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NCAA college wrestling championships preview: Storylines and wrestlers to watch


The 2023-24 males’s school wrestling season involves a triumphant end result this week in Kansas Metropolis with the NCAA Division I wrestling championships. In whole, 330 wrestlers will step on the mat in hopes of standing atop the rostrum on Saturday evening. After a season of unpredictable upsets and intense rivalries, solely 80 will attain the coveted All-American standing and solely 10 might be topped the 2024 nationwide champion of their respective weight class.

The championships start Thursday at Midday ET on ESPNU and ESPN+ and proceed by means of Saturday on ESPN, ESPNU and ESPN+.

5 key storylines

1. Starocci going for 4

The senior Nittany Lion Carter Starocci is in search of his fourth NCAA Championship at 174 kilos, however the largest query is how wholesome he’s. After struggling an damage over the last twin of the yr, Starocci medically forfeited out of the Large Ten championship. With the missed matches counting as losses, Starocci owns a 12-2 document and noticed his NCAA D-I main 64-match win streak come to an finish. He’s coming into the event because the 9-seed, a placement that would result in a Starocci/1-seed Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech) quarterfinal matchup and a Starocci/4-seed Shane Griffith (Michigan) semifinal.

2. Returning champions

Seven earlier NCAA champions are within the area, in search of one other title so as to add to their legacy.

If Aaron Brooks and Starocci have been to win their fourth titles, they’ll be a part of a listing of solely 5 different wrestlers who boast 4 titles hooked up to their names.

3. Do not sleep on these guys

A number of the finest tales from the event begin with the least anticipated wrestlers hitting their stride and happening a run. Who remembers 15-seed Kizhan Clarke (North Carolina) in 2022 who reached the finals because the lowest seed ever? The next guys may have their very own Cinderella story this week and add some drama within the course of.

  • 125 lbs: 12-seed Anthony Noto (Lock Haven); three-time MAC Champion

  • 133 lbs: 7-seed Nasir Bailey (Cal Poly); Pac-12 champion

  • 141 lbs: 18-seed Cole Matthews (Pittsburgh); two-time ACC champion, upset 1-seed Jesse Mendez this season

  • 149 lbs: 20-seed Jordan Williams (Oklahoma State); damage defaulted at Large 12 championship; injured within the finals vs. 5-seed Ty Watters

  • 157 lbs: 14-seed Cody Chittum (Iowa State); spectacular exhibiting at Large 12 championship

  • 165 lbs: 13-seed Joseph Bianchi (Little Rock); Pac-12 champion

  • 174 lbs: 22-seed Peyton Mocco (Missouri); solely returning All-American on his aspect of the bracket

  • 184 lbs: 18-seed Ryder Rogotzke (Ohio State); Pinned 6-seed Bernie Truax this season, took fifth at Large Ten championship

  • 197 lbs: 13-seed Levi Hopkins (Campbell); two-time SoCon champion, previous six wins have all been by fall

  • HWT: 29-seed Nash Hutmacher (Nebraska); nicknamed “The Polar Bear”; defensive lineman for the Cornhuskers; his first school match was a win by fall

4. 125 lbs is anybody’s to win

With 5 totally different wrestlers ranked at No.1 within the season, nobody was left unscathed. Matt Ramos (Purdue) held the coveted spot for the final six weeks of the common season, which earned him the highest seed on the Large Ten championship. Simply when everybody started to marvel if the load was Ramos’ to lose, 9-seed Dean Peterson (Rutgers) upset Ramos in a call win. Braeden Davis, a freshman from Penn State ended up taking the Large Ten title and the 1-seed for the NCAA event. These guys are scrappy and unpredictable.

5. Penn State dominance

Coming off their eighth Large Ten title underneath legend Cael Sanderson, the Nittany Lions search their eleventh nationwide championship group title up to now 13 seasons. The group certified all 10 weights for the primary time in 10 seasons and will break earlier information of 5 particular person titles, the biggest margin of victory (+73.75 by Iowa in 1986) and most group factors (170.5 by Iowa in 1997). The race for second and third place is the place issues may get fascinating. Regulate NC State, Michigan, Nebraska and Iowa State to make potential pushes for a group trophy.


Weight-class spotlights

125 lbs

With the revolving door at No. 1 all through the season in addition to six returning All-People within the area, this weight may get wild within the first spherical. True freshman Braeden Davis (Penn State) earned the Large Ten title and everybody might be watching to see what he can do at his first NCAAs. Regulate 2023 NCAA runner-up Matt Ramos (Purdue) and three-time ACC champion Jakob Camacho (NC State).

133 lbs

The reigning 133-pound EIWA convention champion, Ryan Crookham (Lehigh), posted a 18-0 document this season. His two finest wins came visiting 2023 NCAA champion and world medalist Vito Arujau (Cornell), who dropped to the 6-seed on this yr’s bracket. 1-seed Daton Repair (Oklahoma State) grew to become the primary five-time Large 12 champion this season and has appeared within the 133-pound NCAA finals 3 times all through his legendary profession for the Cowboys.

141 lbs

After profitable the load at Large Tens in a win over 2-seed Beau Bartlett (Penn State), Jesse Mendez obtained the 1-seed at NCAAs. Michigan’s Sergio Lemley took the 8-seed after he handed 3-seed Actual Woods (Iowa) his first lack of the season. Preserve an eye fixed out for 18-seed Cole Matthews (Pitt) who boasts wins over Mendez, 4-seed Ryan Jack (NC State) and 6-seed Lachlan McNeil (North Carolina) this season.

149 lbs

1-seed Ridge Lovett seems to win Nebraska’s first nationwide title since 2011 when legend Jordan Burroughs gained for the Cornhuskers. Lovett’s solely loss on the season got here throughout his matchup with 2-seed Kyle Parco (Arizona State) on Feb. 6-seed Austin Gomez (Michigan) has had an incredible exhibiting the final month, qualifying Mexico at 65kg for the 2024 Paris Olympics and taking second on the Large Ten event.

157 lbs

One of many deepest weights on the NCAA event this season, this bracket has all of the makings to get funky. Penn State’s Levi Haines, who is an ideal 18-0 on the season, took the 1-seed with Arizona State’s four-time Pac-12 Champion Jacori Teemer on the 2-seed. Potential second spherical matchups embody 9-seed Will Lewan (Michigan) vs. 8-seed Peyton Robb (Nebraska) and 3-seed Meyer Shapiro (Cornell) vs. 14-seed Cody Chittum (Iowa State).

165 lbs

Junior Keegan O’Toole has been the definition of Tiger Model for Missouri as he enters the event hungry for his third-straight title. If we’re fortunate, we’ll see the fifth installment of O’Toole vs. 4-seed David Carr (Iowa State). O’Toole has taken the previous two conferences, each by resolution. Do not forget about 2-seed Mitchell Mesenbrink, freshman for the Nittany Lions. He and O’Toole attended the identical highschool and are each merchandise of Missouri nice Ben Askren.

174 lbs

With Carter Starocci medically forfeiting out of Large Ten championships and people counting as losses this season, he was dropped to the 9-seed at NCAAs. The issue? The highest half of the bracket comprises 1-seed Mekhi Lewis, 4-seed Shane Griffith and 9-seed Carter Starocci, all of whom have gained an NCAA championship. There may be the potential to see Lewis vs.Starocci within the quarterfinals and Starocci vs. Griffith in semifinals — barring all contributors are wholesome and able to go. The underside half of the bracket? Earlier All-American Peyton Mocco (Missouri) who took eighth final season sits because the 22-seed.

184 lbs

The clear No. 1 at this weight is Parker Keckeisen, a redshirt junior of Northern Iowa. He holds a document of 26-0 and an 88% bonus share in his matches which incorporates 10 tech falls over opponents. 7-seed TJ Stewart, a Virginia Tech freshman, took the ACC title and has been on a formidable run, his final loss coming Jan. 26 in sudden victory vs. North Carolina’s Gavin Kane.

197 lbs

Up a weight and going for his fourth title, 1-seed Aaron Brooks went 17-0 this season whereas selecting up his fourth Large Ten title. The Penn State senior boasts a 94% bonus share and will he win the title, may very well be the entrance runner for the 2024 Dan Hodge Trophy. On the opposite aspect of the bracket is 2-seed Trent Hidlay (NC State) who has additionally bumped up a weight this season. Brooks and Hidlay have met up to now three NCAA semifinals and finals the place Brooks holds a 3-0 document. Do not rely Hidlay out simply but although, he holds a 24-0 document, is a four-time ACC Champion and has a bonus share of 83%. Is it Hidlay’s yr?

HWT

If you happen to love drama, look no additional than the heavyweights. Greg Kerkvliet, the redshirt junior from Penn State, took the 1-seed on this bracket after incomes a 15-0 document and his second Large Ten title. 2-seed Yonger Bastida (Iowa State) can be undefeated on the season with a 24-0 document. He has taken to social media over the previous few weeks declaring himself the Grim Reaper. The final particular person on his checklist? Greg Kerkvliet. Will we see a conflict of the titans within the finals?

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