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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Ten Important Matchups this Weekend

    Chad Red Jr (left) and Dylan Duncan at the 2021 NCAA Championships (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    As we approach the last two weeks of the collegiate regular season, there are some incredible individual matchups brewing this weekend. These contests will go a long way in determining the next set of rankings along with potential conference and NCAA seeding, since those events are right around the corner. We've gone through each dual and picked out the possible matches between ranked wrestlers and identified one match-per weight as the “most important.” Please note, that if a match is omitted, then we have some reason to believe that one or more parties will not wrestle this weekend.

    125 lbs

    #2 Patrick Glory (Princeton) vs. #26 Ryan Miller (Penn) - Saturday

    #2 Patrick Glory (Princeton) vs. #27 Jared Lane (Lehigh) - Friday

    #4 Brandon Courtney (Arizona State) vs. #17 Noah Surtin (Missouri) - Saturday

    #6 Eric Barnett (Wisconsin) vs. #25 Justin Cardani (Illinois) - Friday

    #9 Patrick McKee (Minnesota) vs. #11 Malik Heinselman (Ohio State) - Friday

    #14 Jakob Camacho (NC State) vs. #30 Gage Curry (Pittsburgh) - Friday

    #18 Kysen Terukina (Iowa State) vs. #19 Brody Teske (Northern Iowa) - Friday

    #23 Korbin Meink (Campbell) vs. #24 Caleb Smith (Appalachian State) - Sunday

    Most Important Match:

    #10 Killian Cardinale (West Virginia) vs. #16 Taylor LaMont (Utah Valley) - Saturday

    This is the only potential matchup between returning All-Americans at 125 lbs this weekend. Each has missed significant mat time this year and doesn't have many bouts against top competition. More importantly, the difference between number's 10 and 16 at 125 lbs, is razor-thin. A win for LaMont could send him rising up the ranks again.

    133 lbs

    #2 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) vs. #3 Austin DeSanto (Iowa) - Saturday

    #5 Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech) vs. #23 Joe Heilmann (North Carolina) - Friday

    #7 Dylan Ragusin (Michigan) vs. #10 Brock Hudkins (Indiana) - Friday

    #7 Dylan Ragusin (Michigan) vs. #11 Rayvon Foley (Michigan State) - Sunday

    #9 Micky Phillippi (Pittsburgh) vs. #14 Kai Orine (NC State) - Friday

    #18 Kyle Biscoglia (Northern Iowa) vs. #27 Ramazan Attasauov (Iowa State) - Friday

    Most Important Match:

    #8 Chris Cannon (Northwestern) vs. #11 Rayvon Foley (Michigan State) - Friday

    So Fix/DeSanto is clearly the biggest match of the week; however, we've seen it already a few times. And win or lose, both will be on the shortlist of NCAA title contenders at 133 lbs. What I want to know is, “where Rayvon Foley fits in.” The 2019 All-American is in his first year at 133 and has amassed an impressive 22-2 record. One of his two losses was via decision to #10 Brock Hudkins, which has kept him out of the top ten. Foley's matches against Chris Cannon and Dylan Ragusin are huge opportunities to prove he's ready for a potential top-eight seed at nationals.

    141 lbs

    #2 Jaydin Eierman (Iowa) vs. #21 Carter Young (Oklahoma State) - Saturday

    #5 Real Woods (Stanford) vs. #27 Angelo Martinoni (CSU Bakersfield) - Thursday

    #6 Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado) vs. #13 Clay Carlson (South Dakota State) - Friday

    #6 Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado) vs. #29 Dylan Droegemueller (North Dakota State) - Sunday

    #7 Ian Parker (Iowa State) vs. #23 Cael Happel (Northern Iowa) - Friday

    #8 Cole Matthews (Pittsburgh) vs. #24 Ryan Jack (NC State) - Friday

    #9 Kizhan Clarke (North Carolina) vs. #22 Collin Gerardi (Virginia Tech) - Friday

    #15 Jake Bergeland (Minnesota) vs. #20 Dylan D'Emilio (Ohio State) - Friday

    #27 Angelo Martinoni (CSU Bakersfield) vs. #31 Lawrence Saenz (Cal Poly) - Sunday

    Most Important Match:

    #4 Dylan Duncan (Illinois) vs. #10 Chad Red Jr. (Nebraska) - Sunday

    This will be the fourth meeting between Dylan Duncan and Chad Red Jr. The three-time NCAA All-American from Nebraska holds a 2-1 edge over his Illini counterpart. Duncan, however, holds the most recent win, a 3-0 shutout at the 2021 NCAA Championships en route to his fifth-place finish. Duncan has dealt with a lingering injury that kept him out of the Illinois lineup until February 6th, so we don't have much information on him this season. Another bout with a veteran like Red Jr should go a long way into determining where Duncan falls in the pecking order at 141 lbs.

    149 lbs

    #2 Sammy Sasso (Ohio State) vs. #30 Michael Blockhus (Minnesota) - Friday

    #5 Bryce Andonian (Virginia Tech) vs. #17 Zach Sherman (North Carolina) - Friday

    #7 Austin Gomez (Wisconsin) vs. #29 Christian Kanzler (Illinois) - Friday

    #8 Ridge Lovett (Nebraska) vs. #29 Christian Kanzler (Illinois) - Sunday

    #9 Kyle Parco (Arizona State) vs. #23 Josh Edmond (Missouri) - Saturday

    #10 Max Murin (Iowa) vs. #13 Kaden Gfeller (Oklahoma State) - Saturday

    #14 Josh Finesilver (Duke) vs. #31 Jarod Verkleeren (Virginia) - Saturday

    Most Important Match:

    #4 Jonathan Millner (Appalachian State) vs. #6 Josh Heil (Campbell) - Sunday

    Simply put, this may be one of the biggest matches in the recent history of the Southern Conference. In a league that rarely crowns All-Americans, it's not very often that we see two of the top-six wrestlers in the nation clashing during a SoCon bout. That's the case as Jonathan Millner and Josh Heil take the mat. The two last battled in the finals of the conference tournament last season. Millner took a 2-0 decision and went on to the seventh seed at nationals. This is also a swing bout in the dual between these heated rivals. Whoever gets their hand raised will give their team a massive step towards a SoCon regular-season title.

    157 lbs

    #2 Ryan Deakin (Northwestern) vs. #17 Chase Saldate (Michigan State) - Friday

    #3 Jacori Teemer (Arizona State) vs. #21 Jarrett Jacques (Missouri) - Saturday

    #4 Brayton Lee (Minnesota) vs. #33 Jashon Hubbard (Ohio State) - Friday

    #5 Austin O'Connor (North Carolina) vs. #26 Connor Brady (Virginia Tech) - Friday

    #8 Quincy Monday (Princeton) vs. #20 Doug Zapf (Penn) - Saturday

    #9 Will Lewan (Michigan) vs. #17 Chase Saldate (Michigan State) - Sunday

    #11 Ed Scott (NC State) vs. #19 Elijah Cleary (Pittsburgh) - Friday

    #12 Kaleb Young (Iowa) vs. #18 Wyatt Sheets (Oklahoma State) - Saturday

    Most Important Match:

    #7 Josh Humphreys (Lehigh) vs. #8 Quincy Monday (Princeton) - Friday

    Old rivals will renew acquaintances Friday in a match that will have conference and NCAA seeding implications. Josh Humphreys and Quincy Monday already have met five times at the collegiate level. Humphreys holds a 3-2 edge, but two of those wins came during the 2018-19 season. In wrestling, familiarity can breed low-scoring tactical matches. Despite these two's history, points tend to be scored when Humphreys/Monday meet. Three of their five bouts have exceeded 14 total points. Whoever wins is likely the #1 seed at the EIWA Championships, which is important because #20 Doug Zapf probably looms on the bottom half of the bracket and he's responsible for Humphreys only loss of the year (which was avenged last weekend). A day later, Monday will face Zapf.

    165 lbs

    #5 Alex Marinelli (Iowa) vs. #8 Travis Wittlake (Oklahoma State) - Saturday

    #6 Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin) vs. #29 Danny Braunagel (Illinois) - Friday

    #12 Austin Yant (Northern Iowa) vs. #31 Isaac Judge (Iowa State)

    #15 Phil Conigliaro (Harvard) vs. #19 Josh Ogunsanya (Columbia) - Friday

    #16 Jake Wentzel (Pittsburgh) vs. #22 Thomas Bullard (NC State) - Friday

    #18 Zach Hartman (Bucknell) vs. #25 Brian Meyer (Lehigh) - Saturday

    #24 Lucas Revano (Penn) vs. #26 Evan Barczak (Drexel) - Sunday

    #27 Bubba Wilson (Nebraska) vs. #29 Danny Braunagel (Illinois) - Sunday

    Most Important Match:

    #2 Keegan O'Toole (Missouri) vs. #7 Anthony Valencia (Arizona State) - Saturday

    This is a rematch of the 2021 NCAA consolation quarterfinals. After a hobbled Anthony Valencia secured his elusive All-American honor for the first time, he was paired with the explosive true freshman from Mizzou. That affair ended up one-sided as a match could be in the favor of Keegan O'Toole, 16-1. I wouldn't expect the same result Saturday. Valencia is a week removed from losing a one-point shootout to 2021 national champion, Shane Griffith, while O'Toole downed All-American Travis Wittlake. While O'Toole got the win, he didn't necessarily look like his normal, explosive self, as he came off a two-week layoff.

    174 lbs

    #3 Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech) vs. #9 Clay Lautt (North Carolina) - Friday

    #7 Ethan Smith (Ohio State) vs. #18 Bailee O'Reilly (Minnesota) - Friday

    #8 Adam Kemp (Cal Poly) vs. #30 Sam Wolf (Air Force) - Sunday

    #11 Mickey O'Malley (Drexel) vs. #23 Nick Incontrera (Penn) - Sunday

    #15 Hayden Hastings (Wyoming) vs. #30 Sam Wolf (Air Force) - Friday

    #20 Lance Runyon (Northern Iowa) vs. #25 Joel Devine (Iowa State) - Friday

    Most Important Match:

    #2 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) vs. #10 Dustin Plott (Oklahoma State) - Saturday

    Just a few weeks ago, Dustin Plott was cruising and undefeated and this match looked like maybe it would be a toss-up. Since Plott has dropped two of his last four matches, one to unranked Sean Harmon (Missouri) and another against Lance Runyon (Northern Iowa), who saw his first action of the year. So is Plott closer to the wrestler who started 9-0 and looked poised to make the podium, or is he one that will have to scrap just to make the Big 12 finals? Michael Kemerer is rounding into top form after missing the first half of the season. He's tallied bonus points in four of his six wins and looks a lot like the wrestler that won the 2021 Big Ten title and entered St. Louis unbeaten.

    184 lbs

    #2 Myles Amine (Michigan) vs. #17 DJ Washington (Indiana) - Friday

    #2 Myles Amine (Michigan) vs. #19 Layne Malczewski (Michigan State) - Sunday

    #6 Kaleb Romero (Ohio State) vs. #17 DJ Washington (Indiana) - Sunday

    #6 Kaleb Romero (Ohio State) vs. #20 Isaiah Salazar (Minnesota) - Friday

    #8 John Poznanski (Rutgers) vs. #16 Kyle Cochran (Maryland) - Saturday

    #9 Taylor Venz (Nebraska) vs. #21 Zac Braunagel (Illinois) - Sunday

    #10 Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech) vs. #18 Gavin Kane (North Carolina) - Friday

    #11 Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State) vs. #15 Abe Assad (Iowa) - Saturday

    #21 Zac Braunagel (Illinois) vs. #27 Chris Weiler (Wisconsin) - Friday

    #23 Travis Stefanik (Princeton) vs. #31 Neil Antrassian (Penn) - Saturday

    Most Important Match:

    #4 Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa) vs. #7 Marcus Coleman (Iowa State) - Friday

    Suddenly, the dual between #5 Iowa State and #22 Northern Iowa is turning out to be one of the biggest of the weekend. One of the headliners of this in-state battle is at 184 lbs between All-American Parker Keckeisen and resurgent Marcus Coleman. While Coleman has qualified for nationals three times, he's bounced between 174-197 lbs during his time with ISU and never looked like a podium contender. That was until this year, where he's reeled off a 14-1 record and has wins over two past AA's. The only opponent to defeat Coleman this year? Keckeisen in their first event of the year, the Daktronics Open. The Panther has continued to impress after taking third in the country as a freshman. Like last season, a close loss to NCAA champion Aaron Brooks is the only thing standing between Keckeisen and a perfect record.

    197 lbs

    #6 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh) vs. #16 Isaac Trumble (NC State) - Friday

    #7 Cameron Caffey (Michigan State) vs. #11 Patrick Brucki (Michigan) - Sunday

    #7 Cameron Caffey (Michigan State) vs. #29 Andrew Davison (Northwestern) - Friday

    #10 Tanner Sloan (South Dakota State) vs. #25 Alan Clothier (Northern Colorado) - Friday

    #12 Greg Bulsak (Rutgers) vs. #30 Jaron Smith (Maryland) - Saturday

    #13 Louie DePrez (Binghamton) vs. #19 Jacob Cardenas (Cornell) - Saturday

    #23 Owen Pentz (North Dakota State) vs. #25 Alan Clothier (Northern Colorado) - Sunday

    #28 Max Shaw (North Carolina) vs. #31 Dakota Howard (Virginia Tech) - Friday

    Most Important Match:

    #8 Rocky Elam (Missouri) vs. #9 Kordell Norfleet (Arizona State) - Saturday

    The ever-changing 197 lb weight class! Another enticing match from the top-ten non-conference meeting between Arizona State and Missouri comes here as Rocky Elam and Kordell Norfleet toe the line opposite each other, once again. Norfleet was seeded third but fell in the quarters, then ran into a red-hot Elam in the bloodround and fell via major decision. Norfleet has missed some time this year and hasn't been a part of the chaos that regularly occurs at this weight. Elam recently lost back-to-back matches for the first time in his collegiate career, but may have righted the ship in Mizzou's win over Oklahoma State.

    285 lbs

    #2 Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State) vs. #19 Zach Elam (Missouri) - Saturday

    #4 Tony Cassioppi (Iowa) vs. #31 Luke Surber (Oklahoma State) - Saturday

    #7 Jordan Wood (Lehigh) vs. #33 Matthew Cover (Princeton) - Friday

    #11 Trent Hillger (Wisconsin) vs. #16 Luke Luffman (Illinois) - Friday

    #12 Christian Lance (Nebraska) vs. #16 Luke Luffman (Illinois) - Sunday

    #17 Lewis Fernandes (Cornell) vs. #20 Joe Doyle (Binghamton) - Saturday

    #29 Ben Goldin (Penn) vs. #33 Matthew Cover (Princeton) - Saturday

    Most Important Match:

    #1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota) vs. #13 Tate Orndorff (Ohio State) - Friday

    Really, there isn't a marquee, must-watch of a match at 285 lbs this week. Luke Luffman has a challenging Friday/Sunday swing with a pair of top-12 opponents. Considering his current ranking, a win or two will obviously help his stock and possibly put him on the bottom half of the Big Ten bracket (away from Gable Steveson). Speaking of Gable. We wanted to point out that Friday's matchup with Tate Orndorff will be his last in front of the home fans at Minnesota. The last time Steveson and Orndorff met, it was a 19-4 tech for the Olympic gold medalist. I'd expect Steveson would want to make his last home bout memorable with either a quick fall or a dominant tech.

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