Now that the college wrestling season is done and we have had a time to decompress, it's time to talk about next years college wrestling season. Basically what happened was I took a moment to think about who else even stands a chance next year with Penn State bringing back the strongest lineup that I can remember. After all, they did win half of the weight classes. With that being said, there are a handful of teams who have a lot to prove and are going to show up hungry.
NC State is going to be good. Really really good. They bring back their entire lineup from this year with the exception of Sam Speno, who despite having a solid regular season, did nothing at the tournament. With that being said, Fausz went to the bloodround, Jamal Morris (who by the way has a twin brother named Jamel) was eliminated in the round before the bloodround, and Kevin Jack placed third. Now is where it gets interesting. Replacing Speno will likely be either Beau Donahue or Sam Melikan, both upperclassmen who can easily step in and provide some solid production. 157 they have Hayden Hidlay, who is an absolute force of nature, and may actually be a Terminator and not a real person. It will be exciting to watch him step into their lineup and become an All American immediately. I'll be absolutely shocked if he spends his entire career at 157, but in the meantime he will certainly dominate. 165 they have Daniel and Thomas Bullard, who will be able to provide some firepower, along with another freak freshman Nick Reenan at 174. These young destroyers are going to be hell for the ACC for the next 3-4 years, depending on when/who redshirts. Speaking of redshirts, remember when Pete Renda took third at the NCAA tournament? Yeah, that was two years ago because he redshirted last year. He's coming in and will immediately be looking to get back on the podium, and possibly on that raised mat in March. In addition to that, they have Malik McDonald who was an NCAA qualifier, as well as Mike Rogers, a consensus top 10 recruit at Heavyweight who will be looking to get into the lineup this year and make a name for himself on the college scene. All in all, NC State has a young and terrifying lineup returning. They will lose both Kevin Jack and Renda after next year, but they have plenty of young studs in their lineup to keep the wolfpack rolling for years to come. Turns out when you have a badass coach and a cool mascot, good wrestlers will want to come to your school.
The fact that Michigan is going to be good next year shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Michigan placed 10th last year while redshirting three of their best wrestlers, Dominick Abounader, Adam Coon, and Alec Pantaleo. Let's talk about those three briefly. Abounader was ranked 2nd in the country his junior year before having a disappointing finish on the year. Really though, he beat everyone that year that wasn't named Gabe Dean, so there is that. Pantaleo had a strong freshman year, but was an absolute monster his sophomore year. He ended up being an All American, while getting big wins on the year over Alex Tsirtsis (I believe he beat Tsirtsis twice). His sixth place NCAA finish came along with him making the semi finals. Either way, he's a freak, and appears to be spending his red shirt year by doing circus tricks and crazy burpee/backflip combos. Seriously though, his video's on Facebook are gnarly. Lastly, we return Adam Coon. As a freshman, Adam beat Tony Nelson to become the number one ranked guy in the country. He's been a multiple time Greco and Freestyle world medalist, and 2 time All American by placing 2nd and 3rd. So he's coming back, and is on all accounts healthy. Word on the street is that when he placed 3rd, he had some shoulder issues that deterred him from taking shots. After off season surgery, and a strong training regimen (actual footage of his training regimen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gqV-i9Ee0g) , he will be looking to shock the world and win a NCAA Championship. All of these paired with their three freshman All Americans this year, and a strong young lineup makes for a really tough squad with some great depth. I'd be shocked if Massa and Micic don't make the finals next year along with Coon, Pantaleo, and possibly Abounader. In addition to that, they have some high quality recruits in Assad at 125 who will return, along with some other strong recruits coming in who could have an immediate impact in the lineup. Honestly though, this is going to be an excellent year for a variety of reasons. One being that the match up with the Wolverines and Buckeye's should be outstanding.
It's crazy, but Michigan and OSU didn't wrestle in a dual last year. Seems ignorant on the part of the scheduling committee, but what's done is done, and they should meet again this year. The last time they wrestled Michigan beat OSU, and I believe the results will be the same this year, but they do have an outstanding lineup returning. You've got the 4 above, all of which have won NCAA titles, except for Bo Jordan, who placed 3rd, 3rd, 2nd (what a loser). Kyle Snyder is one of the greatest American Hero's since Kurt Angle, NATO was dominant this year until Cory Clark got his revenge, and Myles Martin placed 5th in an absolutely LOADED bracket. Not to mention they bring back Ke-Shawn Hayes who was injured early in the year, but who was looking like an AA. They brought in TeShan Campbell from Pitt, who looks like he'll be able to step in and compete to be the starter at 165, and by all means should win that spot. All this paired with Kollin Moore and some combination of Luke Pletcher and Isaac Jordan in there as well should make a strong team.
Are these teams going to beat Penn State next year? Probably not, but I'd say that they all will compete with them, and should still have a strong showing next year and at the NCAA tournament. Looking forward to a fun 2017-2018 season.