|125||Starter||Next Man||Possible Redshirt|
The graduation of round of 12 transfer Brent Fleetwood and departure of NCAA qualifier Paul Bianchi leaves a big question mark for NDSU at the lightest weight class. Thankfully, Bison grinder McGwire Midkiff, who has wrestled 133 and 141 for the last two seasons, but competed at 57 KG last spring and summer summer, is listed at 125 pounds for the Bison this year. Midkiff was an impressive 12-2 last season as a redshirt wrestling in open competition. More impressive for me though, was Midkiff’s willingness to come out of redshirt as a (likely undersized) true freshman 141 pounder and get a win for NDSU on the road at Northern Iowa. The Bison lost that dual 21-19, but Midkiff showed that he is willing to do whatever necessary for the team. His style should make him a fan favorite at 125 this season. As long as the weight cut doesn’t become a problem, I think Midkiff is a great Fleetwood replacement and national qualifier for the Bison this season.
Corey Gamet comes to NDSU after a fantastic Michigan prep career in which he won three state titles, the last of which came in the Division III 125 pound weight class. Gamet was a perfect 47-0 in his senior campaign. He was also a cadet national champion for Michigan in 2016. With Cam Sykora in his final year at 133 pounds, I think the ideal circumstance would be to redshirt Gamet before inserting him at 125 next year and allowing Midkiff to slot up to 133.
|133||Starter||Next Man||Possible Redshirt|
This is the final chance for Cam Sykora. The five-time Minnesota state champion is a three-time NCAA qualifier. Sykora was in and out of the top twenty to begin last season but struggled in February and had to qualify for NCAA’s via an at-large bid after a disappointing Big 12 tournament. Expect Sykora to again be a force in dual meets, as his top wrestling has made him one of the nation’s best technical fall experts over the last three years. Navigating to the podium will be no easy feat as the majority of the bulk from last season is back. National runner-up Daton Fix may take a redshirt, but NCAA champions Seth Gross (2017) and Nick Suriano (2018) both return. With two champs and loads of returning Al Americans, it could be argued that 133 is the deepest weight class in country.
Behind Sykora are Sawyer Degen and Sam Stuhl. Degen is listed on the Bison roster as 133, but he finished 10-6 at 141 last season and 1-2 at the Big 12 tournament. It is certainly possible we see Degen back at 141 in a starter role this year. Stuhl was 15-6 in redshirt last season.
Four-time North Dakota state champion Ryan Ripplinger enters his first year at NDSU with an already impressive top game. Pay close attention to Ripplinger’s early season open tournament results. I am especially interested to see where he stands with college level guys from the neutral position.