Austin Gomez is expected to make an impact for Iowa State in 2018-19 (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Coaches always preach getting better through hard work and training. While that is always the goal, sometimes coaches simply need to bring in new wrestlers to the lineup. While most teams will likely be chasing Penn State again this year, the following teams did the best job of improving their starting lineup via transfer, recruiting and wrestlers coming off redshirt.
1. Iowa State
The Cyclones experienced some growing pains in their first year under head coach Kevin Dresser. While much of the news around the program has centered on departures from the squad, there will be some talented faces in the lineup next year.
The team will feature a pair of quality recruits coming off redshirt. Austin Gomez was a top recruit coming out of high school, and he has looked the part so far. He went undefeated during his redshirt season. This spring he won the UWW Junior Nationals in Las Vegas and eventually secured a spot on the Junior World Team. Gomez is expected to hold the spot at 133 pounds over former NJCAA champion Todd Small who transferred in from Iowa Central.
Marcus Coleman is also expected to step into the starting lineup after a strong redshirt year. He went 24-2 during his true freshman campaign with his only two losses coming against Big 12 champion Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa).
A surprising addition to the Cyclone lineup is Willie Miklus who transferred in from Missouri after receiving a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA. Miklus finished eighth at last year's NCAA tournament to become an All-American for the third time. The Iowa native should step in at 197 pounds. However, it remains to be seen how the lineup will work out. Sammy Colbray held down the weight for the Cyclones last year and had some moments.
The Cyclones also added Ethan Anderson as a transfer from Oklahoma State. However, he will likely ride the bench behind Gannon Gremmel at heavyweight. The crown jewel of Dresser's recruiting class was No. 3 recruit David Carr who is expected to redshirt this season.
Daton Fix reached Final X before losing to Thomas Gilman (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
2. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys have three potential impact wrestlers coming off redshirt. The problem will be trying to find a place in the lineup for all three. Daton Fix recently wrapped up his spot on the Junior World Team after narrowly missing out on the Senior World Team earlier in the summer. He made Final X after defeating veteran Tony Ramos, but he fell against Thomas Gilman in the Final X series. Fix wrestled sparingly during his redshirt campaign. He went 5-0 and won the Reno Tournament of Champions and then suffered an injury at the Southern Scuffle. While he can clearly make 125 pounds, Fix might end up at 133 so the Cowboys can keep Nick Piccininni in the lineup.
Kaden Gfeller went 20-4 during his redshirt season with his four losses all coming against All-Americans. The highlight of his season was winning the Southern Scuffle where he pinned Nick Lee (Penn State) in the finals. As it currently stands, it looks like Gfeller is behind Kaid Brock on the depth chart at 141 pounds. However, he might end up starting after a lineup shuffle.
Returning to the lineup is Joe Smith. He started at 157 pounds for the Cowboy for his freshman and sophomore season and earned All-American honors in both years. He redshirted last season, and he might end up being the starter at 174 pounds this season.
The Cowboys also added Dakota Geer as a transfer from Edinboro. He will likely sit behind senior Jacobe Smith at 184 pounds, but he could end up becoming a wildcard contributor in the winter.
Gable Steveson dominated Tanner Hall at the World Team Trials (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)
The Golden Gophers signed the No. 1 recruit in the country, Gable Steveson, and he is expected to make an impact right away. This past summer, he came pretty close to earning a spot in Final X. He lost on criteria in the finals of the World Team Trials challenge tournament. He should be a contender at heavyweight this upcoming season.
In addition to the top recruit, Minnesota will also receive help from a pair of impact transfers. Sean Russell will step in at 125 pounds after coming over from Edinboro. This allows Ethan Lizak to move up to 133. Russell is a three-time NCAA qualifier and earned All-American honors in the 2017 season. Also coming into the program is Devin Skatzka, formerly of Indiana where he was a two-time NCAA qualifier. He is expected to take over at 174 pounds.
Another wildcard potential addition to the Minnesota lineup is Jake Allar. He originally committed to Iowa State out of high school but switched to Minnesota after a coaching change. He missed his entire redshirt season due to injury, but he could still make an impact at 165 for the squad.
Austin DeSanto gets his hand raised after beating Northwestern's Anthony Rubinetti at the Keystone Classic (Photo/Juan Garcia)
The biggest offseason acquisition for the Hawkeyes was filling the lineup hole at 133 pounds with Austin DeSanto. The Pennsylvania native transferred in after his freshman season at Drexel where he narrowly missed out on All-American status.
Iowa will also benefit from three wrestlers coming out of redshirt. Pat Lugo redshirted last season after transferring from Edinboro. He is expected to take over at 149 pounds after the graduation of Brandon Sorensen.
At 197, Jacob Warner will step into the lineup after looking downright dominant this summer. He torched his way through the UWW Junior Nationals and World Team Trials fields and will represent the U.S. at the Junior World Championships. Max Murin also has a shot to make the lineup at 141 pounds. He also picked up some signature victories in freestyle earlier this summer including a win over Iowa State to Michigan transfer Kanen Storr.
Mekhi Lewis (Photo/HokieSports.com)
5. Virginia Tech
The Hokies were able to pick up two starters via transfer from Edinboro. Korbin Myers is a two-time NCAA qualifier who should step into the lineup at 133. Also coming over is Billy Miller who was a three-time NCAA qualifier for Edinboro before transferring.
Mekhi Lewis is expected to step in the lineup after coming off redshirt. During his redshirt year, he went 28-2 with his only two losses coming against Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven). At the Junior World Team Trials, Lewis knocked off All-American Alex Marinelli (Iowa) to make the finals, and he eventually earned a spot on the Junior World Team.