We Iowa fans live, breath, and exist for wrestling and wrestling season is officially here! With the regular schedule beginning on Nov 17, it’s about time I jumped in and gave BHGP some weight breakdowns.
125lbs: Spencer Lee (JR) // Aaron Cashman (RSFR)
#1 Spencer Lee: Lee is returning for his junior year and our future glory rests in his capable ass-kicking hands. Lee holds a career record of 45-5 but the most important stat of all: he’s gone undefeated in March and is a 2x NCAA Champion.
He enters the fray this year ranked as the unanimous #1 and we desperately need him to deliver on that ranking at the end of the year. The biggest question coming in was whether or not he’d taking an Olympic Redshirt, as Lee is striving to make the 2020 Olympic team. Thankfully, he is not. With that said, he will undoubtedly miss a handful of duals as he competes at a few freestyle events to try and earn a spot in the crowded 57kg field for the Olympic Team Trials next April.
Aaron Cashman: Cashman is a talented redshirt freshman. He went 3-2 last year in limited action with all of his matches coming in the month of January. However, we should get used to his name right now, because he will be subbing in for Lee when needed. Cashman is good, obviously not on Lee’s level, but he’s good and he’s going to prove that to us when we finally see him step on the mat. He’s a suitable replacement that can still give us some pop at 125.
On the schedule: Lee and Cashman are going to encounter tough competition early and often.
#9 Alex Mackall (ISU) – Nov. 24
#5 Pat Glory (Princeton) – Dec. 8
#23 Brock Hudkins (Indiana) Jan. 10
#10 Devin Schroeder (Purdue) Jan. 12
#27 Brody Teske (PSU) Jan. 31
#6 Rayvon Foley (MSU) Feb. 2
#16 Pat McKee (Minn) Feb. 15
#3 Nick Piccininni (OKST) Feb. 23
The Competition: Everyone mentioned previously is ranked, so therefore everyone is a risk. But keep your eyes specifically on Glory, Piccininni, #2 Sebastian Rivera (NW), and last year’s finalist #4 Jack Mueller (Vir). Rivera and Picc have wins against Lee so they are easily the biggest threats and there’s a chance Lee can run into Rivera at the Midlands in late December. Either way, our guy is going to have to go through all these guys to claim his 3rd NCAA title. Also, for perhaps the first time in his first two seasons, he is finely healthy. I think the entire NCAA landscape is anxious to see what he can do and how dominate he can truly be.
133lbs: Austin DeSanto (JR) // Gavin Teasdale (RSFR)
#2 Austin DeSanto: exploded onto the scene last year going 23-6 and claimed 5th at the NCAA’s. He ended up being the most polarizing figure in all of wrestling, but also one of the most exciting. There isn’t a fan out there that doesn’t know his name. You either love him or you hate him, but you cannot deny the talent, drive, and excitement he brings to the mat. DeSanto enters the season #2, but I guarantee he expects to be atop the podium in March.
Gavin Teasdale: is the Penn State transfer that ended up in Iowa City this past summer. Teasdale went 162-2 in high school and is a 4x Pennsylvania state champ and quite possibly the future for this weight. GT has the talent to immediately compete if he slots into this weight. He he finds himself in the lineup he will be a serious threat for All-American honors.
On the Schedule:
#5 Austin Gomez (ISU) – Nov. 24
#1 Seth Gross (Wisc) – Dec. 1
#18 Kyle Luigs (Indiana) – Jan. 10
#8 Quinn Kinner (OSU) – Jan. 24
#4 Roman Bravo-Young (PSU) Jan. 31
The Compeition: With finalist Daton Fix (OKST) and champ, Nick Suriano (Rutgers) both taking Olympic redshirts, Austin has vaulted up the rankings and sits #2 behind Seth Gross of Wisconsin. Yes, the same former Iowa wrestler. The same SDSU finalist that Cory Clark had to top in 2017. The same guy who won it all in 2018. Now Gross is coming off an injury riddled 2019 in a fresh new location, on a fresh new team. Even if Fix and Suriano were in the field, he may be the favorite. Other names to look out for are: #3 Micky Phillipi (Pitt), #4 Roman Bravo-Young (PSU), and #5 Austin Gomez (ISU).
141lbs: Max Murin (SO) // Austin DeSanto (JR)
#15 Max Murin: Comes off a freshman campaign (17-10) that saw him bow out of the NCAA’s in the blood round, just missing a podium finish. He lost 5 of his 10 matches by two points of less. He has a strong motor and solid defense, but he struggled on the offensive side and seemed to lack a go-to move to snag key TD’s in key moments. He’s right there and in prime position to snag AA honors this season. But perhaps his biggest competition is on his own team.
Austin DeSanto: bumped up to 141lbs during the unofficial wrestle offs last week. Nothing is confirmed though, so he could be staying at 133lbs. But with Teasdale waiting in the wings and if he’s truly as good as advertised, he may slot in and Austin comes up to take on Max. I hate to see Murin on the outside looking in, but it’s entirely plausible to see him on the bench this year. The lone upside to this scenario is that the best wrestler is going to go and that will maximize our points in March. And in the off chance that DeSanto isn’t starting, he does have a redshirt to use.
On the Schedule:
#20 Ian Parker (ISU) – Nov. 24
#6 Tristan Moran (Wisc) – Dec. 1
#12 Chad Red (Neb) – Jan. 18
#3 Luke Pletcher (OSU) – Jan. 24
#1 Nick Lee (PSU) – Jan. 31
#5 Mitch McKee (Minn) – Feb. 5
#9 Kaden Gfeller (OKST) – Feb. 23
The Competition: #2 Dom Demas (Ok) and #4 Tariq Wilson (NCST) are two more names we should add to the list. Whoever emerges in our lineup is going to have their hands full. By the end of January we’re going to have an excellent barometer on how to gauge our post season expectations. This is a hell of a regular season schedule. Brutal.
149lbs: Pat Lugo (SR) // Vince Turk (SR)
#3 Pat Lugo: stepped into a vacated spot that was previously locked down by Brandon Sorenson and gave us our 5th straight year with an All-American at 149lbs. Lugo went 23-10 and finished 8th overall. He struggled against opponents with length and occasionally had offensively lapses, but the talent is there to hang with and compete against the top names at this weight. With the graduation of Anthony Ashnault, Micah Jordan, and Mitch Finesilver, the top 3 place winners are gone, so this is easily Lugo’s best chance to make a deep run.
#17 Vince Turk: Despite not being in the starting lineup, wrestlestate has given Turk a rather high ranking, at #17 in the combined list. Turk is an exciting wrestler when he’s on, but like Lugo, he tends to get a bit stagnant at times. If he keeps his pace up and is on the attack, he’s a threat not only to Lugo’s starting job, but to the rest of the league as well.
On the Schedule:
#4 Jarret Degen (ISU) – Nov. 24
#17 Cole Martin (Wisc) – Dec. 1
#11 Mike D’angelo (Princeton) – Dec. 8
#1 Sammy Sasso (OSU) – Jan. 24
#9 Brayton Lee (Minn) – Feb. 15
#8 Boo Lewallen (OKST) – Feb. 23
The Competition: Whether Lugo remains, or Turk takes control, they’re going to have chances to improve their rankings and ultimately their seeding for the B1G’s and NCAA’s. But that starts in week two when we square off with #4 Degen. Throughout the season we need to pay attention to #2 Brock Mueller (Mizzou), #5 Max Thomsen (UNI) and former #1 Austin O’Connor (NC) once he returns from injury. FWIW- Sasso is ranked as low as #9 on trackwrestling. Lugo and Turk both have the abilities to beat these guys and finish high on the podium, but they need to believe it and more importantly, execute.
157: Kaleb Young (JR)
#3 Kaleb Young: was without a doubt, the most improved and most surprising wrestler of last year. If it weren’t for Spencer Lee, he would’ve been our team’s MVP. Young went 24-7, turned on the afterburners and finished 5th at the NCAA’s last year. En route to that All-American finish he knocked off current #2 Ryan Deakin (NW) in sudden victory, twice. FWIW- Deakin is sitting #2 on the world team behind James Green. In all other major wrestling rankings KY is #2. The expectations are sky high for him this year and we need him in the finals.
On the Schedule:
#21 David Carr (ISU) – Nov. 24
#7 Quincy Monday (Princeton) – Dec. 1
#11 Kendall Coleman (Purdue) – Jan. 10
#25 Bo Pipher (PSU) – Jan. 31
#22 Jacob Tucker (MSU) – Feb. 1
#8 Will Lewan (Mich) – Feb. 8
The Competition: There isn’t a guy in this field that KY can’t beat, but his toughest task is easily #1 Hayden Hidlay (NCST). Hidlay pushed Jason Wolf (PSU) to the brink in last year’s NCAA’s and and many think he probably should have had his hand raised. Alas, it didn’t happen, and he finished 4th, but he proved he deserved to be #1 starting this season as everyone higher has graduated. Other names to watch out for is: #4 Jesse Dellavecchia (Rider), #5 Josh Humphreys (Lehigh), and #6 Larry Earl (Old Dominion).
Tom and Terry Brands have options, especially at 133lbs and 141lbs. I truly don’t know how these weights are going to play out, but it’s going to be a blast watching it unfold.