Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Drake Ayala shouldn’t redshirt in 2022-23. Instead, Ayala should bump up from the 125-pound weight class to 133 during his sophomore season to make room for three-time 125-pound NCAA champion Spencer Lee.

Ayala filled in nicely at 125 pounds in 2021-22 while Lee was out with knee injuries. With Lee coming back for the 2022-23 season, Ayala will either have to bump up a weight class or sit out a season.

I think, to give his team the best chance to win, Hawkeye head coach Tom Brands needs to put both Lee and Ayala on the mat next year.

Lee will wrestle at 125 pounds and likely collect a fourth and final national title, and Ayala will grapple at 133 pounds.

Iowa’s other two real options at 133 pounds in 2022-23 are rising sophomore Cullan Schriever and junior-to-be Jesse Ybarra. Both Schriever and Ybarra saw limited action in 2021-22. The pair went 0-5 in Big Ten Conference dual meets last year.

I would rather see Ayala, a proven 125-pounder who compiled a record of 17-8 and earned an NCAA championship bid last season, move to 133 than Ybarra or Schriever.

Putting Lee and Ayala in the same lineup gives Iowa its best chance to win regular season duals and contend for both Big Ten and national titles next March.

This is the Hawkeyes’ last season with Lee, so why not pull out all the stops?

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