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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    The Upsets of Top-Ten Ranked Wrestlers this Weekend

    Rocky Jordan (left) and John Poznanski (Photo/Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

    As most teams are in the midst of their conference schedules, it appears we've seen an uptick in notable wrestlers falling victim to upsets. Just this weekend alone, 14 top-ten wrestlers fell to opponents ranked lower than them. With familiarity between wrestlers who have competed against each other in the past and coaching staff's who have drawn up specific game plans, these shouldn't always take us by surprise.

    Here are the 14 instances where top-ten opponents fell victim to the upset bug from Friday through Sunday.


    #5 Killian Cardinale (West Virginia) via #27 Kysen Terukina (Iowa State)

    One of the few remaining undefeated wrestlers at 125 lbs fell from the ranks of the unbeaten over the weekend. 2021 All-American Killian Cardinale had a difficult schedule with one-loss #27 Kysen Terukina (Iowa State) and 2021 Big 12 champion #13 Brody Teske (Northern Iowa) on the docket. On Friday evening, Terukina continued his recent good run by using a third-period takedown to down Cardinale. It was the Cyclone's second top-ten win in as many weeks. Cardinale rebounded in style the next night with a major decision over Teske.

    #9 Patrick McKee (Minnesota) via #15 Devin Schroder (Purdue)

    Some upsets are “upsets” in name only and this was the case as #15 Devin Schroder (Purdue) downed Patrick McKee Sunday afternoon. Despite the disparity in their rankings, the margin between #5 and #20 at 125 lbs is razor-thin. In fact, Schroder and McKee have a history with each other, as well. The two had split their previous bouts, with the Boilermaker emerging victorious during last year's dual. This time, Schroder got in on a single leg early in the match and ended up with a takedown after a prolonged scramble. That led to a quick tilt, which left the match 4-0 in Schroder's favor after a period. He'd eventually get the victory, 8-3.


    #7 Micky Phillippi (Pittsburgh) via #23 Joe Heilmann (North Carolina)

    Coming into this weekend, Micky Phillippi had four losses which seemed like a lot for someone ranked seventh in the nation. Looking deeper at his results, three of those came to the three wrestlers directly above him (4-6) in the rankings. That's why a loss to #23 Joe Heilmann was so surprising. Heilmann, who now seems to be the Tar Heels starter at 133, after another injury to Jaime Hernandez, used a third-period takedown over the normally stingy Phillippi to take the lead. That would hold up and was instrumental in North Carolina's 19-12 victory over their conference foe.


    #6 Kizhan Clarke (North Carolina) via #17 Cole Matthews (Pittsburgh)

    Just one match after North Carolina pulled a stunner against Pitt, the Panthers returned the favor as Cole Matthews handed Kizhan Clarke his first loss of the season. Once again, though there is a large difference between their rankings, Matthews has been one of the hottest wrestlers in the nation. His win over Clarke was his eighth consecutive win. Two days later, Matthews pinned #19 Matt Kazimir (Columbia).

    In the bout with Clarke, Matthews was buoyed by a first-period takedown and some savvy defense which led to a 3-2 win. Clarke finishes the regular season with a pair of bouts against ranked opponents (#22 Collin Gerardi - Virginia Tech and #24 Ryan Jack - NC State), before potentially getting another crack at Matthews.

    #10 Dresden Simon (Central Michigan) via UR Gabe Willochell (Edinboro)

    Speaking of winning streaks, Dresden Simon had his eight-match heater stopped in abrupt fashion by Edinboro's Gabe Willochell Friday night. Simon appeared to be cruising to a ninth straight victory with a 12-1 and was looking to add to it, on top with a crab ride. The Chippewa left an opening for Willochell and he capitalized with a tight headlock. Willochell never let go and got the fall and the upset. With a resume that features wins over #19 Matt Kazimir, 2021 national qualifier Zach Redding (Iowa State), and now Simon, Willochell could break into the top-33 tomorrow.


    #5 Peyton Robb (Nebraska) via #13 Will Lewan (Michigan)

    This is another case where despite the rankings, the history between Peyton Robb and Will Lewan actually was on the side of the lower-ranked wrestler (Lewan). Now it's not much of a history, one match during the 2019-20 season, so take from it what you will. In their meeting Friday, Lewan was more aggressive than usual and had to fend off a near-takedown from Robb late in regulation. Lewan was able to make the most of his opportunity in sudden victory and grabbed a takedown himself. The Wolverine has quietly put together a sound season, with a one-point loss to Brayton Lee (Minnesota) accounting for his only Big Ten setback this year.

    #10 Ed Scott (NC State) via #29 Jake Keating (Virginia)

    One of the best matches of the weekend took place in the ACC as Ed Scott suffered his first official loss of the year to Jake Keating. Oftentimes, “styles make fights,” and in this instance, you had a guy that likes to go upperbody (Scott) against an opponent who was ready and able to counter (Keating). Keating got a pair of takedowns from throw attempts that he nullified. He even had to battle back after spending over a minute-plus on his back fighting off a fall from a Scott cradle. This is another instance where I'm eagerly anticipating the rematch. Will Keating be ready for Scott's arsenal of throws or will the youngster adjust?


    #8 Julian Ramirez (Cornell) via UR Jake Marsh (Princeton)

    The last time Cornell and Princeton clashed it was in 2020 and the Tigers put a halt to Cornell's long Ivy League winning streak. With a chance to move one step closer to a regaining their Ivy League stranglehold and getting a measure of revenge, you can guarantee that Mike Grey's Big Red squad was ready to go. That being said, in the first bout of the dual, Julian Ramirez was shocked by Princeton's unranked Jake Marsh. Deadlocked in a 5-5 match, with under a minute remaining in the third period, Marsh stuffed a Ramirez shot attempt and spun for the winning takedown. Though Marsh set his team up with an early 3-0 lead, Cornell would come back to take the dual, 21-12.

    Marsh's win brings his season record up to 4-5. Digging in deeper, four of those losses have come to opponents ranked in the top-18 nationally. While Marsh probably doesn't garner an automatic bid for the EIWA, he may be one capable of stealing one at the conference tournament.

    #9 Austin Yant (Northern Iowa) via #16 Peyton Hall (West Virginia)

    When the dust cleared after last weekend, Austin Yant saw himself in the top ten nationally after shutting out Joe Grello (Oklahoma) and 2021 All-American Travis Wittlake (Oklahoma State). This time it was Yant falling victim to a lower-ranked opponent. Like 125 lbs, there is very little separation between 8-20 at this weight, so falling to #16 isn't that big of a surprise. In fact, Peyton Hall was ranked in the top ten before getting upset himself last weekend. With five of the top-16 wrestlers in the country hailing from the Big 12, expect more chaos in Tulsa at the conference meet. That was the case in 2021 as Luke Weber (North Dakota State) shocked the league and came away with the title.


    #5 Mikey Labriola (Nebraska) via #6 Logan Massa (Michigan)

    So the fifth-ranked wrestler losing to the sixth-ranked guy isn't much of an upset! But, looking at the 2021 result between Mikey Labriola and Logan Massa shows that Labriola did major his Wolverine opponent at the Big Ten Championships that year. So for Massa to turn the tables and win 4-1 on Friday night is a solid accomplishment. Barring any crazy results over the next two weeks, that will probably put Labriola on #1 Carter Starocci's (Penn State) side of the bracket at Big Ten's, while Massa contends with Michael Kemerer (Iowa). Neither draw may be better than the other, but that's the Big Ten for you.

    #9 Cade DeVos (South Dakota State) via #10 Dustin Plott (Oklahoma State)/#20 Anthony Mantanona (Oklahoma)

    Those 9-15 spots in the 174 lb rankings have been difficult for anyone to hold down this year. Cade DeVos is the latest victim to that range as he lost a tight bout to Dustin Plott on Friday night, then was knocked off by Anthony Mantanona in sudden victory on Sunday.

    #10 Dustin Plott (Oklahoma State) via UR Sean Harmon (Missouri)

    So a win over DeVos on Friday night was what it took to right the ship for Plott and get him on the winning path after a loss via fall to Lance Runyon (Northern Iowa) last week, right? Not quite, as Plott was picked off again on Sunday, this time by Missouri's Sean Harmon. Over the previous two weeks, Harmon has gotten to call for Mizzou and responded with a pair of ranked wins last time out. He did it again by downing Plott. Harmon was helped by a stall call in the third period, before emerging atop his Cowboy opponent during a scramble with under a minute remaining in the bout.


    #7 John Poznanski (Rutgers) via UR Rocky Jordan (Ohio State)

    Rutgers had upset on their mind as they led #8 Ohio State 14-10 after seven bouts and with a pair of top-ten wrestlers awaiting at 184 and 197 lbs. The Buckeyes had something to say about that as they were victorious in both of those contests and walked away with a 19-14 win. The spark was at 184 lbs as Rocky Jordan filled in for Kaleb Romero and got the win 4-3. That result didn't seem possible as Poznanski led 3-1 in the third period and was cruising on top. In one fell swoop, Jordan's movement forced a locking hands call and followed with a reversal. Suddenly, Jordan was ahead and he'd ride the Scarlet Knight All-American for the last 1:15 for the win.


    #7 Greg Bulsak (Rutgers) via #21 Gavin Hoffman (Ohio State)

    This was the win that Ohio State fans have been waiting for. 197 lber Gavin Hoffman was one of the highest-ranked recruits in the Class of 2018, yet is still looking to make his first NCAA Tournament this year. He currently holds a #21 ranking and has generally beat the opponents below him, while falling to those above him. Friday marked a step in the right direction as he nearly knocked off #2 Max Dean (Penn State) in sudden victory. Two days later, he got that elusive “big win,” by downing Greg Bulsak in sudden victory. Bulsak appeared on his way to a go-behind (and the win), but Hoffman kept moving and got in on a reattack, which led to his takedown.

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