Sunday, March 21, 2021

Let's Talk Seniors: Who Will & Who Won't Be Back

 One of the pressing issues on the minds of many NCAA Division I wrestling fans, is out of all of the 2020-2021 seniors, who will and who won't take advantage of having an extra season?  Thus far there has been little to no actual answers given to us, so at this point all we can do is guess and speculate. 

Now before I dive in on a team by team analysis of all the seniors, I want to clarify a few things. 

I see no need to discuss seniors we already know for an absolute fact will be back next season.  Seniors who took a redshirt in 2020-2021 like Evan Wick of Wisconsin are obviously coming back.  Seniors who took an Olympic redshirt like Stevan Micic of Michigan are obviously coming back.  This is common knowledge. No use of bringing it up.  The point of this article is to talk about those we are unsure of. 

Secondly, I'm not an insider. I'm nothing more than an enthusiastic fan who pays close attention to what's going on in NCAA wrestling. These are my thoughts. These are not verbatim. It's me simply taking what I know and applying it to make the best educated hypothesis that I can.  So please, do not go running to a coach saying, "Stephen Stonebraker said..." I don't need that headache. 

Lastly, this isn't going to include every single senior, only those I think would/could make an impact with their presence next year and those whose absence will be felt by the team if they do not return.  

Now with that said, let's take a look at our seniors....


The strong rumor and speculation, as good as fact as far as I'm concerned is that Iowa will return all five of their seniors. Good thing too, because they're going to need all five of them. It'll be tough enough with them to overcome Penn State for the 2022 title, it'll be impossible without them.  Spencer Lee 1st @ 125, Austin DeSanto 3rd @ 133, Kaleb Young 7th @ 157, Alex Marinelli R12 @ 165 & Mike Kemerer 2nd @ 174.   

Lee we already know looks to make history as the Hawks first ever four time NCAA champion.  DeSanto is hungry for gold too.  Young probably isn't happy with his 7th place finish.  Kememer is going to do all he can to go out on top.  

Now let's discuss Marinelli for a second.  I gotta get on my soap box here for a second and go into detail of why this is why I don't put all of my emphasis of a wrestler's worth on the NCAA tournament.  What if Marinelli didn't have another year?  Look at all he's accomplished. Look at all of the top talent he's defeated. You can't hold this guy and think of him as only his seventh place finish as a sophomore.  That is so unfair to someone as good as Marinelli.  Midlands, BIG 10, he's won multiple titles at two of the toughest tournaments in NCAA wrestling.  Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy that he has another go at it. I want to see him finally have the NCAA tournament he's capable of.  But it gives you something to think about.  He is a great wrestler who even if his career was said and done, STILL deserves to be remembered for the superb talent he is. 

Ok, off soap box...


Here is where I have some questions.  I think we'll see a mix of done and coming back here. 

I do not see Kaid Brock coming back.  With all of the injuries he has suffered, I would imagine he's done.  In fact I may have even read or been told by someone that he is done.  This leaves room for Kaden Gfeller and Dusty Hone to fight over his spot I would imagine. 

As to Boo Lewallen, Wyatt Sheets, Dakota Geer and Austin Harris?  John Smith has always stricken me as sorta difficult to figure out in these type of situations.  I feel that in all circumstances, if it is even remotely questionable he's going to go with youth. He sees more value in giving a freshman or sophomore experience in the varsity position than he does letting an upperclassman have one last hurrah.  So with that said, I think in a lot of these cases, it depends on who he has coming in.  


Nick Lee is coming back.  I mean come one.  You think he's gonna wanna miss the chance to lead the Nittany Lions in a quest to dethrone Iowa?  No way.  He's back. Bank on it. 


I would think that Korbin Myers would come back for another season. He's hungry to win an NCAA title & I think he'll make another go at it.  Which leads me to Joey Prata.  Prata has been a team player all of the way and I know for a fact that his presence in the room is one of the reasons why Myers improved so much over the years. With that said, I can see why Prata would call it a career and move on with his life. He's not cracking the varsity lineup with Myers at 133 and Latona at 125.  He's not big enough for 141.   Yet if I were to hear that Prata was gonna stick around for one more year just to help Myers and Latona get better, that wouldn't surprise me. He strikes me as the type that would do that. 


The Cornhuskers have six seniors on this year's squad and with the way the NCAA tournament turned out, I think at least four if not five will return.  The only one I don't see returning is Caleb Licking and that's mainly because I don't think he can beat out Kevon Davenport for the starting position and I think he knows that too.  

Taylor Venz and Eric Schultz are coming back for sure. There's no way they end their careers on the disappointing notes they had at the NCAA tournament.  Chad Red is coming back.  He's thinking of ways to improve and get himself in the hunt for the NCAA title.   As to Liam Cronin and Christian Lance? I can go either way on these two.  Glad to see them back but if not, understandable. 


I can see Nick Reenan calling it a career because I don't know if he can beat out Isaac Trumble for the starting spot at 197 lbs.  I would think both the Bullards, Thomas and Daniel will be back because I imagine they both want to end their careers making AA at the same time. Hayden Hidlay to be in the room with his brother, earn his fourth AA and go for the NCAA title.  As to Wilson? He's had two phenomenal bronze medal runs at the NCAA's thus far in his career.  I'm sure he wouldn't mind a third, or to even trade bronze for a gold. 


I'd like to think one of these years when Michigan has the horses to do so, they might realize it and make a run for the NCAA title. Yet I've been thinking that for nearly 25 years and winning a team title ironically seems like something that the Wolverines never concern themselves with.  Why? I don't know. I guess maybe they forever want to be cemented as historically (talking the entire history of the NCAA DI existence) (they are objectively)the best team to never win a team title.   

Kanen Storr is obviously the better pick between him and Cole Mattin, but Mattin is a decent replacement if Storr decides that he is done.  

Massa is who I wonder about.  After finishing third as a freshman at the NCAA's & then not placing as a sophomore or junior it has to feel good to finally make it back on the award stand. Yet I doubt fifth is where he saw himself.  I can see him going both ways.  Staying or leaving. 

I'm pretty sure Myles Amine is gonna call it a career. 4th-3rd-3rd-3rd at the NCAA's, titles at the BIG 10's and CKLV, you can't argue that he's one of the best of all time to never win an NCAA title.  A little heartbreaking, but his wrestling days will continue at the international level. Representing San Marino look for him to earn credentials at various competitions.  European championships, & yes, I think he'll earn World and Olympic medals too.   Be one of those guys who we say, "Won a World title, but not an NCAA title."  An inspiration, much like Jamil Kelly. 


With the success of sensational freshman Rocky Elam, I'm pretty sure that both Canton Marriott & Wyatt Koelling who have been battling it out in the room for four years will call it quits. No doubt about it, battling with these two every day in the room had to have lead to Elam being as tough as he was, or so I would think. 


It had to be a weird feeling in the gut of Anthony Valencia to watch a guy that he beat 7-1 for a PAC-12 title win the NCAA title. I was so happy to finally see A-Val break through and earn All American status.  Was hoping it'd be higher than eighth but very happy to see him stand on that award stand.  I think though that he'll be done.  He just seems ready to be done in my opinion.  Burned out and tired.  I could be wrong and I'd LOVE to see him back, but he seems the type that has given his entire life to wrestling and now it's time to move on. 

As to Corey Crooks?  I'm not sure what to think here. I can see him going either way. 


With the disappointing tournament he had, I would damn near call it a fact that Ian Parker will be back next season.  With that noted, my heart goes out to Todd Small. Another grinder who unfortunately wasn't able to find a spot in the lineup.  It's guys like him that often go unrecognized and unmentioned.  His contribution to his team should be recognized. 

It was never mentioned this year & everyone seemed to be hush, hush about it but Jaret Degen was NOT at all himself this season.  I personally think it's because he's the type of wrestler that needs a full season to get going. I think he needs those 30 to 40 matches in a year.  That's what I think it was, but I don't know. All I know is that you don't go from 3-2-3 at the BIG 12's contending for the BIG 12 title to struggling to place 4th.  That just doesn't happen, unless something is wrong.  I know I want to see Degen back, because he's so much better than his performance this season. I want to see him end on a high note. 

Sam Colbray has me in question. I can see him coming back, I can see him calling it a day and giving the spot to Joel Shapiro.  Hard to see. 

Gremmel is selfish and in wrestling that isn't a bad thing, that's a good thing. He eats wanting another AA medal like he eats his donuts, fiercely. 


It was cool seeing Elijah Cleary in the varsity line up this season but between Quinn Kinner and Bryce Hepner, I highly doubt he'd crack it again in 2021-2022.  

Also a quick shoutout to Gary Traub. I think even though the spot was clearly Tate Orndorff's, it should be recognized that Traub filled in as needed very nicely. 


Boo Dryden I'm up in the air about but I think we will see Owen Webster back.  You lose in the R12 match, that has to haunt you.  I can't see him letting that haunt him the rest of his life if he has a chance to come back in 2021-2022 and go for it again. 


Dresdon Simon I would think would be back for sure.  He defeated Chad Red at the NCAA tournament and then had to watch Red make All American, while he finished one match shy.  That has to sting. I would think little else would fire someone up as much as that would. 

I also know that Matt Stencel has to be on fire right now too.  NCAA wrestling fans at times can be some of the most cruel, critical and judgmental people on the planet. Yes, a lot at great people. I know a lot of them, but trust me, Stencel is aware of the scrutiny he's receiving.  "Why did they seed him #3?"  "This kid went 1-2? Who were they kidding?"   I've read and heard it. I'm sure he has too.  He WAS as good as third this season. That's WHY he was seeded that high. Gawd I would love for him to make a great come back next season and silence all of his critics.  Man that would make my day.  Hope to see him back. 

As to Drew Hildebrandt? I can see him going either way.  Landon Pelham? I think he'll be done. For one I'm not sure if he can beat Aaron Bolo out for the spot or not. 


Jake Wentzel had a great run at the NCAA tournament and finishes off the season as the NCAA runner-up in a match where outside of the Panther faithful the entire world was cheering for the other guy to win.  That has to be difficult but my hat is off to this young man for his composure, focus and most of all the sportsmanship he displayed.  Wrestlers are a different breed, and I can see him coming back wanting to win the NCAA title. Yet, if he doesn't, what a great career and what a great ending to a great career. 

Gregg Harvey?  Another one I'm not sure what to think of at the moment. Can see it going either way. 


No two ways about it, Kennedy Monday will be back. There's no way with the type of person he is and having Kenny Monday as a father that he calls it said and done. No way. He's earning that AA medal and that's all there is to it.  

Pretty sure with Tony Ramos as a head coach, that both Josh McClure and Andrew Gunning make it back for the 2021-2022 season as well.  Ramos wants the most for his student athletes & if they're given another chance, he'll have them make the most of it. 


So very happy to see Demetrius Romero make All American! Was wanting so bad to see him in the NCAA finals, but what a rewarding experience it was to witness him hold a medal and stand on that award stand.  This guy has been through Hell.  First at Boise State his school drops the wrestling program and he's forced to transfer.  Then he suffers some injuries that not everyone would've came back from.  I can see with as banged up and sore as he is Romero calling it a career. If so, all the admiration and respect to him. If he does come back. I'll give you one guess who my favorite 2021-2022 wrestler is. 


Ooh my blood boils when I think about this program.  The miscarriage of justice these young men & their coaches endure because of the poor, unsubstantiated and selfish decisions of some such as Bernard Muir angers me beyond comprehension.  

It's not fair at all to Requir Van De Merwe or to Nathan Traxler because even if they wanted an extra year, can they take it? Is that even an option for either one of them? To Transfer to another school and compete for another team? I don't even know if they'd be allowed to do that.  Ah, what a crock. Seriously, what a crock.  These athletes deserve better from their school.  


Jonathan Tropea finally made it to the NCAA tournament. I knew he had it in him and I was glad to see it happen for him.  I can see him calling it good, or going for a second qualification. 

Jesse Dellavecchia has put in his time. I can see him coming back for 2021-2022 but I can also see him calling it a career too. He had a great run at the NCAA's,  including sticking the #1 seed.  That's a great way to go out, but if he wants more, I welcome it. 

Ethan Laird has unfinished business, and I think he'll come back in 2021-2022 to finish it.  

Matt Correnti? I think he comes back too. 


Mason Naifeh is done. There's really no reason for him to come back as far as I'm concerned. I'd be very surprised if he does. 

Justin Thomas on the other hand, I think it's damn near a guarantee he returns. This guy wants another BIG 12 title & he knows he's good enough to be an AA, so why not go for both? 


Very curious to see how the Spartans handle this extra year thing.  

Jake Tucker I can see coming back but if he doesn't I think Caleb Fish will end up being a suitable replacement.  

Drew Hughes I'm never sure what to make of. This guy is a mystery to me.  Some days wrestles like he's out for blood, other days wrestles like he'd rather be out fishing.  It's difficult to tell if he wants to be there or if he doesn't.  We see him in 2021-2022, I guess that answers that question. 

I think Christian Rebottaro will probably be done.  For one I think once Chase Beard is back into form, I can't see him winning this wrestle-off, IF Beard is 100%. 


Ryan Deakin is coming back. I'm pretty sure of it.  He had his heart sat on winning an NCAA title & he STILL has his heart sat on winning an NCAA title.  I will say though that I think Max Mayfield once he gets his shot will be a nice addition to the Wildcat team. 


They're all back. The mentality and attitude that the Scarlet Knights display? Yeah, they're back.  Sebastian Rivera can't be satisfied with a 15-5 loss & a fourth place finish.  Mike Van Brill after having a phenomenal performance at the BIG 10's & can't be happy about falling apart at the NCAA's.  As to Christian Colucci? Well, this one I guess I'm not 100% positive about.  Not sure how he matches up with Boone McDermott in the room. I'd say that is the difference maker. 


Max Ihry has another year, might as well take it right? 


Do you remember what I said about Matt Stencel earlier in this article?  You can apply the same logic to Jordan Wood. Although he didn't make All American this season, I still conclude that Wood was one of the best wrestlers at HWT this season.  If he's back next season, I think he'll prove it.  Not that anyone is stopping Gable Steveson, but maybe Stencel Vs Wood would be a good third place bout? Yes, I do think they're that good. 

Jake Jakobsen back? I think so, the real question I have is between Brandon Paetzell and Luke Karam. Both are seniors, both are are the same weight.  Do they both return and duke it out? Do they both call it a career? Does one say I'm done and the other say I'm back? Here's where I question. 


Remember what I said about Jaret Degen earlier in this article? Well, may I say the exact same thing about Jacob Seely.  A three time NCAA qualifier who did not qualify this season.  He can't go out like this. He can't end it this way.  Guy is way to good not to give it another go.  Something was wrong with him as it was with Degen.  As it was with Degen, I doubt we'll ever be given the scoop.  Whatever, just hope he's back, cause he deserves a better end.  

Alan Clothier I would think comes back too. 


Chris Weiler didn't have the end he wanted to this season, so I think he'll make like a Terminator and be back. 


The Tony Ersland Boilermaker Redemption. Sounds like the title of a movie doesn't it? Devin Schroder, Griffin Parriott & Max Lyon, you know damn good and well all three want another chance to redeem themselves.  They'll take it. 


Matt Kolonia is probably coming back which makes me have to mention Joey Gould.  Gould is one of those guys that just was never able to get the engine going. I think he could've been NCAA qualification material, but I'm not sure what went wrong or what didn't go right for him.  


Pretty sure Luke Weber will come back. He's got some unfinished business. 


Bit of a mystery here.  I mean is Jake Holschlag ever gonna be 100% again? Return to the mat healthy and ready to kick some tail?  If the answer to that question is yes, then I can see Keegan Moore calling it a career. If Holschlag is still out, then I think Moore might return.  

Carter Isley I think is coming back. That selfish in a good way mentality is embodied no where better than in the room of Doug Schwab. If anyone knows selfish, even though Tom Brands coined the phrase, it might still belong to Schwab. 


Sitting back watching the action, seeing guys achieve what you know you could've achieved has to have Cole Verner salivating at the mouth.  He's a wolf on the prowl.  He'll be back.  I have no idea why Brian Andrews was disqualified at the NCAA's. Didn't see that match and haven't been able to confirm why.  I can't see his career going down like that.  Jaron Jensen I can see being done though. 


A second MAC title and a shot at his first AA?  Yeah, Andrew McNally will take it. 


Danny Vega I'm up in the air about but I think Coleton Carlson may be done.  For one, is he beating Tanner Cook in the wrestle-off?  That's a question in so many of these situations.  Can't forget about incoming freshmen and redshirt freshmen that are already there. 


I've asked this many times and have yet to receive an answer.  At schools like Army, Navy, Air Force, VMI & The Citadel is this extra year thing even an option?  I know that the military academies have a different set of rules.   So maybe it isn't, I don't know. 

If it is...I think Lane Peters will be back.  I think he wants another go at it.  

Where I question is at HWT with Bobby Heald.  Does he continue to battle Ben Sullivan in the room? Or does he call it a career and allow Sullivan to enjoy his list season? 


Same questions apply here as they did for Army. Is this even an option? If so, I would think that if any of the six seniors plan on wrestling beyond college that if they have the option of learning under Cary Kolat for one more season, they'd take it.  Logan Treastor, Aslan Kilic, Cody Trybus, Casey Cobb, Tanner Skidgel & Dean Caravela.  Kolat has a good group of upperclassmen here. 


And again, the question applies as it did for Army and Navy. Is this an option? If so, I can see both Lenny Peterson and Cody Surratt taking advantage of it. 


Greg Bulsak wants to be the guy to revamp the Eagle program. He'll be back and gunning for AA status. 


Ty Vath and Jon Spaulding both have the option. Anxious to see if they do or not. 


Louie Hayes I can see calling it a career. He's been through the thick and thin of it all, a real team player and he ended his career on the high note of being an All American.  I can see him being done but on the same hand if he thinks that the Cavaliers can contend for anything, such as an ACC title with his assistance I can see him coming back too.  More about the team than himself. 

Jay Aiello I think is coming back. Another guy with a chip on his shoulder. Something to prove. 


After the b.s. that he endured at the NCAA tournament in one of the worst calls ever in the history of the NCAA DI tournament, there's no way Josh Heil doesn't return for the 2021-2022 season.  There's no way.   As to the rest of the seniors? Ben Barton, Austin Kraisser and Chris Kober? Maybe. 


If Gage Curry could sneak in another five years he would.  He'll be back & as always he'll wrestle his best at the EIWA championships.  Kizhan Clarke missed this season, so He'll be back and so did Tanner Harvey, so he'll be back too. 


I think Cody Russell and Thomas Flitz will both be back. I'd be surprised if they weren't. 


Devan Turner after winning the PAC-12 title has to be a bit disappointed in his performance at the NCAA's. Like many others the fact that he's getting a second chance won't be lost on him. 


Dylan Duncan has been around for about ever and he has to be happy about his standout performance at the NCAA's. I mean wrestlers are a different breed. They always want as much as they can get. Yet this is NCAA DI wrestling. It's a grind. It's a lifestyle.  It's all you know for five years of your life. I can see him wanting to be done too.  IF he is, I think Danny Pucino fills in very nicely here. 


While not as publicized, I am every bit as upset about this discontinuation of this program as I am the other.  I cannot believe how with a state as good in high school wrestling as what California is, that they don't provide more opportunities for the talent they produce.  You do realize, and if you don't, I'll tell you....California would have 20 NCAA DI teams today if no program had ever been dropped. TWENTY! That's enough to field an entire conference with teams from California alone!! 

But no, instead they have to drop, and drop and drop! The hair on my arms is standing straight up.  Ooh, this makes me angry.   And to think, what is a kid like D.J. Lloren supposed to do?  Can he transfer?  Does he have that option.  Again, what a freakin' crock. 


I have a feeling that when I go to study DI lineups in the 2029-2030 season, Parker Kropman will still be listed at 149 lbs or 157 lbs. Sheesh, this guy has been around forever. Might as well see him one more season. 


Brock Hudkins will make the most of the extra year. After being hurt this season, he'll be back. 


I already know Charles Small will be back because I read a Tweet from him earlier today.  As to Greg Gaxiola & Ricky Stamm? I think they'll be back too.  The only one I question is Sage Heller.  With Ross McFarland also fighting for that spot, makes me wonder. 


I really, really hope to see Alex Madrigal back for 2021-2022. As far as I'm concerned I think he got completely shafted in not being awarded an at large bid in 2020 and he was out this season.  Be awesome to see him totally kick in in 2021-2022. 


I called Luke Werner one of the best to not qualify for the NCAA tournament more than once in his career. Want to see him finally do it.  Might as well go for it. 


You wouldn't think so watching him this season, but honestly in a full year with a full season's worth of matches I think Jaron Smith is NCAA qualification material.  I really do.  Is he gonna come back for a 2021-2022 season? I don't know. The guys at Maryland don't seem real happy or into it at the moment. I can see him wanting to be done. 


Based on everything I've read, especially due to the multitude of injuries he's endured, I'm 99.9999% positive Dom Ducharme is calling it a career.  PAC-12 champ baby! Way to go on on a high note! 


Paul Bianchi is the first NCAA DI qualifier in the history of the Trojan wrestling program. In my eyes that's already an accomplishment to forever cement in one's memory. I know Bianchi wants more than that though and I believe he'll go for it. 


Maybe I ought to call upon the God George "Know it All" McIntyre to confirm here. I think Fabian Gutierrez will be back. 


Derek Spann didn't have the season he's capable of having. So I think he'll want a second chance. 


Coach Greenlee is a big fan of Mario Guillen, so I think he'll want him back in the room. 


Two NCAA qualifiers this year!! WHOO! And ironically enough, both are seniors. Nick Palumbo and Joe Accousti. I imagine both wanna stick around and influence the younger members of the team.  What John Clark has gone on is nothing short of spectacular. This program will only continue to improve. 


I would think it's a give-me that the IVY league seniors who missed out on the 2020-2021 season would for sure come back for 2021-2022. With that said. I expect to see Ty Agaisse. 


Same as I said for Agaisse above, Lawrence Kosoy will be back.  


Here I'm not so sure about.  Love Hunter Richard and I've said before and I'm saying it now, I think he gives Yanni Diakomihalis a better match than most anyone else will anticipate. However, he's not beating him. So return for the season?  

Then we have both Adam Santoro and Fredy Stroker who neither I see beating Yapoujian. Matter of fact, I think Stroker might already be done.  I hate that his career ended up the way that it did. You can't say these types of things to people, because no matter how you word it they'll take it wrong, but I can remember meeting him and thinking this kid would be so much better off going DIII. He'd have more fun, he'd have more success. DI as far as I'm concerned wasn't for him.  Am I making some mad by saying that? I'm sure I am, but it's how I feel.  I much rather would've seen him kicking ass at Augsburg or Wartburg as one of their stars, than to have had the disappointing career he had.   

Now Santoro I can see sticking around to battle it out with Yapoujian, but I can also see him calling it a day.  


There you have it.  That's my thoughts on the seniors for next season.  I'm curious to see how I do on my predictions.  Honestly, I'd like to see them all back.  I mean why not?  If it was me or you or I, I think we'd take it.  Did I really just say me or I?  Ha! 



  1. Update! Update! Read All About it!!

    Greg Bulsak & Gary Traub are both in the transport portal, so they will no longer be wrestling for Clarion & Ohio State respectively, but they will be back for a final season. Looks like Karam of Lehigh is in the same boat.

    Korbin Meyers of Virginia Tech is for sure done. Has stated it.

    Probably won't see Mario Guillen of Ohio or Cole Verner of Wyoming back again either from the looks of it.

    Big thank you to ThePindoctors Justin Portillo who helped out with this information.