio State and No. 12 Minnesota also picked up wins this weekend against unranked teams, beating Drexel 45-0, Notre Dame (Ohio) 51-0 and South Dakota State 27-13 respectively. None of these results changed the rankings for the three ranked teams, but they built up their resumes heading into the second semester.
Rutgers, North Carolina, Wisconsin all see ranking changes following weekend results
Rutgers continued its impressive season and climb up the rankings with a 2-0 performance at the Garden State Grapple, earning a 35-6 win over Hofstra and a particularly noteworthy 28-9 win over then No. 15 North Carolina. Six Scarlet Knight wrestlers — Dylan Shawyer, Sammy Alvarez, Sebastian Rivera, Michael Van Brill, John Poznanski and Greg Bulsak — picked up wins in both of Rutgers’ weekend duals, with Van Brill earning bonus in both of his victories. The victory over the Tar Heels advanced Rutgers one spot in the poll, from No. 15 to No. 14, and sent UNC down to No. 19, causing all kinds of changes for the teams near those spots.
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Northern Iowa moved up from No. 16 to No. 17, now surpassing the Tar Heels, despite not competing in a dual this weekend, though nine Panthers did win Open titles over the weekend. Much like UNI, Purdue rose in the rankings, moving up from No. 17 to No. 15 as a result of the North Carolina loss, even though they also didn't dual against anyone this weekend, but both of these rankings changes were certainly impacted by two Wisconsin wins from the Garden State Grapple.
The Badgers, who propelled from No. 19 to No. 16, benefited from North Carolina’s loss to Rutgers, but they also helped their own cause by also beating the Tar Heels 20-16 and earning a 38-12 win over Hofstra. Wisconsin head coach Chris Bono has utilized his team’s strengths and the power of his new transfers to build up a 4-0 record to start the year and coach his squad to capture individual upset wins.
Wisconsin All-American Eric Barnett went 2-0 on the weekend with wins over Spencer Moore of North Carolina and Dylan Acevedo of Hofstra, while teammates Austin Gomez, Dean Hamiti and Trent Hillger also added two wins against the Tar Heels and Pride as well. Gomez, in particular, earned a strong win over All-American Zach Sherman of North Carolina at 149 pounds, a victory that should move him up in the individual rankings at the weight and put him in a good position heading into the second half of the season. Hamiti and Hillger, at 165 and 285 pounds, both put up two wins with bonus, the latter of the two wrestlers looking like his All-American self early this year with two back-to-back pins. Wisconsin is tough, and they aren’t backing down.
The Hofstra Pride, while unranked, did earn some notable wins of the weekend that deserve to be mentioned, particualarly No. 29 Trey Rogers’ win over Wisconsin’s Braxton Amos, No. 30 Charles Small’s win over Chris Weiler of the Badgers and Joe McGinty’s pin over Garrett Model. Hofstra also picked up wins at 165 and 285 pounds against the Scarlet Knights, with Ricky Stamm beating Andrew Clark and Zachary Knighton-Ward topping Boone McDermott. The Pride are not in the Top 25, but wrestlers like Rogers, Small, McGinty, Stamm, and Knighton-Ward are the kind of guys that make these non-conference duals fun and could be landmines in the national tournament bracket.
Other notable results, poll ranking changes
Four of the last six teams in the Top 25 — Princeton, Illinois, Northwestern and Stanford — all also swapped spots, with Princeton leading the way at No. 20. The Tigers surpassed the Fighting Illini by one spot, but both teams will meet at the Midlands at the end of December. No. 24 Northwestern, a team that switched places with No. 25 Stanford, will also be going to Midlands, while the Cardinal will wrestle in the Southern Scuffle in early January. Both Northwestern and Stanford will be at the Cliff Keen Invitational Tournament, an event that will set up a series of ranked matchups worth watching.