Roberts, much older & wiser, meets Hafizov again in Final X
Photo: Dalton Roberts (left) beat Ildar Hafizov at the 2023 U.S. Open...
(Photo: Cadet double champion Carson Manville, left, and Anthony Cassioppi, a Junior Triple Crown winner, were among the wrestlers listed in WIN’s 2017 Summer RPI.)
(This is an expanded version of the story that appeared in the Sept. 12 issue of WIN, V23I11. Click here to subscribe to WIN Magazine or call 888-305-0606.)
By Rob Sherrill, WIN High School Columnist
With another off-season now officially over, I’ve spent the better part of the last couple of months compiling my seventh annual WIN Summer Ratings Percentage Index leaders list.
The volume of results I used resembled a small mountain. And, as I’ve written repeatedly in previous columns, the size of that mountain neither makes the process of compiling the rankings easier … nor improves the accuracy of those rankings. Sometimes too much information is just that: too much information.
The RPI, of course, is a tool used by a sport that traditionally is one of our sworn enemies, NCAA Division I basketball. One component of that RPI: the number of wins against the RPI top 50.
Given that my two main rankings criteria are strength of schedule and the number of quality wins, it should come as no surprise that I’m partial to the RPI as a rankings tool. In this day and age, when everybody wrestles everybody, nearly everybody in the rankings has good wins and bad losses.
Some have a lot of the former, which will excuse even a lot of the latter, which some people on this list definitely have. After all, those wrestlers are putting it on the line frequently in events with tough fields and that contributes to the strength of schedule component.
So I thought I’d share a window to my world with you…some of the off-season RPI leaders who might be found in the pre-season rankings for next year. Not all will be, because these are not rankings themselves – they’ll simply be used as one of the inputs.
The 106-pound category includes everyone who competed at 106 pounds or below.
Wrestlers are listed at the lowest weight class at which they competed in the off-season this year. The year in school is for the coming school year, so wrestlers who were seniors last year are listed as “graduate.”
The list below includes the top five wrestlers (and ties) at each weight class in quality wins – defined as wins over other wrestlers I either had ranked or considered for a ranking. These records include quality wins, and all losses. They reflect only the USA Wrestling portion of the off-season schedule. Although some important results were recorded at events such as the Disney Duals, and they will be factored into the pre-season rankings, they are not part of this measure, simply to keep the compilation process consistent.
Only 10 wrestlers earned double-digit quality wins in 2017, the lowest number in three seasons and less than half of last year’s record total of 21.
In 2016, 13 of the 14 weight classes surveyed contained at least six five-match winners. This year, only eight weight classes had as many as five wrestlers with five quality wins. The 160-pound class contained only one such wrestler, the 220-pound class just two, and two others only three. At 145, 160 and 220, we had to go down to three quality wins to fill out the top five. Ties swelled the list of wrestlers at 126 pounds to 12, and 113 and 170 each contained 10. The total number of wrestlers who made this year’s team ballooned to 99, 20 more than last year.
In contrast to 220, the heavyweight class, 285 pounds, was the deepest in the history of this assessment. Led by Junior Triple Crown winner Anthony Cassioppi of Illinois, the heavyweight class included three double-digit winners — more than any other weight class — and the nine wins posted by another Illinois big man, Zach Muller, would have led nine of the other 13 weight classes. Cassioppi’s 16-0 record against quality RPI competition set a record for the most wins without a loss in this assessment. Two other wrestlers also posted double-digit wins without a loss: Drew Mattin (12-0) of Ohio and Will Lewan (10-0) of Illinois.
Illinois and Minnesota, the states that dominated the Cadet and Junior National Duals and individual championships, led all states with 16 and 11 wrestlers on the team, respectively. Each state also had four wrestlers atop a weight class. Michigan and Missouri each placed seven on the list, with Ohio (six) rounding out the top five. The list includes wrestlers from 27 states.
Also, the list does not include 2017 Cadet World Championship results where Kurt McHenry, Will Lewan, Aaron Brooks, Greg Kerkvliet and Cohlton Schultz won gold medals after appearing in WIN’s RPI.
So, with the ground rules out of the way, we present WIN’s Summer RPI leaders by weight class. Enjoy!
The lowdown: On a Woodland team loaded in the lower weights, including two-time state champion Kyle Gollhofer, McCrary has yet to be a varsity starter, but should be this year. Ragusin and Lillie were the Fargo champions at 100, Ragusin moving up to 106 to complete his double title run in Greco.
The lowdown: Just fifth in his state tournament, Surtin won the first two legs of the Cadet Triple Crown – folkstyle and freestyle. UWW Cadet Greco champion Byrd added six Junior Duals quality wins, four in freestyle.
The lowdown: One of three wrestlers to repeat as a quality wins leader, McKee led three wrestlers who were Summer RPI team members at 113 a year ago. His record, which included a national-best five Junior National quality wins in Greco, was much cleaner than last year’s 18 losses. Melendez and D’Emilio were the others to repeat. This weight class was the deepest by far, with 12 wrestlers posting five or more quality wins. Among those who just missed the cut: Patrick Glory of New Jersey and Ryan Sokol of Minnesota, who both went 7-1.
The lowdown: No eighth-grader in the history of this assessment has, or probably will again, accomplish what Manville did. He won eight of the 10 events he entered in 2017, including a dominating Cadet National double title. Mattin, who made the list at 120 last year, made the most of his three events. He had nine quality wins in the Junior Duals alone, five in Greco – more than any other wrestler. Thomsen, the 2016 wins leader, and Konrath return at the same weight. But 126 is a far cry from last year, when 14 wrestlers posted five or more quality wins.
The lowdown: Jones, third at this weight last year, and Escobar elevated themselves to the top three with three quality wins each in the Junior National freestyle, Escobar winning the title.
The lowdown: A pair of Michigan wrestlers with six state titles between them finished 1-2. Freeman finished second for the second year in a row, posting three quality wins each in the Junior Duals and Junior Nationals in freestyle. Those included wins over Gfeller and Enriquez. Three quality wins in his Junior National title run in Greco helped Davenport claim the top spot.
The lowdown: Artalona was the leading winner at this weight in 2016 and 2017. He showed his toughness by moving up a weight class to 152 for the Junior Nationals in Greco, reaching the finals again after repeating as freestyle champion. Lloyd finished fourth in the Junior freestyle, though he and Artalona did not meet.
The lowdown: The difference between Lewan and Robb on the stat sheet: Lewan’s four wins over Robb in as many meetings. Five seniors likely to be in the top 10 in the rankings this season took the top five spots. Lewan, Robb, Ruffin and Franek combined for two titles and six top-four finishes at Fargo. Brady racked up four quality wins in the UWW Cadet National freestyle.
The lowdown: Starocci actually had more quality wins in the UWW Cadet National freestyle (four) than in his run to a Cadet National double title (three). Carr entered just one event, the Junior Nationals in freestyle, but made it count with the Outstanding Wrestler award.
The lowdown: Perhaps the most unlikely weight-class leader was Kent, who didn’t place in state as a junior and had 15 losses in a sixth-place state finish as a sophomore. However, being from the same high school as Olympic medalist J’Den Cox must mean something. Kent and Braunagel, who finished 1-2, both had sub-.500 records, a testament to their level of competition.
The lowdown: The wins leader at 170 last year, Jessen was one of just two wrestlers – McKee was the other – to post double-digit quality wins both in 2016 and in 2017. His only two losses were to Lyon, in the first two legs of the Junior Triple Crown – folkstyle and freestyle. Jessen took the third leg, winning the Greco title.
The lowdown: The state champion at 160, Shapiro kept winning despite a major growth spurt, gaining momentum with four UWW Cadet National freestyle quality wins. Whitman won the only meeting between the co-leaders, by technical fall in the Junior National freestyle. Warner, the leader at this weight last year, dominated on his way to a double Junior National crown.
The lowdown: Elam’s run to a Junior National freestyle title sets up what should be a dominating senior season.
The lowdown: Cassioppi was the wins leader a year ago, but this year’s run was truly dominant: three pins, 10 technical falls, an 11-0 major decision and a pair of decisions over Metz in both Junior National finals. Muller’s nine quality wins at Fargo topped the nation. Five came in Greco.