Now that the NCAA DI brackets are out & we've had time to fill them out & share who we think will be national champions and All Americans we sit in anticipation for the NCAA DI wrestling tournament to start. In the meantime some of us will be enjoying the DII & DIII tournaments, and as we do, I thought it might be fun to look over the best backups of the 2021-2022 season.
It's hard to win a national title. It's hard to be an All American. It's hard to qualify for the national tournament, AND above anything else it's hard just to make a lineup! It's one thing to hear someone say that, but it's a whole other thing to see it illustrated out in front of you.
What this list is NOT, is a list of wrestlers who are currently redshirting. There is a ton of tremendous talent that redshirted this season. I'm well aware of who they are, but this list will not be focusing on them.
This is list will also NOT include talent that is listed as officially hurt. I wrote an article earlier entitled, "Injuries Suck!" that focused on wrestlers who were injured.
What this list is, is a list of some very good wrestlers who fought for a varsity position & lost it out to someone else.
Take a look, you may be surprised how good some of these backups are. There are some very good wrestlers on this list.
|Michael Beard of Penn State|
Status = Max Dean's Backup
Last season Michael Beard finished off the year with a 7th place finish at the NCAA tournament. This season, he's Max Dean's backup. Nevertheless he's still had some highlights in the 21'-22' season which include a 14-6 major decision over Army's J.T. Brown & a 6-2 decision over Michigan State's Cam Caffey.
|Cullen Schriever of Iowa|
Status = Austin DeSanto's backup
Iowa's Cullen Schriever will be an excellent replacement for Austin DeSanto next season. He already owns victories over MAC champion Richie Koehler of Rider as well as Derek Spann of Buffalo & Kyle Biscoglia of Northern Iowa. He was 4th at the Southern Scuffle
|Vince Turk of Iowa|
Status = Max Murin's backup
Vince Turk ends his career as a Hawkeye the backup to Max Murin this season & in all truth that Murin himself as well as the Hawkeye coaching staff would admit, a lot of the reason why Murin has had such a successful season. When you have someone as good as Turk pushing you in the room, you can't help but improve and get better. A guy that had a successful career (IMO) despite not finishing it off as the varsity starter, keep in mind that one of Austin Gomez's (BIG 10 champion) toughest matches this year was when he squeaked by Turk 3-2.
|Brennan Swafford of Iowa|
Status = One of Mike Kemerer's backups
174 at Iowa is very deep & it'll be just as much of a fight for that varsity position in 2022-2023 as it was this year. Swafford is a very good back up who took an impressive 6th at the Southern Scuffle earlier this season.
|Myles Wilson of Iowa|
Status = Abe Assad's backup
We really haven't gotten a chance to see how good Wilson is yet, but I'm hoping that we'll have more a chance to next season. I have a feeling he's good enough to place at a tournament like the Midlands or the Mat Men Open, & hopefully we get to see him have the opportunity in 22'-23'.
|Aaron Costello of Iowa|
Status = Tony Cassioppi's backup
With so much focus and attention on Tony Cassioppi, I don't know if fans are aware of just how good his backup Aaron Costello is. This season alone he has wins over Tyrell Gordon of Northern Iowa, Michael Wolfgram of West Virginia & Tyrie Houghton of North Carolina State. Not to mention he placed 4th at the Southern Scuffle.
|Jack Medley of Michigan|
Status = Nick Suriano's backup
Even before it was made official that Nick Suriano was going to be a Wolverine this year, Michigan already had a very respectable starter in Jack Medley. A NCAA qualifier in 2020, Medley was 4th at CKLV earlier this season & had two victories over Columbia's Joe Manchio.
|Drew Mattin of Michigan|
Status = Dylan Ragusin's Backup
To give you a clear idea of just how deep the Michigan lineup is, Drew Mattin is a three time NCAA qualifier. Among a great career's worth of work, this season alone he has wins over Wisconsin's Kyle Burwick, Iowa State's Ramazan Attasauov, Penn's Michael Colaiocco & Rutger's Joey Olivieri.
|Jelani Embree of Michigan|
Status = Myles Amine's backup
Michigan will feel the loss of Myles Amine after this season, but Jelani Embree will be there to soften the blow. An NCAA qualifier in 2020, he'll be among the All American contenders in the 22'-23' season.
|Jarrett Trombley of North Carolina State|
Status = Kai Orine's backup
A two time NCAA qualifier, this season Trombley lost out to Kai Orine for the starting spot on the Wolfpack lineup. Having beat Orine in the past, I have no doubt that the battle for varsity will be as fierce next season as it was this season. Trombley defeated Campbell's Dominic Zaccone 9-4 earlier this year.
|A.J. Kovacs of North Carolina State|
Status = Ed Scott's backup
As good as Ed Scott is and as well as he's done this season, it may come as a shock to you that he had to fight tooth and nail for his varsity position on the Wolfpack team. He didn't win every wrestle-off against teammate A.J. Kovacs either & Kovacs owns a very impressive 10-3 decision over SOCON champion Dazjon Casto of the Citadel too.
|Nick Reenan of North Carolina State|
Status = Trent Hidlay's backup
Talent wise I'm at a position to say that I think Nick Reenan could have fought among the best of the best in the nation this season for a top 8 All American finish. It's simply that in his own wrestling room, he has NCAA title contender Trent Hidlay ahead of him. None the less, Reenan's career will close out a three time NCAA qualifier, who in his final season owned a 10-3 decision over SOCON champion Caleb Hopkins of Campbell.
|Owen Trephan & Deonte Wilson of North Carolina State|
Status = Backups to Tyrie Houghton
You really want to talk depth in a room? Let's talk about North Carolina State at HWT. Here we have Deonte Wilson a two time NCAA qualifier, with a 3-1 victory over West Virginia's Michael Wolfgram & Owen Trephan, and neither of them are varsity! This year alone Trephan has defeated The Citadel's Michael McAleavey, Binghamton's Joe Doyle & has a major decision over South Dakota State's A.J. Nevills.
|Julian Chelbove of Arizona State |
Status = Michael McGee's backup
Probably looking at being McGee's backup again next season, Chelbove is an excellent backup for the Sun Devils at 133 lbs. Earlier this season he majored Sid Flores of Air Force 16-3.
|Brendan Ferman of Cornell|
Status = Lewis Fernandes' backup
Ferman has defeated Ferandes in the past so there's a chance he could win back the varsity spot in 22'-23' but this year the 2020 NCAA qualifier was a backup.
|Rocky Jordan of Ohio State|
Status = Backup to Kaleb Romero
Last season the two time NCAA qualifier was one match shy of being an NCAA All American. This season, he was behind Kaleb Romero in the lineup. Nevertheless still defeated John Poznanski of Rutgers & Clay Lautt of North Carolina when he did start for the Buckeyes in duals this season.
|Reece Witcraft of Oklahoma State |
Status = Backup to Trevor Mastrogiovanni
Behind Trevor Mastrogiovanni this season, Witcraft was an NCAA qualifier in 2020.
|Dusty Hone of Oklahoma State|
Status = Backup to Carter Young
Another talented backup in the Cowboy lineup is Dusty Hone who was also an NCAA qualifier in 2020.
|Austin Harris of Oklahoma State|
Status = Backup to Luke Surber
Last season Harris finished one match shy of being an NCAA All American. In his final season as a Cowboy he lost his spot to Luke Surber. Yet, I'd still say he ended on somewhat of a high note as his final match in the Orange & Black was defeated 2022 SOCON Runner-up Michael McAleavey of The Citadel 8-1 for 7th place at the Southern Scuffle.
|Dack Punke of Missouri|
Status = Backup to Noah Surtin of Missouri
One of Noah Surtin's backups at Missouri is Dack Punke, an NCAA qualifier in 2019.
|Aaron Nagao of Minnesota|
Status = Backup to Jake Gliva
A very tough backup on the Minnesota Golden-Gopher squad, Nagao defeated SOCON champion Codi Russell of Appalachian State earlier this season & he also made the Southern Scuffle finals.
|Marcos Polanco of Minnesota|
Status = Backup to Jake Bergeland
A backup to Jake Bergeland this season, Marcos Polanco was an NCAA qualifier last season & earlier this year he defeated Cael Happel of Northern Iowa 5-2.
|Andrew Sparks of Minnesota|
Status = Backup to Cael Carlson
Sparks battled with Cael Carlson for the starting spot at 165 lbs all season & eventually succumbed to his talented teammate. He'll battle hard for the spot against next season. Sparks was an NCAA qualifier last year.
|Garrett Joles of Minnesota|
Status = Backup to Michial Foy
Another tough backup for the Golden Gophers is Garrett Joes who defeated Owen Pentz of North Dakota State twice this season. Once 12-5 & again by fall in 4:52.
|Sammy Alvarez of Rutgers|
Status = Backup to Sebastian Rivera
A two time NCAA qualifier don't be surprised to see Alvarez compete for All American honors in 2023. He defeated Chattanooga's Brayden Palmer earlier this season 12-5.
|Corey Cabanban of Iowa State|
Status = Backup to Kysen Terukina
Iowa State's Corey Cabanban narrowly missed being a varsity starter this season as his matches with starter Kysen Terukina have all be very close. During the season he defeated BIG 12 runner-up Brody Teske of Northern Iowa.
|Zach Redding of Iowa State|
Status = Backup to Ian Parker
Redding was an NCAA qualifier last season.
|Austin Kraisser of Iowa State|
Status = Backup to Isaac Judge
Although Kraisser was never an NCAA qualifier & he did not end his career at Iowa State as the varsity starter he was still one Hell of a good hand for the Cyclones the past two seasons (& at Campbell before that.) This year alone he defeated Dustin Plott of Oklahoma State, Tanner Cook of South Dakota State, Marcus Petite of Buffalo & Bubba Wilson of Nebraska.
|Julien Broderson of Iowa State|
Status = Back up to Joel Devine
A backup at 174 for the Cyclones, Broderson still put together an impressive season with wins over Nick Fine of Columbia, Albert Urias of CSU-Bakersfield & Cael Valencia of Arizona State.
|Jaime Hernandez of North Carolina |
Status = Backup to Joe Heilmann
A backup to Joe Heilmann, Hernandez is a very tough wrestler who defeated both Dominic Zaccone of Campbell & Kyle Burwick of Wisconsin this season. He was an NCAA qualifier in 2020.
|Chase Zollman of Wyoming |
Status = Backup to Darren Green
A backup for the Cowboys this season Zollman qualified for the NCAA's last year & owns a victory over Angelo Martinoni of CSU-Bakersfield this season.
|Cole Moody of Wyoming|
Status = Backup to Cooper Voorhees
Moody did not have many starts this season, which really surprised me. However, I never saw any report on him being injured or hurt. HE was an NCAA qualifier last season.
|Julian Farber of Northern Iowa|
Status = Backup to Kyle Biscoglia
Farber is an excellent backup to Kyle Biscoglia & will challenge him for the varsity position again next season. Earlier this year Farber took an impressive 4th place finish at the Matmen Open.
|Tristan Lara of Northern Iowa|
Status = Backup to Colin Realbuto
Things are a little cryptic at Northern Iowa & I'm not exactly sure what the situation is here but I do know that Realbuto started this season & Lara did not. Lara was an NCAA qualifier last season.
|Pat Schoenfelder of Northern Iowa|
Status = backup to Lance Runyon
Up until Lance Runyon returned to the UNI lineup, Schoenfelder was the starter for the Panthers and was proving himself to be one Hell of a hand. His most impressive victories this season where Brennan Swafford of Iowa & Peyton Mocco of Missouri.
|Carter Isley of Northern Iowa |
Status = Backup to Tyrell Gordon
Isley was a two time NCAA qualifier during his career, who did not start this season.
|Bryant Manzona of Lehigh|
Status = Backup to Max Brignola
I actually thought Lehigh would go with Manzona at the EIWA's but they went with Brignola instead. Among Manzona's more than respectable season, a 7-5 victory over Iowa's Max Murin.
|Drew Marten of Central Michigan |
Status = Backup to Dresden Simon
A backup to Simon this season, Marten was an NCAA qualifier in 2020.
|Jordan Hamdan of Michigan State|
Status = Backup to Matt Santos
An NCAA qualifier last season Hamdan lost his starting spot to Matt Santos.
|Austin Brenner of North Dakota State|
Status = Not 100% positive
I don't know exactly what happened with Austin Brenner. What I can tell you is that come the BIG 12's he wasn't starting for the Bison. The other thing I can tell you is that if indeed he was beat out for the position & he is a true backup, he's one of the best in the country. Placing 4th at the Southern Scuffle, he defeated both Bailee O'Reilly of Minnesota & Matt Finesilver of Duke this season.
|Isaiah Delgado of Utah Valley |
Status = Backup to Ty Smith
A unique situation at Utah Valley. Seems that Delgado can figure out just about everybody other than his teammate Ty Smith. This season he has wins over Daren Green, Chase Zollman & Angelo Martinoni.
|Luke Werner of Lock Haven|
Status = Backup to Anthony Noto
My heart breaks for Luke Werner. A career full of unfortunate circumstances & bad luck, I thought finally, he's gonna get his shot this season. Then along came freshman sensation Anthony Noto who is turning out to be one of the best Bald Eagles of the modern era. Over the years Werner had a lot of notable victories, was an NCAA qualifier in 2020 & was only 3 matches shy of 100 career wins.
|Mosha Schwartz of Oklahoma |
Status = Backup to Anthony Madrigal
A late transfer to the Sooners from Northern Colorado, Schwartz did battle Madrigal for the starting position, including earning a 3-2 win over him. He also defeated Haiden Drury of Utah Valley this season. Schwartz is a two time NCAA qualifier.
|Dom Demas of Oklahoma |
Status = Don't know
There is a story here & I have no idea what it is. What I can tell you is that Dom Demas didn't start for the Sooners much this season & he didn't start at the BIG 12 tournament. He defeated MAC champion Kody Komara 6-3 earlier this season.
|Darrien Roberts of Oklahoma|
Status = Backup to Keegan Moore
Roberts is yet another pheonomenal backup in the country. He majored Layne Malczewski of Michigan State 11-3 earlier this season.
|Corey Shie of Army |
Status = Backup to Thomas Deck
A 2019 NCAA qualifier, Shie lost his starting spot to Thomas Deck this season. Nevertheless he still had some highlights including a 3-2 victory over Wil Gil of Franklin & Marshall & pinning Lehigh's Connor McGonagle in only 51 seconds.
|Ben Sullivan Army|
Status = Don't know for sure
I honestly thought Ben Sullivan's career was already said & done but then he showed up for the dual against Iowa Sate. Never heard a report on him being injured or hurt, so gotta go with what I know & call the 2020 NCAA qualifier one of the best backups.
|Jacob Oliver of Edinboro |
Status = The greatest mystery in NCAA DI Wrestling
I can't tell you how many times I tried to get to the bottom of what was going on with Oliver. Truth is he probably doesn't even belong on this list & he's probably suffering an injury that no one wants to come forth about. I think he has one more year of eligibility left, so hopefully we see the three time NCAA qualifier back in action next season.
|Anthony Brito of Appalachian State |
Status = Backup to Heath Gonyer
It was a war for the 141 starting spot at Appalachian State between Brito & Gonyer, that Gonyer eventually won. The War will continue next season. Brito was an NCAA qualifier last season.
|Denton Spencer of Virginia|
Status = Backup to Jake Keating
A backup to Jake Keating, Spencer defeated MAC champion Ben Barton of Lock Haven 6-4 earlier this season.
|Mario Guillen of Ohio |
Status = backup to Kyran Hagan
A backup to Kyran Hagan this season, Guillen is a two time NCAA qualifier.
This list is LONG isn't it? To think I probably missed some notable wrestlers too! Just goes to show you at this level even calling yourself a varsity starter is a war!