2022-23 NCAA Weight Class Previews

2022-23 NCAA 165-Pound Preseason Preview: The Deepest Weight In The Country

2022-23 NCAA 165-Pound Preseason Preview: The Deepest Weight In The Country

An early preview of 165 pounds for the 2022-23 NCAA Division 1 season.

Aug 30, 2022 by Jon Kozak
2022-23 NCAA 165-Pound Preseason Preview: The Deepest Weight In The Country

165-pounds in 2022-23 season is without a doubt the deepest weight in the country. There will be 3 past NCAA champions in the weight along with a number of returning All-Americans who will be able to challenge the favorites. In the preview below, we’ll take a deep dive into this incredible weight class for the upcoming season

However, before we do that, let’s spend some time diving into how next year’s field will look different from the 2021-22 season. The extra year of eligibility granted from the Covid season combined with redshirts, injuries, transfers, and weight changes will alter the 165-pound landscape significantly this year. 

Departed

2021-22 133-pound starters not returning:

Past 165-pound All-Americans  Evan Wick, Alex Marinelli, Jake Wentzel, and Anthony Valencia are out of eligibility and are moving onto the senior level. Their absence comes at the perfect time with the incredible depth remaining at 165 pounds this season.

Moving In

Wrestlers entering 165-pounds that wrestled a different weight last season:

  • David Carr, Iowa State (Up from 157)
  • Quincy Monday, Princeton (Up from 157)
  • Jordan Slivka, Ohio (Up from 157)
  • Tony Negron, Arizona State (Up from 157)
  • Legend Lamer, Cal Poly (Up from 149)
  • Gerrit Nijenhuis, Oklahoma (Down from 174)
  • Connor O'Neill, Rutgers (Down From 174)
  • [p, Iowa State (Moving down to 157)
  • Phillip Conigliaro, Harvard (Moving up to 174)

With David Carr moving up to 165, Isaac Judge will be making the move down to 157. Judge was 18-14 last year at 165 but failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Also leaving the weight is round of 12 finisher from last year Phil Conigliaro. Joshua Kim (who wrestled 174 last year), will likely man the 165 spot for Harvard in the coming season.

Coming Off Redshirt

Projected 165-pound starters that were in redshirt last season:

  • Alex Facundo, Penn State
  • Patrick Kennedy, Iowa
  • Michael Caliendo, North Dakota State
  • Holden Heller, Pittsburgh
  • Robert Major, Indiana
  • Baylor Fernandes, Northern Colorado

The most notable name coming off redshirt this year is Penn State’s, Alex Facundo. Along with being a two-time U17 World Medalist and this year’s U20 world team rep at 74kg, Facundo was the #2 ranked recruit coming out of the class of 2021. In his redshirt year last season, Facundo went 12-3 with close losses to John Martin Best and NCAA qualifiers Thomas Bullard and Caleb Fish. Facundo didn’t wrestle many top wrestlers during his redshirt year but did record an overtime win over NCAA qualifier Evan Barczak (Drexel). Facundo’s entrance into the lineup is highly anticipated by Nittany Lion fans and will be an interesting storyline to watch this year. 

Iowa’s Patrick Kennedy, the #3 recruit out of the class of 2020, put together a 17-3 redshirt season losing only to Alex Marinelli (3-2), Peyton Hall (6-4 in overtime), and William Formato (6-4 in overtime). Along with looking impressive in defeat, Kennedy recorded wins over NCAA qualifiers Caleb Fish, Cael Carlson, Rodrick Mosley, and Austin Yant.

While not as a highly rated recruit as Facundo or Kennedy, NDSU’s Mikey Caliendo put together a solid redshirt year highlighted by wins over NCAA qualifiers Austin Yant and Tanner Cook. Caliendo’s only losses during the year were to NCAA qualifier Lucas Revano (3-2) and Andrew Clark (5-3). Caliendo looks to have the potential to step into the starting lineup this year and make an impact right away. 

Holden Heller, a 2021 NCAA qualifier for Hofstra, took a redshirt last year and then transferred to Pittsburgh this year. Heller will likely start at 165-pounds for the Panthers this year in order to replace past NCAA runner-up Jake Wentzel. While Heller will have big shoes to fill, he looks at least capable of qualifying for NCAAs with wins last year over 2022 NCAA qualifiers Danny Braunagel, Matt Olguin, and Ashton Eyler.

Coming Off The Bench/Injury

Projected 165-pound starters that were in 2nd string or injured last season:

  • Jack Ganos, Air Force
  • Matthew Kidwell, Bucknell
  • Ryan Duffelmeyer, Citadel
  • Carmeron Pine, Clarion
  • Caleb Waddell, Chattanooga
  • Alex Garee, Edinboro
  • Brinton Simington, Hofstra
  • Andrew Sparks, Minnesota
  • Donald Cates, North Carolina State
  • Scott Jarosz, Sacred Heart
  • Sean Getty, Presbyterian

Of the above wrestlers, Andrew Sparks could have the biggest impact on 165-pounds this year and his battle with Cael Carlson for the starting spot will interesting to keep an eye on this year. Sparks wrestled only 7 matches last season before having his year cut short with injury. However, in the 2020-21 season, Sparks was a national qualifier and had notable wins over Peyton Robb and Gerrit Nijenhuis. Last season, Carlson manned the 165-pound starting spot for the Golden Gophers and qualified for the NCAA tournament, ultimately going 0-2. 

Favorites

The best wrestlers at 165 pounds: 

After winning the NCAA tournament last year at 165-pounds, Keegan O’Toole is the clear favorite to stand atop the podium next March. During his title run, O’Toole compiled a 25-0 record and knocked off All-Americans Anthony Valencia, Carson Kharchla, Cam Amine, and defending national champ Shane Griffith at the NCAA tournament. The most impressive part of that run? O’Toole did it all with a bum ankle. Back at 100%, O’Toole will be the prohibitive favorite at 165 pounds going into next season.

Highlights of Keegan O'Toole's NCAA finals win over Shane Griffith:

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Though Shane Griffith lost to O’Toole in the NCAA finals, their match was a competitive one and proved how evenly matched they are. Griffith’s run from last year’s tournament to the finals, along with his historic 2021 NCAA title, proves he’s a dangerous wrestler on the biggest stage and capable of winning his second title this year. 

Griffith's semi-final win over Evan Wick:

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And then there’s the third NCAA champ - David Carr coming up from 157 pounds. Last year Carr entered the NCAA tournament undefeated before dropping his round of 16 match to Hunter Willits in overtime. Carr went on to win 6 in a row to place third but it seems clear he’s outgrown 157 and should be perfectly sized for 165 this year. We shouldn’t expect to see any adjustment period for Carr as he moves up in weight - with a college record of 56-2, Carr has established himself as one of the top pound-for-pound wrestlers in the country and has the potential to defeat Griffith or O’Toole this year for another NCAA title.

David Carr's win over Peyton Robb in the 3rd place match at the 2022 NCAA Tournament:

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Contenders

The top wrestlers who will challenge the favorites:

The above list of challengers is not only deep but incredibly young. Only Monday will be a senior while the rest of the list all have 3 years of eligibility remaining. After making the NCAA finals last season at 157 pounds, Monday will look to move up to 165 pounds and reach the top of the podium. Though he lost in the NCAA finals to Ryan Deakin, Monday put together an outstanding NCAA tournament with wins over Ed Scott, Jacob Wright, Connor Brady, and Will Lewan. Monday will be tested by a deep 165-pound field but his continued improvement at the collegiate level proves he will be ready for any test in the upcoming season.

Monday's win over Will Lewan in the semis at the 2022 NCAA tournament:

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Cam Amine was a surprise semi-finalist at last year’s NCAA tournament after defeating Alex Marinelli in overtime. On top of that win, Amine took out Bubba Wilson, Izzak Olejnik, and Dean Hamiti for a 4th place finish in Detroit. Amine’s only losses at the NCAA tournament were to Evan Wick (3-2) and Keegan O’Toole (4-0). We should expect to see Amine in the top 5 all season with great potential to break into the top 3 - especially if he’s able to put together a similar tournament as he did last year. 

Amine's win over Alex Marinelli:

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Carson Kharchla earned 7th place All-American honors last season with notable wins over Julian Ramirez, Jake Wentzel, and Peyton Hall with close losses to Alex Marinelli and Keegan O’Toole. Kharchla’s quarterfinal match against O’Toole was especially noteworthy as he wasn’t awarded a reversal in a position that could have gone either way. Despite that outcome, Kharchla proved during the regular season and at the NCAA tournament that he’s a legit contender and is capable of defeating anyone in the country at 165 pounds. 

Kharchla's win over Julian Ramirez to earn All-American honors:

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And then there’s Dean Hamiti - Wisconsin’s breakout freshman and 6th place finisher at last year’s NCAA tournament. Hamiti is one of the most dynamic wrestlers in this weight class and a bonus-point machine - he secured 8 falls, 6 tech falls, and 8 majors out of his 28 total wins last year! Hamiti will assuredly improve with another year in the Badger room and will be a force once again this year at 165 pounds. 

Highlights of Dean Hamiti's wild match with Peyton Hall at the 2022 NCAA tournament:

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Not to be lost with the above notable names is West Virginia’s returning All-American, Peyton Hall. After finishing in the round of 12 during his true freshman year in 2021, Hall punched through last year and earned an 8th place finish at NCAAs highlighted by wins over Phil Conigliaro, Justin McCoy, and Riley Smucker. He was also impressive in defeat losing competitive matches to Dean Hamiti (10-6), Keegan O’Toole (13-7), and Carson Kharchla (3-2). Like Hamiti, Hall is young and will only improve as his college career progresses. Look for the young Mountaineer to continue to grow into 165 pounds this year and don’t be surprised if he takes out some of the above-mentioned wrestlers. 

Peyton Hall's win over Patrick Kennedy at the 2022 Southern Scuffle:

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Sleepers And Landmines

The group of wrestlers not projected to All-American but who could “blow-up” the bracket or move into the top 10:

Along with the above list, Justin McCoy, Travis Wittlake, Izzak Olejnik, and Josh Ogunsanya will be legitimate threats to earn All-American honors. However, those wrestlers don't fit the definition of a "sleeper" or "landmine" because we've seen them in the starting lineup for a few years and know they'll be right in the mix at the NCAA tournament. There's still a bit of unknown surrounding Facundo, Kennedy, Ramirez, and Cook.

Alex Facundo was the #2 recruit out of the class of 2021 and will man the 165-pound starting spot for the Nittany Lions in the upcoming season. While we already covered his redshirt season, we should expect to see Facundo make notable improvements in the upcoming year. Facundo dominated his way to making the U20 world team over the summer, and while he didn’t place at the U20 World Championships, he showed he’s competitive with some of the best in the world at 74kg. Coach Sanderson and company have repeatedly proven their ability to get the most out of their top-level recruits and we should expect no different with Facundo.

Facundo's win over NCAA qualifier Evan Barczak at the 2022 Southern Scuffle:

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We already mentioned Patrick Kennedy’s numerous wins over NCAA qualifiers and close losses to All-Americans. On top of that, Kennedy was the #3 ranked recruit coming out of high school. Everything from Kennedy’s pedigree and redshirt season points to him being an All-American contender this year for the Hawkeyes. It's also worth noting that Kennedy defeated All-Americans Peyton Robb and Peyton Hall in June to win U23 nationals at 74kg.

Kennedy's win over Peyton Hall at U23 Nationals:

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Julian Ramirez finished one match away from All-American honors when he lost to Carson Kharchla 4-3 in the round of 12 at the NCAA tournament. Despite falling short of the podium, Ramirez defeated Will Formato, Josh Ogunsanya, and Zach Hartman at NCAAs and most notably defeated Shane Griffith and Cam Amine in the regular season. Ramirez had his ups and downs last season but proved he’s dangerous to any wrestler in the country when wrestling his best.

Ramirez's win over Cam Amine at the 2021 CKLV:

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No one in the country fits the definition of a landmine better than South Dakota State’s Tanner Cook. Despite failing to qualify for the NCAA tournament last season, Cook compiled a 20-11 record with 15 of his wins coming by fall! Cook is a wild man on the mat and certainly has his highs and lows, but if he can get to the NCAA tournament, he’s a wrestler no one wants to see in the first round. 

Tanner Cook's pin over Nick Knutson:

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Predictions

165 pounds will be the deepest weight in the country next season and likely the most exciting to watch. However, Keegan O’Toole came out on top last year at less than 100% in the post-season and is my pick to stand atop the podium again this year. O’Toole’s scrambling ability, variety of attacks on his feet, and ability to ride tough on top makes him a nightmare matchup for anyone and gives me the confidence to pick him over the other amazing wrestlers in this field. 


Complete predictions:

1) Keegan O'Toole, 2) David Carr, 3) Shane Griffith, 4) Carson Kharchla, 5) Quincy Monday 6) Dean Hamiti, 7) Cam Amine, 8) Alex Facundo