Spencer Lee is the man to beat, but who are the other NCAA contenders at 125 lbs? There are ten former All-Americans in this weight class, and that will make 125 lbs very amusing to watch.
Spencer Lee: The Man Up Top
Oftentimes I like to be optimistic and positive and say things like “it’s wrestling, so anything can happen.” This is not one of those times. In fact, there are only two weight classes this year that I’m calling an absolute lock on, and that’s 125 lbs and 285 lbs.
Spencer Lee is seeking his 4th NCAA title this season and his 2nd team NCAA title on #1 ranked team in the Big Ten and NCAA. If he reaches the top of the podium in 2022, he will become the 5th ever 4X NCAA Champion. And let’s be honest, the name Spencer Lee deserves to be in the same conversations with the likes of Pat Smith, Cael Sanderson, Kyle Dake, and Logan Stieber.
The Race for Second
Two wrestlers returning to the field this year are Vito Arujau and Pat Glory. Due to last year’s ridiculous Ivy League rules, they could not compete. However, both wrestlers made the podium in 2019. Glory has a win over Arujau, though Vito placed higher than him at NCAAs. Interestingly enough, Spencer Lee and Vito Arujau have never wrestled, so that could make for an exhilarating match.
Another name you cannot leave out of the mix is Brandon Courtney. He is the only wrestler in this bunch to make the NCAA finals, and he really did give Spencer Lee a tough match even if Spencer didn’t have any ACLs. En route to the 2021 NCAA finals, Courtney defeated Eric Barnett (WISC), Jakob Camacho (NCST), and Taylor LaMont (UTV), all of whom ended up making the blood round or podium. Now that’s impressive!
Outside Contenders at 125 lbs.
Who else has a shot to make the finals? Utah Valley’s Taylor LaMont shocked the nation with a win against #2 seed Sam Latona in the 2021 NCAA quarterfinals. He then came up one point short against Brandon Courtney (2-1) in the semis and just missed the finals.
On the other side of last year’s bracket, Central Michigan’s Drew Hildebrandt made the semifinals only to lose to Lee (11-0). He battled back for 4th by defeating Latona then losing to Pat McKee. Hildebrandt would be a force to reckon with in 2022; unfortunately, he announced that he will not be returning next season.
Speaking of Minnesota’s McKee, he had an incredible weekend at NCAAs last March. He entered the tournament as the #15 seed and lost his second match to Latona. McKee won 6 straight matches to take 3rd; in my eyes, that makes him a true contender at 125 lbs.
The Dark Horse
My dark horse pick at 125 lbs is Virginia Tech’s Sam Latona. After an incredible undefeated season I legitimately thought Latona was a shoe-in for the finals. Unfortunately, he lost in the quarterfinals then again in the consi-semis. Sure, he made the stand, but I think he has a lot more potential and can even help his team get to the top of the ACC this year.
Are there any other NCAA contenders at 125 lbs who you expect to make the finals?
Last Year’s All-Americans at 125 lbs
- Spencer Lee (IOWA)
- Brandon Courtney (ASU)
- Patrick McKee (MINN)
- Drew Hildebrandt (CMU)
- Taylor LaMont (UTV)
- Sam Latona (VT)
- Killian Cardinale (WVU)
- Eric Barnett (WISC)