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Stine: Predictions for the NCAA Wrestling Championships

Penn State wrestling is looking to win another national championship
Photo by Penn State Athletics: Cael Sanderson

As the NCAA Championships are upon us, I’ll start by saying that, a couple weeks of ago, I went 8 for 10 predictions for the Big Ten Wrestling Championships.

Not bad.

But I got all 10 predictions right last year for the NCAA Championships.

It would be cool to get a perfect 10 again this year.

Here are my predictions for who will be taking NCAA crowns in each weight class in Tulsa:

125 – Spencer Lee, Iowa: Lee is going to put a cap on a remarkable career with his fourth NCAA title. I wonder how much of a battle Princeton’s Pat Glory would give him in a possible finals match.

Glory is undefeated, too, but I really doubt he’s ready for Lee.

133 – Roman Bravo-Young Penn State: Why not make it three NCAA Wrestling Championships. RBY hasn’t been denied so far this season, and he came back for this tournament in particular. Why should anyone believe he’s going to lose this time? Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix has given Bravo-Young great matches the last two years, but RBY seems to have Fix’s number.

141 – Real Woods, Iowa: Woods is experienced as a 2-time All-American at Stanford, and he came to Iowa to take that extra step and win a title. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if he did lose because there are some really good wrestlers at this weight, but I’m still going with Woods.

149 – Yianni Diakomihalis, Cornell: Here’s something to be surprised by. Yianni actually has a loss this year, which is only the second of his college career. His first was as a freshman in the 2017-18 season. His loss this year was to Wisconsin’s Austin Gomez, who is the 15th seed in NCAAs. My guess is it won’t matter and Yianni will beat Ohio State’s Sammy Sasso in the finals.

157 – Levi Haines, Penn State: As I wrote a couple weeks ago for the Big Ten predictions, I’m done betting against Haines. It will be interesting to see if he can beat Nebraska’s Peyton Robb again, and if he can take down another undefeated wrestler in North Carolina’s Austin O’Connor. But like I said, I’m done doubting him, and won’t do so in the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

165 – Keegan O’Toole, Missouri: O’Toole was No. 1 all year until David Carr of Iowa State beat him in the final dual meet of the season. O’Toole is now No. 2 behind Carr, who’s undefeated this year. I’m going to take O’Toole to avenge that loss and make him a repeat champion.

174 – Carter Starocci, Penn State: I have no doubt that Starocci is going to make it three in a row. It will be interesting to see who he gets in the finals. If it’s Virginia Tech’s Mekhi Lewis, it could be a tougher match.

184 – Aaron Brooks, Penn State: If Brooks wins his third national title in a row, this one might be his most impressive. He’s the No. 3 seed this time, and he’ll have to go through a couple rugged matches in the semifinals against NC State’s Trent Hidlay and Northern Iowa’s Parker Keckeisen.

Hidlay is a central Pennsylvania native, about 45 minutes east of State College at Miffin County High School.

197 – Nino Bonaccorsi, Pitt: It’s another rugged bracket. Max Dean, the returning national champion, is a No. 9 seed. Last year’s runner-up, Jacob Warner of Iowa, is a 14-seed. Bonaccorsi is having a tremendous season as the top seed in the bracket, so I’m going to go with him. It would be Pitt’s first national champion since 2008.

285 – Mason Parris, Michigan: It just seems to be Parris’ year. He has PSU’s Greg  Kerkvliet’s number. Kerkvliet lucked out in the bracket draw because he won’t have to see Parris or Iowa’s Tony Cassioppi until the finals. Parris and Cassioppi will likely see each other in the semis. It’s hard to see Parris slipping.

Team champion – Penn State: If PSU has four champions like I’m predicting, it’s hard to see it not winning the team title. But I have to be honest. Penn State not having a 125-pounder this weekend has me a little skeptical on it winning the team standings. The last time that happened in 2021, Iowa won and it wasn’t close.

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