Nick Lee is undefeated and has earned bonus points in all but one match this season (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)
The dual season is starting to wind down as teams prepare for conference tournaments and ultimately the NCAA tournament. However, that does not mean there are not interesting matches going down. The following is a preview of the top individual matches that are scheduled to happen in duals this weekend.
125: No. 3 Patrick Glory (Princeton) vs. No. 9 Michael Colaiocco (Penn)
Princeton wrapped up an Ivy League title last weekend with a rare victory over Cornell. This week they face another Ivy foe in Penn. Glory has started his sophomore season with a 19-0 record that includes tournament championships at the Princeton Open and the Midlands. Along the way Glory has bested the likes of No. 10 Michael DeAugustino (Northwestern), No. 5 Brandon Paetzell (Lehigh) and No. 4 Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State).
Colaiocco has started all the way for Penn as a true freshman after coming out of Blair Academy. He has worked himself into the top 10 with victories over former teammate Chris Cannon (Northwestern), No. 7 Drew Hildebrandt (Central Michigan) and No. 6 Devin Schroder (Purdue).
Not only is Glory undefeated on the season, but he has won six-straight with bonus points since the Midlands. Colaiocco has been a tough out this season, but he will be up against it here. Glory's ability to score on the feet and from the top position will really allow him to run up the score and enter the postseason with momentum.
Prediction: Glory (Princeton) major decision over Colaiocco (Penn)
133: Joey Silva (Michigan) vs. No. 14 Ridge Lovett (Nebraska)
Silva has only wrestled four matches this season, but he has won all four of those matches. In his last match, he got out to a big lead against Paul Glynn (Iowa). The Hawkeye staged a comeback and nearly got back into it, but Silva survived. Despite the limited schedule this season, Silva was a top recruit coming out of high school and went 7-1 during his redshirt season last year.
Lovett lost four straight matches following the Cliff Kenn Invitational, but he has gotten back on track recently. He enters this match against Silva riding a four-match winning streak. During the stretch, he scored a second-period fall over Travis Ford-Melton (Purdue). In his last match Lovett took home a 4-2 decision over Cayden Rooks (Indiana).
Silva's best win this year likely came over Garrett Pepple (Michigan State). Lovett has also recently knocked off Pepple, and he looked a bit more dominant in pulling it off. Both wrestlers came out of high school as highly ranked recruits, and they will likely see each other several more times over their college careers.
Prediction: Lovett (Nebraska) decision over Silva (Michigan)
141: No. 1 Luke Pletcher (Ohio State) vs. No. 2 Nick Lee (Penn State)
This match between No. 1 and No. 2 is clearly the match of the weekend. Not only are both undefeated, but they have both been aggressive and pushing the pace this year. Pletcher has won 23 straight matches on the season, and he has knocked off a variety of ranked opposition. His list of wins includes No. 8 Chad Red (Nebraska), No. 4 Mitch McKee (Minnesota), No. 7 Tristan Moran (Wisconsin), No. 3 Real Woods (Stanford) and No. 5 Dom Demas (Oklahoma).
Lee doesn't have quite the same resume on the year, but he is close. Not only has he also knocked off Moran, McKee and Red, but he has also put up bonus points in 15 of his 16 matches on the season. Last weekend he was able to score a fall over McKee before the match even made it to the second period.
While Pletcher has been much more aggressive than in previous seasons so far this year, he can still slow it down for a tactical match when he needs to. Lee is always aggressive, but he might just shoot himself into trouble here. Look for Pletcher to hold position before picking a spot to counter on the way to winning a close match.
Prediction: Pletcher (Ohio State) decision over Lee (Penn State)
149: John Millner (App State) vs. Jason Kraisser (Campbell)
The rivalry between North Carolina and NC State is quickly becoming interesting on the wrestling mats. This match between Tar Heel State teams could also become more and more interesting as the programs continue to develop.
Millner has somewhat flown under the radar this year, but he currently holds a 26-4 record. Since the Southern Scuffle, he has won seven straight matches. Despite not being ranked by InterMat, Millner is currently 13th in the RPI, and he seems to be on the way to qualifying for the NCAA tournament.
Kraisser has taken some lumps during his true freshman season, but he has seemingly gotten on track recently. Since the Southern Scuffle, he has gone 7-1. During the streak, he picked up a big win over Lane Stigall (Oregon State).
Millner and Kraisser met earlier this season and the App State wrestler took an 8-4 victory. Kraisser certainly has the talent, and the Campbell program has a track record of development. However, at this point, Millner should be able to pull this one out.
Prediction: Millner (App State) decision over Kraisser (Campbell)
157: No. 16 AC Headlee (North Carolina) vs. Taleb Rahmani (Pittsburgh)
Headlee is a two-time national qualifier who has worked his way into the rankings with a 14-6 record. Since the Midlands, he has gone 5-2 with signature wins coming over No. 11 Markus Hartman (Army) and No. 18 BC LaPrade (Virginia Tech). During the stretch, his only two defeats came via decision against No. 4 Quincy Monday (Princeton) and No. 2 Hayden Hidlay (NC State).
Rahmani spent a lot of time in the rankings this season after making it to the round of 12 at last year's NCAA tournament. While he has picked up some impressive wins including a fall over Josh Humphreys (Lehigh), he also has his share of losses against unranked wrestlers. It will be interesting to see if he is able to put it together for another postseason run after qualifying for three straight NCAA tournaments.
Headlee has been the consistent one of these two this season. He has struggled to break through against the highest ranked wrestlers at this weight. However, he has pretty much handled his business against everyone else. Look for him to control this match and take a decision victory.
Prediction: Headlee (North Carolina) decision over Rahmani (Pittsburgh)
165: No. 3 Shane Griffith (Stanford) vs. No. 11 Andrew Fogarty (North Dakota State)
Griffith has been able to run through his opposition this year. The redshirt freshman has a 24-0 record on the year. He has not faced a ton of ranked opposition, but he has pulled it out when given the opportunity. Griffith holds wins over No. 16 Ethan Smith (Ohio State), No. 15 Kennedy Monday (North Carolina), No. 7 Travis Wittlake (Oklahoma State) and No. 8 Josh Shields (Arizona State).
Fogarty is a three-time NCAA qualifier currently competing in his last season of collegiate wrestling. He has gone 16-2 on the year after putting up a 22-6 record last year. The North Dakota State wrestler has won all four of his matches since the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Fogarty has picked up ranked wins over No. 19 Phillip Conigliaro (Harvard) and No. 18 Shayne Oster (Northwestern).
These two met earlier this season at the Roadrunner Open. Back in November, Griffith picked up his first big victory on the year as he scored an 8-1 decision over Fogarty. Things will likely go similarly this time, but it should still be a tough match.
Prediction: Griffith (Stanford) decision over Fogarty (North Dakota State)
174: No. 17 Anthony Mantanona (Oklahoma) vs. No. 10 Joe Smith (Oklahoma State)
In the first Bedlam match of the season Mantanona was one of the bright spots for Oklahoma. He scored a sudden victory decision over Andrew Shomers in a match with a combined 18 points. Following that dual, Mantanona then won four straight matches including three falls. However, he has recently dropped a pair of matches against ranked opposition. In his last match Mantanona dropped a sudden victory match against No. 16 Sammy Colbray (Iowa State).
Smith got a late start to his senior season. He made his debut at the Southern Scuffle, but he defaulted out. He then put on an uninspiring performance against Bryce Steiert (Northern Iowa). However, that defeat must have been a wake up call. Since the loss, he has won five straight matches including wins over Colbray, Conor Flynn (Missouri) and No. 15 Hayden Hastings (Wyoming).
These two met back during the 2018 season. Smith won a 14-7 match. Both wrestlers have experienced ups and downs since then. Smith remains the favorite, but Mantanona always seems to go for big moves and could easily take the upset.
Prediction: Smith (Oklahoma State) decision over Mantanona (Oklahoma)
184: Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech) vs. Trent Hidlay (NC State)
Bolen was a national qualifier as a true freshman back in 2018. He then redshirted last year before returning to the lineup. His redshirt sophomore season has gotten off to a very good start. He currently holds a 21-1 record with his only loss coming against No. 4 Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa) at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Since that tournament, he has gone on an eight-match winning streak and scored bonus points in half of those victories.
Hidlay established himself as a contender early in the season as he bested Ben Darmstadt (Cornell) and Louie DePrez (Binghamton) in a single weekend. He has since lost a rematch against DePrez, but his only other defeat came against No. 1 Zahid Valencia (Arizona State). His season record currently stands at 21-2.
While Bolen fell against Lujan at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Hidlay knocked off the veteran before falling in the finals against Valencia. Hidlay has looked ready to go since the start of the season, and he will be a tough out for all the top wrestlers at the end of the year.
Prediction: Hidlay (NC State) decision over Bolen (Virginia Tech)
197: No. 12 Greg Bulsak (Clarion) vs. No. 13 Ethan Laird (Rider)
This could easily turn out to be a preview of the MAC final. The two former EWL schools joined the conference in the offseason, and these two wrestlers represent two of the four ranked wrestlers in the conference along with No. 20 Wyatt Koelling (Missouri).
Bulsak has gone 20-5 on the season, but he has not lost since dropping three matches at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. He has picked up ranked wins over Tanner Sloan (South Dakota State) and Jay Aiello (Virginia). Bulsak also holds a victory over Penn State redshirt Michael Beard.
Laird likely wants to get back on track after falling in sudden victory last weekend in Rider's dual against in-state rival Rutgers. The defeat came via a 4-2 score against No. 18 Jordan Pagano. Laird's record currently stands at 21-6, and he holds victories over Beard and No. 14 Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State).
Both wrestlers have been dominant in duals this season with their only trouble coming at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Look for Bulsak to get the better of the exchanges and come away with a decision victory.
Prediction: Bulsak (Clarion) decision over Laird (Rider)
285: No.1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota) vs. No. 3 Tony Cassioppi (Iowa)
This match lost a bit of steam after Cassioppi dropped a match against No. 2 Mason Parris (Michigan) last weekend. However, it still remains a marquee match between some of the best heavyweights in the country.
Steveson got a late start to the season, but he has quickly built a 10-0 record on the year. During the short season, he has already picked up victories over No. 9 Jordan Wood (Lehigh), No. 5 Trent Hilger (Wisconsin) and No. 15 Seth Nevills (Penn State).
Prior to his loss against Parris, Cassioppi had won 15 matches to start his redshirt freshman season. He picked up five falls on the year and defeated the likes of Hilger, Nevills and Matt Stencel (Central Michigan).
Both of these heavyweights have above average athleticism. This match will likely have several key scrambles that will determine the winner. Steveson has always had the advantage in their matches up to this point on the high school level, and this one will probably end up the same way.
Prediction: Steveson (Minnesota) decision over Cassioppi (Iowa)