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Wresting for peace

The Best Backups Per Weight Class

01/12/2018, 12:15pm EST
By Michael Willis

The wrestlers on this list have already used their redshirts, and this year is counting against their eligibility. Some of these wrestlers are still competing for the starting spot, but as of right now are the #2 guy on their depth chart.

125: Devin Schroder Purdue RS Freshman

Schroder is a scrappy redshirt freshman who will be an All-American contender in upcoming years for the Boilermakers. This season however, he is stuck behind #15 Redshirt Senior, Luke Welch. Welch dropped down from 133 last season, and has secured the starting spot by defeating Schroder 6-3 at the Michigan State Open, and 7-1 at Midlands. Schroder put together a solid redshirt season going 18-4. This year he is 14-6 with a major decision victory over former All-American, #17 Ryan Millhof. Schroder almost certainly will be Purdue’s starter next season and has the skills to make some noise.

133: Jamel Morris NC State RS Junior

Jamel Morris is one of the aforementioned wrestlers still very much in contention for the starting spot. In fact, the redshirt junior has defeated the current starter, redshirt freshman Tariq Wilson twice this season, 1-0 at the Jounrneymen Classic, and 10-5 at the Wolfpack Open. This has to be an incredibly difficult decision for head coach Pat Popolizio as their records are nearly identical, with Morris coming in at 18-5 and Wilson coming in at 17-4. Wilson most likely holds the slight edge because besides the head to head losses to Morris, his only other defeats came to highly ranked wrestlers, #6 Montorie Bridges and #4 Kaid Brock. Going forward it will be interesting to see if Morris can win the spot from Wilson. It is likely that next season one of these wrestlers will bump up to 141 pounds to replace graduating senior All-American, Kevin Jack.

141: Mike Van Brill Rutgers RS Freshman

This entry is a bit of a stretch given that Van Brill has been the starter for Rutger’s entire season. However this has been because the projected starter, three-time All-American, Anthony Ashnault, has been recovering from an injury. If he is ready to go before Big 10s, he will almost certainly replace Van Brill in the lineup. During his redshirt year Van Brill went 17-5, and this year against tougher competition he is 9-6. Ashnault is out of eligibility after this season, and Van Brill has made a strong claim for the starting spot going forward.

149: Geo Martinez Okie State RS Junior

Geo is the only All-American on this list, having taken 8th at the 2016 NCAA tournament for Boise State. Martinez transferred to Oklahoma State last season and took a redshirt. He was Okie State’s starter for the beginning of the season and came out hot, knocking off Virginia Tech’s two time All-American, #10 Solomon Chishko, 8-1. He lost the spot to redshirt junior, #13 Boo Lewallen, who defeated him twice in open competition, 10-8 and 7-6. Lewallen was ineligible the first semester. Lewallen holds a 17-2 record with a sudden victory loss to former National Champion, Jason Tsirtsis, and #18 Beau Donahue. Martinez is 13-4 and besides Lewallen has lost to, UNC’s #5 Troy Heilmann, and unranked Sam Turner of Wyoming. While the starter might not be settled yet, Martinez faces an uphill battle winning his spot back.

157: Christian Pagdilao ASU RS Senior

After an incredibly solid redshirt freshman season where he went 21-5 at 149 pounds and earned the #10th seed at NCAAs, Pagdilao has been unable to crack ASU’s lineup. In 2016 he was stuck behind Matt Kraus. Last season he bumped up to 157, but couldn’t defeat redshirt freshman, Josh Shields, for the spot. This season Pagdilao is stuck behind Shields again who is ranked 7th in the country. Pagdilao is 5-1 with a win over former National Champion, Jason Tsirtsis, who has since dropped to 149. His only loss came to #15 Colin Heffernan of Central Michigan 4-3.

165: Kaleb Young Iowa RS Freshman

Young started the season at 174 pounds, but came back down to his more natural weight of 165 when he lost his wrestle off to Joey Gunther. At 165 he is stuck behind stud redshirt freshmen, #11 Alex Marinelli, who is currently 7-0. Young is 9-4 with all 4 losses coming to top 20 ranked wrestlers, and his best win coming against NDSU’s #17 Andrew Fogarty. With Marinelli looking like he will man 165 for the Hawkeyes for the next three seasons, Young’s best is putting on some weight in the offseason and trying to challenge for the 174 pound spot again next year.

174 Jordan Pagano Rutgers RS Junior

Pagano is another wrestler in heated competition for the starting spot. The current starter redshirt freshman, Joe Grello, is 5-4, and currently on a 4 match losing streak including a 0-2 performance at Midlands. Pagano is 9-7 and went 3-2 at Midlands, falling one match short of placing. He also has a 7-4 victory over Iowa’s Joey Gunther, who beat Grello 5-4. Grello does hold a 4-3 head to head victory over Pagano which probably earned him the spot to begin with. Going forward it is unclear who Rutgers favors between these two wrestlers

184 Andrew Marsden Okie State RS Sophomore

As a true freshman, Andrew Marsden put together a 17-8 record while splitting time with Preston Weigel at 197 pounds. Weigel eventually won the spot and made it to the Round of 12 as a redshirt freshman, and earned All-American status the following year while Marsden redshirted. During his redshirt, Marsden was 13-3 competing solely at 184 pounds. Marsden started out at 197 this season filling in for the injured Weigel, but dropped down to 184 at the Southern Scuffle. He is currently 12-7, but 0-2 at 184. To earn the starting spot he’ll have to beat out redshirt freshman, #19 Keegan Moore, who is currently 10-3. Last season the two faced off with Marsden winning by fall in 5:14. Whether or not Marsden still holds the advantage remains to be seen.

197 Matt McCutcheon PSU RS Senior and Anthony Cassar  PSU RS Sophomore

At the beginning of the season 3 time NCAA qualifier, McCutcheon, was pegged to be Penn State’s starter and was ranked in the top 4 nationally. However he lost his spot to Anthony Cassar in a wrestle off, and was defeated a second time by Cassar in the semifinals of the Keystone Classic. After being sidelined by injuries the past two seasons it finally looked like it was Cassar’s time to shine. However that all changed at Southern Scuffle where despite a strong third place showing, Cassar lost the spot to redshirt junior, Shakur Rasheed. Rasheed had a monster of a tournament going 5-0 with three pins including in the semifinals and finals. For his efforts he was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler. Rasheed, now ranked 7th, is 13-2. McCutcheon is 5-2 and has been struggling with injuries throughout the season. Cassar sits at 11-2. Whether or not Rasheed will remain the starter is undetermined, but if he keeps wrestling the way he did during the Southern Scuffle, it’s hard to believe he will lose his spot. The only concern regarding Rasheed is his size. Last year he wrestled at 174 and he is currently only weighing between 185 and 190. So far it hasn’t been an issue.

285 Cody Crawford Oregon State RS Senior.

Crawford is a two-time NCAA qualifier, once at 197, and once at 285. At both tournaments he had solid showings, going 2-2. Unfortunately for him, he has outgrown 197 and can’t beat All-American starting heavyweight, Amarveer Dheshi. Last season Dheshi redshirted to rehab from an injury, which allowed Crawford to make the bump up from 197 to heavyweight where he compiled a 24-9 record. This season Crawford is 13-6 while Dheshi boasts a record of 11-2. Despite being a 3 year starter, it looks like Crawford will spend his final season as an incredibly tough backup. 

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