Carson Kharchla had a dominant senior season, which included a Walsh Ironman title (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
One calendar month has passed since the last of the scholastic state champions were crowned in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania on March 9. Since then, the wrestling calendar has been busy with both the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic and the Wrestling USA Magazine Dream Team Classic, NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Pittsburgh, along with the NHSCA grade-level nationals and the USA Wrestling Junior and 16U Folkstyle Nationals.
All that being said, it's time to put a wrap on the 2018-19 scholastic wrestling season with the release of the final national high school weight class rankings. It is a chance to reflect upon what has happened over the past calendar year (i.e. cycle), and to acknowledge the InterMat High School Wrestler of the Year, along with the InterMat First Team All-Americans.
Wrestler of the Year: Carson Kharchla (Olentangy Liberty, Ohio), 170 pounds
The Ohio State-bound Kharchla took last season's state title, and pushed it to another level over the last 12 months. After a spring and early summer fully of heavy training at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Kharchla went to Fargo for the Junior National freestyle tournament and absolutely dominated what was a very strong path in a rather strong 170-pound weight class.
The first four matches in that run were technical superiorities earned while shutting out the opposition, those in the round of 16 and quarterfinal came against fellow All-Americans (in the round of 16 it was a 10-0 victory over Parker Keckeisen). The semifinal result was a 7-4 victory over multiple-time Fargo freestyle champion Travis Wittlake of Oregon, while it was a 10-0 finals victory over Dustin Plott of Oklahoma whose path to the final featured four technical superiorities and a decision. In all, Kharchla beat the second, third, fifth, and sixth-place finisher.
During the 2018-19 season, it was dominance just the same, as his 31-0 season included but four matches that were not bonus point affairs. Kharchla did not give up an offensive point during the course of a season that included a second consecutive state title, along with tournament titles at the Walsh Ironman and Brecksville tournaments.
Previous Wrestlers of the Year
2018: Gable Steveson (Apple Valley, Minn.)
2017: Vito Arujau (Syosset, N.Y.)
2016: Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.)
2015: Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.)
2014: Chance Marsteller (Kennard Dale, Pa.)
2013: Kyle Snyder (Good Counsel, Md.)
2012: Jason Tsirtsis (Crown Point, Ind.)
2011: Morgan McIntosh (Calvary Chapel, Calif.)
Other top-ranked wrestlers
106: Richard Figueroa (Selma, Calif.)
The Arizona State verbal commit has lost one match in two seasons of high school wrestling, that coming in the Walsh Ironman finals his freshman season. His dominance during this past season came at both 106 pounds and 113 pounds. Figueroa won the nation's toughest preseason tournament (Super 32 Challenge) and in-season tournament (Walsh Ironman) at the higher weight, while pummeling opposition at 106 pounds on the way to notable titles at the Doc Buchanan Invitational and the state tournament.
113: Alejandro Herrera-Rondon (Seneca Valley, Pa.)
The sophomore won a second state title, this one coming with a 48-1 record, his only blemish coming in the Walsh Ironman finals when he lost 2-1 to Figueroa. Most notable among his regular season results were a King of the Mountain title up at 120 pounds, and a Powerade title in this weight class when he beat top five in the nation Jake Rundell (Oak Park River Forest, Ill.) and two-time Cadet world champion Kurt McHenry (St. Paul's, Md.) in the semifinals and finals respectively.
120: Lucas Byrd (Cincinnati LaSalle, Ohio)
The senior won a second straight title, finishing 46-1 on the season, his lone loss coming in the final of the Walsh Ironman. Byrd had three wins on the season over wrestlers ranked in the top eight nationally, including a 4-3 win over national No. 2 Ryan Crookham (Notre Dame-Green Pond, Pa.) in the Walsh Ironman semifinals. His career record was 177-17, including a mark of 142-7 over his last three seasons.
126: Kyle Burwick (Hettinger, N.D.)
The Wisconsin-bound wrestler was a five-time state champion in North Dakota, and over those seasons amassed a record of 260-8, including wins in 145 straight matches from the start of January during his sophomore year going forward. Burwick placed fourth in Junior freestyle this past summer at 126 pounds.
132: Jordan Decatur (CVCA, Ohio)
The Ohio State-bound Decatur finished his senior year with a record of 43-1, the lone loss coming in the semifinals of the Walsh Jesuit Ironman. Tournament titles in 2018-19 included those won at North Canton, Brecksville, Maumee Bay, and the Grizzly Invitational. Decatur was a Junior National freestyle champion last summer, his third Fargo freestyle title in four years, and accrued a record of 134-7 over the three seasons in which he won state titles.
138: JoJo Aragona (Pope John XXIII, N.J.)
The Rutgers-bound wrestler capped off an excellent career with an elusive state title during his senior year, which included an elusive major event title at the Beast of the East that came after winning a four-man exhibition bracket at Flo's Who's Number One preseason event. Aragona finished third, second, third, and first in four career state tournaments; concluding his career with a record of 159-6, including 43-0 in his senior season.
145: Ryan Anderson (Bethlehem Catholic, Pa.)
The Iowa State-bound Anderson earned a second consecutive state title, a season highlighted by earning Outstanding Wrestler honors at the Walsh Ironman after earning a major decision over national No. 2 Jaden Abas (Rancho Bernardo, Calif.) in the championship match. Anderson's 39-1 campaign also included titles at the Beast of the East and Escape the Rock tournaments. He was also a three-time Super 32 placer, winning the tournament in October 2017. The lone loss this season came to Jagger Condomitti (Northampton, Pa.) by a 5-4 decision in the dual team state final, an opponent that he beat two times prior and two times subsequent.
152: Andrew Alirez (Greeley Central, Colo.)
The Northern Colorado bound wrestler went 33-0 during his senior season, capped off by winning a fourth state title, and finished his career with a record of 153-1. The lone loss came in the Doc Buchanan Invitational semifinals of his sophomore year, 1-0 to Jaden Abas. Alirez beat now two-time NCAA All-American Nick Lee in the challenge tournament finals of the World Team Trials at 65 kilos last spring; while extending 2019 NCAA All-American Dom Demas to a third match in the best-of-three trials.
160: Alex Facundo (Davison, Mich.)
The nation's top sophomore has won almost everything under the sun so far in his career, though his two-year high school career record is 70-1, the lone loss coming this past season in the finals of the Detroit Catholic Central Invitational -- in the ultimate tiebreaker to Cameron Amine (Detroit Catholic Central, Mich.). Facundo was champion of the Super 32 Challenge this fall, and is a two-time Junior National folkstyle champion, along with a 2018 Cadet World bronze medalist.
182: Parker Keckeisen (Nicolet, Wis.)
The Northern Iowa-bound Keckeisen concluded his career with 78 straight wins after losing in the state final his sophomore year, and finished with a career record of 157-11. Keckeisen also placed fifth at state as a freshman, and placed third in Junior freestyle this past summer, the lone loss coming in the round of 16 to Carson Kharchla.
195: Jacob Cardenas (Bergen Catholic, N.J.)
The Cornell-bound Cardenas finished his career winning a pair of state titles, while going 69-6 in those seasons that included runner-up finishes at the Beast of the East in both seasons. Cardenas also was a champion of the NHSCA Sophomore and Junior Nationals, along with the Super 32 Challenge this past fall. His losses on the season came in the Beast of the East finals to A.J. Ferrari, who was at Blair Academy at the time before leaving for Bergen Catholic a few weeks later; while the early January loss to Peter Christensen (Montini Catholic, Ill.) was avenged this past weekend in a 6-4 victory at the Dream Team Classic.
220: Braxton Amos (Parkersburg South, W.Va.)
Even missing the entirety of his freshman season due to an injury sustained in late September, the top five overall national junior has had a more than full career resume in two high school seasons. Upon return from that injury in July 2017, Amos earned a second straight Cadet National double title in Fargo. Since then, he has added a pair of Super 32 titles, a pair of Walsh Ironman titles, a pair of Powerade titles, and a pair of undefeated state championships; in two seasons at Parkersburg South, Amos has a record of 94-0.
285: Greg Kerkvliet (Simley, Minn.)
The nation's top overall senior went 24-0 during his shortened senior season to win a fourth state title, despite missing more than half the year due to an injury sustained during the summer. During said campaign, all but one of Kerkvliet's matches was a first period pin or forfeit (that being a 16-1 technical fall in 1:27). The Ohio State-bound Kerkvliet was a 2017 Cadet World champion in freestyle at 100 kilos and runner-up in 2018 at 110 kilos; in addition, he earned three technical superiority victories this spring in a combined 4:22 over eventual Junior world silver medalist Zach Elam at 97 kilos.
Breakdown of nationally ranked wrestlers by state
35: Pennsylvania (2 individuals ranked No. 1 nationally)
33: New Jersey (2)
23: Ohio (3), California (1), Illinois
10: Michigan (1), Iowa
9: Colorado (1), Minnesota (1), Florida, Missouri
8: Wisconsin (1), Indiana
7: New York
5: Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas
3: Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia
2: West Virginia (1), Alabama, Montana, North Carolina, Utah
1: North Dakota (1), Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, New Hampshire, South Dakota
Note: 34 states in all had a nationally ranked wrestler (i.e. attend a high school in that state).