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2022-23 Holiday Tournaments: By the Numbers

285 lbs Midlands champion Lucas Davison (top) (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

For years the Midlands and the Southern Scuffle tournaments represented the midway point of the college wrestling season. There were some issues due to the pandemic, but both tournaments returned this year. Another tournament, the Soldier Salute in Iowa, joined the field this year. While much of the talk coming out after these tournaments has been about who did not wrestle and medical forfeits, there was still some great wrestling. The following looks at some of the top statistical performers from the event and their prospects going forward this season.

Point Differential (match points per minute minus match points against per minute)

The best point differential performance came at the Soldier Salute, and it belonged to someone who is no stranger to dominating this statistical category. The top wrestler in the country at 125 pounds was dominant on his way to the title. Spencer Lee (Iowa) averaged 3.34 points per minute across his four matches and allowed only six points total. That comes out to a +2.91 differential.

While the competition was not particularly strong, Lee appeared to be starting to resemble his prime. His best wins in the tournament came against Wyoming freshman Jore Volk, who was third at the Reno Tournament of Champions, and Lee's teammate Drake Ayala. It remains to be seen if this momentum will continue into the Big Ten season, but after six matches this season, Lee has been able to hold his number-one ranking and win all his matches with bonus points.

Across all three tournaments, the only other wrestlers to come close to Lee in terms of point differential were his teammates: No. 2 Real Woods who finished with a +2.66 differential at 141 pounds and No. 3 Tony Cassioppi at heavyweight with a +2.23 differential.

Over at the Southern Scuffle, No. 3 Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado) had one of the best performances of the holiday tournaments on his way to the title at 141 pounds. He averaged 2.65 points per minute, allowed only 0.76 per minute and finished with a +1.89 point differential. In the finals, Alirez knocked off No. 7 Allan Hart (Missouri). So far this season, he has won all 11 of his matches and picked up an exhibition victory over No. 1 Cole Matthews (Pittsburgh) in the All-Star Classic. The Northern Colorado representative is looking entirely like a title contender this season, and his point differential performance at the Southern Scuffle only drove that point home.

Interestingly enough, the best point differential at the Midlands came from a wrestler who finished fifth in the tournament. No. 7 Killian Cardinale (West Virginia) won his first three matches before bowing out of the tournament at 125 pounds. Along the way, he scored 1.84 points per minute, gave up 0.55 and therefore finished with a +1.29 differential.

Cardinale's differential only slightly edged out fellow 125-pounder No. 5 Eric Barnett (Wisconsin) who won the tournament. He finished with a +1.26 differential after outscoring five opponents by a combined 50 to nine score. No opponent managed to notch more than four points against him on his way to the title.



Points Allowed

Last year, at the NCAA tournament, No. 4 Lucas Davison (Northwestern) became the first heavyweight to complete a two-point score against eventual champion and Hodge winner Gable Steveson. At the Midlands, he did his talking with his defense. On his way to the tournament title, he averaged only 0.85 points per minute, but he allowed absolutely zero points. He was the only wrestler across all three weekend tournaments to not surrender a single point.



Mat Time

Oklahoma State won the team title at the Southern Scuffle thanks in large part to three individual champions. No. 2 Daton Fix (133), No. 4 Dustin Plott (174) and No. 13 Travis Wittlake (184) all took home tournament titles. However, usually, tournament success depends on the performance of other placers. One such placer came at heavyweight where Konner Doucet finished third. The Cowboy dropped a one-point decision against No. 22 "Big" Jonah Niesenbaum (Duke) in the quarterfinals before battling all the way back for third.

Along the way, he wrestled in seven matches and went to rideouts in three of those matches. He finished with 64 minutes of mat time. It was the most of any wrestler across all three holiday tournaments. The next closest competitor was Maryland's No. 22 Ethen Miller who finished with a shade over an hour on the mat as he placed fourth in the 157 bracket at the Southern Scuffle. No other competitor spent over an hour on the mats across all three tournaments.

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