2021 All-American Bernie Truax (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
As we hit the midway point in August and the collegiate regular season is within arms reach, it's almost time for preseason rankings. While InterMat is in the preliminary stages of amassing national rankings, we've had to find out potential lineup information about teams all over the country. During this research phase, plenty of interesting lineup-related tidbits were unearthed. Some are well-known; others may not have been mentioned publicly, yet.
With so much to discuss and so many teams, we've had to break this up into two parts. Part number one will cover team names (A-K), while the second will include the remaining schools.
Some schools have not been included as they don't have significant/unexpected changes or we are still working to find information regarding their team.
(Remember: this is still August, so information can change between now and November)
American: Expect to see a lot of freshmen. There were a handful of veterans that entered the portal at the end of the year and ended up transferring out. The Eagles lone returning national qualifier, Tim Fitzpatrick, should be at 165 rather than 174, where he made the national tournament.
Appalachian State: The Mountaineers return seven national qualifiers, each at the first seven weights. Those are all expected to be the same in 2021-22. At 184, Barrett Blakely may have the inside track on the weight. He hasn't seen dual-action yet, but is 23-14 over the past two years. Two true freshmen, Wyatt Miller and Triston Norris, along with incumbent Mason Fiscella, could start at 197.
Arizona State: The four returning All-Americans for ASU are expected to maintain their same weights this season. Fresno State transfer Kyle Parco should slide in at 149 lbs. A weight class battle to watch should take place at 141 between Julian Chlebove and Jesse Vasquez. True freshman could be in the mix at 174 and 184 lbs. 174 will see Cael Valencia and Ryan Rochford compete. Redshirt freshman Josh Nummer could get pushed by Max Wilner at 184. Cade Belshay has graduated and may not return.
Army West Point: The military academies do not benefit from the "free year" in 2021, so Army West Point's seniors last year have moved on to fulfill other commitments. At 141, Logan Brown and Corey Shie will fill in for Lane Peters. Rising seniors, PJ Ogunsanya, Markus Hartman, and JT Brown, are expected back at the same weights. Past national qualifier Ben Sullivan assumes the role at 285, as Robert Heald was a senior in 2021. A freshman could be in the mix at 165 in Dalton Harkins. Harkins had a tremendous senior year for Malvern Prep (PA) in 2019-20. Filling in for graduated senior Taylor Brown, at 184, is veteran Sahm AbdulRazzaq. He was 3-0 in limited action last year.
Binghamton: The four Bearcat national qualifiers from 2021 are all expected back at their same weights this season. Past national qualifier, Zack Trampe, is not likely to return and DIII transfer Ryan Anderson should take his place at 141. Anderson was a huge recruit in the Class of 2019 and could be a difference-maker for Coach Kyle Borshoff's team. There is some uncertainty in the middle of the lineup as Michigan-transfer Nick Lombard could see time at 149 or 157. Also in the mix at those weights are Mike Zarif (149) and Alex Strashinsky (157). Last year, Cory Day saw his only action at 285 lbs. This year he's expected to contribute at 197.
Bucknell: Perhaps the best positional battle for Bucknell will take place at 157 as both Nick Delp and Jaden Fisher are each capable in their own right. Bucknell does not use redshirts, so a few freshmen could push for time in 2020-21, even though the Bison lineup is primarily a veteran outfit. Kolby DePron (149), Nolan Springer (174), and Logan Deceatis (184) are first-year wrestlers that could test veterans ahead of them.
Cal Poly: Cal Poly could be a tough team to deal with in the Pac-12 this year. The biggest news is the addition of three-time All-American Evan Wick at 165 lbs. There were some whispers above him moving up, but it appears he'll be at 65. But, one guy who is expected to move up is the Mustang's other All-American, Bernie Truax. Look for him at 184. Slotting in between the two is Adam Kemp, who went 4-5 at 165 last season. One of the freshmen that could see action in year one is Abe Hinrichsen at 133. Another change could come at 197, as Trent Tracy, who was at 184 in 2019-20 as a true freshman, is expected to bump up.
Campbell: The back half of the Campbell lineup was its strength in 2021 and it will be this year too, with three SoCon champs and a runner-up. Each qualified for nationals and will return at the same weight. Also returning at their 2021 weights are national qualifiers Zurich Storm (125) and Josh Heil (149. Storm will face stiff competition for the starting role at 125, with two-time SoCon champion Korbin Meink and Fresno State transfer Anthony Molton lurking.
Clarion: The Golden Eagles lost their only 2021 national qualifier (Greg Bulsak) via a grad transfer, but picked up a transfer themselves in Brent Moore (149). Another new face in Clarion's lineup is Will Feldkamp at 197 lbs. Feldkamp had a winning record for Northern Illinois; he just needs to stay healthy. Aside from swiping Feldkamp for Bulsak, the back half of the Golden Eagles lineup is basically the same. They'll have 2020 national qualifier Ty Bagoly as the anchor at 285 lbs. Clarion's top recruit from 2021, Joey Fischer, will be in an extremely deep weight (125) for Clarion, but still may emerge as the starter.
Cleveland State: The Vikings had three national qualifiers in 2021, which was its best number since 2007. Each of those national qualifiers is expected back at their 2021 weights. Logan Heil won 24 matches in 2019-20 at 125 lbs, but went up to 133 last year. He should be back at 125 this time around. Heil will flip-flop with Cody Moosman, who was CSU entry at 125 in the postseason in 2021.
Columbia: The cancelation of winter sports by the Ivy League robbed us of the opportunity to see the improvements in the Columbia program. Both of head coach Zach Tanelli's 2020 national qualifiers, Joe Manchio and Matt Kazimir, are back at 125 and 141, respectively. Insert Angelo Rini at 133 and the Lions have a nice, 1-2-3, punch to start off duals. 149 lber Danny Fongaro sat out the 2019-20 season and should be much improved. We'll likely see Class of 2020 Big Boarder Josh Ogunsanya make his debut for Columbia at 157. Also back from a year away is 165 lber David Berkovich. With the strong recruiting from Columbia, some freshmen could see significant time, as well.
Cornell: For years, there have been rumors about Vito Arujau moving up to 133 lbs. Again, chances are he'll be back at 125, with 133 being handled by a combination of Greg Diakomihalis and Phillip Moomey. There has also been plenty of speculation about how Yianni Diakomihalis and Joshua Saunders will fit in at 141 and 149. For now, it appears that Yianni will go 149 with Saunders at 141. The majority of the lineup is young and should move up the rankings quickly. Perhaps the best positional fight to monitor is at 197 with All-American Ben Darmstadt and Jacob Cardenas.
Drexel: Don't look now, but the Dragons could send out a lineup with six past NCAA qualifiers. One of those, Bryan McLaughlin, will be down a weight class from 2021. He was at 197 the past two seasons, but will compete at 184 lbs in 2021-22.
Duke: Both Josh and Matt Finesilver should be back in action for the Blue Devils. Josh at 149 and Matt at 174. Duke also will get the services of Stanford transfer Gabe Dinette at 165 lbs. Dinette did not see mat time for Stanford in 2020, but went 6-4 the previous year.
Franklin & Marshall: In addition to the Ivy League, Franklin & Marshall did not compete in 2021. The Diplomats have a 141 lber that should be a force in the EIWA in Wil Gil. In 2020, Gil earned two wins over eventual NCAA qualifiers. He's gone 81-38 during his first three years of competition.
George Mason: The Patriots NCAA qualifier, Alex Madrigal, will make his return to the mat at 149 lbs. Madrigal has battled injuries over the years and did not see any action in 2021. Graduate transfer Laurence Kosoy was a past NCAA alternate and slots in at 165 lbs. There is some uncertainty at 197/285 as Austin Stith has the potential to go either weight at this point. Freshman Jon List (197) and Ali Salem (285) will provide competition to Stith in either scenario.
Harvard: Another team that didn't compete last year due to Ivy League restrictions was Harvard. Leading off for the Crimson could either be returner Beau Bayless or freshman Diego Sotelo. One of Harvard's top grapplers, AJ Jaffe, should compete at 157, up from 149. Jaffe hasn't competed officially for Havard since 2017-18, but went 25-10 that season. Another top recruit that is set to return is Josh Kim at 174. Kim went 15-6 while competing unattached in 2019-20.
Hofstra: Frankly, there are too many moving parts to properly project a Hofstra lineup, at this point. The positives are that head coach Dennis Papadatos has more options than in years past. Hofstra had seven national qualifiers last year and only lost Vinny Vespa (141). Returner Justin Hoyle should fill in for Vespa. Top freshman from Illinois, Joel Mylin, is likely to see a lot of mat time at 133. National qualifier Greg Gaxiola could go at 149 or 157. The team also has returning EIWA champion Holden Heller at 157. Word is Ross McFarland is much improved and could push at either 174 or 184. Sage Heller is probably the favorite at 174 but missed 2021 due to injury.
Iowa: Generally, the Iowa lineup is pretty straightforward. There are some injury/recovery concerns to consider. Mainly Spencer Lee and his zero ACL's at 125. Maybe he is on a "pitch count" in 2021-22. The same can be said for Michael Kemerer at 174, who may not compete until the second semester. The big question in the lineup is at 184. Nelson Brands is the returning starter and was seeded 12th at nationals last year. The Hawkeyes 2019-20 starter, Abe Assad, is said to be healthy and ready to compete for the spot again.
Iowa State: The Cyclones should be loaded in 2021-22. They will have returning national qualifiers at the first five weights. That's right, David Carr at 157 lbs. There was some speculation that Carr may move up to 165, but that may not be the case this year. It remains to be seen who will rise as the starter at 165. Last year's starter at 174, Julien Broderson, is expected back at the same weight. Where things get interesting are at 184/197. Marcus Coleman bounced between 174/184 in 2019-20, then went up to 197 last season. He is expected back at 184 this season. Cuban Younger Bastida will be at 197. That means that Iowa State is not expected to have Sam Colbray back. A new face at the back end of the Cyclone lineup is Sam Schuyler, who comes in from Buffalo. Schuyler was the 26th seed at nationals last year and picked up a win in St. Louis.
Kent State: There will be a handful of new faces in the Kent State lineup next year and it should result in the team being very competitive in the MAC if everyone pans out. Louis Newell (133), Tyler Johnson (157), Najee Lockett (165), and Michael Ferre (174) are all transfers that will slide in the KSU lineup and contribute immediately. Lockett was the highest regarded recruit of the bunch but never officially competed for Cornell. National qualifiers Jake Ferri and Kody Komara are back at the 2021 weights. Another NQ, Colin McCracken, is expected to move down to 184, which opens up a place for Tyler Bates at 197. Bates went 5-6 at 184 last season.