We're going to take a deep dive into each NCAA weight class and review all the returning studs who didn't start this past year, whether due to taking a redshirt, injuries, or other reasons.
Now Up: 174 Pounds
You can find our redshirt reports on other weights here:
125 | 133 | 141 | 149 | 157 | 165
Jacob Covaciu, WisconsinNot content with being merely a folkstyle terror, Covaciu won the 79kg weight class in the junior freestyle division of the U.S. Open less than two weeks ago.
The freestyle hardware will complement a growing list of NCAA trophies. Covaciu won three open tournaments competing unattached for the Wisconsin Badgers. He finished the season with 21 wins against just two losses.
Wisconsin head coach Barry Davis will have a couple solid options at 174 next year as 2017 NCAA qualifier Ryan Christensen returns for his junior year of eligibility. One possibility would be for either Christensen or Covaciu to go down to 165 pounds to fill in for departing four-time All-American Issac Jordan.
You can watch the Indiana native Covaciu win gold at the Open over fellow redshirt frosh Kaleb Young in the video below.
Kaleb Young, IowaAs you saw in the last video posted above, Young came up just short of gold in Las Vegas at the U.S. Open. However, it would appear that Young is in the midst of a transition up to a higher weight class. He wrestled all of his redshirt year at 165 pounds but entered the Open at 79 kilograms, or about 174 pounds. Additionally, with teammate Alex Marinelli also coming off redshirt and locked into pole position at 165, our magic eight ball says signs point to yes for Young to move up a weight for next season.
Young had a solid campaign wrestling unattached for the Hawkeyes, finishing in fifth place at the always tough Midlands tournament, where he notched three wins over 2017 NCAA qualifiers. The No. 21-ranked wrestler on the 2016 High School Big Board should be well prepared to take over for Hawkeyes departing All-American Alex Meyer.
In the video below you can watch Young roll past talented Navy freshman AJ Alford in the semis of the U.S. Open.
Beau Breske, NebraskaThe No. 14-ranked recruit from the 2016 Big Board had an abbreviated redshirt campaign, wrestling in only three matches before shutting down for the college season. Breske has plenty of experience, though, having won multiple high school state titles in Wisconsin and multiple national championships at Fargo.
With senior Micah Barnes graduating, Huskers head coach Mark Manning will be counting on Breske to fill the void at 174 for Nebraska.
You can see Breske in action at the 2016 U.S. Open junior freestyle tournament in the video below, where Breske battles his way past Michigan All-American Myles Amine to win the 79kg weight class.
Montalvo will arrive on campus this fall with sophomore eligibility, having spot started his true freshman year during the 2015-16 season. With Illinois All-American Zac Brunson using up all his eligibility last season, Montalvo is poised to take the reins at 174 in Champaign, Illinois.
Xavier Montalvo, Illinois
Montalvo had a commendable redshirt season, going 13-4 and knocking off Cinderella All-American Jake Residori from Southern Illinois Edwardsville at the Lindenwood Open. The Illinois native and Montini Catholic grad also wrestled in the monstrous 86kg senior freestyle bracket at the U.S. Open this April. Though Montalvo didn't come home from Vegas with any hardware, the competition was as elite as it gets, with the eighth-place spot in the tournament being occupied by three-time All-American TJ Dudley.
You can watch Montalvo pick up a win in the consolation rounds of the ludicrously difficult Open bracket in the video below.
Jacobe Smith, Oklahoma StateJacobe (no relation to head coach John) comes to Stillwater via Northeast Oklahoma A&M, where he was a two-time junior college national champion.
With seniors Kyle Crutchmer and Jordan Rogers both graduating, the 174 spot in the Cowboys lineup is up for grabs, and Smith looks likely to claim it as his own. Smith had a perfect 11-0 record last season, which included wins over Fighting Illini All-American Zac Brunson and his heir apparent Xaiver Montalvo.
Oklahoma State graduated three All-Americans from its roster this year, so Smith will be counted on to step up and make up for some of those lost points if the Cowboys are going to contend for a team trophy at the NCAAs in Cleveland.
While it's very early to be speculating on how next year's lineups and weight classes will shake out, we'll do our best to highlight everyone who we think will be jumping off the bench and on to the starting squad. Below is a non-exhaustive list of guys to keep in eye on who may have their breakthrough performances in the 2017-18 season.
- Andrew McNally, Eastern Michigan
- Fox Baldwin, Virginia
- Austin Bell, Pittsburgh
- Dale Hilleman, Iowa State