Max Dean (left) and Jacob Warner in the 2022 NCAA finals (photo courtesy of SJanickiPhoto.com)
The two teams responsible for 13 of the last 14 NCAA titles will face off in a match on Friday night at the Bryce Jordan Center. No. 1 Penn State and No. 2 Iowa both bring in undefeated dual records, but only one will leave with that record intact. The 10 bouts could feature as many as 19 ranked wrestlers and five former NCAA champions. The following is a breakdown of the predicted battles.
125: No. 1 Spencer Lee (Iowa) vs. Gary Steen (Penn State)
The three-time champion has been on quite a run recently. Lee has won all 10 of his matches with bonus points this season, and he has pinned his last six opponents. It is also important to note that the competition has not been easy. His last four victories have all come over wrestlers ranked in the top 10. That list includes No. 3 Matt Ramos (Purdue), No. 6 Michael DeAgustino (Northwestern), No. 5 Liam Cronin (Nebraska) and No. 8 Eric Barnett (Wisconsin).
During his senior year of high school, Steen flipped his commitment from Pittsburgh and joined the Nittany Lions program. After a redshirt year, he joined the starting lineup. Steen has been the guy at 125 pounds all year, and he has certainly taken his lumps at times. His season record stands at 5-9, but there is some reason for optimism. Last weekend, he scored a sudden victory decision over No. 29 Tristan Lujan (Michigan State).
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