2021 - 2022
NCAA WRESTLING PREVIEW
NCAA WRESTLING OUTLOOK
By Jim and Tony Nordland
The 91st annual NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships could feature an unprecedented 12 returning NCAA champions. The tournament is slated to be at the newly constructed Little Caesar's Arena in Detroit, Michigan, on March 18th to March 20th, 2022.
Reigning NCAA champion Iowa won their 24th NCAA team crown at the 2021 NCAA meet are a strong favorite, they will be tough to dethrone. The Hawkeyes are paced by three-time NCAA king Spencer Lee (75-2 career) at 125 pounds along with a plethora of returning All-Americans. They have finalists Jaydin Eierman (Missouri transfer) at 141 and Michael Kemerer at 174, along with Austin DeSanto (12-2) at 133 and 2019 placer Alex Marinelli at 165. Their top challengers will be perennial power Penn State, Michigan, Oklahoma State (winners of 34 NCAA team titles) and a tough Arizona State squad. The Nittany Lions boast four defending NCAA titlists: Roman Bravo-Young (14-0 at 133), Nick Lee (141), Carter Starocci (13-2 at 174) and Aaron Brooks (14-0) in the 184-pound class. Michigan stands to be a trophy team and returns aged-veterans; Steven Micic (25 years old) at 133, along with Myles Armine, already a four-time AA (4-3-3-3) who will compete at 184 pounds, he will turn 26 during the upcoming season. The Wolverines also have Logan Massa (174) and NCAA runnerup Mason Parris (12-2) at 285. The Cowboys have reigning champion AJ Ferrari (20-1) at 197, and NCAA finalist Daton Fix (13-1) at 133, along with Wyatt Sheets (8th at 157) and Travis Whitlake (4th) at 165. The Pokes boast 143 NCAA champions to go along with 480 All-Americans in their storied program. The Sun Devils point to 2021 All-Americans; runnerup Brandon Courtney at 125, Michael McGee (6th at 141), Kyle Parco (6th) at 149, potential champion Jacori Teemer at 157, Anthony Valencia (8th at 174), along with talented Kordell Norfleet (11-2) at 197 and highly-regarded Cohlton Schultz, who finished 4th at the 2021 NCAA meet.
Rounding out the field of returning NCAA kings are two-time winner Yianni Diakomihalis (63-1 career mark) at 149, Austin O'Connor (13-0) of North Carolina and David Carr (20-0) of Iowa State, both are at 157 pounds, Shane Griffith (11-1) of Stanford at 165, 2019 champ Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech at 174 along with junior Gable Steveson (22-0, 72-2 career) of Minnesota. Steveson is an Olympic gold medalist and recently signed with the World Wrestling Federation (WWE), many are touting him as the greatest college heavyweight of all-time.
The Empire State returns four All-Americans; aforementioned champion Yianni Diakomihalis who has won 47 straight matches, teammate Vito Arujau (4th at 125), Jacori Teemer (4th at 157) and SUNY-Binghamton's Lou DePrez, 8th at 184 pounds.
Other top NY prospects are Micah Roes (125) of Binghamton and a trio of 133-pounders: freshman Greg Diakomihalis (Cornell) ,Anthony Sobotker (Binghamton) and Derek Spann of Buffalo, along with Zach Redding (Iowa State) at 141. Also to watch are a pair of 157-pounders: Parker Kropman (Drexel) and Jake Silverstein, formerly at Nebraska, now at Rider. Two-time NCAA qualifier Ricky Stamm (Hofstra) and Grant Cuomo (Princeton), both at 165, along with Jacob Nolan (Binghamton) at 174. Rounding out the upper weights are Cornell's Jonathan Loew (184), along with NCAA qualifiers Zachary Knighton-Ward (Hofstra) and NC State's Deonte Wilson, both are possible NCAA placers in the 285 pound class.
Iowa State's David Carr is the son of former Cyclone great Nate Carr, a three-time NCAA champion at Iowa State in 1982-83-84, basically was unbeatable in NCAA competition and was a former state champion from Erie, PA. Recently, it was announced that 2019 NCAA champion Nick Suriano (125) of Rutgers will be competing for the Michigan Wolverines in the upcoming season, he is a four-time NJ state champion that was unbeaten in high school with an impeccable 159-0 mark. This now adds the total of NCAA champions in the field to an unheard of 13 former winners. In certain weight classes, NCAA champs could meet in the semi-final round. Penn State could have the Lee brothers all competing this season, champ Nick at 141 and Matt (157) and Joe (165), all are former Indiana state champions.
Nassau County has four wrestlers ranked amongst the top in the nation: Vito Arujau (4-0) - Syosset-Cornell- 3rd @ 125, Jacori Teemer (8-0) - Long Beach-Arizona State - 3rd @ 157, Jonathan Loew (10-3) - Wantagh-Cornell- 13th @ 184 and Hofstra's Zachary Knighton-Ward (9-5) of Uniondale at 285 pounds. That elite group are all former NYS champions and vie for NCAA medals in March 2022.
Speaking of brothers at the 2016 NYS Championships, the Diakomihalis boys, Yianni (138) and 8th grader Greg (99) claimed state crowns, also winning state gold that year were: Jacori Teemer (126), Vito Arujau (132) and Lou Deprez (170). Yianni won the MOW Award and led his high school Hilton to the team title. The top name in the transfer portal is Max Dean (2nd at 184), a former Big Red star now at Penn State, he will bolster a formidable upper weight contingent that could be the best in the county. The Big Red of Cornell opened their season with a classic dual vs Stanford and emerged with a victory for first-year coach Mike Grey. LIU will host Binghamton on Saturday, January 22nd at noon, and then the Bearcats will travel to Hofstra who will host a pivotal EIWA dual against them at 3:30 PM at the David S. Mack Sorts Complex in Hempstead. The EIWA Championships are scheduled for Saturday, March 5th and Sunday, March 6th, at the Newman Arena at Bartels Hall in Ithaca, NY.