The time of year before and after January 1 is a busy one in the college wrestling world. The Midlands and the Southern Scuffle, two of the biggest tournaments of the collegiate season, occur before and after the New Year.
A dozen Division I teams also converged on Deerfield Beach, Florida, for a slew of matchups at the South Beach Duals. Those competitions produced some wild, eye-opening results, which we run down below.
SOUTH BEACH DUALS (DEC. 29-30)
141lbs, #3 Yianni Diakomihalis, Cornell defeats #10 Tommy Thorn, Minnesota 18-4
When's the last time All-American Tommy Thorn gave up 18 points in a collegiate match? As far as we can tell, never! Cornell's true freshman Yianni Diakomihalis made a statement in South Florida on Dec. 29 with an absolute shellacking of the #10-ranked 141-pounder in the nation.
141lbs, #5 Jaydin Eierman, Missouri defeats #3 Yianni Diakomihalis, Cornell 9-6
Spoiling Diakomihalis' claims to a #1 ranking and potential top seed at the NCAAs was Missouri's Jaydin Eierman. Down in the final 30 seconds of the match, Eierman clawed a victory from the jaws of defeat by locking up a cradle and scoring six huge points before time expired.
197lbs, Ben Darmstadt, Cornell defeats #2 Willie Miklus, Missouri 9-0
Also turning heads in Florida over the holidays was fellow Cornell freshman Ben Darmstadt. Damrstadt blanked the #2-ranked wrestler at 197 pounds, Willie Miklus. Besides getting revenge for Yianni, Darmstadt was also staking a claim to the starting spot at 197 for Cornell, as teammate Ben Honis wrestled up at 285 in Florida. A dominant win over a two-time All-American will go a long way in reassuring Cornell head coach Rob Koll that he has the right guy at light heavyweight.
149lbs, #12 Grant Leeth, Missouri defeats #4 Troy Heilmann, UNC 6-3
Eierman wasn't the only Missourian flaunting in Florida. Grant Leeth, neck brace and all, took out a red-hot Troy Heilmann, sowing more rankings chaos in the Sunshine State.
SOUTHERN SCUFFLE (JAN. 1-2)
285 lbs, Mike Boykin, NC St. defeats #3 Nick Nevills, Penn St. 4-3
Meanwhile, in Chattanooga, TN, Mike Boykin, the Wolfpack's ostensible backup, was upending the 285 division by upsetting the consensus #3 heavyweight in the nation, Nick Nevills. Boykin would finish second at the Scuffle, and rumor has it that he nearly earned himself a last minute trans-Atlantic plane ride to join his teammates in Naples, Italy, for their dual meet against Oklahoma State on Friday.
Watch Boykin and Nevills' quarterfinal match:
133 lbs, Issac Jimenez, Air Force defeats #2 Scott Parker, Lehigh 8-6
At a tournament full of upsets, Issac Jimenez had perhaps the most astonishing one of them all. Scott Parker entered McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga as the #1 seed and second-ranked 133-pounder in the nation. However, Jimenez did not care for credentials and fearlessly hit a match-winning lateral drop for two just before time expired, scoring the biggest upset of the 2018 Southern Scuffle.
197 lbs, Shakur Rasheed pins #14 Scottie Boykin, #11 Matt Williams & #17 Jacob Holschlag in under 2 minutes combined
The Scuffle featured six returning NCAA individual champions; however, it was Penn State's third-string (at least at the time) 197-pounder who was named Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament. Shakur Rasheed pinned three top 20 wrestlers in the first period and also majored #18 Jacob Seely for good measure. Rasheed was deadly with his cross-face cradle, using it to pinfall his way through the quarters, semis, and finals.
Watch Rasheed's final three matches of the Scuffle:
MIDLANDS (DEC. 29-30)
125lbs, Spencer Lee, Iowa techs #14 Sean Russell, Edinboro 15-0
Over in greater Chicagoland, it was all about the 125-pound weight class at Midlands. Spencer Lee got things started with a thorough dismantling of returning All-American Sean Russell of Edinboro.
125 lbs, #11 Ronnie Bresser, Oregon St. defeats Spencer Lee, Iowa 3-1
Then it was Ronnie Bresser, flipping the script and beating the true freshman and cadet and junior freestyle world champ in a controversial match. Should Lee have gotten a reversal in the final seconds? You be the judge!
Watch Lee and Bresser in the Midlands semifinal:
125 lbs, #2 Nick Suriano, Rutgers defeats #13 Sebastian Rivera, Northwestern 7-6
The other 2017 Midlands 125-pound semifinal came to the expected conclusion, though it was closer than most people might have thought. C-Bass Rivera showed why he should be part of the title contender conversation when he gave #2 Nick Suriano all he wanted.
Watch Rivera and Suriano:
125 lbs, #2 Nick Suriano, Rutgers defeats #11 Ronnie Bresser, Oregon St. 2-1
Fans didn't get the Suriano/Lee matchup at the Midlands 125-pound final, but Ronnie Bresser filled in for the vanquished Lee admirably. Though Rivera pushed Suriano to the brink in a battle of New Jersey natives, it was Suriano who prevailed, nabbing the first-ever Midlands title for the Scarlet Knights.
Watch the Suriano/Bresser final:
Suffice it to say, if the rest of the season is anything like this past holiday week, wrestling fans are in for a tremendous spring semester.