Tuesday, March 21, 2023

JT#1 Final Thoughts NCAA DI 141 lbs - 2023


Alirez Crowned Northern Colorado's First NCAA DI Champion 

Any time there is a first in this sport, it helps the sport to grow.  Ever since transitioning from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I, Northern Colorado had yet to crown an NCAA champion (they have 7 at the DII level).  Andrew Alirez winning the NCAA DI title was not only huge for himself & Northern Colorado but also a huge for collegiate wrestling in general. I've said many times that I feel Colorado is an underrated & often overlooked wrestling state. A national champion from Colorado, wrestling for a Colorado school helps to illustrate that point. 

Real Woods Proves Himself To be Real Good, Real Asset, Real Hope For Iowa 

The Iowa Hawkeyes have had tremendous luck with transfers in recent times.  Edinboro transfer Pat Lugo proved himself to be a valuable asset as did Drexel transfer Austin DeSanto. Now Real Woods a transfer of Stanford has stepped in for the Hawkeyes & proved to be a tremendous asset.  A Soldier Salute champion, a Big 10 Champion & an NCAA runner-up he kicked ass all season, often earning bonus points for his team.  As Spencer Lee, Max Murin & Jacob Warner are lost due to graduation (technically eligibility being up) Brands & Co will really rely on Woods to be a leader this upcoming season.  He seems more than up for the task. 

Bronze Helped To Get that Gold Too, Don't Fool Yourself 

When looking at Penn State's 2023 Team title a lot of folks concentrate hard on the championship titles won by Starocci & Brooks, with the 2nd place finishes of Bravo-Young, Haines & Kerkvliet.  They were important, extremely important, but so were the 3rd place finishes of Beau Bartlett & Shayne Van Ness (which we'll talk about later).   Bartlett stepped it up a notch & wrestled extremely well, including knocking off Cole Matthews of Pittsburgh, whom many thought might win the tournament. 

Future Canadian Great Lachlan McNeil Shines In First NCAA Tournament 

North Carolina redshirt freshman Lachlan McNeil had himself an outstanding tournament. Taking champion Alirez to a 6-4 decision he defeated Dylan D'Emilio of Ohio State & Brock Hardy of Nebraska in route to an eventual 4th place finish. Don't quote me on this, but I don't think the Tar Heels have ever had a four time All American.  McNeil could very well become the first. Absolutely love seeing North Carolina that prides itself so highly as being a "basketball school" have so all this success in wrestling. 

Parker Filius Earns His Moment 

I was very happy to see Parker Filius end his career at Purdue as an All American.  A hard-nosed wrestler, his R12 match was a lot of fun to watch.  In many ways the match with Casey Swiderski of Iowa State could have gone either way, but it was as if Filius said to himself, "Nope, this is my moment & it won't be taken from me" as he grabbed hold of Siwderski and flipped him over to his back.   Of all the All Americans here, he is the only one who doesn't return next year.  

7 returning All Americans from 2023, scary thought huh? 

Cole Matthews IS Still A threat to the 2024 141 lbs NCAA title 

Other than Zeb Miller & at times Britt Malinsky, I'm probably the only wrestling fan on planet earth that looks at the NCAA tournament as one of our tournaments, not the only one.  I understand its significance and importance, but full heartedly disagree with the inclination that it is the "only" tournament that "truly matters."  I think that mindset is such a load of bull.  I don't mind it being "the most" important tournament, but to treat it as if it is all that matters is ridiculous and foolish.   

I mean think about it for a second.  In a six month season, would you really have the audacity to say that Cole Matthews didn't have a tremendous year, just because 3 days of it didn't go his way? A Midlands title, an ACC title, ending the season with a 21-3 record including a win over McNeil.  As we head into the future & look at plausible 2024 NCAA champs, his R12 finish will somehow mess with the memories of many as his name will be left out in the early discussions. By late December everyone will suddenly remember him again.  That's a prediction I'll stand by. 


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