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The Ultimate Guide to the College Wrestling Season (2021-2022)

This is your ultimate guide to the college wrestling season, including key dates, freshmen to watch, and major storylines. If you’re looking for a more in-depth take with top 25 rankings, NCAA title contenders, and freshmen to watch, I recommend you check out this resource.

Key Dates in the D1 Wrestling Schedule

The 2021-2022 College Wrestling season starts on November 1, with the first official dual between Wisconsin and Buffalo on that Monday. You can view all D1 wrestling schedule here, but here are a few of the key dates:

Biggest Wrestling Events of 2021-2022

  • Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite (Dec 3-4)
  • Collegiate National Duals (Dec 20-21)
  • Ken Kraft Midlands (Dec 29-30)
  • Southern Scuffle (Jan 1-2)
  • Iowa vs Penn State dual (Jan 28)
  • Bout at the Ballpark (Feb 12)
  • NCAA Championships (Mar 17-19)

Returning NCAA Champions

All ten of last year’s NCAA wrestling champions are back for another year of competition. In addition to those ten champions, Mekhi Lewis (VT) and Yianni Diakomihalis (COR), both of whom won the 2019 NCAA championships, are also back in the field.

If Yianni decides to wrestle 141 lbs., then 149 lbs. will be the only weight without a former National Champion in it. This is because 2021 champ, Austin O’Connor (UNC) is moving up a weight to 157 lbs.

In addition to a potentially stacked 141 lbs. and 157 lbs., 174 lbs. will be loaded with talent. Carter Starocci returns to the weight, and Mekhi Lewis is projected to wrestle there as well. 2021 NCAA finalist Michael Kemerer (IOWA) and 2018 finalist Hayden Hidlay (NCST) will also contend for a title.

ncaa champs returning to college wrestling in 2021-2022

The First 5X All-American Placers

Because the NCAA gave all 2021 student athletes an extra year of eligibility, this made way for certain wrestlers to place at the NCAA Championships more than the traditional four times. In fact, there are two athletes who can become 5X All-Americans: Myles Amine (MICH) and Jaydin Eierman (IOWA).

Myles Amine placed 4th in 2017 then 3rd in 2018, 2019, and 2021. He placed three times at 174 lbs. until he bumped up to 197 lbs. last season. This year he is projected to wrestle at 184 lbs. for the first time.

Similarly, Jaydin Eierman has also placed four times at NCAAs. His story is a bit more fun, with his placements improving every single year. He placed for the first time in 2017 when he took home a 5th place medal. From there he placed 4th (2018), 3rd (2019), and 2nd (2021). If the pattern continues, this could be the year he finally reaches the top of the podium.

Incoming Freshmen Contenders

In my Ultimate Guide to the College Wrestling Season, I outline the best true freshman from all 78 D1 teams. Because I don’t have that time, I’ll lay out a few of the top contending freshmen for this season.

At the top of the freshmen leaderboard is Braxton Amos, a 3X West Virginia State Champ. He will wrestle 197 lbs. for Wisconsin this season, and he could give AJ Ferrari (OKST), Max Dean (PSU), and the rest of the field a run for their money. Amos is the most recent Junior World Champion. He was also listed at #3 on Matscouts class of 2020 rankings, behind AJ Ferrari at the #1 spot.

The next batch of newcomers you need to know about are all Cornell newbies. They may have graduated high school in different years, but they will all take the college mat for the first time. Watch out for Greg Diakomihalis (133 lbs.), Josh Saunders (141 lbs.), and Chris Foca (174 lbs.). Each had credentialled high school careers, such as Diakomihalis’ 5X New York State Titles, and will be true All-American contenders.

Last up is a personal favorite of mine, Alex Facundo. He should wrestle 165 lbs. this year for Penn State and should add a bit of spark to the lineup spot. He is a 4X Michigan State Champ and a 2X Cadet World Bronze medalist. What a resume!

Two Popular NCAA Storylines

Ask any major college wrestling fan, “which wrestler you can’t wait to watch this year?” Nine times out of ten, his or her answer will be either Spencer Lee (IOWA) or Gable Steveson (MINN).

Returning this year as an Olympic Gold medalist is Gable Steveson. He is back to wreak havoc on the heavyweight field. And considering he already has bonus point wins over the majority of the weight class, this year should be a cakewalk to his second NCAA title. And after he was rumored to enter the WWE, NFL, or UFC, it’s refreshing to see him coming back to the sport.

There weren’t many wrestlers more impressive than Steveson last season, but Spencer Lee arguably had a better season. He capped off his 2021 season with his third NCAA title, which means he can become the fifth-ever 4X NCAA Champion. Now that’s a storyline to follow!

Biggest Beef: Iowa vs. Penn State

Quite honestly, the most thrilling storyline of the 2021-2022 season will be the Iowa vs. Penn State rivalry. Though the Hawkeyes won the National Team Title last year, the Nittany Lions have claimed the last eight out of ten titles.

ncaa wrestling team champs from last ten years including penn state, iowa, and ohio state

The season, wrestling fans may see the teams face off upwards of four times: National Duals (Dec 20-21), regular season dual meet (Jan 28), Big Ten Championships (Mar 5-6), and the NCAA Championships (Mar 17-19). It’s unlikely that one team wins all four encounters, but that’s what makes things fun.

Though all ten Hawkeyes are back, the Nittany Lions have a few lineup changes. This includes Max Dean, who transferred from Cornell in the offseason, who will likely start at 197 lbs. over 2021 All-American Michael Beard. Also look for Joe Lee to drop to 157 lbs. and Alex Facundo to fill in at 165 lbs.

Can Penn State win NCAAs with this lineup? It’s possible; however, don’t forget that Iowa still has studs like Alex Marinelli (165 lbs.), Max Murin (149 lbs.), and Nelson Brands (184 lbs.), who did not place at Nationals last year but are fully capable of making the podium. If they do, it might be game over for Penn State.

Your Ultimate Guide to the College Wrestling Season

Those are the major details that you need to know about the upcoming 2021-2022 college wrestling season. However, there is even more that I wish I could cover in this article.

If you’re looking for top 25 team rankings, contenders at every weight (including underdogs), best freshman from every team, most impactful transfers, and even more wrestling stats, then you’ll enjoy The Fan’s Ultimate Guide to the College Wrestling Season.

The Guide is available from October 28 – November 5 for an affordable price of $9.99, meaning that any college student, wrestling dad, coach, professional, or wrestling fan can enjoy the guide. This is meant to spark conversations, and you can bet that it will get you amped up for the season.

You can follow this link to learn more about the Ultimate Guide to the College Wrestling Season.