As there is every season, a fair number of talent doesn't make it to the NCAA Division II tournament. With only 18 qualifiers per weight, it is inevitable that everyone who "should go" won't get to go. I went through each weight class and did my best to determine who are the best wrestlers not to qualify for the NCAA Division II tournament.
As always this is subjective & the opinion of one person. I realize not everyone is going to agree with my picks. There are some that I don't have listed that you would have listed. Some that I list, that you would not list. Feel free to add names to the list & your reasoning as to why.
Here are my picks....
|133 lbs |
A three time NCAA DII qualifier, who was a match away from All American honors last year, Collin Wickramaratna came within one match shy of earning a fourth trip to the DII national tournament. Among his victories on the season a 12-7 decision over Ryan James an NCAA DII qualifier for Gannon.
Some are going to have a problem with me putting Jack Huffman of Augustana (S.D.) on this list & that's fine. I can understand the argument of leaving him off such a list. He pretty much only wrestled the month of February this season, ending with a 6-4 record. Nevertheless he was 8th in the D2 nation last season & he did finish 4th at the Super Region V. I do feel had he wrestled an entire season, he would have fared better at the Region. My opinion, take it or leave it.
I really like this kid a lot. A go-getter, aggressive & fearless on the mat. He's not afraid to go after you. 5th in the Super Region V with a 12-5 record, I hope that as he hones in on his skills & fixes his weaknesses that it doesn't result in becoming too defensive. On the season he stuck Super Region V runner-up Reece Barnhardt of Mary in just 1:39 & he defeated Minot State qualifier James Davis 9-8. Most impressive is that he turned a 15-6 major loss to Kaden Anderlik of Upper Iowa into a 17-4 major decision victory!
An NCAA DII qualifier last season, Ethan Leake was 5th at the Super Region VI. Among his victories on the season a 6-4 s.v. over Super Region VI runner-up Grayston DiBlasi of Colorado School of Mines & a 4-3 decision over Super Region VI champ Dean Noble of Western Colorado.
St Cloud State
Here's another "young-un" I see with a bright future. I was actually pretty surprised that he didn't end up qualifying for the DII tournament. 5th at the Super Region V, on the season he has some very impressive wins. He tech'd Dean Noble of Western Colorado the Super Region VI champ 17-0. He also shut out Super Region I champ Jake Niffenegger of Mercyhurst 6-0. Add in a 7-1 decision over Upper Iowa DII qualifier Tate Murty. Alyeus Craig of St Cloud State definitely one of the better wrestlers staying home this season.
Khyvon Grace had a good season this year. 31-9 record & just barely missed out on NCAA DII qualification with a 4th place showing at Super Region III. Had a 3-1 victory over Glenville State qualifier Ethan Hardy.
I was really hoping to see Jake Piccirilli make a run at NCAA DII All American honors this season. Especially since I'll be in attendance this year with the tournament being held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Unfortunately came up a little short of qualification #2 with a 4th place finish at Super Region II. 26-6 on the year had wins over both Super Region II champ Devan Moore of Newberry (7-3) & Super Region II runner-up Jack Tanger of Lander (3-1 s.v.)
16-7 on the season this year, Jake Nicolosi lost a lot of close matches that probably could have been wins. A match away from All American honors last year, he was 4th in Super Region II this season.
Cole Ritter of Maryville is one who surprised me by not making it to the NCAA DII tournament this year. Then again, when you absolutely HAVE TO place within the top 3 within your region, it doesn't leave much room for error does it? 5th at Super Region IV, he was 22-9 on the season. Wins include a 5-2 decision over Super Region III champ Guy DeLeonardis of Glenville State, a 6:23 fall over Super Region IV champ Jack Eiteljorge of Indianapolis & an 8-7 decision over DII qualifier Will Kuster of Drury. Ritter was also 4th at the Midwest Classic.
A match away from NCAA DII All American honors last season, Hunter Delong was 5th at this year's Super Region III. 29-7 on the season notable wins include defeating DII qualifiers Datyon Fields of Newberry (10-6) & Owen Butler of Indianapolis (Fall 2:21).
26-9 & 4th at the Super Region V, I would consider Wyatt Lidberg one of the best 184 lbs'ers to not make the NCAA DII tournament this season. He has a 4-0 victory over Cade Mueller of Augustana (S.D.) who did qualify.
Of all the DII wrestlers to not make the national tournament, who surprised me most comes down to one of two wrestlers. One of them is Jeff Fahey doppelganger Dalton Hahn of Upper Iowa. He came into the Midwest Classic this year out of nowhere and just kicked a double s until eventually defaulting to 6th place. 5th at Super Region V, I believe he's only a freshman, so we'll fortunately get to see plenty more of him. A pinner, he stuck qualifiers Matt Kaylor of Mary (3:50) & Logan Kvien of McKendree (4:01). He also defeated qualifier Dominic Murphy of St Cloud 15-7.
Here's the other one & ironically, he competes for Upper Iowa too. I honestly thought at year's beginning that Ryg might place himself among the NCAA DII title contenders. I was in absolute shock when I saw that he finished 5th at Super Region V & didn't even qualify. This season he had wins over Cale Gray of Indianapolis, La'Ron Parks of Notre Dame (The real one in Ohio, not that wasteland in Indiana) & Luke Tweeton of Mary, all DII qualifiers. It just goes to show you how unforgiving trying to qualify for NCAA DII's can be. Placing within the top 3 of your Region is a very, very difficult task. You're allowed one loss among a talent pool of many who are all gunning for gold, silver or bronze showings. Ryg was 3rd at the 2021 NCAA DII's.
For my last pick of the evening, I gotta go with Clayton Ours of Tiffin. Some may not agree with me putting him on here, but I think he deserves to be called one of the best to not qualify for DII's in 2023. 4th in the Super Region III, he was also 8th at the Midwest Classic. That's pretty impressive considering his over all record last season was 5-8. He had three very close matches with La'Ron Parks of Notre Dame (again the real one in Ohio, not the bloodstained cesspool in Indiana) & finished out the season with 23 wins.
There are JT#1's picks for "Best to Not Qualify NCAA DII"
Who are your's?