While a new season is just about upon us, there are some things that remain pretty constant: Blair Academy, N.J., is the nation's top-ranked team, and individuals from Pennsylvania dominate the weight class rankings.
Joey McKenna, ranked No. 2 at 138, is one of the leaders of No. 1 Blair Academy (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)Perennial national power Blair Academy is the two-time defending national champions, and has six of their individuals in the weight class rankings. The Buccaneers are led by a trio of individuals in the top three of their weight class: No. 3 Matthew Kolodzik at 126 pounds, No. 2 Joey McKenna at 138, and No. 3 Dylan Milonas at 152. Other ranked individuals are No. 8 Chaz Tucker at 120, No. 8 Mason Manville at 145, and No. 18 Patrick Coover at 170
The weight class rankings feature 39 individuals from the state of Pennsylvania, led by a trio of Keystone State natives ranked No. 1 in the country at their weight classes: Spencer Lee of Franklin Regional at 113 pounds, Jason Nolf of Kittatining at 138, and Chance Marsteller of Kennard Dale at 170. There is a Pennsylvania wrestler in the rankings at every single weight class, and at least a pair in 13 of 14 weights.
Three other states have more than 20 nationally ranked wrestlers: Illinois with 27, New Jersey with 24, and California with 23. Both Illinois and California have a pair of top-ranked wrestlers: Jered Cortez of Glenbard North at 132 and Bryce Brill of Mount Carmel at 152 from Illinois, with Aaron Pico of St. John Bosco and Nick Nevills of Clovis at 285 being from California.
The other half of the nation's number one wrestlers come from different states. Super 32 Challenge champion Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton, N.Y.) leads the way at 106 pounds, FloNationals champion Nathan Boston (Woodford County, Ky.) is top at 120, Super 32 Challenge and NHSCA Junior Nationals champion Ryan Millhof (Collins Hill, Ga.) is ranked first at 126, Junior National freestyle champions Ryan Blees (Bismarck, N.D.) and Bo Nickal (Allen, Tex.) are best at 160 and 182 respectively, Cadet Nationals double champion Lance Benick (Totino Grace, Minn.) lead the way at 195, and undefeated state champion Andrew Dixon (Edmond North, Okla.) is atop the rankings at 220.
Second in the team rankings behind Blair Academy is Oak Park River Forest, Ill. The Huskies, led by head coach Mike Powell, have an extremely deep and talented team featuring four nationally ranked wrestlers: No. 12 Jason Renteria at 106, No. 5 Isaiah White at 138, No. 11 Larry Early at 145, and No. 8 Davonte Mahomes at 170. Furthermore, they will start seven other wrestlers with state tournament experience.
Rounding out the preseason top five are Montini Catholic, Ill., Wyoming Seminary, Pa., and Apple Valley, Minn. The third-ranked Broncos also feature a quartet of nationally ranked wrestlers, led by Xavier Montalvo (170) and Michael Johnson, Jr. (285) who are in the top ten. Eleven of their lineup positions will feature a wrestler with either a Fargo All-American finish or state tournament experience. Three nationally ranked wrestlers lead the lineup for the fourth-ranked Blue Knights, who have nine state tournament or National Prep placers in their starting group. The fifth-ranked Eagles also have a quartet of nationally ranked wrestlers, led by Fargo freestyle champions Seth Gross (138) and Mark Hall (170). Six state champions are in this lineup.
The two other teams with four or more nationally ranked wrestlers are No. 10 Franklin Regional, which features five, and No. 16 Edmond North with four of their own. The team rankings also have a group of states, which dominate the proceedings. Six Ohio squads are among the Fab 50: No. 6 St. Paris Graham, No. 8 Massillon Perry, No. 12 Brecksville, No. 13 Cincinnati Moeller, No. 24 St. Edward, and No. 48 Claymont.
Five squads are in the rankings from New Jersey, California, and Pennsylvania. Joining Blair in the Fab 50 is No. 9 Bergen Catholic, No. 14 Bound Brook, No. 18 St. Peter's Prep, and No. 23 Don Bosco Prep. Three-time defending state champion, and winner of state eleven times in all, Clovis leads the California contingent at No. 7 in the rankings. Joining the Cougars in the rankings are No. 32 Clovis West, No. 35 Gilroy, No. 44 Vacaville, and No. 47 Buchanan. Keystone State teams joining Wyoming Seminary and Franklin Regional are No. 30 Bethlehem Catholic, No. 36 Greater Latrobe, and No. 45 Parkland.
Three other states have four squads in the Fab 50 rankings: Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Oklahoma. Joining Oak Park River Forest and Montini Catholic in the rankings from the Land of Lincoln are No. 17 Marist and No. 19 Marmion Academy. The four Michigan squads in the Fab 50 are No. 11 Detroit Catholic Central, No. 20 Davison, No. 26 Lowell, and No. 46 St. Johns. While Edmond North is joined in the rankings by fellow Sooner State teams in No. 15 Broken Arrow, No. 22 Stillwater, and No. 27 Collinsville.