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Predictions for the Big Ten Wrestling Championships

Roman Bravo-Young February 20, 2022 David Hague/NSN

It’s that time of year again. The Big Ten Championships begin on Saturday from Lincoln, Nebraska with Session 1 beginning at 11 a.m., and Session 2 taking off at 6:30 p.m. On Sunday, the rest of the wrestlebacks begin at noon with the championships starting at 4:30 p.m.

For the tournament, I am picking six top seeds to win their respective weight classes along with four No. 2 seeds. Let’s face it. The top couple seeds are usually far and away better than the rest of the field.

Here’s a breakdown of each weight and my predicted champion listed before the analysis:

125 – Nick Suriano, Michigan: Suriano has had a tumultuous career in college wrestling as he wrestles for his third Big Ten School, but one thing has always been a constant: he wins. A rematch with Penn State’s Drew Hildebrandt would be fun to watch if it were to happen in the finals.

133 – Roman Bravo-Young, Penn State: There’s a chance that this season could be it for RBY, and if it is his final season, I don’t see him dropping a match the whole way. He is set up for a rematch with Iowa’s Austin DeSanto in the finals, and DeSanto had a gripe about the dual meet with RBY. But when you’re as hard to take down as RBY, you’re usually pretty tough to beat.

141 – Jaydin Eierman, Iowa: I had a theory before the season that there was a good chance Penn State’s Nick Lee and Eierman would meet three times this year, and Lee would win two of them. Lee won a thriller in the dual meet, so I’m going to go with Eierman in this one. And if I were a betting man, I would bet a lot on the two seeing each other again in two weeks in Detroit.

149 – Sammy Sasso, Ohio State: This weight is pretty interesting. Penn State’s Beau Bartlett might be able to compete for a Big Ten title someday, but not right now as the No. 7 seed at the weight. Iowa’s Max Murin isn’t exactly lighting up the world this season, and Sasso probably has the most experience of the group. That’s why I’m taking him, but Nebraska’s Ridge Lovett could have something to say about that.

157 – Kaleb Young, Iowa: I’m going with a little bit of an upset here. Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin is a two-time Big Ten champion, but I believe Young is going to be on a mission here. It’s going to be interesting to see what PSU’s Brady Berge will do here after just dropping to 157 for the last dual meet against Rider.

165 – Alex Marinelli, Iowa: Ohio State’s Carson Kharchla is the top seed after upsetting Marinelli in the dual meet, but you could tell from Marinelli’s body language that night that he was already thinking about a rematch. That loss has to be eating at Marinelli for the last month or so. PSU’s Creighton Edsell is seeded 10th here, and I expect him to do much better than that.

174 – Carter Starocci, Penn State: It seems like Starocci and Iowa’s Michael Kemerer have wrestled each other a million times even though Starocci is only in his second year. The funny thing is Starocci is the No. 1 seed and Kemerer is the fourth seed, so they could potentially meet each other in the semifinals. I expect whoever wins between Starocci and Kemerer in the semis will be much tougher than either Michigan’s Logan Massa or Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola in the finals.

184 – Aaron Brooks, Penn State: Brooks talked about his weight being stacked this week, and it’s no lie. After all, Nebraska’s Taylor Venz is the fourth seed at this weight and he’s given Brooks’ only loss in college. Whoever wins this weight will probably also be pretty high up on the podium in Detroit.

197 – Max Dean, Penn State: I was a little surprised Dean wasn’t the No. 1 seed. He went undefeated through the regular season and he has a win under his belt on top seed Eric Schultz of Nebraska. Again, there’s some studs at this weight as well, but Dean has been nothing short of fantastic this season.

285 – Gable Steveson, Minnesota: This one is the weight I feel most confident about my pick. There’s no doubt about it that Steveson is a buzzsaw. PSU’s Greg Kerkvliet will have a shot at seeing him in the finals if he can upset Iowa’s Tony Cassioppi in the semifinals.

Team champion – Penn State: Predicting a team champion can be so hard. Just because you were a great dual meet team doesn’t mean you’re always going to be as dominant in a tournament setting. But with the way the Nittany Lions are stacked at the lower weights and from 174 up, I think it’s enough to beat the Hawkeyes for the team title.

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