We just started the second semester of wrestling just a few weeks ago and we are already off with a bang with upsets from across all divisions of men’s and women’s wrestling. Let’s look at the biggest holiday tournaments in collegiate wrestling.
Midlands, hosted by Northwestern, took place on December 29th and 30th. This tournament is hosted by the Northwestern men’s wrestling team and brings some of the top wrestlers from men’s and women’s. #1 North Central walked away with the team title scoring 148 points over #4 McKendree who was runner-up and 95.5 North Central had five champs, sweeping the top three weights: 116 Sydney Petzinger, 123 Amani Jones, 155 Tiera Jimerson, 170 Yelena Makoyed, and 191 Traeh Haynes. 3x national champ Makoyed returned to collegiate competition by teching all of her opponents in the first period. But it isn’t Makoyed that earned Wrestler of the Week, simply because nothing less was expected for her than a title. Instead, one of the greatest performances of Midlands was the woman she beat in the finals…
Freshman Hanlee Hayes (Presbyterian) has been off to a great start to her college career. She was runner-up at the tough Princeton Open but had taken a few losses during the season, one of them to #4 Jade Herzer Wisconsin- Stevens Point. She avenged that loss in the Midlands semifinals winning 6-4, thanks to a big 4-point move right off the bat in the match.
But what about the guy’s side of Midlands? There were a few wrestlers from smaller divisions and two really stood out. Ethan Spacht (North Central) is a presumed backup to #2 ranked Christian Guzman. But Spacht notched one of the biggest wins of the weekend when he took out #15 in DI, Jett Strickenberger of West Virginia. Strickenberger was a NJCAA champion last year and The Open Mat’s Wrestler of the Year in NJCAA, and this year has had wins over two highly ranked DI opponents.
Thomas More isn’t eligible for the DII postseason until next year, but that doesn’t mean they are wasting their time this year. Daulton Mayer shined this weekend at Midlands, placing 5th at the tournament with three pins, one decision, and one major. Mayer was also the only no-DI wrestler to place at Midlands this year.
The Soldier Salute took place on the same days as Midlands. In just the second edition of the Soldier Salute, it left everyone in shock after the exciting weekend. . #2 (NCAA) Iowa had some tough matches up against NCAA, NJCAA, and NAIA, but the one team that gave them a run for their money was #1 (NAIA) Life. Iowa ultimately won the team title scoring 223 over Life's 193.5. T Our favorite match of the night had to be #1 (NAIA) Jamilah McBryde vs #1 (NCAA) Reese Larramendy at 143, won by McBryde by pin with two seconds left while winning 22-20. This will hopefully not be the last time these two face each other. They could face each other on January 21 at Iowa's last home dual for the season. We can’t wait to see this match again and hope they bring the same fire and energy as they did this past weekend.
Sophomore Katelyn Lewis (Providence) attended the Soldier Salute open unattached but beat not one but three ranked NAIA wrestlers. Last year at nationals Lewis lost in the blood round at 170 but she looks primed to make the podium after this weekend. Lewis started off the tournament by pinning #15 Catherine McNulty (Indiana Tech) in the first period. During the placement round, Lewis beat two more ranked wrestlers. In the quarterfinals, Lewis pinned #7 Grace Doering (Indiana Tech) also in the first period. Lastly, in the semi-final match she pinned #6 Margaret Graham (Life). This put her into the finals at the Soldier Salute where she fell short to Haley Ward (Iowa), but Lewis still had an amazing weekend getting runner-up and pinning three athletes in the top 15 of the nation.
The Citrus Invitational was held in the beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, hosted by John Carroll's men’s wrestling program. This tournament is a mixture of DII, DIII, NAIA, and NWCA. Castleton, a DIII school, walked away with the team title scoring 197.5 over runner-up Roanoke who scored 144. Castleton had four champs while Roanoke had two champs.
The wrestler that stood out to us the most was Patrick McGraw (John Carroll), who is currently ranked #7 in The Open Mat Ranking. McGraw took out two ranked wrestlers on his way to the finals. He started off meeting #5 in DIII Nate Camiscioli (Castleton) in the semifinals where McGraw won 13-4, a major decision. In the finals, he took out #8 in DII Keegan Roberson (UNC-Pembroke) by a 12-6 win. Overall, McGraw won by two tech falls, two decisions, and one major decision. McGraw is now the all-time wins leader for John Carroll with over 125 career wins and we still have less than two months left of wrestling.