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  • Photo: Mark Lundy

    Photo: Mark Lundy

    Facts, Trends, and Numbers from the 2022 NCAA Championships

    Northern Colorado's first Big 12 champion Andrew Alirez (Photo/Mark Lundy; LutteLens.com)

    With the at-large's announced on Tuesday and brackets released last night, the NCAA Championships are officially looming. And now, less than a week away. Before we get into the meat and potatoes of our previews, here's a fun look at the NCAA Tournament, its competitors (individuals/teams). It's some of the facts, trends, numbers, and overall randomness that you never thought to look up about the participants of the 2022 NCAA Championships.

    State-Related Notes

    Alaska has a pair of state qualifiers (Caleb Hopkins - Campbell and Evan Bockman - Utah Valley). It's the first time since 2012 that the state has produced multiple qualifiers. Those 2012 qualifiers were Nathan Hoffer (Arizona State/141) and Cayle Byers (Oklahoma State/197).

    Florida has a big year with 11 NCAA qualifiers. That's the biggest total for the state in at least 20 years (my records are fuzzy before 2000). The only other time in that span that Florida had double digits was 2009. They were Obe Blanc (Oklahoma State/125), Scotti Sentes (Central Michigan/125), Franklin Gomez (Michigan State/133), Frank Celorrio (Appalachian State/133), Chris Bencivenga (UNC Greensboro/141), Jake Patacsil (Purdue/149), Cesar Grajales (Penn/149), David Craig (Lehigh/184), Odie Delaney (The Citadel/197), Rashard Goff (Cleveland State/285).

    A lot has been made about Georgia's rise on the high school scene, which has spilled over into college. This year, Georgia actually has fewer national qualifiers (seven) than any year since 2017. There were five NCAA qualifiers from Georgia that wrestled at the 2021 tournament, who didn't qualify in 2022.

    Illinois has an astounding 32 NCAA qualifiers. The only time in the last 20 years that they have had more than 30 was in 2017, when they had 31.

    Indiana has 13 NCAA qualifiers, which is a normal figure for them. They do have an incredible crop at 141 lbs with three multiple-time All-Americans in Nick Lee (Penn State), Stevan Micic (Michigan), and Chad Red Jr (Nebraska).

    Kansas' seven national qualifiers represents the state's best showing in a decade. They had six in 2021, but the last time they had seven was in 2012. They were Nathan McCormick (Missouri/133), Jordan Keller (Oklahoma/133), Kendric Maple (Oklahoma/141), Tyler Koehn (Nebraska/174), Kyle Detmer (Oklahoma/174), Boaz Beard (Iowa State/184), and Steve Andrus (Michigan State/285).

    Ohio's 22 national qualifiers are the state's lowest total in at least 20 years. During that time, the state's highwater mark was in 2015 when they had 38. That year 11 of those 38 AA'ed.

    Legend Lamer (Cal Poly) is the only national qualifier from Oregon in 2022. Oregon had produced at least three per year, for the last 20 years (maybe longer).

    To no one's surprise, Pennsylvania led all states with 45 NCAA qualifiers.

    While 184 and 197 had the most PA natives in their bracket (7 each). The pure quality of 174 lbs can't be overlooked. Five of the top nine seeds at the weight class are from Pennsylvania. #1 Carter Starocci (Erie), #4 Hayden Hidlay (Lewistown), #5 Michael Kemerer (Murrysville), #6 Ethan Smith (Latrobe), #9 Mikey Labriola (Easton). #25 Gerrit Nijenhuis is also in the bracket.

    Texas had no NCAA qualifiers after having at least four in every year since 2017. The last time the state failed to produce an NCAA qualifier was back in 2011.

    Virginia has eight NCAA qualifiers, but three of them came at 125 lbs. Killian Cardinale (West Virginia), Joey Prata (Oklahoma), and Patrick McCormick (Virginia) comprise the lightweights from VA.

    The only wrestler in the tournament from New Mexico (Real Woods) will meet the only one from New Hampshire (Connor McGonagle) in the opening round at 141 lbs.

    The only two wrestlers from Massachusetts in the entire tournament are set to square off against one another at 165 lbs with #8 Phil Conigliaro (Havard) and #25 Brevin Cassella (Binghamton).

    School-Related Notes

    Air Force crowned their first-ever Big Champion in Wyatt Hendrickson at 285 lbs. Their most recent conference champion was Greg Rinker at 133 lbs in 2014.

    Codi Russell has become Appalachian State's first four-time NCAA qualifier since Austin Trotman did so from 2008-12.

    Cal Poly had five wrestlers qualify for NCAA's. It was the first time the Mustangs had that many since 2010. Those were Boris Novachkov/133, Filip Novachkov/141, Nick Fisher/149, Chase Pami/157, and Ryan DesRoches/174.

    Central Michigan's 285 lber Matt Stencel became the first-ever five-time MAC champion with his win over Isaac Reid (Lock Haven).

    Clarion has had one NCAA qualifier in each of the last two seasons. Both were 197 lbers. Greg Bulsak last year and Will Feldkamp this year.

    For the second consecutive year, Cleveland State has sent three wrestlers to the Big Dance. The last time the Vikings had at least three in back-to-back years was in 2006-07.

    Duke's Finesilver twins (Josh and Matt) both qualified for NCAA's. This marks the 14th time that a member of their family has wrestled at the national tournament.

    Since 2015, Duke has seen wrestlers qualify for nationals on 26 occasions. Only 12 were by Blue Devil's not named Finesilver.

    Wil Gil finished third at EIWA's and locked up an automatic bid to Detroit. He's only the third Franklin & Marshall wrestler to qualify for nationals since 2012. Richard Durso did it four times and Antonio Pelusi three.

    Phil Conigliaro's EIWA championship was the first by a Harvard wrestler since Devon Gobbo won the conference (at the same weight class) in 2016.

    Illinois' four NCAA qualifiers are the team's lowest number since 2010.

    For the third consecutive year, Iowa will be sending all ten postseason starters to nationals. This is the first time during that time that all ten automatically qualified through the conference tournament.

    Alex Marinelli won his fourth Big Ten title and surprisingly became the first Iowa wrestler to do so since Mark Ironside in 1995-98.

    David Carr's third Big 12 championship made him the first Cyclone wrestler to accomplish the feat since Kyven Gadson did so from 2013-15.

    Iowa State's NCAA qualifiers comprise one of the most diverse in terms of home states (or countries) out of any team in the country. They have two from Iowa (Joel Devine and Marcus Coleman). One from Hawaii (Kysen Terukina), Michigan (Ian Parker), Montana (Jarrett Degen), Ohio (Carr), and New York (Schuyler). Also Ramazan Attasauov is from Russia and Yonger Bastida is from Cuba.

    Jordan Wood became the first-ever five-time EIWA champion with a 2-0 shutout of Cornell's Lewis Fernandes.

    From 2015-2020, all of Lock Haven's national qualifiers were Pennsylvania residents. 2014 saw New York's Mac Maldarelli make the dance at 149 lbs. This year is quite the opposite as three of their five NQs are from outside of PA. Anthony Noto (New York), Ben Barton (Kentucky) and Ashton Eyler (Ohio).

    Michigan won their first Big Ten team title since 1973.

    Also related to Michigan. The Wolverines placed five wrestlers in the Big Ten finals for the first time since 1991. One of those finalists for Michigan at 158 lbs was their current head coach, Sean Bormet. He lost to current Ohio State head coach, Tom Ryan, 4-3.

    Myles Amine became Michigan's first two-time Big Ten champion since Kellen Russell won four between 2008-12.

    Gable Steveson won his third Big Ten title. He became the first Minnesota wrestler to accomplish the feat since fellow heavyweight Tony Nelson won three between 2012-14.

    Missouri returned to the Big 12 in style. Brian Smith's team reclaimed the Big 12 crown, one that they had won during their final year (2011-12) before moving to the MAC. Since then, Mizzouri has won 11 straight conference titles. Two in the Big 12 and nine in the MAC.

    NC State saw all ten of their wrestlers qualify automatically for nationals. None of them finished lower than third at the ACC Championships.

    Nebraska's Big Ten finals woes continued. They have now dropped nine consecutive Big Ten finals, a streak that dates back to 2016. Eric Schultz fell in the 197 lb finals for the third straight year.

    Andrew Alirez made history for the Northern Colorado program. He became the school's first Big 12 champion, by winning the 141 lb weight class. The past two years, they have placed a wrestler in the finals (Jackson Hemauer - 2021 and Mosha Schwartz - 2020). UNC's last conference champion was Mitchell Polkowske at 165 lbs in the West Regional/WWC.

    Northern Illinois saw three wrestlers come away with MAC titles (Izzak Olejnik - 165, Mason Kauffman - 174, Brit Wilson - 184). The last time the Huskies crowned three champs in the same year was 2003. That year it was Sam Hiatt (133), Scott Owen (157), and Ben Heizer (184), who did it.

    Northern Iowa's unreal streak of dominance at 184 lbs continued. The Panthers had a champion at the weight class for the fifth consecutive year. He's won the last two titles; Taylor Lujan won it in 2020. Drew Foster was the champion in 2018-19.

    With the addition of 149 lber Yahya Thomas through the at-large process, Northwestern will send all ten of their starters to Detroit. It's the third time the program has sent all ten and the first time since 1970.

    Ryan Deakin won the 157 lb Big Ten Championship. He is only the third Wildcat to win three, joining Jake Herbert (2006-07, 2009) and Wesley Brown (1931-33)

    Ohio State did not crown a Big Ten champion for the first time since 2011.

    The Big 12 consolation semifinal bout at 184 lbs, one needed for an NCAA berth, featured a pair of ex-teammates squaring off. Keegan Moore (Oklahoma) and Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State), were both Cowboys before Moore transferred UNI then to OU. Moore defeated Geer by a 9-4 margin, the same score he amassed during their Bedlam meeting, as well.

    Oklahoma State will roll into Detroit with eight NCAA qualifiers. That's the fewest for the Cowboys since they sent eight in 2008.

    Oregon State has eight wrestlers qualified for NCAA's. The last time they had eight was in 2014.

    Penn made a whole lot of history with their performance at the EIWA's. The team's runner-up finish at the tournament was its best showing since they were second in 2010. The Quakers nine national qualifiers is a school record. Head coach Roger Reina was named the conference Coach of the Year, an award he received on three previous occasions; however, the most recent was in 1999.

    Though Penn State came up just short of a Big Ten title, they had four champions, a mark that's been hit three previous times during the Cael Sanderson era.

    Penn State's crew heading to Detroit features more NCAA qualifiers from Arizona (Roman Bravo-Young and Beau Bartlett) than Pennsylvania (Carter Starocci).

    Jake Wentzel won the ACC title for Pittsburgh at 165 lbs for a third consecutive season. Wentzel is the first Panther wrestler to win three ACC championships.

    Rider's Richie Koehler and Quinn Kinner won MAC titles at back-to-back weights (133/141). It was the first time since they've been part of the MAC that Rider has claimed multiple individual championships.

    Of the eight NCAA qualifiers for Virginia, three of them were home-grown. That's the highest total for the Cavaliers in over 20 years.

    Austin Gomez's Big Ten championship was the first for the Wisconsin program under head coach Chris Bono. He's also the first Badger 149 lber ever to win the conference crown.

    Wisconsin also had a pair of Big Ten finalists in Eric Barnett and Gomez. That marked the first time since 2011 that the team had multiple Big Ten finalists. They were Tyler Graff (133), Andrew Howe (165), and Trevor Brandvold (197).

    Wyoming's four national qualifiers are the program's least since 2016, when they had three. But, they did have a national finalist that year. Could that happen again?

    This tournament features six(!) former Fresno State wrestlers. Haiden Drury (Utah Valley), Kyle Parco (Arizona State), Jacob Wright (Wyoming), Matt Olguin (Oregon State), Adam Kemp (Cal Poly), and AJ Nevills (South Dakota State).

    In the same vein, there are three former Old Dominion wrestlers. Killian Cardinale (West Virginia), Michael McGee (Arizona State) and Shannon Hanna (Campbell).


    Evan Wick received the top seed at 165 lbs. He's the first Cal Poly wrestler to earn top billing since Chad Mendes at the 2008 tournament (141 lbs).

    Cal Poly also has Bernie Truax at #5 at 184 lbs. The last time the Mustangs had multiple wrestlers with top-ten seeds was in 2012 with Boris Novachkov (#6/141) and Ryan DesRoches (#6/174).

    Michigan has a pair of top-seeded wrestlers in Nick Suriano (125) and Myles Amine (184). The last time multiple Wolverines were seeded #1 was in 2009 with Kellan Russell (141) and Steve Luke (174).

    Penn State's four number one seeds (RBY, Nick Lee, Starocci, Max Dean) marks the first time in the Cael Sanderson era that more than three PSU wrestlers have been given that distinction.

    Penn State also has the longest-running streak of any school with at least one #1 seed. They've had one or more every year since 2016.

    David Carr received the top seed at 157 lbs for Iowa State. He's the first Cyclone to get the number one since Jon Reader did so in 2011.

    Max Dean gets the top seed at 197 lbs. His brother, Gabe, received the top seed on three occasions. You have to go back to 2013 to find a pair of brothers that have gotten the number one seed, at one point or another, during their careers. Then it was Hunter and Logan Stieber (Ohio State), who happened to get them in the same season.

    Roman Bravo-Young's top seed at 133 lbs makes him the first Arizona native to receive the #1 seed since Anthony Robles did so in 2011.

    Likewise, Bravo-Young's teammate Nick Lee is the first Indiana native to hold the top-seed since Angel Escobedo in 2010.

    A pair of Michigan natives come into the tournament as #1 seeds, Myles Amine (184) and Max Dean (197). The last time multiple Michigan natives were seeded number one was in 2006 with Nick Simmons (125), Ryan Churella (165), and Wynn Michalak (197).

    Gable Steveson was named the number one seed at heavyweight for the third time in his career. The last heavyweight to earn three number one seeds was Kerry McCoy (Penn State) in 1994, 1995, and 1997.

    #2 Stephen Buchanan becomes only the fourth Wyoming wrestler during the Mark Branch-era to get a top-two seed at nationals. He joins Bryce Meredith 1/2018, Shane Onufer 2/2012, and Joe LeBlanc 1/2012.

    With Mekhi Lewis getting the #2 seed at 174 lbs, Virginia Tech has had a #2 in each of the last three years (Sam Latona/2021, Hunter Bolen/2020) and six of the last seven (David McFadden/2018 and Joey Dance/2016-17).

    West Virginia has a pair of top-ten seeds with #5 Killian Cardinale (125) and #9 Peyton Hall (165). The last time a pair of Mountaineer teammates were seeded in the top ten was 2006. Brandon Radar was ninth at 141 lbs and Matt Lebe was fourth at 157.

    Wyatt Hendrickson's fifth seed at 285 lbs makes him the first Air Force wrestler to garner a top-ten seed since Josh Martinez in 2014 (#4/125).

    Josh Heil's #7 seed is the highest in Campbell's program history. The previous mark was an eighth seed, which he and Andrew Morgan received in 2020.

    There are three wrestlers in this tournament named Dom. Lajoie (Cornell), Zaccone (Campbell), and Solis (Maryland). Lajoie and Zaccone meet in the 133 lb pig-tail match.

    Be careful filling out your bracket at 141 lbs. You could confuse yourself during the Ian Parker/Parker Filius bout.

    Former teammates are set to square off in round one at 141 lbs with #16 Quinn Kinner (Rider) and #17 Dylan D'Emilio (Ohio State). Kinner was at Ohio State and appeared at 133 and 157 lbs before moving on to Rider.

    Transfer portal madness! In the top quad at 125 lbs, the number one seed is former Penn State wrestler, by way of Rutgers, now at Michigan, Nick Suriano. He'll take on Penn State's current starter, Drew Hildebrandt, a graduate transfer from Central Michigan in the Round of 16. That's provided that Hildebrandt gets by Lock Haven's Anthony Noto, an NC State transfer.

    197 lbs will feature a first-round matchup between a pair of Junior World medalists in #10 Yonger Bastida (silver) and #23 Braxton Amos (gold). Whoever wins is likely to face another Junior World Champion in the second round, in #7 Rocky Elam (Missouri).

    The weight classes that features multiple undefeated wrestlers are:

    133: #1 Roman Bravo-Young, #2 Daton Fix
    141: #1 Nick Lee, #3 Sebastian Rivera
    149: #1 Yianni Diakomihalis, #2 Tariq Wilson
    157: #1 David Carr, #2 Ryan Deakin, #3 Jacori Teemer
    165: #1 Evan Wick, #2 Keegan O'Toole
    285: #1 Gable Steveson, #2 Cohlton Schultz, #5 Wyatt Hendrickson

    The only first-round matchup between returning NCAA All-Americans is a 157 lbs with #2 Ryan Deakin and #31 Wyatt Sheets.

    Remember when filling out your brackets to include some minor upsets. The last time more than six #1 seeds won titles was in 2012. Last year, only three won.

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