This might just be the best NCAA wrestling season yet! With multiple Olympians coming back to the college scene and an Olympic Champion also in Gable Steveson the competition that will be in college wrestling has reached a new level. Now let us count down our top 8 at 285 pounds.
#8 Lucas Davison (Northwestern)
Lucas Davison although not having the accolades yet on the folkstyle scene with his performance at the Michigan State Open and me being between a few guys for this spot made the difference. Going on his accolades and guys that he has wins over, he has a technical fall win over Tony Cassioppi, and he also just beat Luke Luffman and Josh Heindselman at the Open a couple days back. Do I think he can break into the top 8 time come the national tournament? Possibly, but a lot of it will depend on how guys within the Big Ten improve throughout the season.
#7 Tate Orndorff (Ohio State)
Again Tate Orndorff has been a guy who has consistently been able to prove that he is one of the best in the country. He opened up this season with a win over Buffalo picking up his first ranked win of this season and surely he will pick up a god bit more. He has not been able to break through and beat any of he guys that are listed above him yet but it will be very interesting to see how his season goes in his final year.
#6 Trent Hillger (Wisconsin)
Trent Hillger has been a staple at this weight class being an All American in every season of his eligibility so there is no reason he should not be on this list. His best win in the weight class is over Mason Parris at the 2019 Junior World Team Trials. He has 3 wins over Tate Orndorff in matches that seemed to be competitive but Hillger was able to blow open in the 3rd period where he pinned Orndorff twice. No doubt that Braxton Amos coming into Wisconsin this year will lead both of these guys on successful All American runs this season and it will be very interesting to see how he does.
#5 Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State)
Greg Kerkvliet has been one of the most highly touted heavyweights coming out of high school and he did live up to the hype with a 7th place All American finish at NCAAs where he wrestled only 2 matches before the big ten tournament due to injury. His best win includes a victory over Mason Parris at the 2021 Olympic Trials. he also has wins over Trent Hillger 6-3 at Big Tens, he major decisioned Tate Orndorff in the 7/8th match at NCAAs, and he defeated Jordan Wood in the round of 16 at the NCAA Tournament. Assuming he is healthy this year it will be very interesting to see what he can accomplish, he has the best training partners you could ask for in Kyle Snyder, has 2 Olympic Gold Medalists as coaches in Jake Varner and Cael Sanderson so it will be a good year for Kerkvliet.
#4 Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State)
Coming into the last year there were a lot of people talking about how he was a Greco-Roman wrestler, how he could not keep up with these guys, and how he would not be able to make a podium and should stick to Greco. He shut down those doubts very quickly. He defeated Greg Kerkvliet 14-8 as his highest ranked win, and also dominated Iowa State’s Gannon Gremmel thoroughly in their matchup. He finished in 4th places with his only losses coming to a bigger and older Tony Cassioppi, now since then Schultz has made a world team and held Olympic Silver Medalist Iakobi Kajaia to a 5-3 win which is insane to say the least. If Schultz can put it together I have no doubt in my mind that he would possibly be in the finals.
#3 Tony Cassioppi (Iowa)
Big Tony, there has always been he comments that he is too big and cannot keep up with these guys like Mason Parris, Gable Steveson, Nick Gwiazdowski. We no longer have those. If you have not seen Cassioppi 2.0 you should check that out. Tony Cassioppi’s unreal body transformation has been able to lead him to a U23 world title last night. The only two people that have been able to defeat him consistently in college are Gable Steveson and Mason Parris obviously the only two guys that are ranked above him at this point in time. The big question is can Cassioppi defeat Parris and move himself into the second spot? In an interview by United World Wrestling Cassioppi stated “I have the best guy in the world who I get to test myself against 3 times a year. The dual meet, Big Tens, and NCAAs” He is going to have a lot of eyes on him this season and I cannot wait to see how he performs.
#2 Mason Parris (Michigan)
Mason Parris falls in at the number two spot as expected and he has had a good offseason. He took second at the world team trials falling to none other than 2x world medalist Nick Gwiazdowski. He has had some big wins since we last saw him wrestle folkstyle and those are Dom Bradley and Tony Nelson. Not really much we have heard of him compared to Tony Cassioppi going viral since his body transformation and Gable Steveson winning Olympic Gold but he is there nonetheless and he will be a solid competitor in his field and be looking for his first Big Ten and NCAA title this season. Along with that this entire Michigan lineup is looking to make some big waves this season with Olympic Bronze Medalist Myles Amine and fellow Olympian Stevan Micic so it will be interesting to see what the Wolverines can do as a team this season.
#1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota)
Obviously no surprise here, Gable Steveson has pretty much accomplished everything this sport has to offer and is just back in college to most likely get his degree and continue on to the WWE. He is the defending NCAA Champion, he defeated Mason Parris in the finals and also in the Big Ten finals. He has multiple major decision wins over Hawkeye Tony Cassioppi. Wins over Greg Kerkvliet of Penn State, Jordan Wood of Lehigh, Cohlton Schultz, and pretty much anyone else who he has wrestled. He only has 2 losses in his collegiate wrestling career and those came to Anthony Cassar when he was a freshman in the Big Ten Finals and in the NCAA Semifinals by a single point. Since then Steveson has been flawless in the folkstyle scene. He will be your predicted champ for this season, and it is going to be great to see what he can do or if he will even be wrestling this full season being he has many sponsorship deals and WWE things that he will be dealing with and school on top of that. The Big Ten will be packed full of fun ranked matchups almost every dual and it will be a great season!
Matt Stencel (Central Michigan) Injury defaulted out of the MSU Open
Jordan Wood (Lehigh)
Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force)
Zach Elam (Mizzou)
Austin Harris (Oklahoma State)
Christian Lance (Nebraska)
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