Top seeded 184 lber Parker Keckeisen of Northern Iowa (photos courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
2022 Big 12 Championships Preview
58 total allocations/45 total allocations
Saturday and Sunday will see the Big 12 Championships take place from a neutral site in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 12 teams will do battle for a total of 58 automatic bids to the 2022 NCAA Championships across the ten weight classes. That number is a sharp increase from last year's total of 45. That speaks to the growth in the conference's affiliate members, as well as the traditional powers excelling.
One new-ish affiliate is Missouri, who left the league in all sports before the 2012-13 season for the SEC. Since they are the only school in the conference, Missouri had previously been a part of the MAC, for wrestling purposes. Now, they've returned to the Big 12 and brought a team that will contend for the title. In fact, Missouri wrestlers earned automatic qualifying bids at nine of the ten weight classes. One of the Big 12's mainstays, Oklahoma State, will be in the mix for yet another title; however, they have been dealing with some injuries during the home stretch. Iowa State popped up and had a dual record that only included one loss. Can they fare well in tourneys? While not quite ready to challenge for a title in a tournament format, Northern Iowa and South Dakota State had productive dual seasons and have the horses to make an impact.
Below is our weight-by-weight preview of the action, along with predictions for top-eight finishers at all ten weights, and a team race projection. Wrestlers bolded are ones that we have pegged to receive the automatic qualifying bids available in their respective weight class.
When: March 5th/6th, 2022
Where: Tulsa, Oklahoma
How to Watch: ESPN+ , ESPN2 (Finals)
Hats off to whoever seeded 125 lbs in the Big 12! I"m not saying it's right or wrong, perfect or not, just that it was done. The conference is loaded with talented wrestlers and they've made seeding virtually impossible based on beating up on each other.
The conference's two returning All-Americans assumed the top-two seed with #8 Killian Cardinale (West Virginia) as the top seed and #16 Taylor LaMont (Utah Valley) as the second seed. The two met in Utah Valley's last dual of the year and Cardinale prevailed, 3-2. LaMont was limited this year with only eight matches. The only notable conference opponent he defeated was #17 Noah Surtin (Missouri), who checks in as the fifth seed. Cardinale also posted an impressive 12-4 major decision over the 2021 Big 12 champion, #15 Brody Teske (Northern Iowa), who gets the third seed.
Teske at the third seed is a little bit curious since he had a head-to-head loss versus the fourth seed, #12 Trevor Mastrogiovanni (Oklahoma State), earlier this season. Of course, Mastrogiovanni has his own losses, too. He fell to #21 Kysen Terukina (Iowa State) and split bouts with #31 Joey Prata (Oklahoma). Terukina will be the sixth seed and Prata the seventh.
Both Terukina and Prata are dangerous at such low seeds. Terukina has wins this year over the two highest-ranked 125's in the Big 12 (Cardinale and Mastrogiovanni), while Prata has split with his Bedlam rival and defeated Terukina.
From the ranks of the unseeded, the biggest threat could be Tanner Jordan (South Dakota State). He has 20 wins on the year, two of which came against past NCAA qualifiers (Bryce West - Northern Illinois and Liam Cronin - Nebraska).
There are any number of ways this weight could play out, but I'd be shocked to see all four top-seeds in the semis.
1st) Killian Cardinale (West Virginia)
2nd) Brody Teske (Northern Iowa)
3rd) Taylor LaMont (Utah Valley)
4th) Noah Surtin (Missouri)
5th) Kysen Terukina (Iowa State)
6th) Trevor Mastrogiovanni (Oklahoma State)
7th) Joey Prata (Oklahoma)
8th) Jace Koelzer (Northern Colorado)
133 lbs can be a difficult one to make sense of in the Big 12, but there is one constant at the top in #2 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State). Fix has not lost to a conference opponent and is undefeated for a second consecutive regular season, while chasing a third Big 12 crown. Against Big 12 competition, Fix has notched bonus points in six of nine contests this year.
Behind Fix, #16 Kyle Biscoglia (Northern Iowa) has emerged as the two-seed. Biscoglia only Big 12 loss this season came to Fix, with a respectable 5-1 score. A loss to Fix is the only blemish on Biscoglia's ledger during the past 11 matches, a span that dates back to late December.
'Though he joined the team late, #25 Gabe Tagg (South Dakota State), hit the ground running and became an excellent find for the Jackrabbit coaching staff. Tagg won 12 of his 15 matches in an SDSU singlet and enters the tournament on a six-match winning streak. Perhaps his best win came over 2021 Big 12 runner-up #28 Tony Madrigal (Oklahoma) in early February. Tagg gets the three-seed while his neighbor to the north, #26 Kellyn March (North Dakota State), is fourth. Last season, March started off strong, but faded as the year went on. This time around, he was consistent for the entire regular season.
#27 Ramazan Attasauov (Iowa State) will handle the fifth seed. He has losses to three of the four wrestlers above him, but has fared well against the remainder of the weight. Like the previous weight class, the x-factors could be the sixth and seventh seeds. #13 Haiden Drury (Utah Valley) is seeded sixth, while #28 Tony Madrigal (Oklahoma) is seventh. Drury does not have any 2021-22 matches against anyone in this field, but is 14-3 overall. He was third at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and a champion at the Roadrunner Open. Madrigal is in the seventh spot. He started the year with a title at the Michigan State Open, defeating two All-Americans (Rayvon Foley - Michigan State and Lucas Byrd - Illinois) and downing another top-10 opponent (Dylan Ragusin - Michigan). But, after that point, he went 4-7 the rest of the season. Madrigal's a two-time national qualifier and made the B12 finals last year with a 3-7 record pre-tournament, so he knows about peaking at the right time.
The eighth seed, Job Greenwood, is also dangerous. He's responsible for an early-season win over #4 Michael McGee (Arizona State), but is 15-10 overall. From the unseeded, true freshman Garett Lautzenheiser (West Virginia), had a rough year, going 6-11, but owns a win over third-seeded Tagg.
1st) Daton Fix (Oklahoma State)
2nd) Kyle Biscoglia (Northern Iowa)
3rd) Haiden Drury (Utah Valley)
4th) Gabe Tagg (South Dakota State)
5th) Kellyn March (North Dakota State)
6th) Ramazan Attasauov (Iowa State)
7th) Job Greenwood (Wyoming)
8th) Tony Madrigal (Oklahoma)
We should have a lot of fun with 141 lbs since there are four of the top 11 wrestlers in the nation entered in this bracket. Leading off is senior #4 Ian Parker. Ian is a two-time Big 12 finalist and one-time champion (2019). As a result, he has received a top-seven seed in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments. This season, Parker started at 149 lbs and dropped a match in the Iowa dual; but since moving down to 141, he hasn't been beaten. Parker gets the top-seed based on his 9-0 record at the weight, despite not having defeated any of the wrestlers 2-4 this season.
All-American #7 Clay Carlson (South Dakota State) checks in as the two-seed. He's had a remarkable season, winning the CKLV Invitational and finishing fourth at the Southern Scuffle. In Vegas and in dual competition, Carlson owns wins over the third seed, #9 Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado). Now, of Carlson's three losses this season, two came to #11 Allan Hart (Missouri), the fourth seed.
Alirez finally has had a season where he was relatively healthy and has shown the promise of being named one of the top recruits in the Class of 2019. He was a CKLV finalist and a third-place finisher at the Scuffle this year. Two of his most notable wins from the year came against Hart and three-time NCAA All-American, Chad Red Jr. (Nebraska). Hart is looking to get over the hump and stand on the NCAA podium for the first time after coming up a match shy in 2021. He was named the sixth seed last season after finishing third in the MAC.
Oklahoma State's true freshman #20 Carter Young receives the fifth seed. Though he took some losses late in the year to high-level competition, he could be the type of freshman that hits his stride at the right time of the season. On the final weekend of the regular season, Young downed #28 Darren Miller (Bucknell) and majored Bedlam rival Jacob Butler (Oklahoma). #24 Cael Happel (Northern Iowa) is the seventh seeds, as a result of a 10-6 loss to Young. Happel's best win of the year came when he downed Hart 9-7.
The seeds are rounded out with Darren Green (Wyoming) at seven and #30 Dylan Droegemueller (North Dakota State) at eight. These two didn't meet in 2021-22; however, Droegemueller defeated Green's teammate Chase Zollman, a 2021 national qualifier. Green likely gets the nod because his record against the field (4-2) is much cleaner than Droegemueller's (2-6).
An unseeded wrestler to watch out for is Cody Phippen (Air Force). Phippen started the year strong, but fell off and went winless in the conference against tournament entrants.
1st) Clay Carlson (South Dakota State)
2nd) Ian Parker (Iowa State)
3rd) Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado)
4th) Carter Young (Oklahoma State)
5th) Cael Happel (Northern Iowa)
6th) Allan Hart (Missouri)
7th) Dylan Droegemueller (North Dakota State)
8th) Cody Phippen (Air Force)
Four allocations is the smallest number in the conference this year, so competition will be that much more intense at 149, 165, and 184. With little margin for error, a slip-up could be costly. The top seed here is #13 Kaden Gfeller (Oklahoma State), who rolls in at 14-2. Gfeller has been in-and-out of the Cowboy lineup since winning the Big 12 in 2019, but wasted little time firmly establishing himself as the starter this season. The top-seed here should have been pretty evident as Gfeller has head-to-head wins against all of the wrestlers seeded 2nd-6th.
The second seed belongs to perhaps the most unlikely wrestler in this weight class #19 Willie McDougald (Oklahoma). The freshman from New York took over after an injury to Mitch Moore in Vegas and after Dom Demas fell out of favor, coming up from 141. In McDougald's first dual meet, he downed #22 Josh Edmond (Missouri) in tiebreakers. A week later, he took out All-American #21 Jarrett Degen (Iowa State) in sudden victory. When it was all said and done, McDougald finished with a top-20 ranking and a 16-4 record. A nail-biting win over Edmond on the final week of the regular season, was enough to ensure the third seed for Degen. The veteran, Degen, held off a challenge from teammate Ian Parker, before running up a 16-3 record and looking close to AA form. Edmond established himself as one of the most exciting wrestlers in the country to watch. There are typically fireworks or near-fireworks whenever he hits the mat. Edmond got in such a shootout in the finals of the Southern Scuffle, when he fell to #14 Josh Finesilver (Duke), 11-10.
The backhalf of the seeded wrestlers features Colin Realbuto (Northern Iowa), Jaron Jensen (Wyoming), Chris Sandoval (Northern Colorado), and Gaven Sax (North Dakota State), in that order. Realbuto earned a spot in the national rankings after establishing himself as the starter for the Panthers, but dropped with a 2-4 skid to end the season. Remember, though, that stretch saw him face the top-three seeds at this weight along with a top-five out-of-conference opponent. If any of the top-four are vulnerable, he's most likely to pounce.
1st) Kaden Gfeller (Oklahoma State)
2nd) Jarrett Degen (Iowa State)
3rd) Willie McDougald (Oklahoma)
4th) Josh Edmond (Missouri)
5th) Colin Realbuto (Northern Iowa)
6th) Jaron Jensen (Wyoming)
7th) Chris Sandoval (Northern Colorado)
8th) Gaven Sax (North Dakota State)
Along with Daton Fix at 133, #1 David Carr (Iowa State) has to be one of the heaviest favorites of this entire tournament. Carr is on a 50-match winning streak and seeks his third Big 12 title in as many tries. Getting that title would make him the first Cyclone with three conference championships since Kyven Gadson (2013-15). The 2021 national champion finished the regular season 17-0 and has a bonus point rate over 70% for the first time in his career.
With Carr returning, there's a good chance we could have our first (under this circumstance) rematch of the 2021 Big 12 finals with #5 Jared Franek (North Dakota State). A 7-3 loss to Carr is one of Franek's only two losses of the year. In last year's final, Carr prevailed, 8-2. Franek captured a title at the Southern Scuffle with a win over #16 Chase Saldate (Michigan State). In the semis, he defeated #21 Jarrett Jacques (Missouri), who is the fourth seed at this weight. Franek has the potential to become the Bison's first NCAA All-American since 2015.
The other returning All-American at this weight is #20 Wyatt Sheets (Oklahoma State), who was eighth a year ago. We'll have to wait and see what type of condition Sheets is in once the tournament starts. During the last weekend of the year, Sheets appeared to be banged up in a loss to Bucknell and didn't compete against Oklahoma. We've seen that Sheets is able to fight through pain and still compete at a high level. Jacques has a 15-10 record on the year, but that can be misleading. He has lost seven bouts to top-ten ranked opposition. Right behind him is #22 Jacob Wright (Wyoming), an NCAA Round of 12 finisher from 2021. Wright was also third in Vegas at the CKLV in his first appearance of the 2021-22 campaign. In Vegas, Wright picked up a win over #14 Justin Thomas (Oklahoma), who is the sixth seed.
Derek Holschlag (Northern Iowa) and Jax Garoutte (Utah Valley) will assume the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively. Holschlag emerged as UNI's starter at the Collegiate Duals and has gone 7-4 since. Garoutte has been streaky, winning his first five bouts, before enduring a seven-match losing skid. He snapped out of his by downing Alex Hornfeck (West Virginia) during UVU's final dual.
1st) David Carr (Iowa State)
2nd) Jared Franek (North Dakota State)
3rd) Jarrett Jacques (Missouri)
4th) Justin Thomas (Oklahoma)
5th) Jacob Wright (Wyoming)
6th) Wyatt Sheets (Oklahoma State)
7th) Derek Holschlag (Northern Iowa)
8th) Nathan Moore (Northern Colorado)
Once again, automatic qualifying slots will be at a premium at this weight. We're going out on a limb to project that #2 Keegan O'Toole (Missouri) takes one of those spots. O'Toole is unbeaten (17-0) with bonus points in 82% of his bouts and six falls. Even at such a loaded weight nationally, O'Toole is in great position to All-American for a second time and be a primary contender for a title.
Like O'Toole, #7 Peyton Hall (West Virginia) competed last season as a true freshman and is now among the top contenders at this weight. Hall won his first 16 matches of the 2021-22, a streak that was halted by O'Toole in the Southern Scuffle finals. His only other loss this season came to 2021 Big 12 champion #17 Luke Weber (North Dakota State). At the Scuffle, Hall had majored Weber. Seeded third here is #16 Austin Yant (Northern Iowa). Yant was the 33rd seed at the 2021 NCAA Tournament, but has taken a huge step forward this year. He has wins over Weber and #11 Travis Wittlake (Oklahoma State) on his record.
The fourth seed at this weight is Wittlake. He's the second All-American at this weight. An injury in a loss to #10 Zach Hartman (Bucknell) prevented Wittlake from competing in the last dual of the year and earning an AQ bid for the conference. Like his teammate, Sheets, we'll have to see whether sitting out the Oklahoma dual was merely precautionary or a concern for this tournament.
In such a weird weight class, we have the 2021 champion, Weber, down as the fifth seed. Weber was fifth at the Southern Scuffle, the second time he reached that placement at the tournament. In addition to his victory via fall over Hall, Weber has a total of eight pins on the year. The wrestler directly below Weber in the seedings, #33 Tanner Cook (South Dakota State), was actually responsible for Weber's final loss of the year. Cook is actually more dangerous, having notched 14 falls on the year. Strangely enough, #32 Joe Grello (Oklahoma) is the eighth seed. Despite not having a winning record, Grello owns two wins this year over Cook. He's relegated to the eighth seed because of a loss to Isaac Judge (Iowa State).
A dangerous unseeded wrestler in this bracket is Wyoming's Cole Moody. Moody was a Big 12 finalist in 2021, who hasn't been able to compete regularly this season. He's currently 10-3, but hasn't had any wins over the key figures at this weight in 2021-22.
1st) Keegan O'Toole (Missouri)
2nd) Peyton Hall (West Virginia)
3rd) Travis Wittlake (Oklahoma State)
4th) Luke Weber (North Dakota State)
5th) Austin Yant (Northern Iowa)
6th) Tanner Cook (South Dakota State)
7th) Cole Moody (Wyoming)
8th) Joe Grello (Oklahoma)
The weight class with the most allocations in the conference is 174 lbs and there's some potential for even more bids. There's plenty of different arguments that could be made for the top spot, but #12 Dustin Plott (Oklahoma State) gets the nod. Plott won his first nine bouts of the year before getting upset by #19 Lance Runyon (Northern Iowa), by fall. This weekend, the two could meet in the semifinals, as Runyon is set to take the fourth seed. Runyon missed the first two and a half months of the year, only to come back and knock off Plott in his second match. A day later, he fell to #17 Anthony Mantanona (Oklahoma), who gets the three seed. Mantanona also has a pair of losses to Plott.
Nestled in the middle of those three, at the second seed, is #10 Cade DeVos (South Dakota State). DeVos also has a loss to Mantanona, but probably possesses the most impressive body of work of anyone at the weight. He was fourth at the CKLV Invitational, before winning the Southern Scuffle. After losing in Vegas, DeVos proceeded to notch 13-straight wins.
Amazingly enough, a pair of top-15 wrestlers are set to take the fifth and sixth seeds. #15 Hayden Hastings (Wyoming) is fifth and #11 Peyton Mocco (Missouri) is sixth. In another strange wrinkle, one of Mocco's teammates, Sean Harman (Missouri), has a win over Hastings. On a positive note, Hastings won the Reno Tournament of Champions and was seventh at the CKLV Invitational. Mocco was a finalist at the Scuffle, losing 3-2 in the finals to DeVos.
The final two seeds belong to #25 Joel Devine (Iowa State) and #26 Austin Brenner (North Dakota State). Down the stretch, the depth of this weight got to Devine as he lost four of his final five bouts. Earlier in the year, he downed Mantanona, #21 Gerrit Nijenhuis (Purdue), and Brenner. Brenner was fourth at the Southern Scuffle and defeated #16 Matt Finesilver (Duke), among others, in Chattanooga.
All four of the unseeded wrestlers are capable of getting hot and stealing one of the eight AQ's. Amazingly, 2021 Big 12 runner-up Jackson Hemauer (Northern Colorado) is one of them. Another, Sam Wolf (Air Force), is currently in the national rankings at #32. Kekana Fouret (Utah Valley) was briefly in the national rankings and Dennis Robin (West Virginia) holds a victory via fall over Devine.
1st) Cade DeVos (South Dakota State)
2nd) Dustin Plott (Oklahoma State)
3rd) Peyton Mocco (Missouri)
4th) Hayden Hastings (Wyoming)
5th) Lance Runyon (Northern Iowa)
6th) Anthony Mantanona (Oklahoma)
7th) Joel Devine (Iowa State)
8th) Sam Wolf (Air Force)
The final weight with four allocations is 184 lbs, a weight that has been provided over by #4 Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa) for the last two seasons. Of Keckeisen's 40 collegiate matches, only 2021 NCAA champion Aaron Brooks (Penn State) has been able to defeat him. On both occasions, it was by a margin of one and two points. The returning NCAA third-place finisher, Keckeisen, has opened up more offensively in 2021-22. He tallied bonus points in seven of his ten bouts against Big 12 competition.
The second seed belongs to #7 Marcus Coleman (Iowa State), who has been a remarkable development for the Cyclones. After years of moving between three different weights, Coleman has found a home at 184 and thrived with a 14-3 record. Two of those losses came at the hands of Keckeisen. Coleman has picked up two wins over past All-Americans with #12 Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State) and #19 Taylor Venz (Nebraska).
Geer will be the fourth seed and #15 Tate Samuelson (Wyoming) is the third seed. A win in sudden victory last December helped Samuelson get the nod over Geer. Geer is looking to get back in the win column after falling to #33 Keegan Moore (Oklahoma) on the final day of the regular season. Samuelson was fourth at the CKLV Invitational and a runner-up at the Reno TOC this season. He was a conference finalist in 2021.
There will be three ranked wrestlers seeded 5-7 looking to break into the top-four a walk away with a trip to Detroit. They are #21 Jeremiah Kent (Missouri), #32 Cade King (South Dakota State), and Moore. Kent was a MAC runner-up and the #9 seed at nationals last year. King has excelled in the second half of the year, winning nine of his final ten bouts. The former national qualifier for Oklahoma State, Moore, has grabbed ahold of the Sooners starting spot late in the year, which was punctuated by his win over Geer.
The final seed here belongs to North Dakota State's true freshman DJ Parker. The young Bison has 20 wins on the year, the best of which came over King.
The top unseeded wrestler at this weight appears to be Jacob Armstrong (Utah Valley). Armstrong was eighth at the CKLV Invitational with wins over three 2021 national qualifiers. He was hurt by UVU's long second-half layoff, but could make noise here.
1st) Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa)
2nd) Jeremiah Kent (Missouri)
3rd) Marcus Coleman (Iowa State)
4th) Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State)
5th) Tate Samuelson (Wyoming)
6th) Cade King (South Dakota State)
7th) Jacob Armstrong (Utah Valley)
8th) Keegan Moore (Oklahoma)
The loss of 2021 NCAA champion AJ Ferrrari (Oklahoma State) to injury opened up this weight class in the Big 12 and nationally. Ferrari's Big 12 finals opponent #2 Stephen Buchanan (Wyoming), could be the biggest beneficiary. Buchanan, a 2021 All-American, has four wins over opponents in the top-11 nationally this season. He isn't invincible, though, as a loss by fall to #21 Owen Pentz (North Dakota State), represents his most recent loss. Perhaps the hottest wrestler at this weight is the second-seed, #6 Tanner Sloan (South Dakota State). After a 1-2 showing at the CKLV weight class won by Buchanan, Sloan has proceeded to take fourth at the Scuffle, then won his last 12 dual appearances. Sloan was a 2020 Big 12 runner-up, as a freshman.
One of two remaining All-Americans at this weight, after Buchanan, is #17 Jake Woodley (Oklahoma), the third seed. Woodley won the Michigan State Open and was fourth at the CKLV this year. Last year, we saw not to underestimate Woodley regardless of his seed. He advanced to the NCAA semifinals as the 26th seed. The other AA is the fifth seed, #8 Rocky Elam (Missouri). Elam went through the regular season last year, as a redshirt freshman, unscatched but has found more difficulties this year. He has three Big 12 losses on the year, to Buchanan, Woodley, and #7 Yonger Bastida (Iowa State).
Bastida comes in as the fourth seed and is on a hot streak, as well. His sudden victory win over Elam locked up a dual win over the Tigers in Iowa State's final dual. Bastida continues to get acclimated to folkstyle wrestling, which is a scary proposition. A year ago, he went 4-4 without a win over a DI wrestler.
The dangerous Pentz is seeded sixth. He became a household name at the 2021 NCAA Championships when he knocked off #2 Eric Schultz (Nebraska) in the opening round. Pentz has proven to be one of the deadliest pinners at the weight. He has 11 on the year, including one over Buchanan. Although he wasn't a victim of a pin, #24 Alan Clothier (Northern Colorado) has a recent loss from Pentz, 10-3 in mid-February. Clothier is looking to qualify for nationals for the fourth time and a third time at Northern Colorado. Behind him is #22 Evan Bockman (Utah Valley), who has split matches with the Bear 197 lber this year. Clothier won their season-opening dual, while Bockman prevailed at the CKLV Invitational. Bockman came away from Vegas in eighth-place.
Oklahoma State's Gavin Stika is an unseeded wrestler to watch at 197. Stika has filled in admirably for Ferrari while competing in a veteran-laded weight. He posted a win in his dual debut against Northern Iowa and will continue to grow in the OSU room.
1st) Stephen Buchanan (Wyoming)
2nd) Jake Woodley (Oklahoma)
3rd) Rocky Elam (Missouri)
4th) Yonger Bastida (Iowa State)
5th) Tanner Sloan (South Dakota State)
6th) Owen Pentz (North Dakota State)
7th) Alan Clothier (Northern Colorado)
8th) Gavin Stika (Oklahoma State)
The top of 285 lbs is pretty easy to figure out, while the rest of the weight gets pretty crazy. That one seed belongs to undefeated #6 Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force). Last season, Hendrickson finished third in the Big 12 and went on to finish nationals in the bloodround. He then proceeded to make the Junior World team in freestyle lost in the bronze medal match. Should he capture a Big 12 title, he'd be the first Air Force wrestler to win a conference championship, since the move to the Big 12. Hendrickson has proven to be one of the most dangerous wrestlers at 285 lbs. His bonus point % is 85, which is ridiculous no matter the weight, but even more remarkable at heavyweight. That total is boosted by pins in 14 of his 20 wins.
#19 Zach Elam (Missouri) gets the second seed, partially because he only has one loss versus the rest of this field. Though he's fallen to #22 AJ Nevills (South Dakota State), Elam has wins over #21 Sam Schuyler (Iowa State), #24 Brandon Metz (North Dakota State), #30 Luke Surber (Oklahoma State), #32 Josh Heindselman (Oklahoma). Right behind him is Schuyler, who only has losses to the top two seeds. Schuyler qualified for nationals last season for Buffalo, but moved to Ames as a grad transfer.
Nevills, #23 Michael Wolfgram (West Virginia), and Metz fall into line as the 4-6 seeds, in that order. A win by Nevills over Metz in the final dual of the year, helped make this seeding a bit easier, as he had lost to the Bison big man earlier in the year, but had beaten Wolfgram.
The Oklahoma heavyweights, Surber and Heindselman round out the top-eight seeds. Both exchanged wins in the Bedlam duals, with the Cowboy, Surber, getting the most recent win. Surber has a win over Nevills, which shows he could shake things up along the way.
Unseeded is #33 Jacob Seely (Northern Colorado), who made the NCAA tournament three times for the Bears at 197 lbs. It appeared as if he would not use his final year of eligibility, but he decided otherwise and returned for the Scuffle. Seely finished the year unbeaten in dual competition and could be getting his footing back at that right time.
As of Wednesday morning, it's undecided whether Northern Iowa will go with Tyrell Gordon or Carter Isley.
1st) Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force)
2nd) Zach Elam (Missouri)
3rd) AJ Nevills (South Dakota State)
4th) Michael Wolfgram (West Virginia)
5th) Sam Schuyler (Iowa State)
6th) Brandon Metz (North Dakota State)
7th) Luke Surber (Oklahoma State)
8th) Josh Heindselman (Oklahoma)
Team Race Projections
2nd) Oklahoma State
3rd) Iowa State
4th) Northern Iowa
5th) South Dakota State
8th) North Dakota State