Photo: Tony Rotundo

NCAA Preseason #1 Wrestlers


Looked through a lot of lists, most of them had the same basis with the obvious guys but there are some things that I would change so here is my list.

125- Spencer Lee (Iowa)

Photo: Tony Rotundo

Pretty obvious to start this list off with the 3x National Champion looking to win his 4th title. If Lee wins his 4th title he will become the first ever Iowa wrestler to do so in possibly the most storied program in collegiate wrestling history. However coming back from double acl surgery who knows how he is looking.

Other Competitors

Vito Arujau (Cornell)

Vito has been consistent in his time at Cornell securing an All American finish every season but has yet to have that break through. He came into nationals looking to win a title but one situation in the semifinals vs Patrick Glory seemed to shake things up and cause a bunch of desperation attempts which didn’t go to well. Vito has wins over Glory in the past and in dominant fashion being 2 points away from teching him in the EIWA finals but they have gone back and forth.

Patrick Glory (Princeton)

Glory has been a staple on the college scene ever since he stepped onto it. He made the finals this past season but fell short to none other than Nick Suriano who won his 2nd national title. He will most likely need to get through Vito again in the semifinals to even see a shot at Lee but he could very well be looking at a trip back to the finals.

133- Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State)

Photo: Tony Rotundo

RBY quickly became a fan favorite when he stepped on the scene even though he wasn’t national champ material just yet as a freshman. His athleticism, and slick takedowns have been able to move him from an 8th place finish as a freshman to 2 undefeated seasons where he won national titles. He will have to get through Daton Fix most likely again in the finals which have been very close matches.

Other Competitors-

Daton Fix (Oklahoma State)

Fix has been through it this past year falling in his 3rd straight NCAA Finals and on top of that losing his world team spot to Seth Gross at Final X. He hasn’t lost a collegiate match outside of the national finals except to Micky Philippi of Pitt 3-1 back in 2019. Can he finally win that national title? Guess we will just have to wait and see.

Michael McGee (Arizona State)

McGee had a solid season but kind of got handled by the top 3 guys in the weight with RBY, Fix, and Desanto. He did show some good improvement and I would look for him to have a solid season and possibly be a dark horse to knock off RBY or Fix.

Lucas Byrd (Illinois)

Byrd did not have the best showing at nationals but the talent is there. He will most likely see RBY in the Big Ten finals should he wrestle up to his potential. He has had razor close matches with Desanto and could very well be a threat.

141- Cole Matthews (Pitt)

Photo: Tony Rotundo

A lot of people might not like this but I will keep Matthews here since he is the highest returning All American. The Pitt program as a whole looks to have a good outlook which makes this interesting. He holds a win over Real Woods who is know at Iowa and Sebastian Rivera.

Other Competitors-

Real Woods (Iowa)

Possibly the biggest transfer of the offseason along with Michael Beard. Real Woods is coming off a a 6th place finish where he hit the semi slide after a close loss to Nick Lee. He has what it takes to win but it is just a matter of finishing the tournament strong.

CJ Composto (Penn)

Was very impressed by Composto and his performance to All American last season knocking off Micic in the blood round regardless of him being up a weight. He comes back as a sophomore and with the training partners he has at Penn (Joey McKenna) there is no doubt that he has the potential to shock some people.

149- Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell)

Photo: Tony Rotundo

If you told me that Yianni was the best wrestler in college right now after his national finals performance last year I would not argue with you. Him as well as Lee are going for their 4th national titles. Yianni only has one loss in his college career and will be looking to cap off yet another undefeated season and become Cornell’s second 4 time national champ.

Other Competitors-

Ridge Lovett (Nebraska)

Lovett has jumped levels since his days at 133 and he will be looking to shock the world and deny Yianni his 4th title. We have seen crazy things happen so who knows. 149 is a dog fight and you just gotta get through it.

Brock Mauller (Mizzou)

Interested to see how Mauller looks coming back and he will be a part of a stacked Mizzou team this season consisting off Keegan O’Toole, Rocky Elam and more.

157- Peyton Robb (Nebraska)

Photo: Tony Rotundo

I feel that even after Robb’s win over O’Connor and his showing at nationals he has not been getting the attention that he deserves. After moving down from 65 Robb has had tremendous success at 57 and will be looking to grab a natty.

Other Competitors-

Austin O’Connor (North Carolina)

A healthy O’Connor will make things very interesting at 157. The 2021 national champ will look to grab a second title here. With the top 3 guys from 2022 either graduated or vacating the weight he looks to have a clear shot at another title.

165- Keegan O’Toole (Mizzou)

Photo: Tony Rotundo

O’Toole has been one of the most dynamic and fun wrestlers to watch these past two years he has been in college. 165 has been labeled as the cursed weight class with the amount of reigning champs getting upset year after year. Will O’Toole get it done, possibly but 165 is growing to become possibly one of the best weight classes ever.

Other Competitors-

Shane Griffith (Stanford)

Griffith is the 2021 champ and pretty much saved Stanford wrestling with his heroics winning the national title. He was not able to get it done this past season falling to O’Toole in the the finals. There is definitely a possibility that Griffith comes back and wins his 2nd title.

David Carr (Iowa State)

Carr is the 2021 champ down at 157 pounds but fell in the round of 16 this past season. He was able to fight his way back to place third but now will be moving up to 165 pounds so it should be interesting to see what he can do.

Quincy Monday (Princeton)

Quincy Monday had his break out season this past year. Before everyone knew that Monday was good, it was just a matter of when he would jump that level and be one of the tier ones and that happened when he made the national finals. He would end up falling short to Ryan Deakin but up at 65 it should be interesting.

174- Carter Starocci (Penn State)

Photo: Tony Rotundo

Starocci completed an undefeated season taking out 2019 165 pound champion Mekhi Lewis in the national finals in a thrilling match that went the whole distance. He has been one of the most consistent wrestlers in the country only taking two losses in his entire collegiate career.

Other Competitors-

Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech)

Mekhi Lewis coming back from season ending injuries did what he could but that ultimately resulted in a 2nd place finish at the national tournament. He will be looking for his 2nd title this season.

184- Aaron Brooks (Penn State)

Photo: Tony Rotundo

Brooks has been that guy winning back to back titles in 2021 and 2022. With Myles Amine out of college now he has most likely faced the best competitor that he would’ve in college ever. He can become a 4x champ and is definitely the favorite heading into this season.

Other Competitors-

Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa)

I feel like some people overlook him and some people completely gas him up and there is no real in between. However that being said Keck has been one of the best wrestlers in the country consistently. The match between him and Aaron Brooks was 3-2 at the national duals.

Trent Hidlay (North Carolina State)

Brooks took out Hidlay in the 2021 national finals 3-2 and in the 2022 semifinals 6-4 in overtime. Should be another one if they meet up at nationals. Hidlay definitely has what it takes to get it done.

197- Max Dean (Penn State)

Photo: Tony Rotundo

Max Dean is only going to get more and more dominant the more time he has to fully grow into becoming a 197 pounder. With AJ Ferrari out of the picture Jacob Warner looks to be the biggest threat to Dean looking for a second title.

Other Competitors-

Jacob Warner (Iowa)

Warner has been solid, but nobody really expected him to be the lone Hawkeye in the national finals. This season will be really telling on whether he just had a good tournament or whether he has just gotten that much better.

285- Gable Steveson (Minnesota) Return Not Confirmed

Photo: Tony Rotundo

Have not heard anything from Gable about WWE or coming back to college and people are speculating so why not keep him in here for now.

Other Competitors-

Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State)

Consistently gave Gable his hardest matches, still recovering from injuries and have not seen a truly healthy Kerk but the improvement this season was apparent.

Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State)

Everyone has been doubting Schultz for a while but he proved that Greco works and it works well making the national finals and becoming a 2x All American with his only loss on the season being to Gable Steveson.

Tony Cassioppi (Iowa)

Cassioppi reportedly had a torn mcl heading into nationals which sucks. We did not get to see the new Cassioppi in action which honestly probably would have made the finals.

Mason Parris (Michigan)

Parris had a very underwhelming season coming back as a returning national finalist but after the season disclosed that he was going through a few injuries which sucks. Should be a better season this time if he stays healthy.

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Akil Murugan
Akil Murugan
Senior Editor for Heavyweight Nation

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