NCAA Preseason Scouting Report: Heavyweight

Updated: October 22, 2022

Photo: Arizona State’s Cohlton Schultz (left) scored a takedown against Minnesota’s NCAA and Olympic champion Gable Steveson before settling for second place and a second All-American honor for the Sun Devil.

Who will take over the big-man’s weight class after Minnesota’s two-time Hodge winner Gable Steveson opted for professional wrestling after the Gopher won both an Olympic gold medal and second NCAA championship over the past year?

First, one has to look at Arizona State’s Cohlton Schultz and Michigan’s Mason Parris, who respectively reached the 2022 and 2021 NCAA finals against the Gopher. Then there are two other multiple All-Americans from Penn State and Iowa, who could also reach the top step of the All-American next March at the 2023 NCAAs in Tulsa, Okla.

In WIN’s on-going series of previewing each weight class, check out the top Division I contenders this winter. WIN will update its rankings in the November issue as wrestlers finalize their weight classes for this season.

Heavyweight NCAA Wrestlers to Watch

Cohlton Schultz

Cohlton Schultz, who spent the past few months representing the United States in Greco-Roman wrestling at the Senior and U23 World Championships, is a two-time college All-American. The native of Parker, Colo., also claimed fourth place in 2021. Among his 2022 NCAA victories was a 6-5 decision against Michigan’s Mason Parris.

Mason Parris

Mason Parris, like Schultz, was also a Junior World champ during his time in Ann Arbor. The native of Lawrenceburg, Ind., became a starter in 2018-19 and qualified for that season’s national tournament. But it wasn’t until the 2021 NCAAs that he earned the first of two All-American honors when he lost 8-4 to Steveson in the national championship match. He followed that with a fifth-place finish in 2022 as a No. 7 seed after losing to Schultz, 6-5, in the semifinals.

• Penn State’s Greg Kerkvliet and Iowa’s Tony Cassioppi also excelled on the international freestyle stage while both wrestlers also collected a pair of All-American honors for their Big Ten schools.

Greg Kerkvliet

The Nittany Lion, a native of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., first claimed seventh place as a redshirt freshman in 2021.Last year, Kerkvliet captured a fourth-place finish in Detroit, where he reached the semis (losing 8-3 to Steveson), then beat Parris in consolation before taking a medical forfeit in the third-place bout.

Anthony Cassioppi

Cassioppi, a native of Roscoe, Ill., became a starter for the Hawkeyes as a true freshman and qualified for the cancelled 2020 NCAAs. One year later, he reached the semifinals (losing to Steveson) and came back to claim third place with a victory over Arizona State’s Schultz. Last year, the Hawkeye was seeded No. 3, but settled for seventh place after he was upset by Lehigh’s graduated Jordan Wood in the quarterfinals.

Lucas Davison

• Two years after competing at 197 pounds for Northwestern, Lucas Davison moved up to heavyweight a year ago when he earned his first All-American honor: a sixth-place finish as a No. 9 seed. The native of Chesterton, Ind., won two bouts before losing 10-5 to Steveson in the quarterfinals. Once in the wrestlebacks, the Wildcat won two more bouts, including a Round-of-12 win over Oregon State’s Gary Traub.

Wyatt Hendrickson

• Air Force’s Wyatt Hendrickson caused a big stir in the regular season last winter when the native of Newton, Kan., entered his second national tournament with a 24-0 record and was the Big 12 champion. He was also named the Schalles Award winner as the nation’s top pinner when he flattened 18 of his opponents. Unfortunately for the fifth-seeded Falcon, he was upset by Nebraska’s Christian Lance in the second round and by Ohio State’s Tate Orndorff in the wrestlebacks. One year earlier, he reached the Round of 12 as a No. 17 seed but lost his Blood-Round match.

• Three heavyweights — Cornell’s Lewis Fernandes, Missouri’s Zach Elam and Ohio State’s Tate Orndorff — came within one victory of earning All-American honors when they lost Round-of-12 bouts. Of these three, the Buckeye had earned a Top-8 finish in 2021 as a No. 21 seed. Orndorff came to Columbus from Utah Valley where the native of Spokane, Wash., qualified for the 2019 and 2020 NCAAs. Fernandes, from Tewksbury, N.J., was seeded No. 18, and Elam, the brother of Missouri teammate Zach (197), was seeded No. 10 in his second NCAA tourney last season.

2022 NCAA All-American Matches (includes seeds)

1st – 1. Gable Steveson (Minnesota) dec. 2. Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State), 6-2

3rd – 6. Jordan Wood (Lehigh) won by forfeit over 4. Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State) 

5th – 7. Mason Parris (Michigan) dec. 9. Lucas Davison (Northwestern), 8-5

7th – 3. Anthony Cassioppi (Iowa) dec. 12. Christian Lance (Nebraska), 2-0

WIN’s Preseason Team Tournament Power Index 

WIN’s Heavyweight Preseason Individual Rankings

Wt Name School Year 2022 NCAA
1 Cohlton Schultz Arizona State So. 2nd
2 Greg Kerkvliet Penn State Jr. 4th
3 Mason Parris Michigan Sr. 5th
4 Tony Cassioppi Iowa Sr. 7th
5 Lucas Davison Northwestern Sr. 6th
6 Wyatt Hendrickson Air Force Jr. R16
7 Zach Elam Missouri Jr. R12
8 Lewis Fernandes Cornell Jr. R12
9 Tate Orndorff Ohio State Sr. R12
10 Trent Hillger Wisconsin Gr. R24
11 Sam Schuyler Iowa State Sr. R32
12 Luke Luffman Illinois Jr. R24
13 Tyrie Houghton NC State Sr. R24
14 AJ Nevills South Dakota State Gr. R24
15 Josh Heindselman Oklahoma Jr. R32
16 Ben Goldin Penn Sr. R24
17 Isaac Reid Lock Haven Jr. R24
18 Taye Ghadali Campbell Jr. R24
19 Brandon Metz North Dakota State Sr. R32
20 Michael Wolfgram West Virginia Jr. R32

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