With No. 1 Iowa, No. 2 Penn State and No. 3 Michigan off last week, No. 4 Oklahoma State seized the opportunity to steal the spotlight and put up a dominant 31-3 performance over No. 17 Oklahoma in a fiery, aggressive rivalry battle.
The Cowboys won nine of 10 bouts, including two matches that they were not favored to win on paper, and left enemy territory victorious in Bedlam for the 54th time in coach John Smith’s tenure. Similar to the Cy-Hawk in-state match the week before, the dual ended with some post-match antics, but the wrestling on the mat from the Cowboys was stellar and a great indication of where this team is at heading into the second semester.
The loss to the Cowboys dropped Oklahoma from No. 17 to No. 18, moving Lehigh up a spot and causing some movement in the bottom five spots. Princeton jumped from No. 21 to No. 19 because of the changes, sending North Carolina down one spot from No. 19 to No. 20. Cal Poly also cracked the Top 25 this week which pushed Wyoming out of the rankings and generated some excitement for Mustang fans.
Four additional ranked teams won bouts this weekend, creating these minor shifts in the rankings. Here are the biggest takeaways and key things to know from the latest NWCA poll:
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No. 7 Ohio State tops No. 21 Pittsburgh, shows depth against ACC foe
Ohio State and Rutgers continue to stand out, with both teams holding undefeated records and picking up solid wins over the weekend to bolster their season resumes. These wins did not change the ranking for either teams, but their solid positions at No. 7 and No. 12 nationally show that they’re wrestling at full strength and not slipping behind as the season becomes more grueling.
The Buckeyes, the higher ranked of these two undefeated teams, held off their third ranked ACC opponent of the year so far with a 30-7 blowout win against No. 22 Pittsburgh. Led by NCAA finalist Sammy Sasso and his tech fall over Luke Kemerer, Ohio State put up bonus points in four matches, but those weren't the only notable results from the match.
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Redshirt freshman Carson Kharchla also made some noise when he topped NCAA finalist Jake Wentzel 4-3 in a tight battle that once again highlighted that Kharchla is at a level that will allow him to compete with the best in the weight. His return to this lineup only strengthens this Ohio State team that is really finding its groove, especially in the upperweights. At 184 pounds, Kaleb Romero backed up his Cliff Keen win with a major decision against No. 31 Gregg Harvey and showed that he’s not slowing down. Ethan Smith and Tate Orndorff at 165 and 185 pounds rounded out the bonus winners, while 125-pounder Malik Heinselman, 141-pounder Dylan D’Emilio and 157-pounder Jashon Hubbard also picked up wins. Ohio State’s biggest stars are performing, but to have national qualifiers like Heinselman and D’Emilio earn ranked wins suggests that Ohio State has the depth it needs to battle for a trophy in March.
While Pittsburgh didn't leave with a win, the Panthers did actually rise up one spot in the poll, jumping from from No. 22 to No. 21.
No. 12 Rutgers extends winning streak…again
Much like Ohio State, Rutgers flexed similar talent and toughness in its battle at the Jersey Mike’s Arena against Army, picking up a 26-9 win over Army behind bonus wins from Sebastian Rivera, John Poznanski, Sammy Alvarez and Greg Bulsak. The Scarlet Knights won seven of the 10 matches, as Dylan Shawyer, Michael Van Brill and Boone McDermott also put up points for the team.
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Rivera, who took down No. 24 Corey Shie by tech fall in 5:39, is now at 100% bonus in one of the toughest weight classes in the NCAA this season, and he’ll look to extend this streak to Midlands over the holidays with the hopes of picking up another title. He’s a key character on this Rutgers team, but Rutgers' success this year has come from the fact he’s not the only one who is wrestling to his potential. Poznanski continues to put up big wins and force himself into the title conversation, and if he can stay healthy, strong and confident, he could have another deep run at nationals and put his program near the top of the podium at 184 pounds again. He’s the start of a momentum train for the Scarlet Knights in the upper weight classes, much like Ethan Smith is for the Buckeyes, and the see this kind of leadership and poise from such a young athlete is impressive.
Outside of Rutgers and Ohio State, several other Big Ten programs racked up wins as No. 23 Illinois roared past Chattanooga and SIUE 19-12 and 35-6 respectively, Michigan State topped Gardner-Webb 29-12, and Maryland won a close match against Navy 18-16 behind heavyweight heroics from Zach Schrader.
No. 5 NC State picks up solid in-state win against Mountaineers
The theme of this week is undefeated teams improving upon their already perfect records, and NC State is yet another team that did just that. The Wolfpack, now 3-0 on the year, topped Appalachian State 25-10, largely due to the success of the Hidlay brothers and major decisions from Ed Scott at 157 pounds and Isaac Trumble at 197 pounds. The Mountaineers put up a quite a fight against the three-time ACC champions, as they held the Wolfpack to a tie after the first six bouts by winning 133 pounds, 149 pounds and 165 pounds. Redshirt senior Jonathan Millner of App State gave his squad some momentum when he bonuses Matt Fields, N.C. State’s 149-pounder who will likely be expected to serve as a backup for NCAA All-American Tariq Wilson later in the season. N.C. State though, was just too much, and heavyweight Deonte Wilson made that clear when he wrapped up the dual at heavyweight and sealed the win for the squad.
The Wolfpack owned the dual, but credit belongs to App State for fighting through every match and for creating an atmosphere for fans that will no doubt bring them back to cheer on the Mountaineers throughout the season. Wrestling is growing in North Carolina, and the show that these two teams put on is part of the reason why.
Steady at #5 again this week.— NC State Wrestling 🤼♂️ (@PackWrestle) December 14, 2021
Next up: Binghamton (1 PM - ET) and #10 Missouri (3 PM - ET) next Monday. Then either #1 Iowa, #17 Lehigh or Central Michigan on Tuesday in Florida. https://t.co/uV9pb9rd5L
Speaking of grit, heart and showcasing skill, North Dakota State also deserves a mention in this week’s recap, as Bison second-year wrestler Kellyn March cemented his name into the history books over the weekend by setting a new school record for the fastest pin. March put his opponent on his back in just 12 seconds to earn his sixth win of the season and earn bonus points. North Dakota may not be ranked in the Top 25, but pinning an opponent in 12 seconds is an accomplishment worthy of recognition.