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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    Ten Matches to Watch at the Garden State Grapple

    All-American's Patrick Glory (left) and Eric Barnett (photos courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

    This weekend is just loaded with great wrestling events. Friday saw the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational kick-off and it will continue into Saturday. Sunday features our Dual of the Week, but also the Garden State Grapple from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Four Big Ten schools will square off with four EIWA teams with conference bragging rights on the line in a two-round of prearranged duals.

    This should be a treat for the home fans as two of the three New Jersey DI schools (Princeton and Rutgers) will be in attendance and Penn featured a handful of wrestlers from the Garden State.

    In attendance will be four programs that appear in InterMat's rankings in some form or fashion. With those caliber schools competing there are sure to be plenty of notable individual matchups. Below, we've targeted ten potential matchups to keep an eye on. There are plenty of other quality matches possible throughout the eight duals, plus we've only mentioned wrestlers that we expect to compete.

    125 lbs - #2 Patrick Glory (Princeton) vs. #9 Eric Barnett (Wisconsin)

    This is quite possibly the best possible match of the day and the only one between returning All-Americans. Actually, multiple-time AA's as both have made the NCAA podium twice. Hopefully, it comes to fruition, as Glory did not wrestle two weeks ago during Princeton's dual with Indiana. Though both are returning All-Americans, they have not met in college. Neither is shy about putting points on the board, so it should be an entertaining affair, as well. Glory was tested twice in week one as he won the Princeton Open, while Barnett suffered a loss in his 2022-23 season debut.

    125 lbs - #17 Ryan Miller (Penn) vs. #20 Dylan Shawver/Dean Peterson (Rutgers)

    Above we mentioned that Patrick Glory was pushed twice in his first outing of the year. Rutgers tandem of Dylan Shawver and Dean Peterson were responsible for testing their in-state rival. The Scarlet Knights are still sorting out the starting role at 125, as both Shawver and Peterson seem capable of winning matches at nationals. Since this is a tougher of Rutgers' two duals on the day, maybe we get an insight into how this battle is progressing by the starter of the Penn dual. Ryan Miller is a returning third-place finisher and a good gauge of how the Rutgers pair stacks up. Both Shawver and Peterson suffered close losses to returning AA Brandon Kaylor (Oregon State) at the Roadrunner Open. Miller went into Iowa and came away with a dual win via tech in the Quakers loss to the Hawkeyes.

    133 lbs - #10 Michael Colaiocco (Penn) vs. #14 Joe Heilmann (Rutgers)

    The event is called the “Garden State Grapple” so it's appropriate to have a pair of Jersey natives squaring off as we'll likely see at 133 lbs. Michael Colaiocco has gotten off to a good start with his only two losses of the year coming to returning All-Americans. Colaiocco got a dual victory in Iowa over the Hawkeyes Cullan Schriever and is now 6-2. The graduate transfer from North Carolina, Joe Heilmann, is coming off a Roadrunner Open title, where he notched bonus points in four of five bouts. Heilmann's only loss on the year came to Arizona State's Michael McGee, someone who beat Colaiocco too.

    133 lbs - #10 Michael Colaiocco (Penn) vs. #16 Taylor LaMont (Wisconsin)

    Colaiocco has his hands full Sunday with a pair of matches against top-16 opponents. His second match of the afternoon is slated to be against 2021 NCAA All-American Taylor LaMont. LaMont's first month competing for the Badgers hasn't gone exactly as planned, with losses in half of his four matches. He was upset by Zach Redding (Iowa State) at the Battle at the River City and was majored by Vito Arujau (Cornell) two weeks later. Earlier in the day, LaMont will hopefully stop his two-match losing skid against Princeton, then will a pair against the 2022 EIWA champion.

    149 lbs - #10 Doug Zapf (Penn) vs. #2 Austin Gomez (Wisconsin)

    The last time we saw Austin Gomez on a wrestling mat he sent shockwaves throughout the wrestling world with a stunning 9-3 victory over three-time national champion Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell). Not only did Gomez hit a four-point move on Diakomihalis, but he also added a pair of additional takedowns for good measure. He remains one of the most dangerous wrestlers in the sport. Having the unenviable task of trying to slow down Gomez is Doug Zapf. A week ago, Zapf was involved in one of the weekend's most high-profile matches as his bout against Max Murin was targeted as a swing match in Penn's upset big against Iowa. The match itself lived up to the hype and Zapf was defeated in sudden victory after a prolonged scramble. Zapf has wrestled one of the most difficult schedules in the country thus far, as a match with Gomez would be his fourth against a top-ten opponent (in ten tries).

    157 lbs - #1 Quincy Monday (Princeton) vs. #14 Garrett Model (Wisconsin)

    In a weekend that shaping up to be challenging for #1's, top-ranked 157 lber Quincy Monday has a pair of capable top-15 opponents to deal with. Monday has only seen action in one official bout this season, downing Indiana's Derek Gilcher, 8-4. He also participated in the All-Star Classic and competed against 2021 national champion David Carr (Iowa State) the third-ranked 165 lber. After a month of action, name the only Wisconsin starter with a perfect record? I'm sure you probably answered Garrett Model, right? Model is 4-0 with four hard-fought wins coming via regular decision. To be fair to his teammates, Model hasn't faced any ranked wrestlers yet. Now he has to deal with #1 (plus a tough Anthony Artalona).

    157 lbs - #1 Quincy Monday (Princeton) vs. #15 Chase Saldate (Michigan State)

    After getting tested by Model, Monday will have to contend with 2021 Big Ten fourth-place finisher Chase Saldate. The two-time national qualifier for the Spartans comes to New Jersey sporting a 6-1 record. The only blemish came to red-hot Peyton Robb (Nebraska) at the Navy Classic. Though the competition isn't quite on par with Monday, Saldate has registered bonus points in all of his previous wins this season.

    197 lbs - #19 Luke Stout (Princeton) vs. #20 Braxton Amos (Wisconsin)

    The next Princeton Tiger to have a pair of top-20 opponents from the Big Ten to deal with is Luke Stout. Stout was a 2022 EIWA Runner-up, as a freshman, in a deep 197 lb weight class. His only loss this season is to the now-famous Ethan Laird (Rider) by a point in the Princeton Open finals. Laird made news last night as he knocked off 2022 national champion Max Dean (Penn State). Stout's first opponent Sunday will be Greco-Roman world team member Braxton Amos. The highly-anticipated freshmen year for Amos was solid; however, didn't live up to his out-of-this-world expectations. With a season in Madison under his belt and more times getting down to 197 lbs, I'd expect a better year out of the Badger star. Amos showed that may be the case when he put together a 2-0 victory over #22 Jacob Cardenas (Cornell) that was instrumental in Wisconsin's upset of Cornell.

    197 lbs - #19 Luke Stout (Princeton) vs. #17 Cam Caffey (Michigan State)

    In the nightcap, Stout has to deal with Michigan State's Cam Caffey. Though he hasn't faced any top contenders yet this year, Caffey is 3-0 with two techs and a fall. Last season, Caffey was responsible for the only loss on Max Dean's record during a national title-winning campaign. Caffey is looking to become an NCAA All-American for the first time in his tenure in East Lansing. Three times he's been seeded in the top ten at the NCAA Championships. Once he went out in the Round of 12 and in 2020 he was named an NWCA All-American.

    197 lbs - #7 Louie DePrez (Binghamton) vs. #17 Cam Caffey (Michigan State)

    Before getting to Stout, Caffey will have to deal with the defending EIWA champion at this weight, Louie DePrez. Actually, DePrez's title was the third in his career. He's looking to get back to the NCAA podium after taking eighth in 2021 and coming up a match shy in Detroit. There's plenty of familiarity between the two as DePrez has beaten Caffey twice at the NCAA Tournament over the years. The first time came in 2019 and the most recent was in last year's Round of 16. With a sneaky-tough Binghamton team likely pushing Michigan State for the first time this year, this bout could have massive ramifications on the team score.

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