It’s officially fall, which means of course, it’s football season.
And even in these strange times, we have high school, college and professional football dominating our sports talk and newspaper coverage and space.
So before the calendar rolls into October later this week, let’s take a look at something a little different — the 2020-21 college wrestling season.
That season will start ...
We don’t know.
The NCAA has released plans for a 2020-21 basketball season, but wrestling’s start remains a mystery. The National Wrestling Coaches Association has reportedly recommended a Jan. 1 start date, eliminating the 2020 portion to the 2020-21 season. The shortened season would still end March 18-20 in St. Louis.
“I think we had thought as a group that we would likely go with a Big Ten schedule,” Ohio State Coach Tom Ryan told an Ohio State fans site last month. “Be conservative, and just start in January, end in March; a shortened season, and then hopefully the following year you go back to more of a normal college wrestling season.”
It sounds like the “normal college wrestling season” also could change, however. Moving the season has been discussed for decades and has been championed by many of the sport’s top coaches.
“I think it’s temporary now, but we’ve learned a lesson that we might choose to be a spring sport rather than a winter sport and start our season in early January and end somewhere in mid- to late-April,” Oklahoma State Coach John Smith told the Stillwater News Press. “I’m not saying that’s going to happen right away — definitely not in the next three years it can’t happen, because NCAA championships scheduled out.”
So, like a lot of things during this ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there remains a lot of unknowns.
We do know the junior college season will start in late January and end April 23-24 with the NJCAA Championships in Council Bluffs.
We also know, closer to home, the University of Iowa will be the team to beat — again.
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I saw a T-shirt recently declaring the Hawkeyes the 2020 NCAA champions on the front and noting, on the back, Iowa was so dominant last season, the NCAA had to cancel the national championships. Or words to that effect.
Whenever the whistle blows on this season — Iowa’s schedule reads “games aren’t found for the selected season” — the Hawks will start it where they ended last season, according to at least one publication.
Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine — using its “Tournament Power Index,” which are an “accumulation of potential national tournament points that are associated with individual wrestler’s rankings” — has Iowa No. 1 by a wide margin.
“The Hawkeyes, with 114 TPI points, feature a ranked wrestler at every weight class, including a pair — two-time champ Spencer Lee (125) and three-time All-American Michael Kemerer (174) — who are ranked No. 1 in their weight classes,” the story noted.
This ranking is not a surprise.
Tom Brands has built a powerful and sustainable lineup that not only includes Lee and Kemerer, but also All-Americans Austin DeSanto, Kaleb Young, Alex Marinelli and Jacob Warner. WIN has penciled in Missouri transfer and All-American Jaydin Eierman at 141, where he is ranked second. DeSanto is picked fifth at 133, Young ninth at 157, Marinelli No. 2 at 165 and Warner fourth at 197.
Rounding out Iowa’s lineup are Max Murin, tabbed 10th at 149; Abe Assad, 10th at 184; and Tony Cassioppi, third at heavyweight.
That’s an impressive lineup and gives wrestling fans in these parts something to look forward to whenever a season begins.
For the record, WIN has Michigan No. 2 with 72.5 TPI points, followed by Cornell (68), Oklahoma State (56) and Nebraska (52.5). Iowa State will start at No. 6 with 48.5 TPI and Penn State, which has won eight of the last nine contested NCAA titles, will start the season at No. 9.
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And there is some wrestling coming this year. Trackwrestling announced last week the “Hawkeye Wrestling Club Showdown Open,” slated for Nov. 1 at Xtream Arena in Coralville. The lineup for the nine-bout, pay-per-view freestyle event will be announced this week.
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