Columbia head coach Zach Tanelli (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Yesterday, Columbia dropped their 2022-23 schedule, which marked the third one from an Ivy League school this summer. And it's a doozy! Head Coach Zach Tanelli has put together an extremely challenging schedule that will test his young and improving squad, early and often. Columbia is a team that sent three qualifiers to the 2022 NCAA Championships and all three are back along with back-to-back recruiting classes that netted 11 big boarder's.
Before we get to Columbia's schedule and our breakdown, here's what Tanelli had to say about assembling this schedule.
"The schedule we have assembled is a representation of the team we have and the goals we're looking to accomplish this year. We have hard, gritty men that are fueled by competing at the highest level, across the mat from the nation's best.
On this team, we focus on performance, not results. We'll be prepared mentally and emotionally. We'll use the strength of our schedule to prepare us physically to make adjustments so that we're ready to peak in March"
Duals versus 8 teams in InterMat's summer dual rankings: #4 Ohio State, #5 Cornell, #6 Oklahoma State, #7 Michigan, #16 Penn, #18 Pittsburgh, #21 Lehigh, #24 Princeton.
One ACC Team: Pittsburgh
Three Big Ten Teams: Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State
One Big 12 Team: Oklahoma State
Teams that finished in the top-30 at the 2022 NCAA Championships: #2 Michigan, #7 Cornell, #13 Ohio State, #14 Oklahoma State, #16 Princeton, #24 Pittsburgh, #25 Lehigh, #27 Penn
Home Slate: Cornell, Lehigh, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Penn, Pittsburgh, Princeton
Away Duals: American, Brown, Bucknell, Harvard, Michigan, Ohio State
November 6th - Southeast Open @ Salem, Virginia
The Lions kick off the season with Virginia Tech's Southeast Open. There should be a handful of starters for the Hokie in action and most of the DI schools in Virginia will be represented, in some capacity. This event is usually one that attracts most of the ACC, too. This is an event that isn't necessarily a meatgrinder but has quality competition and should ease Columbia into the season. With some excellent freshmen on the roster, this gives Tanelli a chance to see how they do against outside opposition or perhaps against teammates, in a different setting.
November 18th - #4 Ohio State @ Columbus, Ohio
If the Southeast Open helps the squad ease into competition, a dual at Ohio State is jumping into the deep end. The Buckeyes start the year ranked number four in dual competition and should have no holes throughout the lineup. Six OSU wrestlers have earned All-American status at one point or another in their respective careers. Key matchups could take place at 125, 141, and 165 lbs. The opening weight could have #27 Joe Manchio meet the Buckeyes #14 Malik Heinselman. The highest profile match takes place at 141 with #8 Dylan D'Emilio and #11 Matt Kazimir, the returning EIWA champion. 165 has All-American #7 Carson Kharchla against Columbia's #11 Josh Ogunsanya.
November 20th - #7 Michigan @ Ann Arbor, Michigan
I'm not sure any other schools will voluntarily sign up for a Friday/Sunday road trip that includes Ohio State and Michigan. Props to the Lion staff! These two teams dualed last season and the Wolverines prevailed 34-3. Once again, Ogunsanya could face a returning AA, this time #5 Cam Amine. In last year's dual, Amine was victorious, 3-1. Another rematch we'll probably see is at 125 with Manchio and #19 Jack Medley. Medley won that dual, as well as their meeting in Vegas. While Michigan was very senior-heavy in 2021-22, they still feature four All-Americans and have plenty of capable replacements waiting in the wings.
December 2nd/3rd - Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational
A couple weeks after dualing Ohio State and Michigan, both loaded teams are among the talented field at the CKLV Invitational. Other top-20 ranked tournament teams that are expected to enter include #7 Minnesota, #8 Cornell, #9 Nebraska, #12 Northwestern, and #14 Princeton. There are plenty of other very capable teams which should add up to be an incredible tournament.
December 11th - #18 Pittsburgh
Another return appearance on the 2022-23 schedule features the Lions hosting the #18 Pittsburgh Panthers. This dual could set the stage for an excellent rematch between Kazimir and the top-ranked wrestler in the nation at 141 lbs, Cole Matthews. The two clashed in the Round of 16 in Detroit and Matthews skated by in tiebreakers. He later finished fifth. It was a great improvement over the : 36-second fall by Matthews in last season's dual. A match later could see a pair of possibly overlooked members of each team do battle. Pittsburgh's redshirt freshman Brock McMillen is in the summer rankings at #30, while Danny Fongaro is currently at #33.
December 29/30th - Soldier Salute @ Coralville, Iowa
The new addition to the holiday tournament schedule is Iowa's Soldier Salute. Having the Hawkeyes in the field should present challenging competitors at every weight up and down the lineup. In addition to the hosts, expect most, if not all, of the service academies and military institutes to be in attendance.
January 13th - American @ Washington DC
The first EIWA dual of the year for Columbia sees the team travel south to DC to take on American. The Eagles did not send anyone to Detroit, but are expected to improve in year two under Jason Borrelli. American's highest placer at the EIWA Championships was 133 lber Jack Maida. A bout between him and Angelo Rini, who has appeared in the national rankings before, should be a good one.
January 15th - #6 Oklahoma State
This is the beginning of a stretch that includes five-straight ranked opponents coming into Levien Gymnasium. If Columbia sells season tickets, it might be a year to purchase a few, as the Lions host some impressive foes. Last year's dual saw Columbia take a pair of matches away from the Cowboys, as Kazimir and Ogunsanya got their hands raised. Kazimir could see #13 Carter Young again, while Ogunsanya could be looking at 2021 All-American #16 Wyatt Sheets. There is some uncertainty about 197/285 lbs for Oklahoma State, so the Columbia big men could be looking at a favorable matchup, too.
January 20th - #24 Princeton
Columbia will get their Ivy season started by hosting Princeton and then Penn two days later. Their 2021-22 dual was a bit lopsided in the Tigers favor, however, Columbia was without Ogunsanya and dropped the 165 lb match. That bout should be a barnburner as 2022 NCAA finalist Quincy Monday is supposed to move up from 157. With that in mind, Columbia could reasonably win four of the first five weights. They'll need to do that, limit bonus points, (they gave up bonus to Princeton in four bouts) and maybe win a toss-up weight and who knows what happens?
January 22nd - #16 Penn
Right after trying to tame the Tigers, Columbia plays host to a Penn team that returns ten national qualifiers. Solid matchups will be all over the place. Most notably at 141 lbs with Kazimir and #4 CJ Composto. Though Kazimir defeated Composto in the EIWA finals, it was the Quaker star that made the NCAA podium in Detroit.
January 27th - #21 Lehigh
An under-the-radar fun dual from the 2021-22 campaign took place when Columbia traveled to Bethlehem to take on Lehigh. Like usual, Lehigh should be really stout in dual competition and there are plenty of good matchups to watch. One of the reasons this dual was close last season was Lehigh won a pair of close bouts at 184 and 197 lbs. In the portal season, Lehigh has upgraded both weights with the addition of Tate Samuelson (184) and Michael Beard (197). If the Lions aren't careful, bonus points could be a possibility in both matches. Columbia's best win from last years dual came at 125 as Manchio downed #24 Jaret Lane. The two didn't get to meet at EIWA's as Lane was injured.
January 29th - #5 Cornell
The final match in Columbia's five-match homestand sees perennial Ivy and EIWA power Cornell coming to town. The Big Red are ranked fifth for a reason and they have a powerful dual and tournament lineup. One intriguing match takes place at 165 lbs between Ogunsanya and #9 Julian Ramirez. The two tangled four times last year, each garnering a pair of wins. Both of Ramirez's victories came via major decision.
February 3rd - Bucknell @ Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
These two EIWA foes did not meet in dual action last season so this dual could present some new matchups. Bucknell is solid down low, so there should be very competitive matches between 125-157 lbs. One of the Bison wrestlers that could take "the next step" in 2022-23 is 184 lber Logan Deceatis. As a true freshman, he was 17-17 with a few good wins under his belt. That sets up a good match with whoever emerges as the starter for Columbia, Aaron Ayzerov or freshman Jack Wehmeyer.
February 10th - Harvard @ Cambridge, Massachusetts
Harvard's team will likely be a star-driven one again in 2022-23. They have a pair of top-ten ranked wrestlers leading the way with #9 Phil Conigliaro, a 2022 EIWA champ at 165, moving up to 174 and #5 Yaraslau Slavikouski at heavyweight. That puts Conigliaro with EIWA placewinner Nick Fine and Slavikouski and either Dan Conley or Billy McChesney at 285.
February 11th - Brown @ Providence, Rhode Island
It's still pretty early to project how Brown will look under first-year head coach Jordan Leen. By February we should have a good idea. The Bears will seek to send their first wrestlers to the national tournament since 2019.
February 19th - Maryland
Why not get the Big Ten Maryland Terrapins at home to end the year? This should be a new-look Terrapin team as their highly lauded Class of 2021 all redshirted for the most part. They'll be unleashed next year and could be dangerous. Braxton Brown (#31 at 125) and Jaxon Smith (#31 at 197) are both very conservatively ranked as redshirt freshmen and could be much higher come February 19th. The same could be said for Ethen Miller at 149 or John Martin Best at 165.
March 4th/5th - EIWA Championships @ Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Ivy League rival Penn gets to host the conference meet this time around. In 2022, Columbia put up 84.5 points and finished fifth. That placement was the best for the program since 2014 and the points were the most in school history. I'm sure the team is hosting to best that mark; however, only Cornell, Penn, Princeton and Lehigh finished higher. Each should be good, if not better, in 2022-23.