NC State's 2x NCAA All-American Trent Hidlay (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Well, yes, it's the holiday season, but in the wrestling world, it's holiday tournament season. In what has now become a tradition and a precursor to the individually bracketed tournaments between Christmas and New Year's, it's time for the Journeymen Collegiate Duals.
The inaugural Collegiate Duals took place in Destin, Florida in 2021 and this year's iteration will move to Mardi Gras country, New Orleans. This event will be the first DI collegiate competition in Louisiana since 1985! That's even before all of the sixth and seventh-year seniors were even born.
Like last year, 12 teams are participating and separated into a red pool and a blue pool. Two sets of three teams in each pool will wrestle each other on Monday. After Monday's action, the teams in the same pool, with matching records, will compete Tuesday in the placement matches. Then a champion from each pool will be crowned.
Teams have been sorted into their pools so as to not wrestle another team in their conference or on their 2022-23 dual schedule. This ends up featuring some matchups that we typically would not see during the regular season.
Below is a preview of the action in the Red Pool. A preview of the Blue Pool is forthcoming tomorrow.
10AM - #16 Northern Iowa vs. Lock Haven
125 - Kyle Gollhofer (Northern Iowa) vs. #20 Anthony Noto (Lock Haven)
133 - #6 Kyle Biscoglia (Northern Iowa) vs. Gable Strickland (Lock Haven)
141 - #10 Cael Happel (Northern Iowa) vs. Ty Linsenbigler (Lock Haven)
149 - #25 Colin Realbuto (Northern Iowa) vs. Connor Eck (Lock Haven)
157 - #27 Derek Holschlag (Northern Iowa) vs. Ashton Eyler (Lock Haven)
165 - #11 Austin Yant/Cayd Lara (Northern Iowa) vs. Avery Bassett (Lock Haven)
174 - #13 Lance Runyon/Jared Simma (Northern Iowa) vs. Tyler Stoltzfus (Lock Haven)
184 - #3 Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa) vs. Colin Fegley (Lock Haven)
197 - Noah Glaser/Wyatt Voelker (Northern Iowa) vs. Brad Morrison/Kaleb Snodgrass (Lock Haven)
285 - #19 Tyrell Gordon (Northern Iowa) vs. #16 Isaac Reid/Ethan Miller (Lock Haven)
The red pool gets kicked off with this battle between two programs that tend to punch above their weight in terms of competing well with the power-five schools despite not coming from one themselves. Both are led by coaches who have built their programs in an image of themselves. Both blue-collar, no-frills and tough-as-hell.
Though this may look like a mismatch on paper, Scott Moore's Lock Haven team is filled with guys that are on the cusp of a national ranking. The middle portion of this dual, in particular, has wrestlers that are currently out of the top-33, but will make life difficult for their counterparts from UNI. Ashton Eyler had a breakout year last season at 165 and dropped down to 157 for the 2022-23 campaign. He's taken a few early losses at the new weight, but a quality win over an opponent like Derek Holschlag could boost him back into the mix. The Panthers could be particularly vulnerable at 165 and 174 if their stars don't wrestle. Austin Yant made the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational semis before medically forfeiting out of the tournament. If he's not in the lineup, Avery Bassett can surely get a win. Maybe, even if he is. Up a weight, Lance Runyon has not taken the mat yet this year. Tyler Stoltzfus would likely push him, but would be a favorite without Runyon's presence.
The CKLV was a breakout stage for Kyle Biscoglia who finished third at 133 lbs. That placement and the quality of opponents he defeated led to a lofty sixth ranking nationally. Now, we'll see how he performs as the favorite against an opponent like Gable Strickland. Strickland won 19 matches last year, finishing third at the MAC Championships and was on the cusp of an NCAA berth.
Lock Haven can set the tone for this dual at 125 lbs, as it's the only weight where they are a clear favorite. 2022 MAC champion Anthony Noto is 10-1 on the year and could be an outside podium threat. Perhaps the best possible match in this dual is at 285 lbs. Tyrell Gordon is coming off an impressive fifth-place CKLV finish at a loaded weight class and sports an 8-3 record. Isaac Reid was a conference runner-up last season and finished the year with 27 victories. He has yet to compete in 2022-23, so this matchup may not materialize.
While the dual should feature plenty of close individual matches, the edge has to go to a very-balance UNI squad.
Pick: Northern Iowa (21-9)
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