Iowa State freshman Casey Swiderski (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
One of the best things about college sports (and wrestling) is that there is a constant stream of student-athletes coming into school each year hungry to prove themselves at the next level. That's obviously the case with wrestling as well. It's never been more common for freshmen to come in and have an impact in year one as it is today. From 1990 to 2009 a total of nine freshmen captured NCAA titles, redshirt and true freshmen combined. Since 2010, we've seen seven true freshmen on the top step of the NCAA podium.
What all of that means is that you need to get to know some of the nation's top true freshmen, one's we expect to have an impact nationally in 2022-23. This isn't just a rehashing of the Class of 2022 recruiting rankings. There are plenty of freshmen who are slated to redshirt. For instance, the top recruit in the Class, Nick Feldman, has a senior All-American (Tate Orndorff) ahead of him at Ohio State. While he is probably ready to compete at a high level, it's more likely that Feldman sits for a year while Orndorff finishes his career. Conversely, there are plenty of teams that haven't made final decisions about whether to redshirt or not. Some top freshmen have been excluded from this list because they fall into that box.
With the new redshirt rules, there will be some differences with true freshmen. In years past, wrestling in a dual meet would have meant a wrestler isn't redshirting. Now, wrestlers have up to five dates before burning their shirt. Just because a wrestler hits the mat in a November dual, no longer means they are released in year one. It's just something for fans to be aware of.
Below are our eleven true freshmen to watch in 2022-23:
Jackson Arrington (149 lbs - NC State)
We're less certain that we'll see the next two wrestlers from NC State than some of the others, but signs are pointing to Jackson Arrington getting a shot to hold down the 149 lb weight class for the Wolfpack. 149 was manned by two-time NCAA All-American Tariq Wilson in 2022-23 and there is no clear-cut successor amongst the returning contingent. In steps three-time Pennsylvania state champion Jackson Arrington. Before his senior season at Forest Hills, Arrington finished fourth in Fargo's Junior freestyle and second at the Super 32. In between those two events, Arrington posted a victory at the Who's #1 dual meet. We mentioned that Virginia Tech has a highly-touted true freshman, Henson, penciled in a 149 lbs. Should Arrington go, we could see the beginning of a long rivalry between the two young stars. Should Arrington go right away, he would meet two-time All-American Jonathan Millner (Appalachian State) in a dual meet during week one.
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