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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    12 Big 12 Storylines Heading Into the 2022-23 Season

    West Virginia head coach Tim Flynn (right) (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

    1). Can Air Force's Wyatt Hendrickson breakthrough and All-American next season?

    Wyatt Hendrickson did it all last season for Air Force. Made a U20 World Team in the summer, had an undefeated regular season, then won a Big 12 title, and was named OW for the conference. He fell at the NCAA tournament, though and ultimately did not finish as an All-American. Heavyweight right now in college wrestling is arguably the toughest it's ever been. It will be something to watch this season to see if Hendrickson can navigate that gauntlet and finish as an All-American.

    2). How will Cal Baptist fare in year one?

    Cal Baptist will compete in their first season in Division one and the Big 12 this year. That's a tall task for any program, but they'll have some talent on the roster in their first year including U20 World Silver Medalist Mitchell Mesenbrink. It's tough to know what to expect from a new program, but it will certainly be entertaining to follow. Here's a chat I had with Coach Moore recently about their transition to D1 and expectations for next season.

    Derek Moore Interview

    3). David Carr at 165

    Arguably the most surprising result in the Big 12 last season was David Carr losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Hunter Willits of Oregon State. The 2021 NCAA champion came in as the #1 seed and a heavy favorite to win a title again at 157. He bounced back and finished third but this year will move up to 165. This could create a really intriguing matchup in the Big 12 as Mizzou's Keegan O'Toole was the NCAA champion at that weight last season.

    4). Can anyone beat Missouri?

    O'Toole, the Elam brothers, Allan Hart, Peyton Mocco, and the rest of the Tiger squad came back into the Big 12 last season and walked away with a Big 12 conference title. Iowa State was able to knock them off in the regular season, Oklahoma State will return most of their roster from last season(with a few expected lineup tweaks after the departure of AJ Ferrari), and OU has some returning starters and did a great job in the transfer market last season. Can they or any other teams in the conference emerge and compete with Mizzou?

    5). How can Stephen Buchanan add to his legacy at Wyoming?

    I wrote a bit more in-depth piece on this recently. Stephen Buchanan could go down as one of the all-time greats in Wyoming history. But he's still writing that story. What will the ending be?

    Stephen Buchanan Feature

    6). What will Utah Valley get with a healthy Demetrius Romero?

    Romero was a Big 12 champion and All-American in 2021. In 2022, his season was cut short due to injury. He applied for a medical redshirt and should be back here again at 174 for the Wolverines. If he can stay healthy it will be interesting to see what he does at what will likely be the Big 12's best weight class next season.

    7). Can South Dakota State get an All-American?

    Clay Carlson was one match away from being an All-American last season. Cade DeVos and AJ Nevills were NCAA qualifiers, Tanner Sloan made a U23 World Team this summer and Bennett Berge won a U20 World Medal. There are a host of guys on this roster who could potentially be the guy that breaks through and finishes in the top 8. Will one do it and who will it be?

    8). What does Oklahoma have in their transfers?

    OU did well in the transfer portal in the last year. Wyatt Henson, Mosha Schwartz, and Gerrit Nijenhuis were all big pickups this offseason for the Sooners. Where do they fit into the lineup and how will they perform? That's a solid influx of talent on the OU roster. Let's see what they're able to do in Norman.

    9). Can this be Tim Flynn's best dual team at West Virginia?

    Tim Flynn has been building and developing his program at West Virginia since 2018. In his first four seasons, his teams went 4-14, 4-12, 7-3, and 6-8. Their best record, the 7-3 season, came during the shortened 2020-21 campaign. This season they've certainly developed the most depth they've had on their roster to this point, including All-Americans Killian Cardinale and Peyton Hall. It feels like this could be the year they get Flynn's best dual record and tops that 7-3 season.

    They open things up with three very winnable duals at home with Northern Colorado, Glenville State, and Edinboro. Then later they have Fairmont State, Ohio, and Chattanooga along with Air Force, Clarion, and Lock Haven. All of those you would argue they'll be favored in which would give them nine wins.

    On the road at Missouri, Pitt, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma along with tough tests vs. Iowa State and Northern Iowa at home make up the rest of the slate for the Mountaineers. Wins in two of those would give Flynn his best dual record % since arriving at WVU.

    10). Can Fix beat Bravo-Young and win an NCAA title at Oklahoma State?

    Daton Fix has done it all for OSU. Three NCAA finals appearances and two World Teams and a World Medal while still in college. There are few that have resumes comparable. The one mark he's yet to get though, is an NCAA title. He'll have a shot to do that and avenge his two losses to Bravo-Young near his hometown in Tulsa this year. It will be one of the biggest storylines surrounding the entire NCAA tournament in March.

    11). What giants can Northern Iowa slay?

    Last year they knocked off Oklahoma State in Stillwater and nearly beat Iowa State at home. Their win at Oklahoma State will be something their program will talk about for some time and will likely go down as one of the defining dual wins of the program. Can they get another one?

    12). Does North Dakota State get an All-American this season?

    North Dakota State has had a strong dual team nearly every year they've been in the Big 12. They've only had two losing dual seasons since 2016 and one was their first year in the conference. But they've yet to get an All-American or top eight finish at the NCAA tournament since entering the Big 12 in the 2015-16 season. Jared Franek got a tough draw at the NCAA tournament last season, but certainly has the talent to do it. Other NCAA qualifiers Dylan Droegemueller and Owen Pentz return to the Bison lineup as well.

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