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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    From Freestyle to Folkstyle: Nine Rematches We Hope to See this Collegiate Season

    Greg Kerkvliet (left) and Mason Parris at the 2020 Olympic Team Trials (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    The college wrestling season is right around the corner. While the competitors have been done with a folkstyle since March, there was plenty of action in freestyle over the summer. Though the two styles are different, the summer freestyle matches are often seen as previews of sorts for the upcoming season. The following are nine matches that took place over the freestyle season that college fans are dying to see again this winter.

    HWT: No. 2 Mason Parris (Michigan) vs. No. 5 Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State) at Olympic Trials

    After a wild recruiting saga and time missed due to injury, Kerkvliet finally made his varsity debut last February. He wrestled only two matches before the Big Ten tournament and eventually finished seventh at the NCAA tournament and became an All-American. At the conference tournament, he faced off against Michigan's Mason Parris, who had established himself as the number-two heavyweight in the country. In the bout, Parris was dominant and took an 11-3 major decision.

    The two met again at the Olympic Trials. Not only was the rematch much closer, but Kerkvliet also reversed the result. He won a 4-4 match on criteria. The Penn State faithful will be eager to see the folkstyle rematch this season. It is entirely possible that Kerkvliet's experience edge in freestyle allowed him to turn a major decision loss into a criteria victory. However, it could also be a sign that he is rounding into form after missing significant time. Penn State and Michigan are set for a dual on Jan. 21, 2022.

    141: No. 2 Jaydin Eierman (Iowa) vs. No. 8 Dom Demas (Oklahoma) at Senior Nationals

    Eierman and Demas are two of the most fan-friendly wrestlers at 141 pounds. Each has their own unique style that can lead to some very exciting matches. However, their only collegiate match came during the 2019 NCAA tournament, and Eierman took a 2-0 victory.

    This past summer, they faced off once again at 2021 Senior Nationals. Demas was able to get to his inside trip early and secured a 2-0 lead. The Oklahoma wrestler then extended the lead to 4-0 with a chest wrap. However, he allowed Eierman to score the reversal. The Hawkeye not only locked up the reversal point, but he also added a pair of leg laces to pull ahead 5-4. The pace slowed after the early action, and Eierman walked away with an 8-4 victory.

    In a folkstyle match, Eierman's ability to work from the top position will likely be amplified. However, if Demas can turn up the aggression, he has the ability to hit big moves on pretty much everyone at the NCAA level.

    165: No. 5 Keegan O'Toole (Missouri) vs. Alex Facundo (Penn State) at UWW Junior Nationals

    O'Toole had himself quite the summer. He not only won Junior Nationals, but he went on to bring home a gold medal from the Junior World Championships. On his way to the domestic title, he picked up a 7-0 victory over Facundo.

    Facundo was one of the top recruits in his class and many expect him to take over the 165-pound starting spot for the perennial NCAA title contenders. While the 7-0 victory from O'Toole appeared to be the type of match that transfers well to folkstyle, the result could be much different after Facundo spends some time in the college room.

    125: No. 2 Patrick Glory (Princeton) vs. No. 8 Taylor LaMont (Utah Valley) at U23 Nationals

    Despite not competing last year, Glory has already been awarded the number-two spot at 125 pounds in the preseason rankings. In his last season on the college mats, he put together an undefeated 24-0, including victories over Nick Piccininni, Chris Cannon (Northwestern), No. 15 Michael DeAugustino (Northwestern) and Nic Aguilar.

    Glory has an equally impressive summer highlighted by a championship at the U23 Nationals back in May. In the finals, he picked up a pair of shutout victories over Taylor LaMont to earn a spot on the World team. Despite coming up short in the finals, LaMont also had a strong weekend and ended up joining the U23 World team on the Greco side.

    This past college season, LaMont finished fifth to become an All-American for the first time. He scored a pair of victories over No. 9 Sam Latona (Virginia Tech) and knocked off Robbie Howard (Penn State) on the way to the title. While Glory had a strong edge in the freestyle series, it would be an interesting test on the folkstyle side. If Glory could control the match once again, it could solidify his claim as the top contender to No. 1 Spencer Lee (Iowa).

    133: No. 8 Chris Cannon (Northwestern) vs. No. 18 Dylan Ragusin (Michigan) at U23 Nationals

    Ragusin made a lot of noise in the wrestling community in the fall of 2020. He made the finals of the 2020 Senior Nationals with impressive wins over veterans Darian Cruz and Sean Russell. He turned around one month later and won Junior Nationals. Despite the freestyle success, Ragusin appeared to struggle to stay down at 125 pounds during the season. He qualified for the NCAA tournament but eventually went 1-2 in the bracket.

    The Michigan wrestler is expected to move up to 133 pounds permanently this upcoming season after wrestling a pair of matches at the weight last season. The move up in weight started over the summer where he wrestled at 61 kg at U23 Nationals.

    In that bracket, he ran into Northwestern's Cannon. During the collegiate season, Cannon finished seventh at 133 to become an All-American in his first year in the lineup. In their freestyle match, Ragusin scored the first five points and held a 5-2 lead at the break. The second period was an entirely different story as Cannon took over and ultimately won 13-8.

    These two Big Ten competitors will almost certainly hit at least once during this upcoming season. Both wrestlers showed they could score in their freestyle encounter, and that could end up leading to an entertaining folkstyle clash.

    157: No. 17 Peyton Robb (Nebraska) vs. No. 8 Quincy Monday (Princeton) at U23 Nationals

    Robb and Monday both have two NCAA qualifying seasons on their resume, but both are looking for their first All-American season. Monday, who sat out last year along with the rest of the Ivy League, comes into this season right on the cusp on All-American status in the preseason rankings.

    Despite that, Robb certainly had their edge in their finals series at the U23 Nationals. The Nebraska wrestler was able to score a two-match sweep over Monday. He took the first match 12-3 before closing it out with a 7-5 victory. This is the type of match that could easily end up being rematched in the blood round of the 2022 NCAA tournament.

    197: No. 5 Rocky Elam (Missouri) vs. No. 2 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh) at U23 Nationals

    Elam was one of the many Missouri wrestlers to have a strong summer. He won a Junior Nationals title and followed that up with a gold medal at the Junior World championships. He also made the finals of the U23 Nationals, where he ran into Bonaccorsi.

    The Pittsburgh representative had a breakout junior year that saw him go from NCAA qualifier to national finalist. At the NCAA tournament, he picked up signature wins over No. 16 Jay Aiello (Virginia), No. 8 Kordell Norfleet (Arizona State) and No. 10 Jake Woodley (Oklahoma) before dropping a two-point match against No. 1 AJ Ferrari (Oklahoma State) in the finals.

    While Bonaccorsi won the three-match finals series via sweep, the first match was extremely close. Neither wrestler registered a two-point move, and Bonaccorsi won on criteria. In the second match, he pulled away and won 8-1. Under folkstyle rules, this could be a different match entirely.

    157: No. 5 Brayton Lee (Minnesota) vs. No. 10 Jarrett Jacques (Missouri) at World Team Trials

    Lee and Jacques met at the last NCAA tournament in the Round of 12. The Minnesota wrestler was able to control the pace and advance with a 4-1 victory. He went on to finish sixth, while Jacques finished short of All-American status.

    Jacques recently received a shot at redemption in the first round of the World Team Trials. Unfortunately for him, Lee once again controlled the match. If anything, he was more dominant in the rematch and won a 12-1 bout.

    125: Cooper Flynn (Virginia Tech) vs. Richard Figueroa (Arizona State) at UWW Junior Nationals

    While many of the matches on this list are between ranked wrestlers, this one features two wrestlers who may not end up in the starting lineup. Figueroa was one of the top recruits in the country this past year, while Flynn was a highly ranked prospect at 125 pounds. Even if this match is not a high-stakes encounter this year, it will likely have implications during upcoming seasons.

    The two met in the quarterfinals of the UWW Junior Nationals. Figueroa got out to a 4-0 lead in the match. Flynn fought hard to get back into the match with four one-point scores. However, it was not enough and the Arizona State wrestler moved on with a 6-4 victory. He would go on to win the tournament and represent the U.S. at the Junior World championships.

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