The heavyweight weight class has to be by far the deepest out of all of them this season with 5 world champs and multiple more medalists. The champs include Gable Steveson who has won pretty much everything there is to win after his Olympic Gold Medal run in Tokyo. Mason Parris was a Junior World Champion. Cohlton Schultz, Greg Kerkvliet, and Tony Cassioppi are all World Champions as well in their own right.
For this analysis we will not be including guys that maybe go injured or did not perform up to par in the past season and are looking to make a comeback. We will be spotlighting guys that are in a position that could light some things up should they catch on fire.
#5 Zach Elam (Missouri)
Zach Elam has been very good for the Tigers in his seasons there so far, however there is one thing that he has not been able to do yet which is All American. He was a round of 12 finisher in his freshman season and a round of 16 finisher last season where he lost to Austin Harris. He has looked fantastic this season so far but we have only seen what I think is the beginning of what he can accomplish on the collegiate wrestling scene. In the Big 12 conference he will have his work cut out for him as he will have to face guys like Brandon Metz, Austin Harris, and Wyatt Hendrickson.
Elam is surrounded by a very solid team this season and better than most seasons at that. He is accompanied by his brother Rocky Elam who is a world champion and 5th place finisher the year before. He is also coached by Dom Bradley who is still active on the freestyle Scene at 125kg and is going to be a good mentor and practice parter for Elam and should be able to get him that final edge of the way should things go good this season. If Elam can put it together this season there is no doubt he will be an All American by the time the season is over.
#4 Ethan Laird (Rider)
Ethan Laird is one of the very bright spots in a maybe not that great Rider program at the minute. Rider wrestling is on the rise this season and they should have a good run. Ethan Laird was a blood round finisher last season after bumping up from 197 pounds. If there is one way to describe his wrestling it would be letting it fly, thats what he does. He took out All American Jordan Wood in a stunning upset and was able to manufacture more at the National Tournament where he took out Deonte Wilson of NC State in dominant fashion in a matchup where maybe he was seeded higher but he was not expected to win.
The overall outlook for his season is going to be interesting with a good practice squad in David Szuba a New Jersey State Champion who was ranked top 5 in the country coming out of high school. Laird is always going to have that ability to catch people with how explosive he is, and with that being said one match is all it takes to make or break a season and we found that out multiple times. Especially in one of the matches we will talk about soon.
#3 Lucas Davison (Northwestern)
There is not much this guy can’t do. By far one of the the smallest heavyweights in all of NCAA Wrestling, but still one of the best. When we did our polls on who the top 8 heavyweights in the country are he came out at number 8. In most cases I would not put a guy like that on the list but it seemed like an exception had to be made with how far he has progressed and how many people are looking over him.
Obviously Northwestern may not be the ideal training environment for Davison right now due to the whole coaches being fired and the program in a weird position at the moment. However he is making due as he as already earned Big Ten wrestler of the week and won the Michigan State Open picking up two ranked wins over Josh Heindselman and Luke Luffman. The potential on this man is insane and if he can keep improving at this rate who knows how far he can go.
#2 Christian Lance (Nebraska)
Christian Lance is a division 2 transfer which makes what he has done during his time at Nebraska so much more impressive that it already is. He ended up falling in the round of 24 wrestle backs to the aforementioned Elam. What moves him on the list a bit higher is the caliber of wins that he has acheived throughout his time at Nebraska in the folkstyle scene and on the senior level where he impressed a lot. His biggest win in folkstyle was 100 percent against Wisconsin’s 3x All American Trent Hillger where he clutched the match in sudden victory to win the dual for Nebraska.
As we talk about this season all Lance needs to do is keep his head on straight. He has a very solid team around him and a very good coaching staff as well that has provided what he needs to jump that next level. It will all come down to his performance at nationals and if he can maintain the ability that he has showed up he has in the regular season.
#1 Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force)
Wyatt Hendrickson has been beyond impressive making a blood round finish in his freshman campaign. Since then he was able to make a Junior World Team and win a match as well. He is a sophomore this season and will be looking to get on the podium. I cannot really say where he stands at the moment but if he can put together anything as impressive as last season we will be seeing him on that podium in March.
At the national tournament he ended up falling to Gable Steveson which again is just a rough draw. He had a massive win in the round of 16 where he was able to upset Jordan Wood with a huge 6 point move and held on to win 7-6. In the blood round he fell to none other than 3x All American Trent Hillger. Air Force is a decent program at the end of the day but they do not have anything outstanding here, that being said if Hendrickson can make it onto the podium in his Sophomore campaign they could be looking at a potential 3x All American and really bring their program up.