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WIN Magazine will provide comprehensive coverage of the 2023 NCAA Division I...
Photo: Pitt’s Cole Matthews (right) claimed his first All-American honor in 2022 after dealing with injuries in his college career. He hopes to become his school’s first NCAA champion since Keith Gavin, the Panthers’ current coach, who won a national title in 2008.
With the top four wrestlers from last year’s NCAAs — including champion Nick Lee and North Carolina’s runner-up Kizhan Clarke — finishing their eligibility, this is expected to be a wide-open weight in 2023.
Check out WIN’s preseason preview at 141 pounds and see who the top contenders are to finish as champion at the 2023 NCAAs next March in Tulsa, Okla. WIN will update its rankings in the November issue as wrestlers finalize their weight classes for this season.
• There are four other returning All-Americans from 2022: Pitt’s Cole Matthews (5th place) and Iowa’s Real Woods (6th, while wrestling for Stanford); and a pair of wrestlers who were seeded lower but made the medal stand: Minnesota’s Jakob Bergeland (7th) and Penn’s C.J. Composto (8th).
Matthews, from Greenville, Pa., has qualified for two NCAAs, including 2021 when he overcame an injury. Last year, he reached the semifinals as a No. 6 seed with a victory over Rutgers All-American Sebastian Rivera before losing in a tiebreaker to Clarke. 11 former Panthers have won NCAA titles; the last was current Pitt coach Keith Gavin in 2008.
Woods, a native of Albuquerque, N.M., has won two Pac-12 championships, qualified for three NCAA tourneys and brings one All-American honor with him after transferring to Iowa. He reached last year’s semis, where he only lost 3-2 to Penn State’s eventual champ Nick Lee.
Bergeland is from Hugo, Minn., waited four years to earn a starting spot for the Gophers. The graduate student was seeded No. 10 at the 2022 NCAAs, but earned All-American status when he pinned No. 5-seed Andrew Alirez of Northern Colorado in the Round of 12.
Composto, from Westfield, N.J., was seeded No. 12 after qualifying for his first national tournament as an EIWA runner-up. The Quaker reached the quarters after beating Northern Colorado’s Alirez in overtime, then beat Michigan All-American Stevan Micic in the Round of 12.
• Another former All-American is South Dakota State’s Clay Carlson, who finished seventh nationally in 2021. Last year, the native of Willmar, Minn., qualified for another NCAAs, but finished 3-2 in Detroit, losing in the Round of 12.
• Northern Colorado’s Andrew Alirez first made a splash in 2020 when he qualified for the cancelled NCAAs at 149 pounds as a true freshman. Since then, the native of Greeley, Colo.; saw injuries end his chance to compete in the 2021 NCAAs before losing in the Round of 12 last March in Detroit. But, he did win his school’s first Big 12 championship in 2022 and advanced farther in the NCAAs than any former Bear since Justin Gaethje in 2010.
• Ryan Jack had big “family” shoes to fill at NC State, where his older brother Kevin Jack won three All-American honors for the Wolfpack. After sharing starting time as a true freshman in 2021, this native of Danbury, Conn., was the No. 3 seed at the ACC tournament where he beat eventual NCAA runner-up Kizhan Clarke before losing 3-2 to Pitt’s Cole Matthews in the final. He split four bouts at the NCAAs and was eliminated in overtime by SDSU’s Carlson.
• Missouri’s Alan Hart has qualified for the last three NCAAs, including last year when the native of Akron, Ohio., finished second in the Big 12s. A No. 9 seed in Detroit, the Tiger beat Michigan’s former All-American Stevan Micic.
• Columbia’s Matt Kazimir is still looking for his first All-American honor but the native of Auburn Hills, Ohio, certainly has made people take notice out East. First, the Lion finished second in the 2020 EIWA Championships. Then, after returning from a freestyle-only winter in 2021, Kazimir won his school’s first conference championship since 2018 and 24th all-time. He then finished 1-2 at the NCAAs.
• North Dakota State’s Dylan Droegemueller beat Kazimir in last year’s NCAA wrestlebacks as the Bison from Champlin, Minn., competed in his first national tournament.
• Penn State’s Beau Bartlett, a qualifier at 149 in 2022, is expected to move down as replacement for Nick Lee.
1st – 1. Nick Lee (Penn State) dec. 15. Kizhan Clarke (North Carolina), 10-3
3rd – 3. Sebastian Rivera (Rutgers) dec. 8. Grant Willits (Oregon State), 6-5
5th – 6. Cole Matthews (Pitt) dec. 4. Real Woods (Stanford), 7-3
7th – 10. Jacob Bergland (Minnesota) major dec. 12. C.J. Composito (Penn), 10-0
|2||Real Woods||Iowa||Sr.||6th (Stanford)|
|5||Andrew Alirez||Northern Colorado||Jr.||R12|
|6||Clay Carlson||South Dakota State||Sr.||R12|
|8||Ryan Jack||NC State||So.||R16|
|9||Carter Young||Oklahoma State||So.||R32|
|10||Dylan Droegemueller||North Dakota State||Sr.||R16|
|13||Frankie Tal Shahar||Northwestern||Jr.||R24|
|14||Dylan D’Emilio||Ohio State||Jr.||R24|
|17||Beau Bartlett||Penn State||Jr.||R24/149|
|20||Jesse Vasquez||Arizona State||So.||Injured|
WIN will preview additional weights between now and Oct. 21