Disclaimer: I am no journalist, expert, or Jack Ryan-like analyst. I’m simply an overzealous wrestling fan that is way too eager for the season to start. Take everything I say with a block of salt. So let’s light this fuse and get going!
This year’s 149lbs class is going to be a doozy to figure out, that’s for sure. Penn State’s wrecking ball, Zain Retherford, and our very own Brandon Sorensen have exhausted their eligibility and were forced to graduate opening the doors wide open for a new champion. The first of its kind since Drake Houdashelt came out on top in 2015.
It’s hard not to turn the 1st half of this post into a tribute page, but Sorensen was the model of consistency that we want all of our wrestlers to be. For four years he gave us solid competition, solid wins, and more importantly solid results in March. He departs from the Black & Gold as Iowa’s 20th 4x time All-American with an overall (ridiculous) record of 127-17. Which ranks 12th all time in Hawkeye history.
Tis’ not the distinction that Brandon wants, but he will more than likely go down as Iowa’s greatest wrestler to never win a title. And we primarily have Retherford to thank for that. So thank you Zain for wrecking everyone’s dreams. Now go do it on the international level so we can finally cheer for you.
Pat Lugo unexpectedly transferred to us from Edinboro and we couldn’t be more thankful. He instantly and (hopefully) more than adequately fills the shoes that Mr. Sorensen is leaving behind. Because he redshirted last year he has two years left to dazzle us Hawkeye fans. Lugo may not be as well known to our fan base, but he definitely is outside of Iowa City. He’s already a 2x NCAA qualifier, reaching the round of 12 in 2016 as a true freshman and going 1-2 with an earlier exit in his sophomore campaign in 2017. He also placed 4th at the Southern Scuffle and 1st in the EWL Championships.
2017 is also the year he burst onto Iowa’s radar when he upset Sorensen 7-5 in sudden victory in the dual with Edinboro. Here’s the match so you can see for yourselves how he stakes up with one of our favorites.
As mentioned, Lugo redshirted last season and went 6-2, with all those matches coming at the Midlands where he would go on to place 4th. Easily his biggest win of the tourney was when he stuck Matt Kolodzik (Princeton) in 4:38. Kolodzik would go on to knock Sorensen into the 5th place bought in the NCAA’s and take 3rd for himself… which was pretty rude. He enters this preseason with the #1 ranking.
Lugo also had a signature win over North Carolina phenom, Austin O’Connor 6-1. He’s well established on the freestyle circuit as well with a couple more signature wins, once more destroying O’Connor in the Junior World Team Trials 12-2 and another big win over ex-cyclone Kanen Storr, 13-3. He would go to lose to #7 Ryan Deakin (157lbs) in the finals.
Zach Axmear, Jeren Glosser, Aaron Meyer, and Keegan Shaw are all listed at 149lbs on the official roster, but all of them have bounced around at different weights in the past. Of all these guys it seems that Glosser is perhaps the only one that may be able to truly compete with Lugo, but rumors are circulating that he’s going to give it a ride at 157lbs this season.
This is definitely Lugo’s spot in the lineup and Flowrestling dished out the #6 preseason ranking to him. So unless he goes down with an injury or needs some rest, we look for him to be our full time starter.
Here is Flowrestling’s complete rankings.
#1 Matt Kolodzik, Princeton: 11/16
#12 Jarret Degen, Iowa State: 12/1
#17 Cortlandt Schuyler, Lehigh: 12/8
#11 Tommy Thorn, Minnesota: 1/3
#3 Anthony Ashnault, Rutgers: 1/18
#18 Alfred Bannister, Maryland: 2/8
Cole Martin*, Wisconsin: 2/17
#5 Boo Lewallen, Ok State: 2/25
Another few of importance that we could bump into at the Midlands includes, #8 Max Thomsen (UNI), #13 Josh Maruca (ASU), and #16 Josh Heil (Campbell).
Similar to our previous weights, the B1G schedule is a gauntlet, but again we miss out on Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State until we run into them at the conference tournament in early March. Of those three schools only Ohio State has a ranked wrestler and that is the returning AA #2 Micah Jordan who is dropping down from 157lbs. Penn St. has Brady Berge who will more than likely make some noise and jump up into the rankings as well. It’s hard to call #3 Ashnault a darkhorse with that high of a ranking, but after missing last season the 3x All-American is fully healthy and climbing up from 141lbs.
With that big win over #1 Kolodzik, Lugo has proven that he is in the mix and has earned that preseason #6 ranking despite a limited amount of mat time over the past year. With the departures of Sorensen and thankfully, The Zain Train, the doors are wide open for ANYONE to step in and turn heads. That includes Lugo.
It’ll take a lot of work, several upsets, and a favorable draw, but Patricio has finalist potential in him. I’m not sure yet if those lofty expectations will materialize in his 1st year in Black & Gold, but unless things take a turn to Shitsburg he’ll definitely be on the podium at the end. Personally, I think Ashnault and Jordan are on a collision course with everyone else battling for 3rd. Sorensen finished out his career in 5th, so I refuse to see Lugo finishing lower that. In fact I think he does better.
Lugo knocks off the Princeton Prince Kolodzik for 3rd.