Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell).

Vito Arujau (Cornell).

Four-time Big Ten champion Alex Marinelli (21-1) of Iowa.




Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State).



By Jim and Tony Nordland


     The 91st annual NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will feature an unprecedented 11 returning NCAA champions. The tournament is slated at the newly constructed Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, on March 17th-March 19th, 2022.

     Reigning NCAA team champion Iowa won their 24th NCAA crown at the 2021 NCAA meet. They are a formidable squad with ten NCAA qualifiers, but Big Ten Tournament champion Michigan and perennial power Penn State should make it a three-team race. Also in the title mix will be Pac-12 team champion Arizona State and four-time ACC tournament winner NCState.

     The Wolverines added 2019 NCAA titlist Nick Suriano (a Rutgers transfer) with an 11-0 mark at 125 and aged veterans; Stevan Micic (25 years old) at 141, along with Myles Amine (17-1) already a four-time AA (4-3-3-3) who is now 26, and in the 184-pound class. Other Michigan standouts are Cameron Amine (165), Logan Massa (16-1) at 174 and NCAA runner-up Mason Paris (15-4) at 285.

     Iowa has finalists Jaydin Eierman (Missouri transfer) with a17-1 season mark at 141, and veteran Michael Kemerer (9-2) at 174. The Hawkeyes return a boatload of firepower with Austin DeSanto (16-3) at 133, four-time Big Ten champion and three-time AA Alex Marinelli (21-1, 94-11 career) at 165, Jacob Warner (197) and rugged Tony Cassioppi (15-2) at 285 pounds.

      Penn State boasts four defending NCAA titlists: Roman Bravo-Young (17-0) at 133, Nick Lee (17-0) at 141,  Carter Starocci (18-0) at 174 and Aaron Brooks (16-1) in the 184-pound class. The Nittany Lions also added Cornell transfer and All-American Max Dean. Dean (18-1). He won the 197-pound Big Ten crown and his points, along with a podium finish from talented freshman Greg Kervliet (15-2)at 285, could provide the difference in the first place team trophy. 

     Arizona State have six Pac-12 champions including NCAA finalist Brandon Courtney (21-1) at 125, NCAA placers Jacori Teemer (19-0) at 157 and unbeaten Cohlton Schultz (18-0) at 285. The Sun Devils also point to Michael McGee (133), Kyle Parco (149) and tough Kordell Norfleet (14-3) at 197.

     NC State has ten NCAA qualifiers and will be paced by NCAA finalist Trent Hidlay (17-0) at 184 and NCAA placer, slick Tariq Wilson (15-0) at 149. The Wolfpack also look to ACC champs Jacob Camacho (125) and Ed Scott at 157.

     The next tier of top NCAA teams are Cornell (with 9 NCAA qualifiers) ,Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa State. All are capable of securing a NCAA team trophy in Detroit. The Big Red's first-year coach, Mike Grey, hopes to add to the strong EIWA showing and bring back a NCAA Award to Ithaca.

     Rounding out the field of returning NCAA kings are two-time winner Yianni Diakomihalis (23-0, 86-1 career mark) at 149, Austin O'Connor (13-0) of North Carolina and David Carr (21-0) of Iowa State, both are at 157 pounds, Shane Griffith (15-4) of Stanford at 165, 2019 champ Mekhi Lewis (20-1) of  Virginia Tech at 174, along with Gable Steveson (13-0, 85-2 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 and has 13 NCAA qualifiers, the aforementioned Diakomihalis, who has won 70 straight matches, teammate EIWA champ and MOW Vito Arujau (14-1,45-5), 4th at 125, Pac-12 titlist Jacori Teemer (4th at 157) and Binghamton's three-time EIWA winner and two-time NCAA placer and #8-seed Lou DePrez (26-3), at 197. He could meet Dean in a quarterfinal skirmish Friday morning.

     Other top NY prospects are freshman Antony Noto (125) of Lock Haven with a 29 wins on the season against only one loss. Oklahoma's Willie McDougald (18-5), John Arceri (22-10) Buffalo and Colin Realbuto (16-10), of Northern Iowa, all at 149. Rounding out the upper weights are; Cornell's Hunter Richard (14-9) at 157, Evan Barczak (23-9) of Drexel at 165, JacobNolan (19-13) of Binghamton at 174, along with EIWA champ, 11th seed  Jonathan Loew (26-5, 52-18) of the Big Red at 184, and Zachary Knighton-Ward (18-7) of Hofstra at 285.


    Oklahoma State has NCAA finalist, unbeaten Daton Fix (21-0) at 133, along with Kadeen Gfeller (149), Wyatt Sheets (157) and Dustin Plott at 174. The Cowboys have won a NCAA record of 34 team titles, boast 143 NCAA champions and garnered 480 All-Americans in their storied program. Iowa State's David Carr is the son of former Cyclone great Nate Carr, a three-time NCAA champion at Iowa State (1982-83-84), he was basically was unbeatable in NCAA competition and was a former state champion from Erie, PA.

    The winningest wrestler in the tournament is South Dakota State's Clay Carlson with an impressive 30-4 ledger in the 141-pound class. In the loaded 157-pound bracket is reigning champ Carr along with #2 seed and unbeaten Ryan Deakin (13-0) of Northwestern, he is pitted against Wyatt Sheets (Okla State) in a preliminary match. Possible semifinal battle could see Deakin vs 3rd seeded and undefeated Teemer, who has a tough opening bout vs Cornell's Hunter Richard.

     At 165 pounds are a pair of unbeatens; top-seeded Evan Wick (18-0) of Cal Poly and Keegan O'Toole (20-0) of Missouri. This loaded weight class also has; the aforementioned Marinelli, talented Carson Kharchla (Ohio State), Anthony Valencia (Arizona State), along with NCAA runner-up Jake Wentzel (Pitt), true freshman Dean Hamiti (three-time Illinois state champion) of Wisconsin and the Big Red's Julian Ramirez.

     Nassau County has four wrestlers ranked amongst the top in the nation: Vito Arujau  (Syosset) -Cornell-  2nd @ 125, Jacori Teemer  (Long Beach) -Arizona State - 3rd @ 157, Jonathan Loew  (Wantagh) -Cornell- 11th @ 184 and Hofstra's Zachary Knighton-Ward (Uniondale), rated 25th at 285 pounds. That elite group are all former NYS champions and will vie for NCAA medals and titles at the 2022 NCAA meet.


Gable Steveson (Minnesota).