Depending on where you’re looking OSU’s ranked anywhere from about 1-3 as a team. Here’s a list of the likely starters, where they rank and what to expect from them.
125-Nick Piccinnini #12
A lot of transfers and graduations have opened up this weight a lot to give OSU a chance to score a lot of points at the NCAA tournament.
Pic was pretty solid in his redshirt year, but did have some injury issues. His best win came when he beat Milhoff from OU pretty handily, but Milhoff did get much better as the year progressed and had a good Big 12 and NCAA tournament becoming a Big 12 champ and All American.
The Big 12 is good at this weight. One could make the argument they're better than the Big 10, which is good for a young kid like Pic. Getting the experience of a tough Big 12 tournament should help him at the NCAA's. #8, 11, 12, and 13 are all in the Big 12.
Interesting thing I’ve heard is he’s getting some push from Eli Hale in the room for the starting spot. I’m sure he’ll still end up with it, but hope it’s more of a thing of Hale turning out to be better than originally thought than Pic slipping. Could be a good thing that he’s getting that from Hale as the season goes.
He'll see #1, 7, 11, 12, 13, 15, 19 all in duals throughout the season and most of them in GIA, so I don't recommend showing up late to home duals because you may miss some good ones.
133-Kaid Brock #7
#1, 2,and 3 are really good. Hopefully Brock can find his way up to their level. I think the talent's there, just not sure if his injury will still be causing any issues.
We'll see him match up with #1, 5, 6, 10, and 13 in duals and all, but 2 of those in GIA.
To me the biggest ? is how banged up is he from last year? If it's not much he could do some really impressive things this year.
What we saw of him last year prior to the injury was really promising. Hopefully it’s more of the same. Really looking forward to watching him in a full season healthy.
141-Dean Heil #1
February 10th he'll have an NCAA finals rematch with Meredith in GIA that day. Also has matchup's with 7, 9, 18, 20 in other duels.
Tough to criticize an NCAA champ, but the one gripe you could probably have with Heil last year was he didn't get much bonus. IMO OSU's schedule this year could help that some. Last year he wrestled probably the toughest week to week lineup of any OSU wrestler I've seen in a long time. Of the current rankings he wrestled 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12, an exhibition against Cody Brewer, and a bunch of other tough matches against guys that have graduated.
Rightfully so that type of schedule can condition you a bit to just get out with a W vs. going after bonus. Heil wasn't able to get major's, pins, etc... against those types of guys as they were really talented so he really wasn't ready to go into the NCAA's and get bonus against his lesser opponents he saw in the early rounds in the NCAA's. He doesn't have that tough of a schedule this year and that may help him develop some scoring that could translate to more bonus. Really need him to repeat.
Collica's at 4 where he finished up the season last year. PSU's guy is #1 and barring some major injury there's very little chance he finishes lower. It's probably a race for second here, but I think Collica could do it if things play out right.
A few interesting things for Collica here.
1. The guy that would probably be around #6 on this list is now in the room at OSU. Martinez from Boise State transferred here after a coaching change at BSU. That's huge for Collica to have that level of partner in the room working with him. Can only make him better.
2. Collica was hurt a large portion of last year and even though he really came on at the end of the year and had a great NCAA tournament that probably wasn't the best you could potentially see out of him, so a full healthy year could be interesting.
If he can stay healthy and get the type of work one would expect he'll get in the room with Martinez he has a shot to be a finalist. He beat the Mizzou kid last year once and I'm sure could again, though if Vegas made lines in wrestling I'd say the Mizzou guy's the favorite. His dual matchup's with him and the Iowa kid are huge. If he can get win's in those and stay on the opposite side of the NCAA bracket from Retherford he'll have a chance to make a run to the finals, which would be huge for the team race.
Opens up the season in the NWCA all star dual against Mayes from Mizzou. Will be very interesting to see how that goes. If Collica wins to me it probably means he had a really solid summer and is a very good sign.
157-Joe Smith #3
He didn't really have the best NCAA tournament last year, but was hurt a large portion of the season then came in and won the Big 12 and finished 7th at the NCAA's. I'll be interested to see how being "the guy" all year will play out for him. He only wrestled about half the season out of redshirt and a large bit of that he was hurt.
I’ll also be interested to see how John Smith handles Joe. Has to be a bit different for him to be coaching his son vs. coaching anyone else. Joe looks like he has the potential to be pretty good.
As far as the landscape of this NCAA's OSU just needs Joe to move up one spot by the end of the year. If he's a finalist that's what OSU needs at the NCAA's. I'd love to see him win the whole thing, but ultimately making the finals would be plenty to help push OSU over the top at the NCAA's.
Joe wrestles the #2 guy in GIA on Dec 16th. Very big match there.
165-Chandler Rogers #5
This is a very tough weight. A lot of guys have moved around and it ended up making this a lot more interesting of a weight that it was last year. Rogers is really talented though. He finished just outside of the top 8 last year without wrestling the full season and being up a weight at 174.
Rogers is somewhat difficult to figure out. He's definitely really talented, but wrestles more of a wide open style than anyone on the team. No matter how the regular season plays out for him I'll probably go into the NCAA's feeling like he could finish anywhere from pinning his way through and getting 1st to going 2 and out. That's just his style. My guess is he'll find himself somewhere in between and at least finish in the top 8. This is a pretty important weight in the team race IMO. If Rogers can finish significantly higher than Joseph from PSU it'll mean a lot as far as the team race goes.
174-Kyle Crutchmer #4
Last year Crutchmer had some major injury issues and broke 2 bones in his foot which took him out for the season. He might be the most athletic guy on the team this year. He's insanely strong and has some really quick shots that a lot of guys can't handle. He's benefited a lot from being in the room with Perry, Caldwell, and Dieringer most of his career and will continue to have Perry and Dieringer this year which should continue to help him.
This weight has some interesting variables though. Both NCAA finalists from last year are said to be going up to 184 and that definitely helps to open it up for Crutchmer. This is still a pretty strong weight though.
I really do think Crutchmer could be good enough to make his way into the finals, Rogers beat the #3 guy last year, so one has to think Crutch could take him out and possibly work his way up into the top 2 tier. Jordan from Ohio State who they list as #1 is up a weight, so there's no guarantee he'll be as good as people expect at 174.
My biggest concern for Crutchmer will be on how he recovers and wrestles off the injury. He's a really solid wrestler when he's healthy, so I don't really expect him to go to the tournament and lay an egg. He'll finish roughly where he's expected to barring injury, but where will that be? Hopefully pretty high. Really important weight for OSU, they pretty much all are, but with guys going up/down 165/184 are tougher and this one is a bit easier than expected, so it'll be important for him to perform well.
184-Nolan Boyd #4
No way around it this is an insanely tough weight. Both finalists from 174 last year have came up to 184, the 2 time defending champ is back and really not a ton of guys graduated from last year.
Nolan Boyd comes in at #5 in the ranking after finishing 4th last year. I'm obviously a pretty orange guy, and this assessment sort of wraps around some of that, but I truly believe if there's a guy on this roster that is going to be thrown into the fire of the toughest weight in the country Nolan Boyd is the one you want there as an OSU fan. I've met the kid personally a few times, but wouldn't really say I "know" him. I have a good friend that's close to his family and from what I know of him from that he's probably one of the most high character kids on the team. Good family, hard worker, smart, etc... and that all translates to handling the grind of a weight class like this really well. He also sort of came out of nowhere as wrestler. He wasn't highly recruited or a big name or anything. He's really worked and earned his spot and again all of that along with the maturity of being a senior should help him handle this tough weight pretty well.
That said not accounting for all those things Boyd is still a pretty talented wrestler and even though Martin and Nickal are really good with them being up a weight their talent may not translate like they hope. The defending champ Dean's only loss last year was to Boyd and I really think Boyd should wind up a 4/5 type guy and maybe even better if all the things I said about his character translate like one would hope into a good senior year.
Ultimately these weight changes from PSU and tOSU are a positive for OSU. It almost guarantees at least one of the other team title contenders for this year will not have a finalist repeat. I don't see either of them beating Dean, so at least one, maybe both won't make the finals if someone else emerges and they also won't be able to get the bonus they could at 174, so this is a very positive thing for OSU that the 2 finalists from last year are up.
For anyone that didn’t follow this closely last year this is how his season played out. Started as a backup to Austin Schafer. Schafer gets in trouble and Weigel and Marsden go into a battle for the starting spot. Weigel wrestles well at the Southern Scuffle then they go into alternating him and Marsden as starters which he eventually wins out. Up to the very last dual I think they were still weighing their options here, but Weigel rolls into the Big 12 as a 5 seed at a pretty tough weight and runs through the bracket to win the tournament. Goes unseeded into the NCAA tournament, loses first round and comes all the way back through to almost become an All American. Really impressive what he did last year.
A lot of guys graduated from this weight last year which opened the door for him to move up a bit. The promising thing is what I just outlined. He really did well in the clutch and came through big time. The concern is was that some flash in the pan type run where a lot of good things fell into place allowing him to do that? IMO no, he’s the real deal. Guy’s probably the best mat wrestler in the country. The almost default point most guys get in matches for an escape is not a given with him. If they take down he can usually manage to pull a riding time point off and sometimes get the full period ride which basically flips a match on its head. If he’s managed to pick up some more offense on his feet, or maybe even just some defensive scoring I have no doubt he could finish in the top 8.
Interestingly enough there’s no guarantee that Weigel’s the starter this year. Derek White, an Edmond kid that started out at Nebraska is now in the room. There’s still a legit chance that White could wind up the starter. No matter who winds up starter Iron sharpens iron and it’s very good to have both these guys in the room together, but White only had a few losses last year and all were to really good wrestlers.
285- Austin Schafer
This is the only weight where OSU comes into the season unranked. It hasn't officially been announced, but it's very likely going to be Austin Schafer as the starter. He was the starter at 197 last year, but was suspended from the team last year after he got in some trouble mid season. From what I've heard he's up to about 240 or so and has spent the entire summer working towards putting on the weight to get here. He'll be a bit small as a HWT, but should be ok. He had a really good summer in freestyle and from some stuff I saw Smith say he wasn’t a big fan of watching his weight which he had to do at 197. Now that is no issue, so maybe it’ll give help him out a bit this year..
Every match at this weight this year is huge. This weight may be the difference between 1st and 2nd as a team. 3 of OSU's first 4 matches he'll have a ranked guy. Second half of the season it gets a bit easier and the Big 12's not especially good at this weight, so it'll be interesting to see how it plays out. Hopefully the Big 12 gets plenty of allocations, if they do that'll better his chance to qualify.
Getting to the NCAA's and getting a win or 2 would be something to be happy with here. A run like Weigel had last year might secure a title.