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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    College Wrestling's Upset-Filled Weekend

    Northwestern's 125 lber Michael DeAugustino (Photo/Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

    When doing college rankings, some Mondays only require a slight touch-up with a fine-toothed comb, while others require a massive overhaul. Weekends with super-tournaments like the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational or the Midlands (MatMen)/Scuffle can typically mandate that a few weight classes get blown up and we start over from scratch.

    It's rarer that these types of wholescale reworkings come during the dual season, but that's what we have after the first full week of January 2022. While wacky results were aplenty up-and-down the rankings slate, look no further than the top-five for some potentially head-scratching results. From Friday-Sunday, seven top-five wrestlers suffered losses, which will undoubtedly shake up rankings at their respective weights.

    While this is may have been unexpected, maybe we should have seen it coming. It was the first full weekend of intra-Big Ten competition and of the seven big upsets we're highlighting, five came in B1G on B1G action.


    #4 Eric Barnett (Wisconsin)

    #5 Devin Schroder (Purdue)

    Not only will the top-tier of 125 lbs look different after losses by Eric Barnett and Devin Schroder, but the next set of rankings will also include Nick Suriano (Michigan) and Drew Hildebrandt (Penn State). But that's for a different day.

    Barnett was the victim of #17 Michael DeAugustino (Northwestern), who proved to be a buzzsaw in his season debut. This looks like a much bigger upset on paper than in real life. DeAugustino drifted down the rankings after having no 2021-22 data to work with. He was a 2021 Big Ten fifth-place finisher and the #12 seed at nationals. He lived up to that billing by advancing to the NCAA Round of 12, where he fell to Sam Latona (Virginia Tech) in sudden victory. DeAugustino finished his weekend with another top-ten win and second over an AA this weekend, when he knocked off Patrick McKee (Minnesota), 8-7. Last season, DeAugustino split matches with McKee and did not face Barnett.

    In the most anticipated bout of Iowa and Purdue's Sunday dual meet, Devin Schroder led things off by taking on Drake Ayala. Two nights earlier, Ayala was taken out of redshirt and inserted into the Hawkeyes lineup for a dual with Minnesota. Ayala fought valiantly, but ultimately fell to McKee. The young Hawk showed he has a short memory and rebounded by getting a pair of takedowns and riding time on the Purdue veteran. He never needed to go on bottom, which was Schroder's best position.

    Friday, Ayala and DeAugustino will square off.


    #3 Stevan Micic (Michigan)

    Monday saw Stevan Micic make his season debut and compete at 141 lbs for the first time in his long collegiate career. Micic responded with an 8-6 win over Julian Chlebove (Arizona State), that was a bit of an anomaly in folkstyle and appeared closer than the actual match was.

    The Wolverines and Pittsburgh hastily put together a dual meet slated for Sunday after the Panthers Friday match with Penn was canceled due to Covid concerns with the Quaker team. That meant Micic's second test at 141 lbs would come against two-time NCAA qualifier #23 Cole Matthews. Matthews hung an eye-popping 11-5 defeat on Micic, one that was strongly due to the scrambling ability of the Panther 141 lber. He notched a takedown off a Micic attack, after a prolonged flurry. Matthews later blew the match open after putting Micic on his back for four points. The three-time All-American Wolverine, was slowly attempting to stand up; however, Matthews briefly looked for a cradle, before sucking Micic back for exposure points.

    This one will hurt Micic as #1 and #2 Nick Lee (Penn State) and Jaydin Eierman (Iowa) are both Big Ten wrestlers that are unbeaten, as is #4 Sebastian Rivera (Rutgers).


    #4 Yahya Thomas (Northwestern)

    Last season, Yahya Thomas took the country by storm when he finished third in the country at 149 lbs, despite needing an at-large berth to qualify for nationals and being saddled with the #25 seed. This year, he has been much more consistent and was 6-1 heading into Friday night's dual with Wisconsin and their 149 lber, Austin Gomez.

    Gomez missed the entire 2021 campaign as he was set to retire from a host of injuries. In the offseason, Gomez decided to give it another shot and transferred to Wisconsin. He's been great for Chris Bono's team, up a few weight classes and even made the MatMen finals.

    In Friday's bout, Thomas and Gomez exchanged takedowns in the second period, before the Badger pulled away in the third. A pair of final stanza takedowns by Gomez tilted the match in his favor and he hung on to win, 8-6.

    Looking at the Big Ten, returning conference champ Sammy Sasso is clearly the class of the league. After Sasso, there are a handful of wrestlers who could vie for a spot in the finals. It's conceivable that these two could meet in a Big Ten semifinal; however, there still is a lot of action between now and March.


    #5 Quincy Monday (Princeton)

    Moreso than any indictment of Quincy Monday, I believe this is a statement on the continued growth of Ed Scott. The second-year freshman Scott continues to impress. He had a breakout performance at the Collegiate Duals, edging Jarrett Jacques (Missouri) before pinning Kaleb Young (Iowa) in the pool finale.

    This time, Scott gave up the first takedown to Monday, but later responded by getting a hustle takedown after a half-shot by the Tiger. He would go ahead by looking for his trademark headlock. Although it didn't land, he generated a flurry which resulted in the go-ahead takedown.

    Once the smoke clears after the conference tournaments, we'll see if this match ends up having seeding implications. Both have imposing opponents standing in the way of a respective conference title. Monday needs to go through Josh Humphreys (Lehigh) and Scott has 2021 NCAA champion Austin O'Connor (North Carolina) in the way of an ACC title.


    #3 Mikey Labriola (Nebraska)

    Perhaps the most unexpected of these upsets came at 174 lbs in Purdue's dual with Nebraska. There #21 Gerrit Nijenhuis and the Boilermakers went on the road and dropped the #8 Cornhuskers. Nijenhuis' 6-4 win over #3 Labriola was one of the difference makers.

    Nijenhuis got on the board first as he came out atop a scramble between the two, in the opening period. The Boilermaker almost added more points as he was inches away from putting Labriola on his back after securing the takedown. After a back-and-forth second period, the match was left to be decided in the third. Once again, the two were engaged in a crazy scramble and it was Nijenhuis who came out on top. Nijenhuis managed to ride out Labriola and get his hand raised in a battle of former Pennsylvania state champions.

    The win was so surprising because of Labriola's consistent track record. Last year, he suffered a loss to Bernie Truax (Cal Poly) at nationals (before avenging it for third place) and Carter Starocci (Penn State). In 2019-20, his only losses came to All-American types like Mark Hall (Penn State), Michael Kemerer (Iowa), Jordan Kutler (Lehigh), Bryce Steiert (Northern Iowa), Devin Skatzka (Minnesota), Dylan Lydy (Purdue).

    With a match against Logan Massa (Michigan) still on Labriola's schedule, he can probably still get the third seed at the Big Ten's. That could set up a match with Nijenhuis perhaps in the conference quarters.


    #5 Trent Hillger (Wisconsin)

    The final upset in a wild dual between the Badgers and Wildcats took place at 285 lbs, where #5 Trent Hillger went down at the hands of #14 Lucas Davison (Northwestern). This was one that maybe we should have seen coming, as Davison has continued to improve since moving up from 197 lbs.

    Throughout his collegiate career, Hillger has been known as one of the better Big Ten heavyweights from the top position. In this bout, it was Davison's whose mat wrestling made the difference. In the second period, Hillger was on top and threw in boots, which is normal for him. Maybe Davison's experience at the lower weights made him more equipped to deal with such a strategy and he was able to catch a leg, elevate it and eventually turn it into a reversal. In the third period, Davison turned the table and rode Hillger for the entire period. Prior to the buzzer, Davison almost had the Badger in nearfall criteria.

    As of now, it's difficult to see either penetrating the top-three in the league with Steveson, Parris, Kerkvliet currently atop the weight class. That means barring a monumental upset, we could see these two tangle again somewhere deep in the Big Ten consolations.

    These were top #10 ranked wrestlers that were upset over the weekend as well:

    125: #7 Patrick McKee (Minnesota); 8-7 to DeAugustino

    174: #10 Chris Foca (Cornell); 5-2 to Jake Logan (Lehigh)

    184: #10 Taylor Venz (Nebraska); 7-2 to #23 Max Lyon (Purdue)

    197: #8 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh); 6-3 to #9 Patrick Brucki (Michigan)

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