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  • Photo: Photo/Jeff Beshey

    Photo: Photo/Jeff Beshey

    Biggest question mark for returning trophy teams

    Brady Berge defeated David Carr on his way to making the Junior World Team (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)

    One of the toughest tasks for a head coach is rebuilding the lineup after the departure of seniors and other changes. Very few teams return an intact starting ten from a previous season, and the 2018 trophy teams are not an exception. Penn State, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan and NC State will all have a few questions to answer in terms of their lineup. The following looks at those questions and some possible answers.

    Penn State

    Biggest question mark: Brady Berge at 149

    It is never easy to step into the lineup and replace a three-time NCAA champion, but that is the task ahead of Brady Berge. After signing with Penn State as a top-ten recruit, Berge sat out last season and redshirted. However, during his redshirt campaign, he competed in only one tournament. At the Princeton Open, he won four matches, but dropped a bout against Mike D'Angelo (Princeton). This past summer, Berge put his best foot forward and earned a spot on the U.S. Junior World Team. In the finals, he avenged a previous freestyle loss against Austin O'Connor (North Carolina).

    There are few questions about Berge's skill and experience on the mat. However, weight might end up being a concern. His summer freestyle success came at 70 kilograms (154.32 pounds), and he competed as high as 160 pounds in high school. In order to crack the lineup and give the Nittany Lions the best shot to win another title, Berge will need to make 149 pounds and be effective.

    Ohio State

    Biggest question mark: 165/174

    Ohio State will need to replace three starters from last season, including four-time All-Americans Nathan Tomasello, Bo Jordan and Kyle Snyder. Depending on how things play out, they could end up with solid replacements at each weight. At 125, Lucas Hunter went 21-5 as a reserve and multiple-time Fargo champion Malik Heinselman could also earn the sport, although he is expected to redshirt. At heavyweight, former top-ten recruit Chase Singletary should be ready to go after putting together a 21-3 record as a redshirt freshman.

    Things get interesting at 165 and 174 pounds. With Jordan leaving a spot open at 174 pounds, many expected blue chip prospect Ethan Smith to step into the starting lineup at the weight. However, now it looks like last year's starter at 165 pounds, Te'Shan Campbell, might move up. This would open a hole at 165 pounds for the Buckeyes. Elijah Cleary is currently the leading candidate to go at 165 pounds if Campbell moves up. He has gone 19-10 over the last two seasons as a reserve.

    Iowa

    Biggest question mark: 157

    For the past two seasons 157 pounds has been held down by All-American Michael Kemerer. However, now the word is that he will move up to 174 pounds. The opening at 157 pounds appears to be the Hawkeye's biggest question mark going into the season. The leading candidate for the role is Kaleb Young who spent the last two season competing mostly at 165 pounds with the occasional move up to 174 pounds. If he can make the weight, he should be able to hold down the starting spot Another candidate is Jaren Glosser who went 13-4 competing at 149 pounds last season

    Michigan

    Biggest question mark: Heavyweight

    Replacing a heavyweight like Adam Coon is not an easy task. The Wolverines think they have the guy in Mason Parris. However, they likely want to redshirt him instead of throwing into the lineup as a true freshman. This leaves a pretty sizable opening at heavyweight for Michigan. The squad had two other heavyweight than Coon wrestle last year, Zachery Nemec and Luke Ready. Nemec went 6-6 and Ready went 4-5.

    NC State

    Biggest question mark: 125 to 141

    Many coaches would likely envy the Wolfpack's depth between 125 and 141. There appears to be five high-level wrestlers and only four spots available. Last season at 125, Tommy Cox spent most of the year in the starter's role for dual matches, but Sean Fausz ended up being the representative at the ACC and NCAA tournaments. It seems to be a tough cut to 125, so a move to 133 would seem like a natural choice. However, Tariq Wilson burst onto the scene last year and picked up a surprising third-place finish. It is hard to imagine that NC State would not want him in the lineup next season. The current outlook at 141 appears to be for Jamel Morris to hold down the spot. He spent some time in the starting lineup last season at 133 before giving way to Wilson. It might be tough for the Wolfpack to sort out the lineup between 125 and 141 but they will almost certainly have talented and accomplished wrestlers across the weights.

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