Peyton Robb (left) and Ed Scott at WrangleMania (photo courtesy of Tony DiMarco;FantasyCollege Wrestling/InterMat)
Over the weekend, I was able to make it up to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for two days of great wrestling, despite Mother Nature's best efforts on Friday, coupled with the usual traffic nonsense you'll find on Interstate 95. On Saturday morning, WrangleMania got underway at Liberty High School, while Lehigh hosted Oklahoma State at noon. WrangleMania featured four sessions of prearranged duals between a variety of collegiate teams, mixing in with a few high school all-star matches. Freedom High School was the scene for the Journeymen Classic on Sunday, where individuals competed in pool action. Below are some general thoughts/observations from a great two days in Pennsylvania's fabled District XI.
Some topics we discussed in the "7 Big Stories from the Week in College Wrestling
" that took place in Bethlehem were:
"Tempers Flare in Lock Haven/NC State Dual", "Short-Handed Sun Devils Dominate Scarlet Knights" and "Voinovich Victorious in Match of the Week"
More of the Best of Bethlehem include:
Lehigh gets a clutch pin from Nathan Taylor to defeat Oklahoma. Lehigh led 18-17 heading into the heavyweight bout; however, #17 Josh Heindselman was waiting in the wings for the Sooners. The win gave Lehigh a split during its two duals with the Oklahoma schools.
During Oklahoma's loss to Lehigh, Mitch Moore scored a fall over Manzona Bryant. Moore now has three falls on the season. He's been a big pinner throughout his career. Moore's opponents know that a cement job is usually coming, they just have a hard time stopping it.
Josh Humphreys escapes with a pair of wins. He was pushed by Kaden Gfeller (Oklahoma State) and Jacob Butler (Oklahoma).
Long Island and Sacred Heart engaged in a fun dual that came down to criteria after it was tied at 17. Back-to-back wins for Josh Dusza (fall) and Aeden Begue (decision) at 197 and 285 saw the dual end in a tie. The Sharks were deemed victors based on criteria. That gave Long Island and head coach Joe Patrovich the first EIWA win of the season.
Brian Soldano had an impressive 18-3 tech fall victory over #17 Anthony Montalvo (Arizona State). On Friday, Soldano majored #21 Will Feldkamp (Clarion).
Cael Valencia got a win over Jackson Turley via injury default. The 2021 All-American Turley missed a large chunk of the 2021-22 season due to injury. Let's hope that doesn't mess up his year this time.
NC State defeats Nebraska 23-10 in the marquee matchup at WrangleMania. In the most-anticipated match of the dual, #4 Peyton Robb imposed his will on #6 Ed Scott early and often during an 8-2 win.
The true freshman from the ACC at 149 lbs that we mentioned in our "7 Stories" write-up was Caleb Henson (Virginia Tech), and rightfully so. However, there is another one to look out for. NC State's Jackson Arrington is now 4-2 on the year. Both losses have come to returning All-Americans Kyle Parco (Arizona State) and Jon Jon Millner (Appalachian State). Though Arrington doesn't have any significant wins on his resume…yet, he passed the "eyeball test" and looks the part. He's generally beaten the guys you'd expect him to beat and done so decisively.
Army West Point's 125 lber, Ethan Berginc, continued his impressive start with a victory over #18 Liam Cronin. It was one of three wins for Army against Nebraska at WrangleMania.
Richard Figueroa is a great backup option for Arizona State. He defeated #20 Dylan Shawver (Rutgers) at WrangleMania, then beat #17 Ryan Miller (Penn) Sunday at the Journeymen Collegiate Classic. Figueroa also beat Jacob Van Dee (Nebraska) a true freshman that had an impact for Nebraska this weekend.
Voinovich/Bryant was the undisputed match of the week. After that, it's hard to go wrong with the action from both parties in #4 Michael McGee's (Arizona State) win over #10 Michael Colaiocco (Penn). The two could meet next weekend at the Keystone Classic.
Penn had a flip-flop in the middle of their lineup with Doug Zapf dropping to 149 and Anthony Artalona moving up to 157. That should serve Artalona well, as a veteran who dealt with a variety of injuries, rather than having to worry about cutting more weight. Both were victorious at the Classic. Zapf won awarded the hammer after Kyle Parco (Arizona State) could not continue due to an injury. Artalona got by Jacob Butler, 6-4.
Oklahoma State unveiled a lineup with Voinovich at 149, Kaden Gfeller at 157, and Wyatt Sheets at 165. That should be able to maximize the Cowboys talent and solidify a potential hole at 165.
I'd also point out that Luke Surber (Oklahoma State) looked solid in his debut against 2021 All-American Michael Beard (Lehigh). Surber came down from 285 lbs and this was his first outing at 197 lbs. Nobody wants moral victories, but he lost 10-7 to the former All-American.
After pinning Connor O'Neill (Rutgers) in their dual meet, Tony Negron also won the Classic. There he scored wins over #16 Lucas Revano (Penn) and #26 Dalton Harkins (Army West Point).
One of the best performances of the weekend belonged to Darrien Roberts of Oklahoma. The 174 lber posted wins over four ranked opponents. Though he took a loss to Joey Milano (NC State), Roberts pinned his teammate Matthew Singleton, along with #19 Nick Incontera (Penn), #27 Jay Nivison (Buffalo) and #9 Phil Conigliaro (Harvard) in the finals.
Jacob Ferreira made his Hofstra debut and earned the hammer award at 184 lbs. Ferreira tallied bonus points in all three of his matches Sunday, including a pin over Leo Tarantino (Harvard) in the finals. It was a back-and-forth affair he led 9-8 at the time of the fall.
After a knee injury at the 2021 CKLV Invitational knocked him out for the remainder of the year, Yaraslau Slavikouski made his return to the collegiate scene. Slavikouski won three bouts over ranked opponents and showed why he has such a lofty ranking (#5).
One of Long Island's standouts for the day was Blake Bahna at 174. Bahna pinned both Cael Valencia and Dillon Sheehy (Army West Point). Last week, Sheehy defeated Bahna 11-6.
WrangleMania had a high school marching band in the stands. These people from District XI love their wrestling.
Speaking of the locals. After Saturday's action, the extended InterMat family went out looking for some food. As we were walking into the restaurant, someone saw my shirt and asked if, "We just came from the matches and how did Lehigh look against Oklahoma?" Unfortunately, 95% of my fellow Virginia residents probably would not have known I was wearing a wrestling shirt. Some others probably would have had to ask if it was indeed a wrestling shirt. In PA, not only did they recognize it, but the man knew there was a match going on and who was wrestling.
If anyone knows me (and even if they don't), they'd soon learn that I enjoy baseball almost as much as wrestling. Maybe equally if my team isn't selling off all its star players. Anyhow, before the Oklahoma State/Lehigh due, a throwaway comment from the GOAT himself, John Smith, led me and our resident fantasy wrestling expert, Tony DiMarco, to talk baseball for a good five minutes. If you haven't heard, Coach Smith's nephew, JT Realmuto, is a superstar for the 2022 NL Champion (not sure I like writing that) Philadelphia Phillies. It's fun for the fanboy in me to spend a few casual minutes talking to John Smith, but to do so about baseball….talk about world's colliding!