2022 EIWA champion Michael Colaiocco (photo courtesy of Tony DiMarco)
The EIWA Conference has been allocated 45 automatic qualifiers from the NCAA. This is on par with the conference, as last season they had 42, and in the 2021 season, they managed 45. This year’s number would be higher, but there have been a few season-ending injuries of highly-ranked wrestlers. But “excuses are for wusses” and injuries are part of the sport. Last year’s champions, Cornell, are fresh off an Ivy League title in the current season. They, along with the rest of the EIWA, will travel to the University of Pennsylvania this weekend for the EIWA Championships - held at the historic Palestra. Catch the action March 4th and 5th on FloWrestling starting at 10:30AM.
Before we get into the full breakdown. Let’s explore the seeding that rocked the Twitterspere a few days before the championships. You will see some bizarre seeds at some of these weights (i.e. Glory at #2, Yianni at #2). The EIWA uses a mathematical formula for each wrestler. The system factors in numerous calculations. (I just put on glasses to appear smart for this - and I’m not prescribed glasses - so here goes). Each wrestler receives points, based on parameters like number of wins, number of quality wins, RPI ranking, and allocating a spot for the conference, among other things.
The outliers you see are due to a wrestler not being in the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) rankings. The RPI rankings look at three items for each wrestler: 1) winning percentage, 2) opponent winning percentage (strength of schedule for said wrestler), and 3) an opponent’s opponent winning percentage (said wrestler’s opponent’s strength of schedule). It, essentially, gives a better ranking to the wrestlers who have a tougher schedule. The most important aspect here is that in order to be given an RPI ranking, you need to wrestle 15 D1 matches at the weight you are wresting. Makes sense, right? Wrestlers who win against tougher competition are given a little bump compared to wrestlers who wrestle an easy schedule. Plus, how do you give a fair RPI comparison to wrestlers who have, as an example, 4 matches compared to those with 20? Hence, the 15-match rule minimum. Now, back to the seeds.
Patrick Glory is the clear number one seed at 125 lbs when looking at record (16-0), win percentage (100%), coaches ranking (#2), and head-to-head in the conference (zero losses to EIWA opponents). Somehow, he ended up with the 2nd seed, even though he majored the 1st seed a few weeks ago. Why was he the 2nd seed? You guessed it, he did not meet the RPI required. That 15-match number is important because Glory only had 11 matches at 125 lbs against D1 opponents. He was up at 133 lbs for some of the season, but those matches do not count towards the RPI, since he’s entered the postseason at 125 lbs. He lost a handful of points for his non-RPI ranking - essentially zero points for that category.
Next, let’s look at Yianni Diakomihalis at 14 9lbs. His 12-1 record does not meet the RPI criteria to earn any points for that seeding criteria. Yianni missed some time this season because he was representing the USA in the freestyle World Cup in December. Yes, you read that correctly. He took a few weeks off from college wrestling to train freestyle. He was repping the United States of America, for crying out loud! Anyway, he’s the 2 seed because of his collegiate season not consisting of 15 matches. Does the seeding matter to a guy like Yianni, who is looking for his 4th EIWA and NCAA title? Probably not, but it’s the principle.
You may be asking, is there any way to overrule the seeds, since this is a calculation done via computer with very little common sense? The answer is “yes, of course!” Without giving away all of the details, there is a way to “challenge” a seed if within a certain number of seeding points to the wrestler above. Because Yianni and Glory were outside of this threshold, there is one final step in the process to get the final seeds “correct.” The EIWA calls it the outlier rule. When Glory’s 2nd seed was challenged as an outlier (but still outside of that challengeable criteria), 13 of the 17 (75%) coaches needed to vote yes to overturn and give him the top seed. It only took five votes to block these challenges from happening. The same situation occurred for Yianni’s seed at 149 lbs.
Does this lead to a potentially larger problem at hand? Why are coaches not correcting the seeds when given the chance? 99% of people know that these two outliers should be top seeds, yet do not want to overcorrect and go against the formula. I get both sides of it. I really do. They all agreed to a formula, which has worked great – minus some of these kinks. Fans across the country were confused over some of these seeds, for good reason. I think it would be great to hear some of the coaches speak up about it or offer changes for the future to prevent this again. Until then, here is my weight-by-weight breakdown of this weekend’s action.
125 - 6 Automatic Qualifiers
Who Earned Allocations? Intermat Rankings* #31 Ethan Berginc (Army West Point), #30 Nick Babin (Columbia), #21 Brett Ungar (Cornell), #18 Diego Sotelo (Harvard), #20 Ryan Miller (Penn), #2 Pat Glory (Princeton)
Last year’s champion, Vito Arujau, has moved up to 133 lbs. Patrick Glory, ultimately, was the NCAA runner-up in Detroit. He’s back in this weight class looking for his third EIWA title. With six ranked wrestlers in this weight class, expect a lot of tough, exciting matches starting from the quarterfinal round (maybe even sooner!). Glory seems to be a favorite by a comfortable margin. However, his weight cut was known to be a small factor throughout the year. A tough semifinal matchup right off the scale the second day is the round to watch out for. I am not saying he will have issues, but being a fan of this sport for as long as I have, this is the round where others have been upset due to the weight cut. Assuming all goes to plan, this is Glory’s weight class to lose. His finals opponent can be any one of the other ranked wrestlers at this weight. The most likely name will be one of the guys who allocated a spot - mentioned above. In my opinion, you can wrestle this weight ten times and see ten different podium placements every time. With some whacky seeds, we can see Ungar, Babin, Sotelo, or possibly others make the final against the #2 seed, Glory.