For many wrestling fans, this past weekend felt like true bliss. Complete chaos ran through the wrestling community for over 48 straight hours, and after an eight month hiatus the best sport in the world returned to an unrivaled fanbase around the country.
The madness started in Blacksburg, Virginia on Friday night with an electric dual meet between two top-10 teams in the country, and then quickly followed into Saturday’s competition with top-25 teams scattered across the nation in various tournaments to kickoff the long awaited 2023-2024 NCAA Wrestling season.
With a slate nearly impossible to follow and keep track of, This Week In Wrestling covers all of the most important news, upsets, and results that you may have missed in a wild opening start to the NCAA Wrestling season.
DOWN GOES #1
Wrestling is a weird sport. The reigning and returning 2023 UWW World Gold Medalist and NCAA Champion got beat by a redshirt freshman in his first competition of the year.
Nobody had a better weekend than Lehigh’s Ryan Crookham, who beat both Cornell’s #1 Vito Arujau (8-4 score) AND his own teammate and #6 ranked Connor McGonagle (6-3 SV score) within hours apart.
Anyone who has followed Ryan Crookham knows that he’s capable of this type of success, but for victories like these to come so early on to his redshirt freshman season is eye-opening. The 3x Pennsylvania State Champion will get to see serious action this year for the Mountain Hawks, and especially now with two unbelievable performances to claim the title at the Journeymen Collegiate Classic.
With other news at the Journeymen Collegiate Classic, Cael Sanderson and the Penn State Nittany Lions made their much-anticipated debut to the new season.
The only questions with the Nittany Lions are at 125 and 165-pounds. Sanderson is hard to predict, but it sure looks like 2023 Junior World Champion Mitchell Mesenbrink will see the majority of competition for the Nittany Lions at 165.
It’s been between Mesenbrink (Cal Baptist transfer) and Alex Facundo for Penn State, and with Facundo not competing this past weekend there is speculation that he will take an Olympic Redshirt for the 2023-2024 season.
Penn State fans have been begging for a stable option at 125-pounds for quite some time now, and many believe in Robbie Howard to be that guy.
Howard, the #5 overall recruit in the 2018 class, has had some unfortunate luck with injuries halting his 2022-2023 season. However, Howard showed true promise in his freshman year and most definitely has the potential to stand on the podium in March.
It may take some time though, as Howard dropped two consecutive matches at the Journeymen Collegiate Classic.
MIDDLE SCHOOL MCCRONE
Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Virginia was rocking on Friday night, with the Virginia Tech student section screaming at the top of their lungs for the hometown Hokies.
Tom Ryan and the #8 Ohio State Buckeyes took the energy for fuel, and throttled the #5 Hokies on their home turf 24-12.
There were so many awesome moments about this dual, but none better than Ohio State’s redshirt freshman Brendan McCrone pulling off a huge 11-3 major decision over Virginia Tech’s #4 Eddie Ventresca at 125-pounds.
Prior to the match the Hokies student section kept chanting “Middle School McCrone!”, trying to get under the Freshman’s skin. However, it went south on them real quick when the middle schooler took the #4 ranked wrestler to his back for a four count near-fall.
“I think it’s kinda funny, you know you’re not used to it in wrestling. You don’t get a lot of people that are in your ear, before the dual meet their hollering at us to do flips and that kind of stuff. I thought it was funny, and I think it’s pretty cool having a good crowd here and watch wrestling, the best sport in the world,” McCrone said.
The Buckeyes used that early momentum from McCrone to make a statement in this dual meet, Isaac Wilcox, Ryder Rogotzke, Luke Geog, and Nick Feldman all got upset wins for Ohio State and solidified a dominant win over the #5 Virginia Tech Hokies.
USPETS AT WRANGLEMANIA
In the second event hosted by Journeymen, 10 teams around the nation met up at Liberty High School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for a massive dual tournament.
Purdue’s true freshman Joey Blaze defeated NC State’s #5 Ed Scott in sudden victory 4-1, and pulls off a miraculous upset just a week after his younger brother and high-schooler, Marcus Blaze, defeated #1 ranked Matt Ramos at 125-pounds. What a wild week for the Blaze family.
Arizona State was missing multiple returning All-Americans, however Tony Negron defeated North Carolina’s #6 Gavin Kane, 7-4 at 184-pounds.
Here are the results of each team:
Lost to Purdue, 21-16
Defeated Lock Haven, 33-11
Arizona State: 1-1
Defeated Lock Haven, 23-18
Lost to North Carolina, 22-16
Lost to NC State, 45-4
Defeated Sacred Heart, 28-18
Lost to Long Island, 19-15
Lost to North Carolina, 32-7
Lock Haven: 0-2
Lost to Arizona State, 23-18
Lost to Army, 33-11
Long Island: 2-0
Defeated Sacred Heart, 28-10
Defeated Buffalo, 19-15
NC State: 2-0
Defeated Purdue, 37-3
Defeated Bloomsburg, 45-4
North Carolina: 2-0
Defeated Buffalo, 32-7
Defeated Arizona State, 22-16
Lost to NC State, 37-3
Defeated Army, 21-16
Sacred Heart: 0-2
Lost to Long Island, 28-10
Lost to Bloomsburg, 28-18
FERRARI MOVING FAST
Anthony Ferrari, younger brother of NCAA Champion AJ Ferrari, just wrestled in his first collegiate competition this weekend, and turned some heads while picking up a gold medal at the Luther Open.
Ferrari, committed to the Hawkeys, is set to join the roster with his brother in the second school semester this year, and is already flashing his potential to the Hawkeye fans.
It was total domination leading up to his first place bout against Iowa teammate Victor Voinovich. Ferrari opened up with a tech fall, then proceeded to pin, win by major, and pin again before edging out a 2-1 victory over Voinovich.
With Iowa’s lineup as unsure as it’s ever been, the Hawkeyes dominated the Luther open, bringing home eight champions in the elite division.
However, starting 133-pounder for the Hawkeyes Brody Teske medically forfeited out of his last two bouts. Something must’ve bothered Teske after his second bout against Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Dominik Mallinder, which was a victory for Teske by a score of 18-11.
KINNER LOOKS SHARP
This can’t be a weekly recap without mentioning the performance of Quinn Kinner, who picked up two wins over highly ranked opponents this past weekend.
Kinner, ranked #23 in the country, started off his stellar weekend with a statement win over Indiana’s #6 Graham Rooks, 8-2.
Although Rider dropped the dual to Indiana 27-15, Kinner gave the Bronc’s some excitement going into their dual meet with SIU Edwardsville on Sunday. Kinner kept hot, and once again defeated a top-15 opponent, this time against #15 Caleb Tyus.
Rider went on to defeat SIU Edwardsville 29-6, and picked up their first dual win of the season.
Here’s a list of intriguing dual meets and tournaments coming up this week:
Army vs #3 NC State – 11/16
#5 Virginia Tech vs #14 Rutgers – 11/17
North Carolina vs Illinois – 11/18
#18 Oregon State vs #2 Iowa – 11/19
#13 Arizona State vs #4 Missouri – 11/19
#16 Pitt vs #20 Lehigh – 11/19
Maryland vs #16 Pitt – 11/20
Navy Classic – 11/18
Black Knight Invitational – 11/19
Daktronics Open – 11/19
Keystone Classic – 11/19