165 lbers Julian Ramirez (left) and David Carr (photos courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
The second Collegiate Duals event starts tomorrow in New Orleans. The teams will compete in three-time pods to determine who advances to the pool finals on the following day. The field features several top teams, and the first-day pods have the potential to host some strong individual matches. The following looks at the potential matches fans can expect to see on the first day of the event.
125: No. 20 Anthony Noto (Lock Haven) vs. No. 11 Malik Heinselman (Ohio State)
Last season, Noto entered the NCAA tournament with a 30-1 record and knocked off Drew Hildebrandt of Penn State before being eliminated from the field. The Lock Haven wrestler is not sneaking up on anyone this year, but he has already started building up a gaudy record. Noto dropped a one-point decision at the Navy Classic against Tucker Owens (Air Force), but he is otherwise undefeated.
Heinselman is a four-time NCAA qualifier who is making a final run for the podium this year. He has gotten off to a 14-2 record with his only losses coming against No. 21 Brett Ungar (Cornell) and No. 10 Brandon Kaylor (Oregon State). Despite those losses, the Ohio State wrestler has picked up wins over No. 12 Joey Prata (Oklahoma) and No. 16 Eddie Ventresca (Virginia Tech).
141: No. 11 Casey Swiderski (Iowa State) vs. No. 21 Vince Cornella (Cornell)
Swiderski made a late charge up the recruiting rankings with some postseason victories over Mendez last year, and he has continued that momentum on the college scene. He won the first four matches of his Iowa State career including a win over No. 22 Joseph Zargo (Wisconsin). In the annual Cy-Hawk dual, Swiderski got a shot at No. 2 Real Woods (Iowa) and hung tough. However, he ultimately dropped a 3-2 decision.
Cornella competed last year for the Spartan Combat RTC and joined the Cornell lineup for this season. He began his college campaign with a tournament title at the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open where he picked up an impressive win over No. 17 Joshua Koderhandt (Navy). Cornella then suffered a pair of losses against No. 13 Clay Carlson (South Dakota State) and No. 16 Parker Filius (Purdue) at the Cliff Keen Invitational, but he is certainly in the mix at this weight.
149: No. 1 Yianni Diakomihalis (Ohio State) vs. No. 5 Paniro Johnson (Iowa State)
An upset loss against No. 2 Austin Gomez (Wisconsin) in Diakomihalis' only college match of the season has thrown the 149-pound division into chaos. Johnson also holds a victory over Gomez and is undefeated on the season. The Cyclone fans think their wrestler has a strong case for the number-one ranking, and their representative will get the chance to prove it here. In addition to the victory over Gomez, Johnson has also knocked off No. 6 Max Murin (Iowa) in sudden victory.
As previously stated, Diakomihalis has wrestled only one folkstyle match this season and lost. Despite that defeat, he has held onto his number-one ranking for now due to past accomplishments. Three NCAA titles will do that. The Cornell wrestler recently represented the U.S. at the freestyle wrestling World Cup. Diakomihalis went 1-2 with his victory coming over 2019 World Champion Beka Lomtadze of Georgia and the U.S. won the event.
157: No. 7 Josh Humphreys (Lehigh) vs. No. 9 Ed Scott (NC State)
Humphreys has qualified for three NCAA tournaments and made two trips to the bloodround. However, he is still looking for his first podium finish. The Lehigh wrestler's senior season has gotten off to a strong start. He has won all six of his matches with three coming with bonus points. Along the way, he has bested No. 28 Terrell Barraclough (Penn State), No. 23 Dazjon Casto (Pittsburgh) and No. 8 Kaden Gfeller (Oklahoma State).
This event really was Scott's coming out party last year as he bested No. 13 Jarrett Jacques (Missouri) and pinned Iowa's Kaleb Young in the inaugural Collegiate Duals. He ended up finishing just short of All-American status at the NCAA tournament as a freshman. So far this year, the member of the Wolfpack holds an 8-3 record with two of the losses coming against No. 2 Peyton Robb (Nebraska). He does hold a win over No. 10 Will Lewan (Michigan), but it came via injury.
165: No. 3 David Carr (Iowa State) vs. No. 7 Julian Ramirez (Cornell)
After three seasons at 157 pounds and a national title, Carr has moved up to 165 pounds for this season. Following a 7-5 decision over No. 4 Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin) to start the year, Carr has been basically untouchable. He broke off four-straight bonus-point victories in a row before scoring a 9-4 decision over No. 13 Patrick Kennedy (Iowa) in his last match.
Last season, Ramirez showed he was a dangerous out for anyone as he upset returning national champion No. 2 Shane Griffith (Stanford) early in the year. The Cornell wrestler would go on to qualify for the NCAA tournament and see his season come to an end in the bloodround. He suffered some early season losses against Hamiti and No. 5 Peyton Hall (West Virginia), but he has bounced back with a victory at the Cliff Keen Invitational where he also bested No. 18 Tanner Cook (South Dakota State).
174: No. 1 Carter Starocci (Penn State) vs. No. 8 Clay Lautt (North Carolina)
Starocci went undefeated last season and picked up his second NCAA title at 174 pounds. He has been equally dominant this season as he has won all four of his matches with bonus points. On top of that, Starocci also scored an exhibition victory over one of the top contenders No. 3 Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech) at the NWCA All-Star Classic.
Lautt broke through last season and finished eighth at the NCAA tournament to become an All-American. He has continued his winning ways this season, but is looking to rebound after an upset loss to Appalachian State's Will Miller. Starocci is expected to be a heavy favorite in every match he wrestles at the Collegiate Duals, but this should be a solid test in the pool stage of the event.
184: No. 4 Marcus Coleman (Iowa State) vs. No. 13 Trey Munoz (Oregon State)
In his fourth time qualifying for the NCAA tournament, Coleman finally made it on the podium with a seventh-place finish. He is back yet again this year and has gotten off to perhaps his best start. Coleman has started his season with six-straight victories with four coming with bonus points. In his last match, he scored a 3-2 decision of No. 8 Abe Assad (Iowa) in the Cy-Hawk dual.
After starting his career at Arizona State, Munoz found a new home at Oregon State last year. He qualified for his second NCAA tournament and made the bloodround before suffering his second defeat and being eliminated. He brought an undefeated record into the Cliff Keen Invitational before dropping a pair of matches against No. 12 Lenny Pinto (Nebraska) and No. 9 Matt Finesilver (Michigan). Despite those losses, Munoz has still picked up impressive wins over No. 22 Tate Samuelson (Lehigh) and No. 14 Brian Soldano (Rutgers).
197: No. 4 Michael Beard (Lehigh) vs. No. 7 Bernie Truax (Cal Poly)
Beard started his career at Penn State and finished seventh at the NCAA tournament in 2021 to become an All-American. However, after sitting behind No. 5 Max Dean last year, he transferred to Lehigh instead of potentially spending another season on the bench. He has gone 5-1 to start this season with his only loss coming against No. 3 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh). Beard recently faced off against Dean in a dual and scored an 11-9 victory over the Nittany Lion.
After competing at 149 pounds as a redshirt in 2019, Truax has steadily worked his way up the weight classes. He qualified for the NCAA tournament at 165 pounds in 2020, finished fourth at 174 pounds in 2021 and bumped to 184 pounds for another fourth-place finish last year. For this season, Truax has moved up once again to 197 pounds, and he has won all six of his matches including victories over No. 28 Michial Foy (Minnesota) and No. 11 Jaxon Smith (Maryland).
285: No. 10 Sam Schuyler (Iowa State) vs. No. 15 Lewis Fernandes (Cornell)
Schuyler transferred to Iowa State prior to last season and qualified for his second NCAA tournament. He started this season with five-straight victories before running into No. 3 Anthony Cassioppi (Iowa). Two of his early season victories have come over No. 11 Trent Hillger (Wisconsin) and No. 12 Taye Ghadiali (Campbell).
Fernandes made the blood round last year in his first season as a starter for Cornell. He holds a 4-2 record to start this season and has medically forfeited out of both tournaments he has entered so far. Fernandes has shown that he has the pedigree to contend for All-American status at heavyweight, and a victory here would certainly put him back on that path.