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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Big 12 Weekly Recap (1/3/2024)

    The Big 12 returned to action in a big way, with teams having success at the Midlands and Southern Scuffle. West Virginia continues to look like one of the most improved teams in the country with a program record Midlands performance. Missouri kicked off 2024 dual action with a superb back-and-forth with Virginia Tech. Oklahoma, Northern Colorado, and North Dakota State finished in the top ten at the Southern Scuffle. Then a handful of teams sent some wrestlers to the Soldier Salute, thankfully coming away without too many controversial headlines. January starts to heat up for a number of teams, including some exciting duals later this week. 

    Air Force (Overall: 2-2; Conference: 0-2): No Competition.

    Next Up: Air Force has the F&M Open in Lancaster, PA on January 5th to start the new year. 

    California Baptist (Overall: 3-4; Conference: 0-1): Midlands Brackets

    The Lancers sent nine wrestlers to the Midlands tournament and came back with one finalist in Eli Griffin. Griffin was on a tear with two falls, a major, and a tech before dropping a nailbiter overtime match in the finals. Included is a win over NIU’s Blake West, who had beaten him in the dual earlier this season. After a slow start, Griffin looks like he could be back to form in 2024. Hunter Leake was close to making a run, going 4-2 and only dropping losses to Dylan Ragusin and Julian Chlebove. Nathan Haas was another point scorer for the team after losing in the first round, reeling off four consecutive wins before losing in the bloodround. Despite not having a heavyweight, the team finished a solid 15th. 

    Next Up: California Baptist competes against Iowa State on January 7th. 

    Iowa State (Overall: 6-1; Conference: 0-0): No Competition.

    Next Up: The Cyclones compete against Arizona State on January 5th and California Baptist on January 7th.  

    Missouri (Overall: 6-0; Conference: 3-0): Dual Results (ILL) | Dual Results (VT)

    While the Illinois dual was before the break, it saw a lot of great action in a very cool venue. The Tigers beat Illinois in the Stifel Theatre 29-6 on UFC Fight Pass, the first sporting event in the historic venue. Coming out of the break saw Missouri beat a tough Virginia Tech team 22-17 in an electric dual. Despite missing All-American Peyton Mocco, the team split matches 5-5, but scored bonus points in four of their wins. There were upsets against the team at 125, 141, and 157 as Cooper Flynn, Tom Crook, and Bryce Andonian won tight matches. Kade Moore got the upset of the night, however, pinning two-time All-American Sam Latona in the second period. 

    Out of the break, the team started to pull away, getting bonus points from Keegan O’Toole, Clayton Whiting, and Rocky Elam. J Conway bumped up two weights to take on Mekhi Lewis, but lost by tech. Zach Elam closed out the dual over Hunter Catka, to give the Tigers their first win over Virginia Tech since 2018. 

    Next Up: The team hits the road for a long trip to wrestle Stanford on January 10th.

    North Dakota State (Overall: 1-6; Conference: 0-1): Southern Scuffle Brackets

    North Dakota State didn’t get any champs, but put three wrestlers on the podium to finish ninth at the Southern Scuffle. Gavin Sax was third at 174, capping his day with a pin over Tate Picklo to avenge a loss in the dual this year. Aidan Brenot was seventh at 184 and Max Petersen was eighth. 

    Next Up: The team had a dual against Oregon State canceled, so the team doesn’t compete again until January 20th against California Baptist. 

    Northern Colorado (Overall: 7-1; Conference: 0-1): Southern Scuffle Brackets

    The Bears had a solid performance at the Scuffle, getting seven on the podium and two champs. Stevo Poulin beat Nico Provo 6-5 while Vinny Zerban upset Daniel Cardenas with an 8-5 decision; it was both wrestler's first Scuffle title. Dom Serrano dropped a 2-0 decision in the finals, but notched his biggest win of the season over Nasir Bailey 5-3 in the semis. Xavier Vasquez was 5th at 197, Noah Pettigrew 7th, and Travis Mastrogiovanni was 7th at 174. 

    Baylor Fernandes pinned top seed Cael Carlson, but was disqualified against Tyler Lillard for clearly attempting to injure his opponent. He succeeded as Lillard not only had to medically forfeit, but had to be carried off the mat in clear pain. Fans may remember Fernandes also being disqualified last year for injuring Tanner Cook. A sour note on a very good performance from Northern Colorado. 

    Next Up: The Bears compete on the road against Cal Poly and California Baptist on January 12th and 13th. 

    Northern Iowa (Overall: 1-3; Conference: 0-0): Soldier Salute Brackets

    Northern Iowa sent mostly non-starters to the Soldier Salute and finished 6th with five placers. RJ Weston was the highest placer, finishing 5th at 165. Izzy Moreno was right behind him at 6th. Joining him in 6th place was Nick Fox at 174 while Adam Ahrendsen (197) and Garret Rinken (125) were both 7th. 

    Next Up: The Panthers dual Wyoming and Nebraska in Lincoln on January 6th.

    Oklahoma State (Overall: 4-0; Conference: 2-0): No Competition.

    Next Up: OK State takes on NC State on the road on January 5th. 

    Oklahoma (Overall: 4-2; Conference: 2-2): Southern Scuffle Brackets

    Despite missing two starters, the Sooners still managed a runner-up finish at the Scuffle. Led by Stephen Buchanan bonusing his way to a title, Josh Heindselman also won at 285. Jared Hill flipped a major decision loss to Alejandro Herrera-Rondon from earlier this year and beat teammate John Wiley, who finished 6th. While this was a lineup battle to start the year, Hill looks to have separated this season. Tate Picklo was pinned in the third-place match by Gavin Sax, an opponent he majored in November. 

    Cael Carlson was upset twice, being majored by Gunner Filipowicz and pinned by Baylor Fernandes. Conrad Hendricksen and Giuseppe Hoose finished 5th, while fellow starter Jace Koelzer was seventh. If Mosha Schwartz has to miss more time, Carter Schmidt had a solid tournament, finishing fifth and outplacing teammate Kaden Smith at 141. 

    Next Up: The Sooners compete in the Virginia Duals, wrestling Navy on January 12th followed by Wisconsin and Virginia on the 13th. 

    South Dakota State (Overall: 3-2; Conference: 0-0): Soldier Salute Brackets

    The Jackrabbits sent a handful of wrestlers to the Soldier Salute and put seven wrestlers on the podium to finish fourth as a team. Alek Martin finished third, only losing to Anthony Ferrari, and notched a win over Victor Voinovich. Swensen was second, beating Paniro Johnson in the semis and dropping a one-takedown match to Jared Franek. Luke Rasmussen was also a finalist, dropping a decision to Bennett Tabor in the finals. Clay Carlson made his return this season, going 2-2 with losses to Vance Vombaur and Zeke Seltzer. Other Jackrabbits to make the podium were true freshman Brady Roark (5th - 125), Daniel Kimball (5th - 149), and Bowen McConville (6th - 285). 

    Next Up: The Jackrabbits take on their third Big 10 wrestling team of the season with a dual against Michigan. 

    Utah Valley (Overall: 1-0; Conference: 0-0): No Competition.

    Next Up: The Wolverines wrestle Iowa State for their first Big 12 dual on January 12th followed by Northern Iowa on January 13th. 

    West Virginia (Overall: 7-1; Conference: 2-1): Midlands Brackets

    West Virginia continues to impress with their best finish at Midlands, finishing third overall. Jordan Titus was the team's second champ in program history, staying undefeated and continuing his impressive season. He took out Tom Crook in the semis followed by a dominating 18-3 tech over CJ Composto in the finals. Ty Watters and Peyton Hall both finished as runner-ups at 149 and 165. Watters scored wins over Kannon Webster and Corbyn Munson and already has ten falls this season. Peyton Hall made the finals with a wild first-period pin over Caleb Fish, a match that saw both wrestlers give up nearfall early. Hall now has seven pins and eight techs on the year. 

    After his big win over Stevo Poulin, Strickenberger looked like a podium contender. Surprisingly he struggled here however, going 0-2 with losses to Tyler Klinsky of Rider and Ethan Spacht of Division III North Central. Dennis Robin, Austin Cooley, and Michael Wolfgram also failed to place with each wrestler taking upset losses. Brody Conley had a solid tournament finishing 5th while going 5-2. The Mountaineers continue to look like one of the most improved teams on the year. 

    Next Up: West Virginia wrestles Columbia on the road on January 7th. 

    Wyoming (Overall: 3-2; Conference: 1-1): Soldier Salute Brackets

    Wyoming sent a squad to the Soldier Salute and finished in 7th place with four wrestlers on the podium. Jore Volk was a runner-up, dropping a one-takedown match to Drake Ayala in the finals. Joey Novak finished third, with wins over Garrett Joles and Jack Wehmeyer. Rounding out the placers was Stockton O’Brien at 6th at 141, and Cooper Birdwell 8th at 133 after medically forfeiting. 

    Next Up: Wyoming wrestles against Nebraska and Northern Iowa in Lincoln on January 6th.

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