ASU freshman heavyweight Cohlton Schultz is expected to face ISU's Gannon Gremmel on Sunday (Photo/Will Edmonds)
The most anticipated dual of the season will not happen after Iowa paused all team activities. However, despite the cancellation of the match against Penn State, there will not be any shortage of action across the collegiate landscape. The following takes a look at some of the top potential matches from this upcoming weekend.
125: No. 13 Rayvon Foley (Michigan State) vs. No. 11 Devin Schroder (Purdue)
After finishing seventh as a sophomore in 2019 and taking off the 2020 season, many expected Foley to be a player at the top of the 125-pound division this year. Unfortunately, that has not been the case so far. He has struggled his way to a 2-3 record with wins coming over King Sandoval (Maryland) and Jacob Moran (Indiana). Last weekend, he engaged in a high-scoring match against No. 9 Liam Cronin (Indiana) but ultimately dropped a 14-13 decision. The Big Ten is a tough place to find a groove, and he faces another tough challenge this weekend.
Schroder appears to have turned things around after dropping an unexpected pair of matches against Eric Barnett (Wisconsin) and No. 10 Patrick McKee (Minnesota). He was set to face off against No. 1 Spencer Lee (Iowa) last weekend, but the Hawkeye chose to send out Aaron Cashman instead. Schroder scored a dominant 18-0 technical fall over Cashman and finished the day by grinding out a 1-0 decision win over No. 12 Malik Heinselman (Ohio State) later in the same day.
Both of these wrestlers could be in contention to face off against Lee in the Big Ten finals. A victory here could go a long way for seeding purposes. On the feet, it might be a close contest, but Schroder's ability to ride and score from the top position will likely make the difference here.
Prediction: Schroder decision over Foley
133: No. 7 Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech) vs. No. 4 Micky Phillippi (Pittsburgh)
Myers opened Tech's match last weekend against NC State. His major decision over No. 11 Jarrett Trombley set the tone, and the Hokies ended up defeating the Wolfpack in perhaps the dual of the year. On the year, he holds a 6-0 record and enters this contest after three straight major decisions. He is a three-time NCAA qualifier who sat out last season with an injury.
Phillippi went 25-1 last year and won an ACC title. He has started this season with a perfect 7-0 record. However, it has not been without some trouble. His last three matches have come by decision, and his average margin of victory in those matches is only two points. In his last bout, he scored a 4-1 decision over No. 9 Joe Heilmann (North Carolina).
This should be an interesting match for a variety of reasons. Philippi holds a 3-1 record over Myers, but their last match was very tight. They met at the 2019 ACC tournament, Phillippi pulled out a 2-1 match in rideouts. While he may hold the career edge, Myers has looked much sharper this season. They have faced a lot of the same competition so far, and Myers looks like he is much closer to peak form at this point in the season.
Prediction: Myers decision over Phillippi
141: No. 18 Grant Willits (Oregon State) vs. No. 7 Dom Demas (Oklahoma)
Willits hit some bumps in the road in early January as he dropped a match against Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) and suffered a fall against No. 5 Allan Hart (Missouri). However, recently, he has gotten on a bit of a winning streak. He enters this bout after winning three-straight matches and picked up major decisions over Stockton O'Brien (Utah Valley) and Luciano Arroyo (Stanford).
Demas has started this year with an 8-1 record. His only defeat came in a one-point match against Ian Parker (Iowa State). Demas was set to face off against rival Brock last weekend, but the bout was scrapped after the Oklahoma State representative went down with a season ending injury. Demas instead dispatched fellow Cowboy Dusty Hone via an 11-3 major decision.
Demas should have the edge in this match, but Willits presents some interesting challenges. He has a long frame for 141 pounds, and that has given Demas issues in the past. Look for the Oklahoma wrestler to take this one, but he might have to change things up from his normal upper-body attacks.
Prediction: Demas decision over Willits
149: No. 5 Jarrett Degen (Iowa State) vs. No. 7 Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado)
Degen made his season debut last weekend and picked up a pair of victories over Jaden Van Maanen (North Dakota State) and Hunter Marko (South Dakota State). For the last three seasons, Degen has started for the Cyclones. In 2019, he placed seventh at the NCAA tournament to become an All-American.
Alirez has always had the freestyle success and so far this season, it has translated into folkstyle success. He has won all three of his matches over Jaron Jensen (Wyoming), A.J. Raya (Cal Baptist) and Cameron Hunsaker (Utah Valley). Last year, as a true freshman, the Colorado native went 24-4 with two of his four losses coming against Degen.
Half of Alirez's losses in college came against Degen. Both matches occurred at last year's Big 12 tournament with the Iowa State wrestler winning 4-3 and 5-3 in the bracket. While Degen is the one coming back to the lineup, Alirez has been out of action since Jan. 8. If Alirez is able to turn this into a freestyle type match and finish clear, he should have the advantage. However, that is easier said than done against Degen, who uses his length to make any match a festival of scrambling.
Prediction: Degen decision over Alirez
157: No. 18 Markus Hartman (Army) vs. Andrew Cerniglia (Navy)
Hartman went 30-7 and qualified for the NCAA tournament as a sophomore last year. This year got off to a rough start as he dropped a first-period fall against Holden Heller (Hofstra) in his second match. However, since then, he has won three straight matches and held onto his spot in the rankings. Last weekend, Hatman scored a 5-0 decision victory over A.J. Burkhart as the Black Knights nearly pulled off the upset over Lehigh.
Cerniglia was a big recruit for new head coach Cary Kolat. At the high school level, the Pennsylvania native was a two-time state champion and ranked as high as third in the InterMat rankings. He stepped into a starting role as a true freshman, which is always tough considering other commitments at an academy. The results have been strong as he has gone 4-0 with a pair of technical falls.
Hartman is the ranked wrestler with a big edge on experience. However, this will be Cerniglia's first chance against ranked opposition. It will be tough to pull the upset here, but the result here might say a lot about the postseason prospects of both competitors.
Prediction: Hartman decision over Cerniglia
165: No. 1 Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech) vs. No. 10 Jake Wentzel (Pitt)
Lewis burst onto the scene as a freshman and won the NCAA tournament. He finished with a 28-2 record and wins over the likes of Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State), Evan Wick (Wisconsin) and No. 2 Alex Marinelli (Iowa). Lewis then took an Olympic redshirt last year and focused on freestyle. In his return to the mat this year, he has started the year with an undefeated 8-0 record, and he has already defeated some of the best competitors in the ACC, No. 11 Kennedy Monday (North Carolina) and No. 15 Thomas Bullard (NC State).
After dealing with injuries for his first few seasons at Pittsburgh, Wentzel locked down the starting spot at 165 pounds last year and qualified for the NCAA tournament. So far this year, he appears to have taken another step forward. He has gone 6-1 with his only defeat coming in a one-point match against Bullard. Last weekend, he scored a 10-6 decision over Monday who he had split with during the previous season.
These two met during the 2019 season, and Lewis scored a 6-3 decision. The smart money probably belongs on a similar type of result here. However, Wentzel has clearly made strides in the neutral position, and that should go a long way towards closing the gap here against Lewis.
Prediction: Lewis decision over Wentzel
174: No. 2 Logan Massa (Michigan) vs. No. 4 Kaleb Romero (Ohio State)
After taking an Olympic redshirt last season, Massa has returned to folkstyle and moved up in weight. At 174 pounds this year, the All-American has won all three of his matches via bonus points. In his last match, he scored a fall over the surging No. 16 Donnell Washington (Indiana). During his time away, Massa had a very impressive run in freestyle where he picked up victories over Evan Wick, Mekhi Lewis and Bekzod Abdurakhmonov.
Romero qualified for the NCAA tournament last year, and it appears as if he has made another step forward this year. He began the season with five straight victories including three via bonus points. Last weekend, he had a grinding match against No. 1 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) and eventually lost via a 3-1 decision.
After nearly upsetting Kemerer last weekend, Romero will get another crack at one of the top names at 174 pounds. After struggling with injuries for a large part of his collegiate career, Massa seems to have recovered and primed for a run at the title. Despite his dominance this season, Romero will be the best wrestler he has faced on the college mat in some time. Expect Massa to get ahead on the feet, but Romero could make it interesting if he forces the freestyle specialist into some extended periods on the mat.
Prediction: Massa decision over Romero
184: No. 11 Chris Weiler (Wisconsin) vs. No. 12 Owen Webster (Minnesota)
Weiler transferred to Wisconsin from Lehigh for his senior year. He has now witnessed firsthand the high level of competition across the board in the Big Ten. Weiler currently owns a 3-2 record that includes victories over No. 13 Zac Braunagel (Illinois), No. 20 Max Lyon (Purdue) and No. 15 Taylor Venz (Nebraska). He comes into this match after dropping a major decision against No. 3 Aaron Brooks (Penn State).
Webster seemed to grow into his potential last season as he went 22-12 and qualified for the NCAA tournament. So far this year, he has held his own in the Big Ten as he holds a similar 4-2 record. Like Weiler, he has defeated Lyon and Braunagel, and he also has defeated Kyle Cochran (Maryland) and John Poznanski (Rutgers).
184 pounds seems like a wild weight this year, especially in the country's premiere wrestling conference. Of the 20 wrestlers in the InterMat rankings at this weight, 11 wrestle for Big Ten programs. These two wrestled last season, and Weiler took a 9-3 decision victory. Expect this one to be tighter, but Weiler should remain the favorite.
Prediction: Weiler decision over Webster
197: Yonger Bastida/No. 20 Marcus Coleman (Iowa State) vs. No. 3 Kordell Norfleet (Arizona State)
Coleman who previously qualified for Iowa State at 184 and 174 pounds was expected to be the starter this year at 197 pounds. However, prior to last weekend, Bastida had held down the spot. The former U23 world medalist from Cuba is making the transition from freestyle and holds a 4-3 record. Even though he lost, Bastida showed his potential in a close 5-2 match against No. 10 A.J. Ferrari (Oklahoma State), where he became the first wrestler to score a non-escape point against the highly touted prospect.
Coleman earned the starting nod last weekend for the Cyclones' tri-meet. He scored a technical fall over Owen Pentz (North Dakota State) and dropped a 7-3 decision against No. 5 Tanner Sloan (South Dakota State).
Regardless of who Iowa State sends to the mat, it should be a good match against Norfleet. The Arizona State wrestler had a strong showing last weekend as he decked Stephen Buchanan (Wyoming) shortly after the Cowboy had upset Noah Adams (West Virginia), who was ranked No. 1 at the time. Norfleet also picked up a rideout victory over No. 13 Jake Woodley (Oklahoma) earlier this season.
It seems like Coleman will get the chance here, and he certainly has the potential to announce himself at a new weight. Norfleet is a strong competitor, but he also has occasionally slowed it down and allowed opponents to stay in the matches. If Coleman has a speed advantage, he might be able to pull the upset.
Prediction: Norfleet decision over Coleman
285: No. 5 Gannon Gremmel (Iowa State) vs. No. 6 Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State)
The last two matches of the Iowa State vs. Arizona State dual could both produce headlines. Gremmel has been a quality heavyweight starter since setting foot on campus, and he has now qualified for the NCAA tournament in back-to-back seasons. He has gotten off to a strong start for his senior season as he has already defeated No. 15 Zach Elam (Missouri) and Austin Harris (Oklahoma State) and holds an undefeated 10-0 record.
Schultz is clearly the future for the U.S. at heavyweight in Greco Roman wrestling. At only 20 years of age, he is already a multiple-time age-group level world medalist. He won the last two U.S. Senior Nationals, and he has defeated some of the top domestic heavyweights including Olympian Robby Smith. This will be his biggest test to date on the collegiate mats. So far this season, he has gone 10-0 with his best victories coming over Josh Heindselman (Oklahoma) and Brian Andrews (Wyoming).
Gremmel should probably have the edge in this match due to his ability to win a tight heavyweight folkstyle match with riding and escaping. However, Schultz is a physically impressive specimen and can easily make a difference with a big throw. Either way, it should be an impressive heavyweight clash.
Prediction: Schultz decision over Gremmel