Wednesday, September 6, 2017

2018: The Year of The Transfer

Nick Suriano is no longer a Nittany Lion of Penn State. He has traded in the white and blue for scarlet as he'll now contend for both BIG 10 and NCAA titles wrestling for Rutgers. His transfer is the hottest topic in wrestling at the moment, but it is far from the only.

The 2017-2018 year looks to have a ton of transfers that will have a significant impact both on the team they left and the team they came to. An odd statistic to look into, there are eighteen (maybe more) wrestlers that could have a stellar season this year competing at a school they did not start out at.

Might as well start out with Suriano.

Nick Suriano
Penn State to Rutgers

If this were a game of pirates, Rutgers found the gold in this pick up. Fans are super excited, as they should be. While three time All American Anthony Ashnault hopes to become the Scarlet Knights first NCAA Division I Champion, he may have to hope that the 141 lbs weight class is wrestled before the 125. Owning a 8-6 victory last season over NCAA runner-up Ethan Lizak of Minnesota, Suriano looks to contend.

Dalton Macri
Dalton Macri
Cornell to North Carolina
Another transfer at 125 lbs to keep an eye on is former Cornell Big Red 125 lbs wrestler Dalton Macri, who will be competing for North Carolina this season. Among his notable victories include a 6-5 tiebreaker victory over Ronnie Bresser of Oregon State and a 7-6 victory over Missouri's Barlow McGhee. It should also be noted that two weeks prior to David Terao's miraculous run at the 2016 NCAA championships were he finished in fourth place, Macri controlled him steadily in a 4-0 victory at the EIWA championships. Macri will challenge Virginia's Jack Mueller for this year's ACC title.

Ryan Millhof
Oklahoma to Arizona State
2016 NCAA 7th place finisher for the Oklahoma Sooners, Ryan Millhof will compete for the Arizona State Sun Devils this season. Among victories that he had two seasons ago, most noteworthy is a 4-2 sudden victory over last year's NCAA champion Darian Cruz of Lehigh. He also owns victories over All American's Zeke Moisey (2-1) of West Virginia and Edinboro's Sean Russell (1-0).  He'll have to contend with Oregon State's Ronnie Bresser, whom he has yet to defeat for a PAC-12 Title.

Image result for Nathan Boston Iowa State
Nathan Boston
Iowa State to Campbell
Sometimes a change of scenery is the best medicine that can be prescribed to a wrestler and that could be the case for former Cyclone Nathan Boston, who is now a Camel of Campbell. Much like his predecessor Nathan Krassier who left North Carolina to come to Campbell, Boston looks to head coach Cary Kolat to lead him to the success that eluded him in Ames. Currently under the radar, Boston's 5-4 loss to MAC Champion John Erneste at the Southern Scuffle sticks out most in illustrating the potential that good coaching mixed with confidence could lead to.
Corey  Keener
Corey Keener
Central Michigan to Penn State 
After having spent most of his career at Central Michigan, 133 lbs wrestler Corey Keener will wrestle his final season at Penn State. At the moment among the loaded and stacked weight class, Keener doesn't seem much of a threat. Yet it should be kept in mind that Keener even at the moment is a contender for third place at the BIG 10 tournament, and with Sanderson in his ear for motivation, he could even contend for second. Knocking off Michigan's Stevan Micic for a title is most likely out of the question, but in the fight to win the team title, those points still add up.

Stevan Micic
Northwestern to Michigan
Considering that he has wrestled his entire varsity career at the University of Michigan, some might feel that Micic does not belong on such a list. Nevertheless he did start out at Northwestern and that will be pointed out for two distinct reasons. First off he is one of two former Wildcats that could win an NCAA title this season.  Secondly, the 2017-2018 Wolverine squad could be the best in history of the program, and why wouldn't you point out that he is one of two starters this season that started off at another school?  With no real competition standing in his way, Micic ought to own the BIG 10 and contend for an NCAA title against South Dakota State's Seth Gross and Oklahoma State's Kaid Brock.

Emilio Saavedra
Old Dominion to Fresno State
One of the perennial questions for this season is how will Fresno State do in their first season back since the program was dropped back in 2006? A major Division I program, in a state that has lost a significant amount of teams in the last ten years, a shift in reinstating wrestling at various schools could result depending on the success of the Bulldogs. When does that success start, and with whom? One of the answers to that question could be 133 lbs wrestler Emilio Saavedra who transfers in from Old Dominion. An inconsistent wrestler, how he'll perform is up in the air.  He won the 2016 Midlands title, but went 0-2 at the 2017 tournament. Having the two best 133 lbs wrestlers in the country, Seth Gross of South Dakota State and Kaid Brock of Oklahoma State in his conference, he'll most likely have to settle for a third place finish in the BIG 12. All American honors, and being Fresno State's first in the "new era" of Bulldog wrestling to achieve the status, is not at all out of Saavedra's capabilities.
Reyes, J.
Josh Reyes
Boise State to Clackamas Community College to Fresno State
Another hopeful candidate in helping Fresno State to achieve its goals is Josh Reyes who began his career at Boise State and then transferred to Clackamas Community college where he won an NJCAA title last season. Two victories, 8-3 and 5-1 over Geo Martinez another former wrestler of Boise State now competing for Oklahoma State, gives testimony to Reyes' All American hopes.

Geo Martinez
Boise State to Oklahoma State 
With an eighth place finish at the 2016 NCAA championships, Geo Martinez became the 31st All American in Boise State wrestling history. Unfortunately with the poor decision of Boise State's senile and vacuous President Bob Kustra eliminating the program, he might be the last. Nevertheless Martinez is no longer at Boise State and he now dawns an orange and black singlet of Oklahoma State. It certainly won't be a given, with the deep talent that is the 149 lbs weight class, but Martinez should add valuable points for the Cowboys at both the BIG 12 and NCAA tournaments.

Joey McKenna
Joey McKenna
Stanford to Ohio State
Next to Suriano, McKenna's move from Stanford to Ohio State is the hot topic in transfer news.  Nearly identical freshman and sophomore campaigns of 27-3 and 31-3 respectively, there is only one word to sum up his disappointing 2017 NCAA performance. Unfortunate.  Although no wrestler ever wants to endure such an experience, and so many work so hard to avoid one, most go through at least one nightmare during their career. McKenna's so happened to be the NCAA tournament of his sophomore year. If two back to back PAC-12 titles, and a third place finish at the 2016 NCAA tournament as a freshman aren't enough, take into consideration that McKenna stuck NCAA runner up DiCamillo in only a minute and six seconds in the third place match at last year's Southern Scuffle. He also owns a 4-0 victory over All American Matt Kolodzik and the last time he and two time NCAA champion Dean Heil of Oklahoma State met, Heil barely squeaked out a 2-1 tiebreaker victory.  In perhaps the most loaded conference bracket in the country, it'll be interesting to see where McKenna ends up at the BIG 10's as well as the NCAA's.

Image result for Patricio Lugo Edinboro
Patricio Lugo
Edinboro to Iowa 
Ironically enough, Lugo is not the only current Hawkeye this year to wrestle for another program last season. Seeing how Edinboro and Iowa are night and day different in an assortment of ways it'll be rather enthralling to see how Lugo fits in to The Brands brother's rather strict and conservative environment. Mirroring freshman and sophomore campaigns of 32-9 and 31-9, Lugo also finished in second place at last year's Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Like McKenna, he is in the BIG 10's, as well as arguably the entire nation's toughest conference bracket. Where he'll place is currently in question.
Steve Bleise
Steve Bleise
Northern Illinois to Minnesota
You'd think we'd be done talking about transfers that will be competing at the 149 lbs BIG 10 weight class this season, but we're not. We still have to discuss Steve Bleise, who transfers from Northern Illinois to Minnesota. A risk taker, who has been on both sides of the result that risk takers often take, Bleise has had a rather roller coaster of a career thus far. Finishing one match shy of All American status last season, perhaps the best thing for him is to tone and sharpen his skills under a new coaching staff. Under Coach Eggum, Becker, Schlatter and Sanders, his weaknesses should become strengths and his strengths should become stronger. Look for that round of twelve match to be a win instead of a loss this season.

Jason Tsirtsis
Northwestern to Arizona State
The wrestling world is full of motivating stories of inspiration and one that could be added to the storybook this season is that of Jason Tsirtsis. Having started his career at Northwestern where he won an NCAA title as a freshman and then finished third as a sophomore, Tsirtsis has a disappointing 2-2 tournament as a junior. After disappearing for a short time, Tsirtsis transferred to Arizona State last season where he competed at the Midland's championships, showing a mixture of signs of what to expect this season. He wrestled well enough to capture a fifth place finish, yet suffered a tough 11-2 loss to Iowa's Mike Kemmerer. Talent and ability to walk out of St. Louis with his second NCAA title, Tsirtsis could as easily fail to place. There are two Jason Tsirtsis's that we could see on the mat this season. We'll know which one soon enough.
Image result for Chance Marsteller
Chance Marstellar
Oklahoma State to Lock Haven 
Chance "One More Chance" Marstellar looks to right some wrongs and make up for lost time. He'll be starting fresh at Lock Haven. A 7-5 victory of North Carolina's Ethan Ramos and an 11-10 victory of Cornell's Dylan Palacio, Marsteller has shown he has the tools to do big things in Division I wrestling. He'll have to contend with Rider's Chad Walsh for a EWL title as he'll also battle for All American honors.
Image result for Kevin Beazley Old Dominion
Kevin Beazley
Old Dominion to Michigan 
Along with Micic, Kevin Beazley will be another transfer on the Michigan Wolverine roster this season. An All American for Old Dominion last year, Beazley could be the valuable points that Michigan needs to join Penn State, Ohio State and Iowa in the hunt for the BIG 10 team title. As far as winning an individual title, he'll have to contend with Penn State's Matt McCutcheon and Ohio State's Kollin Moore.
Image result for Patrick Downey Iowa State
Patrick Downey
Iowa State to Iowa 
Last but certainly not least is disputably NCAA Division I's most controversial figure, Patrick Downey. The former Cyclone who garnered 5th place All American honors at the 2016 NCAA tournament will now be a Hawkeye in his final season. Even more so than Lugo, it could unwind like a five star film to see how the cut-loose and free spirited Downey fits into the Hawkeye program. As long as he doesn't get into too much trouble and more importantly he wins big matches and brings home the right colored medals from tournaments it shouldn't be too much of an issue. It's in both Downey's nature and in Iowa's nature to carry a high since of confidence that they are the best. We'll see.

Other transfers to look out for:

Mike Longo of Oklahoma who wrestled for the Sooners last season and started his career off at Appalachian State.

Te'Shan Campbell last year's ACC champion at 165 lbs for Pittsburgh, who will compete this season for Ohio State.

Fredy Stroker who began his career at Minnesota, who is now at Cornell.

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