Penn State's coaching staff with Max Dean (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
We're less than a month away from the beginning of the collegiate season and two days removed from the first official practices. What better time than now to look five months down the road! We're talking Tulsa and the 2023 NCAA Championships. Specifically, the team race.
What we're looking at today is the â€œbest case scenario'' for the top-five teams in InterMat's tournament rankings. At the same time, we're looking to be slightly realistic. Anyone who's ever been to a wrestling tournament, from high school to the Olympics, knows that the perfect tournament doesn't exist in a team setting. Even if you've had three or four wrestlers outwrestle their seeds or pre-tournament expectations, you likely had one or two that failed to do so. So, we're not going crazy and projecting that Penn State or Iowa has ten national champions in 2023. We're definitely donning rose-colored glasses, but trying to keep some sense of realism intact. Could Spencer Lee, Yianni, or Aaron Brooks get beaten? Sure, but knowing what we know right now, I wouldn't pick it!
Below are the top-five teams (tournament-wise). Under each is a description of how they could get maximum point value in Tulsa, along with what the final picture would look like from that team's perspective.
Unlike other teams on this list, you don't have to use much imagination to think of the Nittany Lions hoisting the first-place trophy again. With four returning NCAA champions in the bullpen for Cael Sanderson's team, they will certainly put up big points at nationals. Of the four, Aaron Brooks probably has the best odds at returning, as there are more contenders at other weights that could knock off their other champs. That being said, it's hard to picture Roman Bravo-Young and Carter Starocci lower than second.
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