Keegan O'Toole at the 2022 All Star Classic (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
North Dakota State-Highest D1 ranking ever
In the most recent coaches' poll, NDSU achieved their highest ranking in program history at #15. That's an incredible feat for this staff and team.
The Cowboys have an incredible history and tradition. Having covered them for years, fans can tend to look at the past and get frustrated that it's not what they see in front of them currently. But no program in any sport has a tradition and history like Oklahoma State. Sometimes it's fun to bask in it, even though the program isn't quite there currently.
South Dakota State-Brand New Facilities
In the college sports world, the facilities arms race plays a very significant role in the success of a program. South Dakota State is in a spot to have the best in the Big 12 for a while. That is an incredibly significant thing to have for them moving forward.
Oklahoma-A recent Big 12 title
In the time with no Missouri in the Big 12, the conference was dominated by Oklahoma State. No program seemed to be able to stop them and they won every conference crown from 2013-2021. One school was able to share a Big 12 title with the Cowboys, and it's their rival Oklahoma during that 2021 season.
Northern Colorado-Andrew Alirez
The Bears might have the early favorite to win an NCAA title this year at 141 with Alirez. Even if he doesn't reach the top of the podium this season, he's been an undeniably huge factor in building and developing this program out in Greeley.
Utah Valley-A healthy Demetrius Romero
After a year-long hiatus, Demetrius Romero returned to the Utah Valley lineup this past weekend for their Big 12 opener with California Baptist. They've got a few ranked guys this season but none as impactful as a healthy Demetrius Romero.
Iowa State-A real shot to beat Iowa in a few weeks
Iowa State and Iowa wrestle their rivalry dual on December 4th. This should be a great dual, and if ISU performs as they have in the first part of the season, this could be a very tight contest. Win a few toss-ups and Iowa State could leave Iowa City with the Cy-Hawk trophy.
Air Force-Wyatt Hendrickson
I followed Hendrickson pretty closely in his recruitment as he was just a few hours from Stillwater and on the Cowboys radar out of high school. He ultimately chose the Air Force Academy and will likely go down as one of their all-time greats.
California Baptist-The Big 12
Something I found surprising to learn recently, the PAC-12 denied California Baptist entry into their conference. Everything about it makes geographic and regional sense, but for whatever reason, it was denied. They eventually applied for and found a home in the Big 12. Which is crucial for them in their transition into Division 1.
West Virginia-Also, the Big 12
With all the crazy conference realignment stuff in the world of sports today, I had a random thought on West Virginia recently. Where would their wrestling program be without the Big 12 conference? Prior to entering the Big 12, they were in the now-defunct Eastern Wrestling League with the rest of their sports in the Big East. It's not a crazy hypothetical scenario to think that without their move to the Big 12, a sport that's always supported wrestling, their wrestling program could have found themselves without a conference and potentially dropped the sport.
Missouri-Keegan O'Toole Hodge Trophy Watch (Maybe Favorite?)
It's obviously early in the season, but you've got to have Keegan O'Toole in the Hodge conversation this year. I think you could argue he might be the favorite. 165 is a gauntlet with multiple returning NCAA champions, some he'll see during the regular season. Looking at that group, if he goes undefeated and wins the weight, you've got to give him the trophy, right?
This one is sort of comparable to Air Force and Wyatt Hendrickson, even though Buchanan is currently injured. You've got one of the all-time greats in your program on your roster right now. You've really got to sit back and appreciate that.
Northern Iowa-Iowa wrestling
When I say "Iowa wrestling" I don't mean the University of Iowa, I mean wrestling in the state of Iowa. This is a team stacked with local talent, and with respect to Iowa State and Iowa, they don't recruit, develop, and utilize the wrestlers from the state of Iowa at near the level we see from Northern Iowa.