The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Point/Counterpoint | Who will win the men’s wrestling NCAA Tournament title?

Pregame Editor Matt McGowan and Sports Reporter Brad Schultz debate who will win the NCAA men’s wrestling title this season. McGowan thinks heavily favored Penn State will get it done, while Schultz believes Iowa will defy odds and take the crown.
The+Penn+State+wrestling+team+poses+for+a+picture+after+session+six+of+the+NCAA+Wrestling+Championships+at+BOK+Center+in+Tulsa%2C+Okla.+on+Saturday%2C+March+18%2C+2023.+Penn+State+finished+first+in+team+standings+with+137.5+points.
Ayrton Breckenridge
The Penn State wrestling team poses for a picture after session six of the NCAA Wrestling Championships at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. on Saturday, March 18, 2023. Penn State finished first in team standings with 137.5 points.

PENN STATE 

First off, I just wanted to say that I covered Iowa men’s wrestling last year and was thoroughly impressed with what I saw. For Hawkeye wrestlers, coaches, and fans, dominance is expected, and even a runner-up finish in the NCAA Tournament is considered a disappointment.

Such a high bar is productive for the program but just isn’t realistic this season. Instead, the national title is Penn State’s to lose, as the Nittany Lions will be national champions for the third consecutive year after winning four straight titles from 2016-19.

While All-American Iowa grapplers Tony Cassioppi and Nelson Brands, as well as routine starters Abe Assad and Cobe Siebrecht, deal with indefinite suspensions from the state gambling probe, Penn State returns five All-Americans. Even with the loss of four-time All-American Roman Bravo-Young, the Nittany Lions landed Cal-Poly transfer and three-time All-American Bernie Truax, who went 18-3 last season with a fourth-place finish at NCAAs.

Yes, Iowa grabbed talent from the transfer portal and has some potential in youngsters such as Gabe Arnold, but the Nittany Lions have more experience and a better track record on the big stage.

Aaron Brooks, 197-pounder, has won the past three national titles at his weight class while 174-pounder Carter Starocci has won the past two. And with Michigan heavyweight Mason Parris graduating after winning the national title last year, his Penn State counterpart Greg Kerkvliet is set to reign at the top.

I saw Kerkvliet in the tunnel at the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and after further review, I can say he is made entirely of pure, lean muscle. The Feb. 9 dual meeting between the schools will prove which school is superior. Judging by roster and track record, that nominee has to be Penn State.

IOWA

Though Penn State has certainly dominated the wrestling universe and are yet again favorites to capture another national championship, I’m still going to pick the Hawkeyes.

Iowa has been written off as a championship contender due to several key departures as well as a gambling scandal that wreaked havoc on the program.

Key wrestlers such as Cobe Siebrecht, Abe Assad, Nelson Brands, and Tony Cassioppi are most likely out for the rest of the season, which certainly hurts.

The Hawkeyes are one of the top wrestling programs in the country for a reason, and despite their tremendous losses, they are always going to have a deep bench that can make up for those holes.

In the offseason, Iowa dipped into the transfer portal and picked up Oklahoma State’s Victor Voinovich and Jared Franek from North Dakota State.

Both are experienced wrestlers and should be able to help fill the spots left by those missing veterans.

Also, both were previously recruited by Iowa head coach Tom Brands, so they were already familiar with the program, which made their transition easier.

The Hawkeyes have also brought in a talented freshman class, led by Iowa City High graduates Gabe Arnold and Ben Kueter.

Against Oregon State on Nov. 19, Arnold won his first-ever collegiate match and will be a pesky opponent for anyone he faces down the road. He defeated a previous All-American in his Cy-Hawk debut in front of a hostile Hilton Coliseum.

The bottom line here is that Iowa has proven that it can battle through adversity and continue to assert itself as the nation’s best each year.

Recruiting is always going to be strong, and with a perfect mix of experience and youth, the Hawkeyes will have a great shot at a national title come March.

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About the Contributors
Matt McGowan, Pregame Editor
he/him/his Matt McGowan is The Daily Iowan's Pregame Editor. He is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communications and American studies with a minor in sport studies.  This is his second year with the DI
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
(he/him/his)
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
(he/him/his)
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.