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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    Best Offseason Moves for Top-15 Teams

    2x NCAA Champion Roman Bravo-Young (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

    Every offseason, schools are making significant changes and additions. While it's easy to focus on overall recruiting classes, there are plenty of under the radar moves being made: transfers, recruiting stories, freestyle/Greco success, and other program improvements. With the season rapidly approaching, I thought it'd be good to take a look at some of the moves in Intermat's preseason top 15.

    1) Penn State - Bringing back Roman Bravo-Young

    While I thought about going with Cael Sanderson's contract extension, getting RBY back for a final season is huge as well. Him returning for a final season means that PSU returns four champs and is the large favorite to win their 10th national title.

    2) Iowa - Breaking ground on new facilities

    While the facility was originally approved in 2020, construction was delayed until this summer. The impressive two-story, 38,500 square foot facility is expected to be completed in 2024 and will house the men and new women's teams.

    3) Arizona State - Extending Zeke Jones

    Fresh off winning back-to-back team trophies, head coach Zeke Jones was signed to a five-year contract extension through the 2026-2027 season. Jones has also been a top recruiter, with multiple top-ten classes since taking over.

    4) Ohio State - Historic 2022 recruiting class

    Ohio State is one of just five teams to win an NCAA title since 1988, and they're bringing recruits that could put them back on top. The team is coming off their lowest NCAA finish in over a decade but are reloading with four wrestlers in the top 25, including three of the top five pound-for-pound recruits.

    5) Missouri - Late recruiting grabs

    Normally in the spring there is little recruiting news, but Coach Smith and staff were still busy. They already had six on the Big Board but added #107 Cam Steed and #229 Jerrod Fisher, both multi-time state champs late in the cycle.

    6) Michigan - #16 Matt Finesilver

    With the graduation of Olympian Myles Amine, 184lbs looked like it could be a hole for the Wolverines. However, they got a great transfer in former Duke wrestler Matt Finesilver. Finesilver is a three-time national qualifier at 174lbs who is moving up and looking to make the podium as a 6th year senior.

    7) Minnesota - Michial Foy and Aaron Nagao making U23 team

    Gable Steveson has teased a second semester comeback for the Gophers, but let's focus on some other freestyle success for the team. Michial Foy was a national qualifier at 197lbs, and Aaron Nagao had an impressive redshirt season at 133lbs. Both wrestlers made the U23 team; Nagao in freestyle at 61kg and Foy in Greco at 87kg.

    8) Cornell - Freestyle dominance

    Cornell is one of the strongest schools in the international styles, and it's shown again in 2022. Not including graduates, they have wrestlers on the U23 Greco team (Phillip Moomey - 60kg), U20 Freestyle team (Vince Cornella - 65kg), and three on the U23 Freestyle team (Vito Arujau - 57kg, Yianni Diakomihalis - 65kg, and Jacob Cardenas - 92kg). Yianni is pulling double duty too, representing the USA on the senior team as well.

    9) Nebraska - Top 10 Recruiting Class

    After their highest NCAA finish since 2009 (5th), the Huskers bring in their 8th consecutive top-ten class. The epitome of consistency, the team is bringing in three wrestlers in the top 100. It seems likely that the class will have opportunities to redshirt, so keep an eye on them in the future.

    10) Wisconsin - James Rowley

    Every year there are high ranking freshmen who appear to be more “college ready” than others. James Rowley has a strong chance to show that this year as he steps into a Wisconsin lineup that just graduated national qualifiers Andrew McNally and Chris Weiler. The four-time state champ and cadet world silver medalist projects as a potential 174/184lber.

    11) Oklahoma State - Releasing AJ Ferrari

    While losing a national champ may not normally be a beneficial move, it seems like the team will be better off in the long run. Since being released from the team the former Cowboy has been mired in controversy and legal battles. This was a necessary move that the team culture will hopefully improve from.

    12) Iowa State - David Carr moving up

    Last year, David Carr was the top seed and returning champ at 157lbs but suffered a shocking second round upset. He has discussed moving up in weight since coming to Iowa State. With two years of eligibility left, he joins Shane Griffith and Keegan O'Toole as national champs in what is a stacked 165lbs weight class.

    13) Northwestern - Mike McMullan to the Athletics HOF

    After another top ten finish at NCAA's, Northwestern has had a quiet offseason so far. They are bringing in a top recruit, #56 Joseph Martin out of California. Additionally, Northwestern will have the opportunity to celebrate four-time All-American Mike McMullan becoming the third ever wrestler to be inducted into the school's Athletic HOF. He never finished lower than 3rd at NCAA's, and was a 2015 Big 10 Champ.

    14) Princeton - Top 20 Recruiting Class

    The Tiger's are returning two finalists and five total national qualifiers. They're bringing in a strong recruiting class to add onto it as well. With four of these recruits on the Big Board, including three in the top 100, there's a chance some of them could see the lineup as true freshmen.

    15) Pittsburgh - Extending Keith Gavin

    Pitt is another team that focused on stability this offseason by extending their head coach Keith Gavin's contract through the 2027 season. With Micky Phillipi and Nino Bonaccorsi returning, the team is in place to have another high finish in 2023.

    15) Virginia Tech - TJ Stewart

    Virginia Tech is bringing in the #7 ranked recruiting class overall with two in the top 20. However, the gem of the class is TJ Stewart who is originally from Virginia. Keeping top talent in state is one of the keys to having a successful program. While Hunter Bolen has another season, Stewart can use the opportunity to redshirt before taking over at 184lbs or 197lbs.

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