2021 EIWA champion PJ Ogunsanya (Photo/Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
Army West Point Black Knights
"We have as much experience on this team as we've had in our program in a long time. We are going to need it this year, because this is probably the deepest and toughest NCAA wrestling has ever been. With all of the super seniors coming back, and the depth of the weight classes in our conference, we are going to have to be our absolute best, if we want to have a good season. I really like this group and I trust that they can get the job done. I'm also so excited to see them get back to a full season of college wrestling." - Army West Point head coach Kevin Ward.
The middle of the Army lineup is where you'll find two of their top grapplers. PJ Ogunsanya captured an EIWA title at 149 lbs last season and snapped a long drought for Army. Previously their last conference champion was Matt Kyler in 2010. Ogunsanya carried a perfect record into the 2021 NCAA Championships and was awarded the 16th seed. He responded by winning a pair of matches, with both of his losses coming to eventual All-Americans. In the opening round, Ogunsanya fell to the eventual sixth-place finisher (Kyle Parco - Fresno State) in sudden victory.
Up a weight, at 157 lbs, is Markus Hartman, who qualified for the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive year in 2021. Hartman finished the year banged up, as he defaulted out of the conference tournament, due to injury. Even so, Hartman picked up a pair of wins in St. Louis. In 2019-20, Hartman became the school's first Midlands finalist. After taking third at the 2020 EIWA Championships, Hartman was the 12th seed at the NCAA Tournament. Once it was canceled, he was named a second-team All-American by the NWCA.
Overall, Army West Point can field a lineup with past national qualifiers (Corey Shie, Ogunsanya, Hartman, Ben Pasiuk, JT Brown, Ben Sullivan) and will be a formidable foe in the EIWA.
While most schools in the country can take advantage of an extra year of eligibility, Army West Point cannot let their wrestlers overstay their graduation date. That means the Black Knights have lost Lane Peters and Bobby Heald. Both saw significant time in the Army lineup during their time in West Point and each qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2021. Both were EIWA finalists last season, Peters at 141 and Heald at 285 lbs.
Dalton Harkins has the potential to make an impact for Army West Point in year one. A 2020 high school graduate, Harkins comes to West Point after spending a year at Army's Prep School. Harkins flew up the high school rankings his senior year after a surprising Walsh Ironman title, followed by a championship at the Beast of the East, then a National Prep Championship.
WRESTLER TO WATCH
Just a few matches after Ogunsanya won the first EIWA title since 2010, Ben Pasiuk duplicated the feat at 174 lbs. Pasiuk seemed to come out of nowhere to win the conference, as he was a freshman with only two dual meets under his belt, heading into the postseason. At the NCAA Championships, Pasiuk grabbed a pair of wins over Jake Logan (Lehigh) and 2020 ACC champion Clay Lautt (North Carolina). With a full offseason's worth of training and a full year to shine, Pasiuk will certainly be a wrestler to keep an eye on in 2021-22.
125: Ryan Chauvin (Jr)
133: Mark Montgomery (So)
141: Corey Shie (Sr)
149: PJ Ogunsanya (Sr)
157: Markus Hartman (Sr)
165: Dalton Harkins (Fr)
174: Ben Pasiuk (So)
184: Brad Laughlin (Sr)
197: JT Brown (Sr)
285: Ben Sullivan (Sr)