My prediction for the NCAA DI weight class of 184 lbs in '23-'24? Retrieval & reclamation. With some of last year's All Americans either moving up or out of eligibility, we return four All Americans, & another who is moving down from 197 lbs. There are a lot of wrestlers here who do to injuries or other reasons didn't have the best '22-'23, who will be looking to reclaim their status. Wrestlers looking to prove themselves in one way or another. For that reason alone, it makes 184 lbs a very fun weight.
3rd-3rd-2nd the past three seasons in the DI nation, be there a better wrestler than Parker Keckeisen yet to win a national title? 26-2 on the season last year, both of those losses are now at 197 lbs. The three time BIG 12 champ goes into '23-'24 the heavy favorite.
Trey Munoz is already potentially one step ahead of dad, as he now has the opportunity to earn three All American honors as Dad earned two. Could he surpass him in another way this season? Father, Mark was an NCAA DI champ his senior season of 2001, having placed 3rd as a junior in 2000. Could Trey potentially knock off Keckeisen to win an NCAA DI title this year as a junior? I wouldn't count it out of the possibilities. He medical forfeited to 6th place after dropping a 5-1 decision to Keckeisen in the semi-finals. The PAC-12 champ, also 8th at CKLV was 27-3 on the season.
With as well as Will Feldkamp performed last season, it's hard to believe that it was only his second time at the NCAA championships. The MAC champ, who was 2nd at the MAC in '22 posted a 29-6 record last year taking 7th in the DI nation. The former Husky, turned Golden Eagle, will head back to the Midwest to complete his final season as a Cyclone. He was also a Clarion Open champion last year as well.
The two time ACC runner-up heads into his junior season having taking 8th place All American honors on a 25-9 record last year. A Lehman Open champion, he was also 3rd at the Southeast Open.
Penn State picking up Bernie Truax is like finding out that it's Christmas Day & your birthday and on top of it all you just won the lottery. The Nittany Lions were already a favorite to win the '24 NCAA DI team title & adding Truax to the lineup has Stevie Wonder belting out, "Signed, sealed and delivered!" The question remains though, where exactly does Truax fit in at 184 lbs this year? It's not like he hasn't wrestled here before. 197 last year, he was 184 in '22. Overall he is 1-1 with Keckeisen having won a 6-5 match & having dropped a 6-4 match. He's also 4-1 overall Vs Trey Munoz. Would I call him an NCAA DI title contender? Absolutely. Would've liked to have seen him pick up one for Cal Poly, as well as have became a four time DI All American for the Mustangs. That small program is doing wonders in a state that hasn't been the friendliest to our great sport. Albeit, Truax thus far has been 4th-4th-4th in the DI nation, as he'll look to win an NCAA DI title for the Nittany Lions this season. A three time PAC-12 finalist/two time champ, he'll also look to win a BIG 10 title.
Isaiah Salazar really stepped it up last year, going 20-4 on the year, really looking sharp at season's end dropping one point matches to both NCAA DI 3rd place Kaleb Romero & NCAA DI runner-up Parker Keckeisen, while nearly making All American honors himself. Injuries, transfers, the Golden Gophers have taken some harsh hits & it'll be up to the likes of Salazar to step it up even further for the maroon & gold.
Trading in the orange & black for the black & orange. Travis Wittlake was an NCAA DI All American with a 4th place finish in 2021. The '21-'22 season was not a good one for the former Cowboy, now a Beaver. Not a good one at all. However, he came back strong last year. Winning a Southern Scuffle title, he was 3rd at the BIG 12 championships. I think he more than has the ability to win another Southern Scuffle title, & a BIG 12 title while reclaiming his All American status.
|Gavin Stika Kyle Haas|
With Travis Wittlake now at Oregon State, time to take a look at Gavin Stika. What a team player he's been over the course of his career. It's rewarding to know that a man of his skills & talents will FINALLY get a shot at the post season. Stika won the Reno tournament of champions last year & he was 3rd in the Southern Scuffle. Defeated Joel Devine twice by scores of 4-0 & 3-1 and he also had a 3-2 tiebreaker over Jacob Nolan.
Also at this weight class for the Cowboys is Kyle Haas. A sophomore who will fill in nice for the orange and black after Wittlake's eligibility is up. A 9-4 victory over Matt Waddell, he was 7th in the Southern Scuffle.
Here's another wrestler I can see really opening up some eyes this year. Despite a losing record & not qualifying for the NCAA DI championships last season, Anthony Montalvo still gave signs that '23-'24 could be a breakout year for him. A PAC-12 runner-up, he was one match shy of a top 8 showing at CKLV. A 4-2 s.v. over All American Will Feldkamp, he also defeated MAC runner-up Zayne Lehman 6-2.
Jacob Nolan heads into his senior season now a three time NCAA DI qualifier. An EIWA runner-up this past season, he'll look to end his time as a Bearcat with a conference title. 22-9 on the year, he had a 5-4 victory over NCAA DI R12'er Isaiah Salazar & he was 8th at the Southern Scuffle.
The sophomore had a good showing for the Huskers last season going 24-11 overall. A Navy Classic runner-up, he was 5th in the BIG 10 & 6th at CKLV. A 5-4 victory over All American Trey Munoz.
| Colton Hawks Sean Harman Clayton Whitting|
When it comes to earning the varsity spot, I don't know if it'll get more competitive than Missouri at 184 lbs. We have three very tough wrestlers here, all capable of doing great things for the Tigers, depending on who ultimately wins the series of wrestle-offs. We have junior Colton Hawks, who on 19 victories last season was 4th in the BIG 12. He also had a 6-2 win over All American Gavin Kane. Sean Harman, 15-5 on the season had a 3-2 victory over NCAA DI qualifier Brian Bonino & was R12 at the Southern Scuffle. Freshman Clayton Whitting, who on a 22-3 record on a redshirt, was R12 at the Midlands, also defeating NCAA DI qualifier Dylan Connell twice by scores of 2-1 & 5-4. Against one another, officially thus far Hawks has a 3-1 win over Whitting & a 5-4 win over Harman.
Here's a guy that sometimes shows up not looking so great & at other times he wrestles as gold as is one of his school colors. When on, David Key is a tough wrestler to beat. An EIWA runner-up in '21, it was not a good tournament in '22, but he came back strong last year to collect some EIWA bronze. If he's having a good day, David Key could very well walk out of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania with an EIWA title. Getting past both Jonathan Loew & Jacob Nolan is tall order, but not impossible. If he's having a very good day, he could end up walking out of Kansas City holding an All American plaque. 23-11 on the year, he was also 5th at the Clarion Open.
An MAC runner-up last season on a 21-12 record, Zayne Lehman will look to win a conference title this season.
As mentioned previously, Caleb Hopkins will be going for his fourth SOCON title this season & as far as I'm concerned there is only one man who could possibly prevent him from accomplishing that feat. You're looking at him. Jha'Quan Anderson of Gardner Webb. Thus far the Runnin' Bulldog has SOCON finishes of 3rd-2nd-2nd as he enters his junior season. 26 wins on the year, he was 6th at the Clarion Open.
19 wins on the season for Reece Heller, the highlight of the year was winning a Midlands title. 2nd at the Clarion Open, he was 4th at the ACC.
Of the tough freshman from last season, Brian Soldano is one of them. He also, with the mustache is probably the oldest looking of them too. 25 wins on the season, he took it to All American Will Feldkamp in a 15-5 major decision. 6th in the BIG 10, he was 4th at the Midlands.
With this whole gambling thing lingering in the background, it's really a shame if it ends up costing Abe Assad this year. He's waited for a while now & this really could have ended up being a standout year for the Hawkeye. A three time NCAA qualifier, he has the tools to be top 8 in the nation, in a time when the black & gold need him to do so. 19 wins on the season, he was a Soldier Salute champ, taking 7th at the BIG 10's.
|Cade King Bennett Berge|
South Dakota State
Here's a wrestle-off to look forward to. Cade King had a very solid season last year. A Daktronics Open runner-up, he was 5th at CKLV & 7th in the BIG 12. He will be pushed for his spot by freshman Bennett Berge, who with 11 wins on the season was runner-up at the Soldier Salute & had a 5-4 victory over Colton Hawks.
24-6 on the season, Layne Malczewski was a Navy Classic champion, taking 3rd at RENO & 8th in the BIG 10's.
18 wins on the season for the Mountaineer who won a Southeast Open Title & finished 6th at the Midlands. An at large/wildcard selection to the NCAA DI championships.
Another at large/wildcard selection to the NCAA DI championships last season, Dylan Connell won 18 matches & finished 5th at the Midlands.
As to who didn't qualify for the NCAA DI championships last season, I feel that DeAndre Nassar was overlooked. Matter of fact, I feel like he was overlooked in '22 as well. An NCAA DI qualifier in '21, he has thus far been 3rd-4th-3rd in the MAC. I would think if we're counting up the wrestlers, if Nassar wasn't #34, he had to be close at #35 or #36. No bother I guess, if you aren't #33 or higher, you don't go to the dance. 17 wins on the season, I do believe that Nassar can challenge for the MAC title this year. If he wins that, then he won't have to worry about a committee.
Another wrestler who was most likely on that #34-#35 scale is Noah Blake of Air Force. He upset his way to a 6th place finish at the BIG 12's with a 3-1 s.v. over Cade King, but it wasn't enough to punch him on through. 19 wins on the season, he was also 6th at the Navy Classic.
I said this weight class would be full of reclamation, & I meant it. Another guy looking to reclaim his status in the world of collegiate wrestling is Adam Kemp. The Mustang was an NCAA qualifier in '22, but ended up injured last season. His one win was a 4-1 victory over Colin Fegley. What does a healthy Adam Kemp look like at 184? Not sure. Anxious to see how he contends with Trey Munoz & Anthony Montalvo in the PAC-12, as well as the rest of the NCAA.
In earlier write-ups on lower weight classes, I've talked of how Edinboro fights to reclaim its spot in the wrestling world. I've talked of how various wrestlers at the breath that is being breathed back into Fighting Scot wrestling. Look for Ethan Ducca to be among the fresh oxygen. Injured last season, if back to form & healthy, Ducca is MAC champion material. He owns a 4-1 win over Zayne Lehman & he owns a 3-2 victory over Colin Fegley.
I was a little sad at the final year of eligibility for Hunter Bolen as I really enjoyed the ongoing feud he had with Gavin Kane. Luckily for me, that feud will continue with Sam Fisher taking Bolen's place. 23-5 on the season, he already owns a 2-1 win over Kane. A Southeast Open runner-up & 4th at the Southern Scuffle, he also owns wins over Matt Waddell (3-1), Jacob Ferrerira (8-6) & Jacob Nolan (2-1).
6th & 4th thus far in the MAC, Colin Fegley will go for his third conference medal this season. He won 16 matches last year.
|Nathan Haas Peter Acciardi |
After spending sometime at Nebraska, Nathan Haas heads back to the Golden state to compete for the Lancers of California Baptist. 3rd at the Navy Classic, he had both a 10-3 win over Colin Fegley & a 13-5 major decision over Zayne Lehman. Challenging him for the varsity spot in what should prove to be a good wrestle-off will be Peter Acciardi. 5th at RENO, had a 13-6 decision over David Key.
|Giuseppe Hoose Greyden Penner|
From Hofstra to Buffalo & now to Oklahoma, Giuseppe Hoose wil spend his final season as a Sooner. 21-9 on the season, he was 6th in the MAC last year. With that said, I dare not dismiss Greyden Penner, who will give Hoose all he can handle in a wrestle-off. Hoose officially owns a 5-3 decision over Penner, but Penner himself has 3-2 victories over both Dylan Connell & DeAndre Nassar.
5th at the Navy Classic, Logan Deacetis pinned Zayne Lehman in 31 seconds & he had an 11-7 victory over Giuseppe Hoose.
17 wins on the season Quayin Short was runner-up at RENO & had a 2:03 fall over Layne Malczewski.
5th in the MAC & 4th at the Navy Classic, Malachai Duvall was 23-9 on the season.
North Carolina State
Dylan Fishback steps into the starting role for the Wolfpack this season after posting a 15-6 record last season in his redshirt. He was 7th at the Midlands.
Seth Shumate committed to the Buckeyes long before his high school career was said & done and now we get to see him in his first varsity season wearing the scarlet & gray. 12 wins in his redshirt, he had a 7-6 win over All American John Poznanski.
Jonathan Loew, Jacob Nolan & David Key, our darkhorse here to possibly spoil plans in the EIWA is Nate Dugan. He has losses to both Nolan & Key, but despite them, he can be quite tough at times. R12 at the Midlands, he defeated NCAA DI qualifier Jacob Ferreria twice & he also had both a 3-2 victory over Anthony Montalvo & most notable, k a 4-3 victory over Jonathan Loew.