The top three seeds at 184 lbs Myles Amine (center), Aaron Brooks (left), and Trent Hidlay (Photos courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
The 2022 NCAA DI Wrestling Championships are less than a week away! In a few short days, 330 wrestlers will make the trek to Detroit, Michigan, with hopes of a national title on their minds. In addition, fan seating will be at 100% capacity for the first time since Pittsburgh in 2019. Now it's in an area that hasn't hosted nationals since 2007 and even that tournament was not held downtown; it was way out in Auburn Hills.
Before the action on the mat starts, InterMat will go through each individual bracket and highlight the favorites, top matches to watch, and much more.
Here are the weight classes already released:
125 lb preview
133 lb preview
141 lb preview
149 lb preview
157 lb preview
165 lb preview
174 lb preview
We'll move on to the 184 lbers as we release two of our weight class previews for the next five days:
The Top Seed: Myles Amine (Michigan)
For the second consecutive season, Myles Amine will stroll into the national tournament as the top seed. Last year, it was up at 197 lbs as he was looking to keep on size for his impending Olympic run. Amine, slightly outsized and banged up, still managed to get third place which marked the fourth time he made the NCAA podium, never lower than fourth place.
Amine gets the top seed after pulling a slight upset over the then-undefeated, returning NCAA champion Aaron Brooks (Penn State). A late takedown from Amine tied the bout and then another in sudden victory gave him his second career Big Ten title. It was a reversal of their dual match won by Brooks in very close fashion.
A summer that saw Amine come home from Tokyo with an Olympic gold medal led to a late start for his 2021-22 campaign. Amine debuted at the MatMen Open and was a part of a super match in the championship round that pitted him against former rival and current Penn volunteer assistant Mark Hall. Though the match didn't count for NCAA purposes, Amine's 4-2 win set the tone for this season. Amine's win over Brooks ended up being the points needed for Michigan to lock up their first Big Ten team title since 1973. With Amine back for one last hurrah, could this be the picture-perfect ending? The national tournament is in Detroit and the Wolverines bring back a veteran team looking to make history. Starting with their leader, Amine, can he breakthrough and make the finals..then win the whole thing?
The Contenders: #2 Aaron Brooks (Penn State); #3 Trent Hidlay (NC State), #4 Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa)
The Conference Champs:
ACC: #3 Trent Hidlay (NC State)
Big 12: #4 Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa)
Big Ten: #1 Myles Amine (Michigan)
EIWA: #11 Jonathan Loew (Cornell)
MAC: #12 Brit Wilson (Northern Illinois)
Pac-12: #6 Trey Munoz (Oregon State)
SoCon: #24 Caleb Hopkins (Campbell)
Top First-Round Matches
#16 Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State) vs. #17 Jeremiah Kent (Missouri)
#9 Zac Braunagel (Illinois) vs. #24 Caleb Hopkins (Campbell)
#12 Brit Wilson (Northern Illinois) vs. #21 Tate Samuelson (Wyoming)
#13 Kyle Cochran (Maryland) vs. #20 John Poznanski (Rutgers)
#14 Gavin Kane (North Carolina) vs. #19 Isaiah Salazar (Minnesota)
#15 Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech) vs. #18 Abe Assad (Iowa)
This weight class has a clear-cut top tier of contenders that has separated itself from the rest of the bracket. Until his loss to Amine, Brooks was riding a 38-match winning streak that saw him claim a national title last year, without a loss. Prior to the Big Ten finals, the Nittany Lion star had only tasted defeat during his true freshman year. Brooks responded well to that loss by pinning Taylor Venz in the 2020 Big Ten semifinals. While pinning Amine is probably a stretch, it wouldn't be a shocker if Brooks was able to get the best of the Wolverine if they meet again.
If they meet is the question because of undefeated third-seeded Trent Hidlay. While Hidlay didn't have the quality wins over Amine/Brooks, he probably could have received the top seed here without much argument. Hidlay dropped a nailbiter in the 2021 national finals to Brooks and has been on a mission since. He has racked up bonus points in over 88% of his matches this season, which is an absurd rate. We've said it already about other weights, but if Hidlay can run the table here (with wins over Amine/Brooks), he could get serious Hodge Trophy consideration.
The sometimes-forgotten man at this weight, as far as the title contenders go, is the fourth seed, Parker Keckeisen. During two years of competition, Keckeisen's record sits at 42-2. Both losses have come at the hands of Brooks, a two-pointer in the NCAA semi's last year, and a one-pointer at the Collegiate Duals this season. Keckeisen claimed his second Big 12 title, in as many tries, in grand fashion. He majored his way through the tournament, which includes victories over a pair of top-17 seeds at nationals.
The following two seeds at this weight are rivals from the Pac-12, #5 Bernie Truax (Cal Poly) and #6 Trey Munoz (Oregon State). This year the pair have met three times this year. Munoz won via fall in the Pac-12 finals, but Truax gets the higher seed based on his two previous wins. The loss to Munoz was the only official setback on Truax's 2021-22 record. Truax was an All-American last year at 174 and hasn't shown any ill effects with the move up in weight. Munoz was also at 174 last season and went 0-2 against Truax, while he was competing for Arizona State.
Two veterans that finally seemed to put things together this year and emerged as podium threats are #7 Kaleb Romero and #8 Marcus Coleman. Both have shifted weights at various times in their careers, before finding a full-time home at 184 lbs. Romero had a breakout by winning the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, while Coleman carefully notched wins over Big 12 foes.
After the big four, there's plenty of parody at this weight. It could be rewrestled ten times and the wrestlers that comprise the five-through-eight spots on the podium may be different every time. Different styles and how they mesh or don't will have a significant impact on the results here.
Quadrant to Watch: You can't really go wrong with any of the four quadrants, but I'll take the second one. The one that includes fourth-seeded Keckeisen. Each first-round match in this quad contains an All-American. Truax, Brit Wilson, John Poznanski, and Keckeisen. Despite being a returning NCAA fourth-place finisher, Poznanski is the underdog in his first bout. He'll face #13 Kyle Cochran, an opponent that defeated him in the regular season and the Big Ten Championships. The winner of that bout faces Keckeisen. MAC champion, Wilson, only lost four of 29 matches all year; however, one of those came to Truax, his possible opponent in the Round of 16.
Darkhorse All-American Contender: #11 Jonathan Loew (Cornell)/#14 Gavin Kane (North Carolina)
Spoiler alert! We're projecting two double-digited seeded wrestlers to get onto the podium here. EIWA champion Jonathan Loew comes in on a 12-match winning streak and has been consistent all year for the Big Red. Kane quietly established himself as a national player after chalking up a pair of wins against returning All-American Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech). He has four losses on the year, two to Trent Hidlay and the others came down at 174 lbs.
Extreme (+20 seed) Darkhorse All-American Contender: #27 Keegan Moore (Oklahoma)
With such a deep weight class, there are a handful of wrestlers seeded in the 20's that could have an impact. One with an upside is Keegan Moore. Moore joined Oklahoma in the second semester and won the starting job from a ranked opponent (Darrien Roberts). He would go on to place fourth at the Big 12 Championships and earn an automatic qualifying spot in Detroit. To lock up a spot at nationals, Moore needed to defeat his ex-Oklahoma State teammate, two-time All-American, Dakota Geer. In limited action, Moore also has wins over #21 Tate Samuelson (Wyoming) and #32 Colin McCracken (Kent State).
#1 Myles Amine (Michigan) vs. #9 Zac Braunagel (Illinois)
#12 Brit Wilson (Northern Illinois) vs. #4 Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa)
#3 Trent Hidlay (NC State) vs. #11 Jonathan Loew (Cornell)
#7 Kaleb Romero (Ohio State) vs. #2 Aaron Brooks (Penn State)
#1 Myles Amine (Michigan) vs. #4 Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa)
#3 Trent Hidlay (NC State) vs. #2 Aaron Brooks (Penn State)
1st) Aaron Brooks (Penn State)
2nd) Myles Amine (Michigan)
3rd) Trent Hidlay (NC State)
4th) Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa)
5th) Kaleb Romero (Ohio State)
6th) Gavin Kane (North Carolina)
7th) Jonathan Loew (Cornell)
8th) Brit Wilson (Northern Illinois)
Round of 12 Finishers: #15 Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech); #9 Zac Braunagel (Illinois); #13 Kyle Cochran (Maryland); #8 Marcus Coleman (Iowa State)
Consolation Round of 16: #10 Taylor Venz (Nebraska); #27 Keegan Moore (Oklahoma); #6 Trey Munoz (Oregon State); #16 Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State)