What a great season NCAA DIII wrestling was. A tough year full of some great wrestling. Here are my final thoughts on each weight class.
|JT#1's Final Thoughts On 125|
Wrestling searches high as it searches low for the next Cael Sanderson all the time & at the DIII level, I suppose we're always looking for our next Marcus LeVasseur. We may have very well found him. Joziah Fry of Johnson & Wales is only a freshman. 43-0 an NCAA DIII champion who doesn't look to be stopped any time soon.
Matter of fact this weight class is unusually young. Runner-up Jacob DeCatur of Baldwin Wallace (champion last season) is by technical standards still only a sophomore. Christian Guzman of North Central (3rd) & Jake Craig of Southern Maine (5th)? Both only freshmen. Could see an assortment of future four time All Americans. Of course, much easier said than done.
|JT#1's Final Thoughts on 133|
Robbie Precin of North Central I don't see ever getting beat again. 2nd in 2021 & a national champion last year, he won his second national title. Unless he gets hurt, injured or sick, I think winning a third title with an undefeated record is inevitable. He's just that good.
I think both Dalton Rohrbaugh of York (PA) & Tyler Fleetwood of UW-Eau Claire are now both done with their careers. Could be wrong about that as COVID-19 has made knowing someone's eligibility about impossible. If not for Precin, I think either one of these guys could have been a national champ. Rohrbaugh this year's runner-up was third in the nation last year.
Felt for Andrew Perelka of John Carroll who was a runner-up last season finishing one match shy of earning another AA. While things didn't end his way, let's keep in mind he was runner-up at DIII's toughest in-season tournament the Pete Willson Invite. Was also surprised to see Joey Pins of Wartburg miss out on the award stand after placing 3rd at the 2021 NWCA & 8th last year. I believe he has another year left & should come back strong next season.
|JT#1's Final Thoughts 141|
Sam Stuhl of Augsburg really came out of nowhere didn't he? Or least in my opinion he did. 3rd at the Upper Midwest Regional, he just absolutely refused to lose here. Avenged his loss to Ethan Harsted of Wheaton to take the title.
Rewarding to see Domenic Difrancescantonio of TCNJ make the award stand. Was hoping to see Zayren Teukina of Wartburg do a bit better. Not a knock, just know that if this tournament were to be held multiple times in the same season, he might have won one of them. Great career for the Knights as he was 2nd last season.
|JT#1's Final Thoughts 149|
Was really hoping to see five time NCAA DIII qualifier Kris Rumph of Wartburg make the award stand again. An NWCA runner up in 2021, he was 5th in the D3 nation last year. Just missed out on a third AA this time with an R12 finish. Again, a great career.
As to the rest of my thoughts as the 2023 season has now ended. Every All American to my understanding was an underclassmen who WILL be back next season. Just goes to show how tough 149 will be!
|JT#1's Final Thoughts 157|
I believe the career of Tyler Shilson of Augsburg is now said and done. 3rd-3rd-2nd, without a doubt he has to be one of the best of recent times to never win a D3 title. Jake Deguire of Springfield really impressed me this tournament. A first round loss & then PINS his way all the way back to third. I say this young man may very well challenge Nolan Hertel of UW-La Crosse for a title next season.
|JT#1's Final Thoughts 165|
Like everyone else, I was hooked on the story of brother Vs brother as Nathan Lackman of Rhode Island College took on Matt Lackman of Alvernia for the D3 title. From what I have seen this has a chance to happen AGAIN next season. I believe both have a year of eligibility left.
The other story here was that of Jordan Hardrick of Ohio Northern. A story that moved me to tears. Hardrick spoke of how he missed out on making the award stand at the state championships his senior year of high school. How he felt at that moment of disappointment. Brings me back 19 years ago to my senior year of high school & how it all ended for me. To see him all these years later on the award stand with his medal. My gawd, does it get any more rewarding than that?
|JT#1's Final Thoughts 174|
What an incredibly tough weight class this has turned out to be. Could very well see a four time & two three time AA's crowned next season. Thus far Wartburg's Zane Mulder is 2nd-4th-1st, Seth Brossard of UW-La Crosse is 7th-3rd & Stefan Major of Stevens is 7th-5th. Tough group of guys & both Jared Stricker of UW-Eau Claire (2nd) & Charlie Grygas of Oswego (4th) are back next year too.
|JT#1's Final Thoughts 184|
I believe Jaritt Shinhoster of UW-Whitewater & Shaen Liegel of Loras are both done with their careers or they both have a season left. Not sure. Wish this information were a little more concrete & easier to come by. Either way they are either two of best wrestlers in NCAA DIII still or they were. Either will miss watching both compete or I look forward to again watching them next season.
Same with Mahlic Sallah of Roanoke who became his school's first ever two time All Ameican. Also a Pete Willson champ.
|JT#1's Final Thoughts 197|
Joziah Fry is in good company. While not undefeated, Massoma Endene of Wartburg did win an NCAA DIII title as a freshman this season with 27-1 record. His only loss? Ben Kawcyznski of UW-La Crosse who didn't even place at the Upper-Midwest Regional. If that isn't testimony as to how tough D3 wrestling is, then nothing is.
|JT#1's Final Thoughts HWT|
I've talked about it enough that everyone who knows me knows that I wanted to see Kaleb Reeves, a fellow Sigourney Savage win the D3 national title this season. Yet I knew going into the finals that handing Jack Heldt of Wabash what would have been his only loss of the season was going to be a tall order. Nonetheless at 3rd-3rd-2nd Reeves ends his collegiate career as the best wrestler to ever come out of my high school at the college level. He's also one of the best to ever wrestle for Coe. Per wrestlestat he has 70 career falls, but according to his Dad, he may actually have even more. 70 alone is an impressive figure. To think he may have more.
As always could add 10,000 more thoughts but gotta at least try and keep it condensed. Season is over & I've been telling myself the last month that I'm actually looking forward to it. Been way too neglectful of the gym lately as I've been doing so much coverage of wrestling. Got a girlfriend, a dog & a cat that need more of my time too. So I really am looking forward to a break. One more tournament with DI's coming up. Yet a small part of me as it always is, is sad that it's about over. A bigger part of me already ready for next season to start.