*#14 Ryan Milhoff of Arizona State was forced to injury default because of an injury in practice. As a result, Brent Fleetwood will now wrestle Carmen Ferrante of Penn instead of Cole Verner of Wyoming. All wrestlers seeded fifteen or lower were bumped up one slot, and Army’s Trey Chalifoux was added to the bracet in the #33 seed.
NCAA SEED: 10
#4 Sean Russell (MN) dec. Brent Fleetwood (NDSU) 4-0
Brent Fleetwood (NDSU) dec. #11 Travis Piatrowski (Illinois) 4-0
#1 Sebastian Rivera (Northwestern) dec. Brent Fleetwood 9-3
Brent Fleetwood (NDSU) dec. #23 Cole Verner (Wyoming (6-5)
#4 Ronnie Bresser (Oregon State) FALL Brent Fleetwood (3:43)
#2 Nicholas Piccininni (Oklahoma State) dec. Brent Fleetwood (2-0)
The Weight Class
125 has it all. The defending NCAA champion-Iowa sophomore Spencer Lee-is seeded third. The undefeated #1 is Sebastian Rivera, who Fleetwood lost to in the CKLV semifinals back in early December. Oklahoma State’s Nick Piccininni defeated Fleetwood for the Big 12 title. That plus a pin over Lee in the Okie State-Iowa dual at the end of February means Piccininni gets the two-seed. There are also potential land mines. NC State’s Sean Fausz was seeded fifth at NCAA’s last year and enters this season seeded fifteenth. Though he finished a disappointing 1-2 at the 2018 championships, Fausz has the goods to All American. Arizona State’s #14 Ryan Milhoff is also a former All American, and Iowa State’s #20 Alex Mackall has impressed me all season.
Path to the Podium
The tenth seed seems about right for Brent Fleetwood, who qualified for the NCAA tournament twice while at Central Michigan before transferring to NDSU last season and redshirting. The path to the podiums starts with a familiar opponent in Wyoming’s Cole Verner. A 6-5 win in the NDSU dual with Wyoming might give Bison fans concern regarding a potential upset, but Fleetwood scored a 2-0 takedown advantage in that match and was able to find a score at the end of the third when he needed it. I expect Fleetwood to widen the gap in the first round Thursday morning. A victory over Fleetwood would mean a Thursday evening matchup with Princeton super-freshman Pat Glory. Glory finished 26-4-without taking a redshirt-with two losses to Spencer Lee, and a loss each to #2 Nick Piccininni and #8 Vitali Arujau of Cornell. Glory is one of the most dynamic wrestlers in the country offensively. He scrambles like and absolute animal and wrestles through all positions at a very high level. Conversely,Fleetwood’s defense was strong enough to hold Piccininni without a takedown in the Big 12 title match, so something has got to give here. Glory was the top High School 125 in the nation last season, so he is used to big matches. That said, Fleetwood’s experience competing in two NCAA championship prior to this as well as a Senior US Open should give him a boost. The path to an All American finish is significantly more probable for Fleetwood with a win here (DUH). A loss would mean likely backside matches with the aforementioned Nick Fausz of NC State (or in a worst case scenario Okie State’s Piccininni), followed by a blood round matchup with either undefeated Jack Mueller of Virginia, or #4 Ronnie Bresser of Oregon State. Bresser scored a fall over Fleetwood in a dual at the SHAC in the last bout before the christmas break.
A win over Glory would mean a likely quarterfinal matchup with #2 Piccininni, with a spot in the semifinals on the line. In the Big 12 championship, Piccininni beat Fleetwood 2-0 on the strength of a third period ride out. Neither wrestler scored a takedown. Fleetwood had some opportunities to get away, and even got Piccininni warned for stalling midway through the third. A score from either wrestler in the first period would go a long way in opening this match up, but I expect this potential match to go similar to the Big 12 title bout. Can Fleetwood win and put himself into the semifinals? Absolutely. A loss would mean a likely blood round bout with #12 Michael McGee of Old Dominion, #13 Drew Hildebrandt of Central Michigan, or #20 Alex Mackall of Iowa State. All are matches Fleetwood would a strong favorite in.