149 Preview: 3x All-American, Brett Kaliner -Stevens Tech, aims his sights at the top of the podium.
Updated: Nov 3, 2021
Brief Weight Class Outlook:
Six of the eight 2021 NWCA Nationals place winners return to this weight class - or projected so - but none appear to emerge from the pack more so than Stevens Tech’s workhorse, Brett Kaliner.
Kaliner is a 3x All-American with a Third Place finish at 149lbs in 2019 after a statement first year in 2018, capped off by a National Runner-Up finish at 141lbs. The Duck did not get his chance in 2020, but was the #2-Seed in the 149lb. bracket. In what would have otherwise been his senior year, Kaliner finished in Third Place at the 2021 NWCA Nationals. However, with the COVID-19 exemption, he will return for one final charge for the top of the podium.
Contending him for the top spot will be two other returning NCAA All-Americans, although both placed in 2019 and then failed to qualify again in 2020. Brady Fritz, of Wartburg, took home 6th Place nationally for the Knights at 141lbs in 2019 his freshman season and finished as the NWCA Runner-Up this past March at 149lbs. Luke Hernandez, of Mount Union, finished in 8th Place at the 2019 Championships but did not compete in 2021.
2x NCAA National Qualifiers Stanley Bleich - Baldwin Wallace - and Eric Hutchinson - York College - look to be strong All-American contenders for the ‘21-’22 season.
The weight projects to return a handful of other former National Qualifiers, however, some individual’s certification weights leave the door open to speculation as to whether or not they will actually make the descent down to 149lbs again. Time will tell...
Brett Kaliner - Stevens Tech - 3x NCAA National Championships Qualifier (‘20, ‘19, ‘18), 2x NCAA All-American (‘19, ‘18), 2018 National Finalist (141lbs), 2021 NWCA All-American (3rd, 149lbs)
Brady Fritz - Wartburg College - 2019 NCAA All-American (6th, 141lbs), 2021 NWCA National Runner-Up (149lbs)
Luke Hernandez - Mount Union - 2018 NCAA All-American (8th, 149lbs)
Garrett Cornell - Messiah College - 2020 NCAA National Qualifier (141lbs), 2021 NWCA All-American (5th, 149lbs)
Noah Caskey - U.S. Coast Guard Academy - 2020 NCAA National Qualifier (141lbs), 2021 NWCA All-American 7th, 149lbs)
Stanley Bleich - Baldwin Wallace - 2x NCAA National Qualifier (‘20, ‘18), Central Regional Champion (149lbs)
Eric Hutchinson - York College - 2x NCAA National Qualifier (‘20, ‘18), SoutheastRegional Third Place (149lbs)
Listed at 157 on York College Roster
Alex Barr - Wabash College - 2020 NCAA National Qualifier (149lbs), Central Regional Third Place (149lbs)
Robert Areyano - Central College - 2020 NCAA National Qualifier (149lbs), Lower Midwest Regional Third Place
Jake Drexler - UW-Eau Claire - 2020 NCAA National Qualifier (149lbs), Upper Midwest Regional Third Place
Chase Sumner - Ohio Northern University - 2020 NCAA National Qualifier (149lbs), Central Regional Fourth Place
Zeke Smith - Loras College - 2021 NWCA All-American (4th, 149lbs)
Peter McCusker - Millikin University - 2021 NWCA All-American (6th, 149lbs)
2021 NWCA Nationals Placers
Josh Gerke - Coe College
Brady Fritz - Wartburg College
Brett Kaliner - Steven’s Tech
Zeke Smith - Loras College
Garrett Cornell - Messiah College
Peter McCusker - Millikin University
Noah Caskey - U.S. Coast Guard Academy
Noah Nieman - Adrian College
If you know of notable transfers entering Division III at 149lbs, please comment below or DM us on Instagram (@d3wrestling) and we will work to confirm the news with the individual’s new institution.
Notable Roster Omissions:
Josh Gerke - Coe College - It appears the reigning NWCA Nationals Champ may have called it a career after last season’s championship run. Gerke is not currently on the Kohawks roster.
Noah Nieman - Adrian College - Finishing 8th at NWCA’s may have provided Nieman with enough closure for his career. He is now the Assistant Wrestling coach at his Alma Mater, Adrian College.
Ryan Anderson -Centenary University - Transferred to Binghamton University