College Wrestling is back! We just experienced the first week of the 2023-24 season and what a week it was. The MAC was very busy with 12 of its 13 teams in action, many of which attended a variety of open tournaments. Below, we’ll highlight some team results and best performances from MAC wrestlers last week.
Some of the weekend’s biggest fireworks took place at the Clarion Open, so let’s start with the hosts. A trio of Golden Eagles made the championship finals at their respective weights with Alejandro Herrera-Rondon (157 lbs), Cam Pine (184 lbs) and John Meyers (285 lbs). Pine’s biggest win came in the semifinals when he downed Class of 2022 blue-chip recruit James Rowley (Purdue), 5-2. The Seton Hill transfer, Meyers, didn’t miss a beat in his DI debut, knocking off #24 Dorian Crosby (Bucknell), a 2023 national qualifier, in the semifinals. Herrera-Rondon’s Clarion debut was a good one as he had bonus point wins in his first two contests, then downed Pittsburgh’s starter, Jared Keslar, in the semifinals.
Another standout for Clarion was #19 John Worthing (Clarion), who took third at 174 lbs. Worthing notched three solid wins before falling to Ohio State stud freshman Rocco Welsh in the semis.
Clarion will be on the road next weekend, traveling to MAC foe George Mason. While in Virginia, they’ll take on non-conference opponents, American and The Citadel.
The Bulls were the first DI team to hit the mat in the 2023-24 season hosting a quad on November 1st. Buffalo prevailed handily over its three non-DI opponents by a combined score of 168-26. They only dropped six of the 40 matches on the day.
Buffalo also sent a contingent to the Clarion Open. Hunter Shaut (165) and Sam Mitchell (197) both advanced to the fifth-place match. Of his five wins, Shaut’s most impressive was a 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh’s Grant MacKay. Mitchell rebounded from a one-point loss to Lucas Daly by downing two of his Michigan State teammates.
Next up for Buffalo is WrangleMania in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Bulls have duals with North Carolina and Long Island on the docket.
The only placewinner for the Golden Flashes at the Clarion Open was 133 lber Pablo Castro who made the fifth-place bout. He and his opponent, Andre Gonzales, were unable to wrestle their fifth-place match as both hit the single-day match limit. Casto lost in the Round of 16 but reeled off four consecutive wins to earn a spot in the top six. His final victory came at the expense of Scott Johnson (Clarion), a promising freshman for the host school and possibly their starter in 2023-24.
We’ll get our first full glimpse of Kent State in dual action this weekend as they travel to West Virginia for a dual with the Mountaineers and the ACC’s Duke.
The Fighting Scots were not able to see any of their wrestlers break into the top six at the Clarion Open, but did have some solid performances. Max Kirby (165) led the way with four wins, three of which came via major decision.
Jacob Brenneman (133), Jack Kilner (197), and Nick Lodato (197) all won three matches. Each was able to pick up at least one win over an opponent from a MAC school.
Edinboro is back in action Sunday as they host #7 Ohio State. With a lineup full of top recruits and highly-ranked wrestlers, Edinboro will be in a dogfight at every single weight.
The defending conference champions decided not to get familiar matchups at Clarion in favor of the Princeton Open. The Bald Eagles had one finalist and it was a bit of a surprising one for such a strong lineup like LHU can roll out. Redshirt freshman Johnny Miller made the 174 lb finals after a 10-1 major decision over Kent McComas in the semis. In the championship bout, Miller fell to McComas’ teammate Gunner Filipowicz, 6-2.
The 141 lb bracket saw both Wyatt Henson and Ty Linsenbigler advance to the third-place match. Neither wrestled and the match was considered a “no-contest.” Henson picked up a very solid win over Lehigh’s Carter Bailey, 11-4.
Also in third for Lock Haven was the wrestler that takes the mat before Henson/Linsenbigler, Gable Strickland at 133 lbs. Strickland was beaten by Lehigh super-freshman, Ryan Crookham, 11-3 in the semifinals. He’d finish strong by beating Daniel Uhorchuk (Army West Point), 8-3 for third.
One of the better brackets at Princeton was the heavyweight class. There Isaac Reid suffered a 5-1 loss to the returning EIWA champion, Nathan Taylor, in the semifinals. He did not wrestle in the third-place match. Earlier in the tournament, Reid majored PSAC/MAC opponent Shane Noonan (Bloomsburg), 17-7. Reid was able to put up double-digits in both of his prior meetings with Noonan in 2022-23.
Lock Haven has a busy and challenging weekend ahead. On Saturday, they’ll face Army West Point and Arizona State at WrangleMania. They’ll stay in Bethlehem for the Journeymen Collegiate Classic on Sunday, as well.
Rider didn’t have to travel far from home to see their first action in the 2023-24 campaign. The Broncs stayed in Jersey and competed at the Princeton Open. Richie Koehler (133) and Colton Washleski (157) were the two finalists for Rider. Koehler had three tight wins in order to make the 133 lb finals. His last win came over Daniel Uhorchuk, 8-4 in the semis. Though they both place in the same weight class, Koehler and Lock Haven’s Gable Strickland did not meet. Like Strickland, Koehler was majored in the finals by Crookham.
Colton Washleski stormed through the first three rounds of the tournament with two major decisions and a tech fall. Both majors came over MAC opposition, Will Morrow (Bloomsburg) in the Round of 16 and Connor Eck (Lock Haven) in the quarterfinals. In the semis, Washleski ran into the top-seed, teammate Jake Silverstein. Washleski ended up prevailing after a takedown during the second sudden victory period. He’d end up losing via major decision to Max Brignola (Lehigh) in the championship. Silverstein did not wrestle in the third-place bout.
Another wrestler in the top-three for the Broncs was Azeem Bell at 197 lbs. Bell scored a 5-1 win over Rutgers freshman Hayden Packer in the third-place bout. There’s some uncertainty as to who will represent Rider at 197 lbs, so Bell’s performance might give him the early lead.
Rider will leave the comfy confines of New Jersey for a pair of duals this week. On Friday, they’ll kick off the dual season by meeting #25 Indiana. Sunday, they’ll partake in their first MAC dual of the year when they take on SIU Edwardsville.
The Huskies were led by redshirt freshman 165 lber Caden Dobbins at the Princeton Open. Dobbins finished fourth and logged three wins on the day. Most impressive was a 4-1 decision over Class of 2023 top-100 recruit Holden Garcia (Princeton) in the quarterfinals. Last year, Dobbins went 4-3 while attending the Air Force Prep School.
Bloomsburg will be in action this weekend at WrangleMania on Saturday and the Journeymen Collegiate Classic on Sunday. Saturday will feature duals against NC State and Sacred Heart.
The battle at The Citadel proved to be a promising opener for George Mason, as Frank Beasley’s team came back north with a pair of champions, DJ McGee (157) and Chad Nix (285). The heavyweight, Nix, made his GMU debut one to remember with his title-winning performance. In the semis, Nix earned a takedown against #31 Nick Willham (Indiana) which led to the Hoosier injury-defaulting out of the match. In the first-place bout, Nix hung three takedowns on the 2023 SoCon third-place finisher John Chesser (The Citadel). He’d win 10-6.
McGee got into the finals after an overtime win over Indiana’s Nico Bolivar. That set up a finals contest against teammate Lorenzo Rajaonarivelo. An early, first-period takedown for McGee proved to be the difference-marker in a 4-1 victory.
Up a weight, Evan Maag suffered a first-round loss, but wrestled back to third place with bonus points in four of his five straight wins.
Two other Patriots made the finals, Kaden Cassidy (149) and Tyler Kocak (197). Both advanced to the championship match but fell to opponents from Indiana.
GMU has a busy Saturday with a conference clash against Clarion, along with duals against The Citadel, Millersville, and Williams College.
SIU Edwardsville started the year with a tough matchup against #24 Illinois of the Big Ten. The Cougars managed two wins in their 28-7 loss to their in-state foes. Marcel Lopez (133) and Caleb Tyus (149) were the two Cougar wrestlers who got their hands raised. Lopez downed Cole Brower 5-3, while Tyus added a bonus point after his 9-1 major decision over Jake Harrier.
There were also a number of Cougar wrestlers that hit the Maryville Open on Saturday. Most were young, non-starters (for now). However, Justin Ruffin did make his return at 165 lbs. Ruffin earned a win over Shane Bates (Indianapolis) before a one-point loss to Cole Ritter (Maryland) in the semifinals. He’d medical forfeit down to sixth place.
SIUE ended up with three runner’s-up at Maryville. Eric Almarinez (133), Jorden Johnson (157), and Nick Nosler (197).
Jeremy Spates’ squad will see some good competition at the small individually bracketed, TigerStyle Invite on Saturday. Maryland, Missouri, Little Rock, Cal Poly, and Lindenwood are slated to attend. A day later, SIUE will host Rider in their MAC opener.
Ohio traveled to the Southeast Open and was able to crown a pair of champions in a very competitive open tournament. One of the surprises of the tournament was Garrett Thompson at 165 lbs. Thompson was a monster on the mat in his semifinal upset win over 2022 All-American Peyton Hall (West Virginia). In the second period, Thompson jumped ahead with a reversal and a pair of two-point near falls. Thompson won 8-5 despite not having a takedown.
One weight down, Peyten Kellar was rather impressive. He tallied three falls in his five matches including one over Clayton Ulrey (Virginia Tech) in the finals. Before then, Kellar registered solid wins over Alex Hornfeck (West Virginia) and Dylan Cedeno (Virginia).
Another notable showing for Ohio came at 149 lbs and redshirt freshman Derek Raike, who is already in the national rankings at #31. Raike majored #17 Michael Gioffre (Virginia) before falling to West Virginia true freshman, Ty Watters. For third place, Raike downed 2023 SoCon champion Shannon Hanna (Campbell).
On Friday afternoon, Northern Illinois blanked a pair of opponents, 47-0 and 48-0. In their opener versus St. Ambrose, Jake Evans (165) and Jordan Summers (286) led the Huskies with pins. Blake West (125), Tommy Curran (149), and Ricardo Salinas (174) chipped in with tech falls.
Curran, Kavan Troy (157), and Hayden Pummel (174) all had falls in the 48-0 win over Lindenwood. West, Tommy Curran, Matt Zuber (184), and Carter Grewe (197) were the only wrestlers that saw action in both dual for NIU. All four were unbeaten.
The intensity will get ratcheted up for the Huskies in week two as they head north to the Michigan State Open and face a field that is sure to include plenty of opponents from the Big Ten.
Sunday was a day for Cleveland State to get plenty of experience and exposure. The Vikings and #10 Iowa State got together for a non-conference dual in Massillon, Ohio. The event took place at Perry High School, alma mater of the Cyclones 2021 national champion, David Carr. It allowed one of college wrestling’s superstars an opportunity to wrestle in front of plenty of friends and family. The dual was also broadcast on UFC FightPass.
The final result was lopsided in favor of Iowa State (43-3); however, the Vikings got a chance to compete against a lineup that featured All-Americans or All-American threats at each weight. Dylan Layton (141) was the lone CSU wrestler to notch a win. He prevailed in a 22-18 shootout against Jacob Frost.
Cleveland State also travels to Morgantown for a pair of duals with Duke and West Virginia. For a team that was tabbed number three in the MAC, the West Virginia dual should be a good indicator of where Josh Moore’s team is at. They are very solid, yet not quite as stacked as Iowa State.
The Chippewas were the only MAC team that didn’t compete right away during week one. They’ll make up for it by hosting #13 Oklahoma on Thursday and traveling to the Michigan State Open on Saturday. The Oklahoma dual marks the debut of Michigan-native Roger Kish as the Sooners head coach. The Sooners have a lineup full of ranked wrestlers and makes for great matchups with CMU’s stars.