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Shannon Scovel | NCAA.com | February 8, 2022

Penn wrestling cracks top 25 for first time since 2013 after wild weekend

Relive Cornell's Diakomihalis winning his 2nd straight title

With the regular season starting to wind down, No. 1 Penn State and No. 2 Iowa continue to separate themselves from their conference and national opponents, with the Nittany Lions earning dominant victories over Ohio State and Nebraska over the weekend, and Iowa picking up a decisive win against Wisconsin. Penn State’s undefeated Big Ten record, including a win over the No. 2 Hawkeyes 19-13 last month, helped PSU claim the regular season conference title, and they’ll look to maintain this level of success heading into the postseason. 

Outside of these powerhouse programs though, teams across the country posted notable results that led up rankings shakeups and prominent individual wins. Here are the big takeaways from the last weekend in college wrestling and how those results helped determine this week’s NWCA Top 25 rankings. 

First, the poll:

RANK

TEAM (FIRST)

RECORD

POINTS

CONFERENCE

PREVIOUS

1 Penn State (14) (16-0) 350 Big Ten 1
2 Iowa (12-1) 334 Big Ten 2
3 Michigan (9-1) 318 Big Ten 3
4 NC State (10-1) 311 ACC 4
5 Iowa State (13-1) 294 Big 12 5
6 Ohio State (7-3) 279 Big Ten 6
7 Virginia Tech (7-4) 249 ACC 7
8 Nebraska (5-4) 238 Big Ten 8
9 Wisconsin (9-2) 225 Big Ten 9
10 Missouri (10-3) 213 Big 12 12
11 Cornell (11-2) 208 EIWA 11
12 Oklahoma State (11-3) 207 Big 12 10
13 Arizona State (8-3) 187 Pac-12 13
14 Michigan State (9-2) 155 Big Ten 17
15 Rutgers (13-5) 153 Big Ten 15
16 Purdue (10-4) 142 Big Ten 18
17 Minnesota (4-5) 118 Big Ten 16
18 Northern Iowa (7-5) 104 Big 12 22
19 Princeton (5-3) 72 EIWA 20
20 Central Michigan (11-2) 68 MAC 21
21 North Carolina (8-4) 67 ACC 24
22 Penn (5-2) 66 EIWA NR
23 Lehigh (8-7) 60 EIWA 14
24 Oklahoma (8-5) 37 Big 12 25
25 South Dakota State (10-4) 31 Big 12 23

Cornell captures Ivy League wrestling title after wins over Princeton, Penn

The Big Red came into the weekend as the highest-ranked EIWA team in the country, and they held down this honor after three intense battles that only further highlighted the strength of this Cornell squad. In a thrilling rivalry match against No. 19 Princeton, the Big Red prevailed 21-12 despite losing the first, high-scoring, top-ranked individual match at 125 pound between No. 2 Patrick Glory and No. 3 Vito Arujau. Glory notched the 11-9 victory to hold down his second-ranked position and stay undefeated on the year, but these two will meet again at the EIWA conference before the NCAA tournament. 

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Cornell also took a loss at 165 pounds against Princeton in upset fashion as Jake Marsh topped Julian Ramirez, but, for the most part, it was a Big Red takeover in Jadwin Gym as Chris Foca, Jonathan Loew, Jacob Cardenas, Lewis Fernandes, Dom LaJoie and Yianni Diakomihalis all earned wins. Princeton’s last six team points came from Danny Coles and Quincy Monday. 

Following the win against Princeton, Cornell also topped Penn 20-12 and Drexel 32-12. Four Cornell wrestlers went undefeated over the weekend against Princeton, Penn and Drexel, led by two-time NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis who bonused all of his opponents by tech fall, major decision and fall respectively. Upperweights Loew, Cardenas and Fernandes also picked up three wins with each athlete earning at least one bonus-point result. 

As impressive as Cornell was over the weekend, though the Big Red weren’t wasn’t the only team in this conference to make a headline. Penn and Army both notched wins over Lehigh by scores of 24-7 and 24-13, respectively, to send Lehigh down nine spots in the rankings. Army’s win against Lehigh did not advance into the top 25, but the performance suggests that Army will be a dangerous team come postseason. The win by the Quakers, on the other hand, put Penn in the national rankings for the first time since 2013 and moved them all the way up to No. 22. Penn also beat LIU over the weekend while Princeton beat Rider in an in-state battle. Princeton will take on Lehigh next, while Army will wrestle Navy for their famous rivalry dual. 

No. 11 Cornell, No. 19 Princeton, No. 22 Penn, Brown, Harvard and Columbia all compete in the EIWA conference in the postseason alongside teams like Army and Lehigh, but there’s special pride amongst these teams for Ivy League honors as well, and after beating Princeton and Penn, the Big Red officially claimed the Ivy League regular season crown, a honor they lost to Princeton in 2019 in dramatic fashion. They’ll want to carry this through the EIWA championship and look to dethrone the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, the team that has won the conference for the last four years. 

Missouri rises while Oklahoma State drops two spots after loss to Tigers

The depth of the Big 12 has been one of the biggest storylines over the past several weeks, as Northern Iowa and Iowa State topped Oklahoma State two weeks ago, and Missouri added its own win against the Cowboys over the weekend, 21-20. Led by pinners Zach Elam and Noah Surtin, Missouri also earned wins from Keegan O’Toole, Sean Marman and Rocky Elam in this razor-tight battle with the defending conference champions. The win elevated Missouri up two spots, from No. 12 to No. 10 while Oklahoma State — a team still wrestling without NCAA champion AJ Ferrari — dropped from No. 10 to No. 12. 

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The Cowboys did pick up a win over the weekend against South Dakota State 29-6, the first of two losses for the Jackrabbits. South Dakota State also dropped to Oklahoma 16-15 to slip two spots in the ranking from No. 23 to No. 25, and they’ll have Northern Colorado and Little Rock next weekend, the former of which took a loss to Oklahoma 37-3 over the weekend. The Sooners, as a product of these results, moved up from No. 24 to No. 24 in the rankings.

Across the conference, both UNI and ISU continued their impressive results this season by both beating West Virginia and Air Force in dominant fashion. The Cyclones earned 31-9 and 27-12 wins over the Mountaineers and Falcons while the Panthers picked up their victories by scores of 31-10 and 31-6 over the two teams. UNI’s wins held it surge head from No. 22 to No. 18 in the rankings to create a bit of a shuffle that resulted in Central Michigan also moving up two spots after wins against Kent State and Edinboro. Iowa State, on the other hand, held steady at No. 5, a position they earned in the previous rankings after beating Oklahoma State two weeks ago. The Cyclones currently sit as the top Big 12 team in the national rankings, a perhaps unexpected result at the start of the season, but there are still several weeks left before these teams will battle each other for Big 12 bragging rights. Last year, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State split the championship title in the conference.

NC State, Virginia Tech stay undefeated to build anticipation for ACC rivalry dual 

Much like the Big 12, the ACC has also improved its depth exponentially in the last decade, with NC State and Virginia Tech pushing to be national powerhouses and pushing teams like No. 2 Iowa in tightly contested battles. Both of those teams held steady in their rankings this week after dominating wins over Virginia 32-3 and Duke 42-3 for the Pack and Hokies. The week’s poll included three ranked ACC teams: No. 4 NC State, No. 7 Virginia Tech and No. 21 North Carolina, the last of which pushed out formerly No. 19 Pitt after an upset in 19-12 over the weekend. 

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Of these teams, two remain undefeated in conference bouts, setting up the epic, rescheduled N.C. State vs. Virginia tech dual next Sunday, Feb. 20. Two days before this match though, the Pack will welcome the Tar Heels, who have added momentum after topping the Panthers behind wins from Joe Heilmann, Zach Sherman, Austin O'Connor, Clay Lautt, Gavin Kane and Brandon Whitman. The last time these two teams wrestled, NC State dominated UNC by a score of 28-10, but this dual has historically been closer.

Gable Steveson highlights Big Ten action

Team rankings shuffles, naturally, generate important storylines, but one college wrestling athlete always warrants spotlight when he competes, even if his team drops in the rankings. Minnesota heavyweight Gable Steveson maintained his 100% bonus rate over the weekend with a fall and a tech fall against Illinois and Purdue, though the Gophers slipped from No. 16 to No. 17 after taking a loss to the Boilermakers 18-14 after beating the Fighting Illini 22-12. Purdue rose two spots after the win, while Michigan State rounded out the Big Ten rankings changes with a three-spot rise after a 29-6 win over Maryland. 

Minnesota’s Steveson is one of five Big Ten NCAA champions, with the other four — Roman Bravo-Young, Nick Lee, Carter Starocci and Aaron Brooks — all wrestling for still undefeated Penn State. Penn State, in fact, added to its resume even more last weekend with 32-7 and 21-13 wins over Ohio State and Nebraska, while Bravo-Young, Brooks Lee went 2-0 on the weekend and Mason Manville wrestled in place of Starocci. The win over Nebraska at the end of the weekend secured Penn State the regular season Big Ten championship, and while the team celebrated, there’s clearly a bigger goal in mind. 

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Pushing the Nittany Lions is Iowa, who lost to Penn State earlier this year but held down the No. 2 spot in this week’s poll after a 29-6 win over Wisconsin on senior night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Austin DeSanto, Jaydin Eierman, Kaleb Young, Alex Marinelli, Michael Kemerer, Jacob Warner and Tony Cassioppi all emerged victorious, and Iowa will no doubt be looking to keep this momentum rolling into the rest of the season. 

Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin all remain in the top 10 as well, as the Buckeyes rallied after their loss to Penn State top Rutgers 19-14 behind a big upset win from Gavin Hoffman at 197 pounds. They’ll see Minnesota next weekend for a final conference showdown before the postseason. Nebraska, on the other hand, went 0-2 on the weekend with their losses to No. 1 Penn State and then No. 3 Michigan 20-13, but the Huskers weren’t punished in the rankings because of the strength of their opponents.

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