Gable Steveson defeated Wisconsin's Trent Hillger, 10-5, last Friday in Minneapolis (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)
This weekend was set to feature a match between the top two dual meet teams. However, No. 8 Nebraska suffered an upset against No. 7 Wisconsin last weekend and tumbled down the rankings. Their match against No. 1 Iowa still features some very interesting individual matches, and the rest of the weekend is packed with ranked wrestlers taking on tough opponents. The highlight of the weekend has to be at heavyweight. No. 1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota) decided against a freestyle trip overseas, and he is scheduled to face off against No. 2 Mason Parris (Michigan). The following is a preview of the top dual matches going down this weekend.
125: No. 5 Brandon Paetzell (Lehigh) vs. No. 19 Logan Treaster (Navy)
Paetzell has somewhat quietly had a very nice season so far and worked his way up the rankings. He is currently 10-2 on the season with his only two losses coming against No. 4 Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State) and No. 3 Pat Glory (Princeton). He went all the way to overtime with Glory before ultimately falling in sudden victory. Since that bout, he has won seven straight matches and defeated Brandon Meredith (Penn State), No. 15 Patrick McKee (Minnesota) and Dack Punke (Missouri) among others.
After two seasons in a reserve role, Treaster has found his way into the starting lineup for Navy this year. He has gone 14-5 so far this year. At the Southern Scuffle, he picked up a signature win over No. 16 Nicolas Aguilar (Rutgers), which greatly contributed to his debut in the rankings. Last weekend he scored a 2-0 decision over Brandon Seidman (Bucknell).
Paetzell has the veteran savvy to control the pace and take a close match at this level. It should be an interesting match, and it might be a good preview of an early round EIWA match. Look for Treaster to be a game opponent but ultimately come up short.
Prediction: Paetzell (Lehigh) decision over Treaster (Navy)
133: No. 4 Chas Tucker (Cornell) vs. No. 9 Sammy Alvarez (Rutgers)
In 2018, Tucker seemingly came out of nowhere to upset No. 2 Austin DeSanto (Iowa) at the EIWA Championships. However, he has not really lived up to that potential with two straight qualifying appearances and zero trips to the podium. However, Tucker has been outstanding so far this season. After getting a late start to the season due to a trip to the U23 World Championships, he has already built a 19-0 record on the season. Tucker has scored signature victories over No. 8 Montorie Bridges (Wyoming) and No. 15 Todd Small (Iowa State).
There has certainly been some speed bumps along the way for Alvarez, but he appears to be rounding into form. He won the Southern Scuffle and has since picked up back-to-back dual victories over No. 16 Jordan Decatur (Ohio State) and Garrett Pepple (Michigan State). After some early season losses, it looked like it would be a long season for the true freshman. Now, it looks like he may be able to make a run at All-America honors.
The knock on Tucker has been that can be too conservative and defensive. While he has not lit the world on fire with offense this year, he has been able to score in spurts to pull away from opponents. He will likely need to play that card to escape with a win over Alvarez here.
Prediction: Tucker (Cornell) decision over Alvarez (Rutgers)
141: No. 1 Luke Pletcher (Ohio State) vs. No. 7 Tristan Moran (Wisconsin)
Not only has Pletcher cemented himself as the top wrestler at 141 pounds this season, but he has also been scoring at a higher rate than ever before. In his last five matches, he has scored bonus points in all but one of his matches. The only wrestler to escape giving up bonus points during the stretch was No. 3 Mitch McKee (Minnesota). This will be another tough test for Pletcher as the season inches closer to an ultimate showdown against No. 2 Nick Lee (Penn State).
Moran had himself quite a weekend. On Friday he scored a one-point upset over McKee before returning on Sunday and taking out No. 9 Chad Red (Nebraska) on Sunday. He fell behind early against Red, but he was able to turn his opponent twice with a cradle to win 9-4. Moran is now 15-2 on the season and climbing up the rankings.
Pletcher's ability to control and push the pace should make him the favorite in this match. However, Moran has always introduced a level of danger with his ability to scramble. Even with Pletcher favored to take the match, it could easily turn into a bout with fireworks.
Prediction: Pletcher (Ohio State) major decision over Moran (Wisconsin)
149: No. 5 Brayton Lee (Minnesota) vs. No. 9 Kanen Storr (Michigan)
In his first season in the lineup Lee has shot up the rankings with a 12-2 record. The redshirt freshman had his best performance of the season to date at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. On the way to the championship, he won all five of his matches including wins over Josh Maruca (Arizona State), No. 10 Brock Zacherl (Clarion), No. 12 Max Thomsen (UNI) and No. 6 Sammy Sasso (Ohio State).
The original plan was for Storr to take a redshirt this year, but he has since returned to the lineup. He had mixed results at the Midlands where he defeated Nate Limmex (Purdue) and No. 15 Cole Martin (Wisconsin) but dropped matches against Vince Turk (Iowa) and No. 8 Kizhan Clarke (American). Including matches he wrestled while under redshirt, his record for the season stands at 11-3.
Lee has been a hammer this season, and he could end up sneaking his way into the title picture at the end of the year. Storr has always been a tough out, but he struggles when he is not able to get out to an early lead in matches. Look for Lee to control this one from start to finish.
Prediction: Lee (Minnesota) decision over Storr (Michigan)
157: No. 7 Jesse Dellavecchia (Rider) vs. No. 14 Larry Early (Old Dominion)
In his senior season Dellavecchia has led the Broncs to a strong start. They started the year with an upset victory over Minnesota, and this past weekend they knocked off Duke, Maryland and Virginia to win the Virginia Duals. Dellavecchia himself has gone 20-2 with victories over No. 15 Markus Hartman (Army) and No. 5 Quincy Monday (Princeton).
Many expected a step forward from Early after he became an All-American for the first time last year. He had a tough stretch early in the season as he lost three straight matches against No. 2 Hayden Hidlay (NC State), Justin Ruffin (SIU Edwardsville) and No. 13 Jarrett Jacques (Missouri). However, since that string of losses, Early has gotten back on track with seven straight wins including victories over Justin McCoy (Virginia) and No. 16 Anthony Artalona (Penn).
This should be an interesting test for both wrestlers. Dellavecchia has been able to open up with his offense at times this year and picked up some wins that surprised people. However, Early really only struggles when people are able to match him in the control tie positions. In this bout, he should be able to get his hands on his opponent and move him around the mat. It would be an impressive win for either wrestler.
Prediction: Early (Old Dominion) decision over Dellavecchia (Rider)
165: No. 5 Isaiah White (Nebraska) vs. No. 2 Alex Marinelli (Iowa)
This was slated to be a top-three match until White ran into rival No. 4 Evan Wick (Wisconsin) last weekend. White came in as the higher ranked wrestler but lost to Wick yet again. That was the lone loss of White's season so far as he came into that bout with a perfect 12-0 record, which included victories over No. 13 Ethan Smith (Ohio State) and No. 6 Josh Shields (Arizona State).
For the third year in a row, Marinelli has started his season with an extensive winning streak. This year, he has also stepped up his bonus production. He has won all 12 of his matches and scored seven falls. Marinelli has already picked up signature victories over Wick, No. 16 Phillip Conigliaro (Harvard), No. 18 Zach Hartman (Bucknell) and No. 3 David McFadden (Virginia Tech).
These two met last year, and Marinelli was able to make a difference with his riding ability. He failed to surrender a single point and took a 3-0 decision. In theory, White could make some noise in this contest if he is able to maintain range and shoot from the outside. However, Marinelli make it a point to close that distance and then control. Look for a similar result in the rematch.
Prediction: Marinelli (Iowa) decision over White (Nebraska)
174: No. 6 Michael Labriola (Nebraska) vs. No. 2 Michael Kemerer (Iowa)
Labriola brings a 13-3 record into this match with all three of his losses coming against wrestlers currently ranked in the top five. Since finishing third at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, he has picked up back-to-back dual victories. On the season, Labriola has defeated the likes of No. 13 Kimball Bastian (Utah Valley), No. 7 Devin Skatzka (Minnesota), and No. 9 Kaleb Romero (Ohio State).
The story of Kemerer prior to last weekend was that he clearly had the talent to be a contender at this weight, but he was largely untested after moving up two weight classes. He came into his bout against No. 4 Dylan Lydy (Purdue) with only five matches under his belt, but he got it done anyway. After a scoreless first period, Kemerer took off in the latter periods and finished with an 8-4 decision victory.
Last weekend Kemerer showed that a lot of his game from 157 pounds translates against the highest levels of 174 pounds. With that being said, Labriola is much more offensive than Lydy. In this match Kemerer's defense will be put to the test. He remains the favorite, but there are plenty of interesting tests in the Big Ten before he matches up against No. 1 Mark Hall (Penn State).
Prediction: Kemerer (Iowa) decision over Labriola (Nebraska)
184: No. 2 Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech) vs. No. 6 Louie DePrez (Binghamton)
The ACC as a whole is having a strong season, and wrestlers like Bolen are a big part of that success. He has gone 16-1 on the season with his only defeat coming in the form of a two-match split against No. 4 Taylor Lujan (UNI). They wrestled twice at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Bolen took one match 9-7, while Lujan took the other 10-8.
After winning the Southern Scuffle and getting revenge against No. 3 Trent Hidlay (NC State), it looked like DePrez might be on the way to cementing himself as the second best wrestler at this weight behind only No. 1 Zahid Valencia (Arizona State). However, last weekend he ran into No. 20 Chris Weiler (Lehigh), who pulled the upset. DePrez could easily regain his status with a strong win over Bolen here.
These two met earlier this season, and Bolen took an 8-3 decision win. He should be able to duplicate that performance here, but both of these wrestlers end up in a fair amount of wild matches.
Prediction: Bolen (Virginia Tech) decision over DePrez (Binghamton)
197: No. 10 Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 2 Noah Adams (West Virginia)
Geer began the year as one of the top returning place winners at this weight. He finished sixth at the NCAA tournament last year to become an All-American for the first time. Geer has had some bumps along the road this year, but he has built a 13-3 record. After dropping a pair of matches at the Southern Scuffle, he got back on track with a second-period technical fall over Sethan Bogulski (Northern Colorado) last weekend.
Adams has pushed his way all the way up to the No. 2 spot at this weight with an undefeated 22-0 record. Along the way he picked up the tournament title at the Southern Scuffle where he defeated Ethan Laird (Rider), Jacob Seely (Northern Colorado) and Nathan Traxler (Stanford). Adams was an NCAA qualifier last year, but he did not show this kind of promise and finished with 15 losses. 197 pounds has been mostly wide open this year, and he could easily take advantage.
By the time this match happens it will be 364 days since their last encounter. In that bout Geer took home a 10-6 decision in what was mostly a one sided match. At the start of this year, many would expect a repeat performance. However, Adams' momentum in nothing to be ignored. With that being said, Geer has rebounded well from tough matches this season and should break through with a win here.
Prediction: Geer (Oklahoma State) decision over Adams (West Virginia)
285: No. 1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota) vs. No. 2 Mason Parris (Michigan)
Steveson had been scheduled to head to Rome as part of the Team USA contingent at the Matteo Pellicone International. Instead, he will stick around and battle the second ranked heavyweight in the country. Since returning to the lineup this year, the three-time world champion has won six straight matches including a pair of falls and three major decisions. Last weekend he knocked off his highest ranked opponent as he bested No. 5 Trent Hilger (Wisconsin), 10-5.
After making some noise in his true freshman season, Parris finished the year in the round of 12. This year he has gotten off to a hot start and won his first 17 matches. The Michigan wrestler has picked up victories over the likes of No. 4 Matt Stencel (Central Michigan), No. 8 Demetrius Thomas (Pittsburgh), No. 6 Tanner Hall (Arizona State) and No. 11 Carter Isley (Northern Iowa).
With Anthony Cassar's season ending due to injury, Steveson has become the prohibitive favorite at heavyweight. However, he will still need to get through a few tough young wrestlers. Parris is one of the most physically gifted heavyweights in recent memory, but he is still clearly learning on the job. At this point, Steveson is the much more polished commodity. Look for him to take care of business and pass this test.
Prediction: Steveson (Minnesota) decision over Parris (Michigan)