UNDERDOGS OF THE WEEK
Daniel Lewis, Missouri, 174 lb.
Dual Match: #10 Missouri at #13 Arizona State (Missouri wins 30–12)
National Ranking: 4th
The upset: PIN over NCAA CHAMPION, #2 Zahid Valencia 4:15
A #4 beating a #2 doesn’t seem like that crazy of an upset, especially when the #4 is an industrial pinning machine like 3x All American Daniel Lewis. But when you go into an away match and pin someone like Zahid Valencia whose only two career losses were by narrow decision to NCAA and World champs named Mark Hall and Mark Hall, then
DAAAMN DANIEL! (I immediately regret typing that out) that’s an incredible underdog performance.
The 174 pound bracket at nationals is shaping up to be more entertaining than an Academy Award-winning drama. And after a Day like that from Daniel Lewis, I’m certain that There Will Be Bad Blood in March.
Ben Honis, Cornell, 197 lb.
Dual Match: #12 Princeton at #18 Cornell (Cornell wins 34–7)
National Ranking: 18th
The upset: Decision over #3 Patrick Brucki 7–6
The six-foot senior stud from Syracuse gave Princeton’s third-ranked Patrick Brucki his first loss of the season and proved that he can compete for an NCAA semi finals (or finals spot) in a wiiiide open Nickal-less 197 pound weight class.
Nino Bonaccorsi, Pitt, 184 lb.
Dual Match: Pitt at #8 NC State (Pitt wins 18–16)
National Ranking: 12th
The upset: MAJOR DECISION over #2 Nick Reenan 8–0
The redshirt freshman went from young yearling to seasoned Italian stallion in a matter of seven short minutes by racking up a major decision shutout upset over the second-ranked 184 pound wrestler in the country. Momentum’s a bitch, and I can’t think of a better place for Bonaccorsi to finish off the season than in his home city at the NCAA Championships.
Side note: Last summer, I boldly tweeted that I’d be willing to fist fight anyone under 140 pounds at the Kenny Chesney concert in Pittsburgh.
This March, when I make a return trip to Pittsburgh for the NCAA tournament, I’ll be willing to fist fight a grand total of nobody under 140 pounds.
UNDERDOG NAME OF THE WEEK
Brock Mauller, Missouri, 149 lb.
After tragically failing to make the 2018–2019 NCAA Wrestling All Name team in November, Brock Mauller of Missouri has been making it a point to shove his insanely alpha name in my stupid face by consistently winning for the Tigers. The freshman is currenty ranked 9th at 149 pounds, which is even more impressive when you consider he’s filling in for injured All American Grant Leeth.
Brock, find me in Pittsburgh and I’ll buy you and your boys a round of Shirley Temples.
WRESTLERS OF THE WEEK
#13 Vito Arujau, Cornell, 125 lb.
The 13th ranked freshman had no trouble knocking off #10 Pat Glory of Princeton by jumping to a commanding 6–1 lead in the second period before getting the pin at 4:27. The Ivy League scholar followed up the big win with Lil Wayne levels of wordplay on Twitter.
Arujau jolted me wide awake with that dominant win, and my energy boost only intensified when I found out that he’s 19–1 on the season with 12 of those wins being bonus point victories. His sole loss? A 7–5 decision at 133 pounds to his teammate Chas Tucker in the Bearcat Open on November 11th.
Add one extra large Vito to the title contender menu with Rivera and Lee…toss in a Bresser and a Mueller, top it off with some shredded Piccinnini, and the 125 pound weight class will be a feast for the eyes on March 21–23.
#1 Sebastian Rivera, Northwestern, 125 lb.
The steel-balled sophomore earned the number one ranking at 125 pounds in December after stunning NCAA champion Spencer Lee 7–3 in the Midlands finals, which was, in my opinion, the most impressive performance by any college wrestler all season.
Rivera continued his unbeaten run at 125 by dominating #7 Rayvon Foley of Michigan State 13–3 on Friday. And yesterday, he said “fuck a record” and bumped up a weight class to take on Michigan’s #1 Stevan Micic at 133 pounds.
Rivera may have lost a 10–4 decision, but he earned even more of my respect (I’m sure that means A LOT coming from a loser like me). Regardless of the result, giving up 8 pounds in order to bless the fans with a #1 vs. #1 matchup is a move that automatically grants you “Co-Wrestler of the Week” status.
#1 Bo Nickal, Penn State, 197 lb.
Bo Nickal pins top-5 guys more often than I get my oil changed or wash my bed sheets. So after he nonchalantly pulled off a first period fall against #2 Kollin Moore of Ohio State, I went to the bathroom to wash my hands like I just finished a meal or routine household task.
ODDS AND ENDS
Coming off a HUGE 10–2 major decision over #1 Matthew Kolodzik of Princeton last Sunday, the new #1 at 149 pounds, Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers, needed a pair of last minute back points to squeak out an 8–7 win over unranked Fernie Silva of Indiana on Friday. Silva, who was a Division Two All American (3rd place) last season at 157 pounds for Notre Dame College, showed he might have dark horse podium potential this postseason despite an extremely underwhelming 2–5 record.
That match aside, Ashnault has proven himself to be the crystal clear #1 at 149, and I’ll be willing to bet tens of dollars* on him to win the national title.
WRESTLING MOM OF THE WEEK
There’s a lot of distinguishing characteristics of youth and junior high wrestling tournaments: repugnant bathrooms, repulsive odors, atrocious haircuts, permeating skin diseases, verbal and physical child abuse, an astonishing lack of basic hygiene, etc. etc. etc. But perhaps the most prominent and noticeable feature of these tournaments is the quintessential Wrestling Mom.
Here she is in all her glory, donning the legendary PINK jumpsuit, emitting unintelligible bird-like sounds at ungodly decibel levels, storming the mat to protect her precious boy— a staple of the wrestling community.
LOSER WRESTLING PARENTS OF THE WEEK
Youth wrestling parents make up some of the most impressive species of losers in the animal kingdom. Forcing your seven-year-old to cut 5 pounds for the East Liverpool Pee Wee Potter Classic is one thing. Depriving him of dinner after he loses is another thing. And attempting to assault a woman/getting in a full blown WWE tag team skirmish over the outcome of a children’s sporting event is the cherry on top of the Loser Wrestling Parent Sundae.
DESANTICS OF THE WEEK
Unfortunately, there were no Desantics this week due to Iowa’s Austin Desanto serving a one-match suspension.
“I FORGOT ABOUT HIM UNTIL I STARTED EDITING THIS” UNDERDOG OF THE WEEK
Roman Bravo-Young, Penn State, 133 lb.
On Friday, the 16th ranked true freshman took out #6 Luke Pletcher of Ohio State 2–1 in tiebreakers and then went absolutely bonkers and spiked his headgear with the force of a thousand middle linebackers.