Top College Wrestlers To Watch Right Now
With the 2018-19 season kicking off last month, it’s been an exciting season so far for wrestling fans. Rookies and redshirt freshmen thrilled audiences with their successful debut performances, and numerous upsets shocked fans, leaving them on the edge of their seats. It is safe to say that this season of college wrestling has left fans, coaches and athletes wanting more.
Luckily, there are still several months and plenty of big matches left to see for 2018-19. Since wrestling isn’t as widely televised as football or basketball, stay in-the-know with all the latest news and happenings using various apps. In case you’ve missed them, here are a few of the top collegiate wrestlers to watch out for this season. 119
Anthony Ashnault (Rutgers)
Overall Record: 11-0
Anthony Ashnault more than deserved the honor of TOM’s College Wrestler of the Week after his performance at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Dec. 3. Competing for the first time at 149 pounds, one of the toughest weight classes, Ashnault defeated Duke’s Mitch Finesilver, and Ohio State’s second-ranked Micah Jordan for the title. He and teammate Nick Suriano were the first CKLV champions in Rutgers history.
After missing all of last season due to knee and shoulder injuries, the three-time All-American is thrilled to be back for his final season. "I'm really excited to be with the team again. I'm just looking forward to being able to compete, instead of being a spectator and fan to them,” said Anthony.
Branson Ashworth (Wyoming)
Overall Record: 14-3
Branson Ashworth earned the TOM’s College Wrestler of the Week and the Big 12 Wrestler of the Week for the second consecutive time on Nov. 26 after defeating Oklahoma State’s two-time All-American Chandler Rogers. This victory was considered an upset, even though Ashworth had defeated Rogers in a dual last season as well. 165-pound Ashworth is currently ranked ninth in the nation with a 9-1 record after a recent win against Nebraska’s Isaiah White at home and a victory at the Cowboy Open.
Joey McKenna (Ohio State)
Overall Record: 9-0
Joey McKenna was the first of the season to earn the Big Ten Wrestler of the Week honors after defeating Oklahoma State’s fourth-ranked Kaid Brock at the NWCA All-Star Classic in Denver. Ranked No. 2 at 141 pounds, McKenna didn’t have much time to enjoy his victory in Denver before having to board a flight to Maryland less than 24 hours later. The Buckeyes had their first dual meet against Navy the very next day, and McKenna earned another win against Navy’s Nicholas Gil, adding to the overall team score of 28-9.
Mikey Labriola (Nebraska)
Overall Record: 11-2
Mikey Labriola secured Big Ten Wrestler of the Week after going 3-0 at the Northeast Duals in Albany. The 174-pound redshirt freshman is the first Husker to win a Wrestler of the Week title since Robert Kokesh in 2014-15. Before this tournament, Labriola also went 4-0 at the Daktronics Open, winning first place in his weight class. Last season, he was named Nebraska’s redshirt of the year, and in his 2017 high school class, he was the top-ranked wrestler in the country at 170 pounds.
Jacob Warner (Iowa)
Overall Record: 1-0
Redshirt freshman Jacob Warner did not disappoint during his much-anticipated debut performance against Iowa State’s Willie Miklus. At 197 pounds, Warner defeated fifth-ranked Miklus 5-4 helping the Hawkeyes win their dual meet against Iowa State. As a three-time Illinois State Champion, Warner was a
top prospect coming out of Washington Community High School, so all of the top schools fought for his attention. Even though he was an Illinois fan growing up, Warner decided to become a Hawkeye in 2016; coaches and fans have been waiting for his first NCAA match ever since.
Anthony Cassar (Penn State)
Overall Record: 6-0
No. 5 Anthony Cassar defeated No. 6 Jordan Wood 12-3 at the recent dual against Lehigh. Previously a 197-pound wrestler, Cassar moved up to the 285 heavyweight class this season; a decision he couldn’t be happier about. The dual established an incredible victory for Penn State (42-0), marking the first time Lehigh has been shut out since 2007, as well as helping Penn State to secure its place as number one overall.
Be sure to keep an eye on these star wrestlers for the remainder of the 2018-19 season! There are still plenty of exciting matches to come.