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285 Preview: No returning NCAA All-Americans begs the question…Who will be the top dog at 285lbs?


Photo Courtesy of Loras Athletics website

Brief Weight Class Outlook:

Although this weight class has no NCAA podium finishers returning to it, it does have real title contenders from every region. There is a ton of experience and high level talents at this weight who will undoubtedly make themselves household names in short order. However, the question remains - Who will be the last one standing in March?

Ten individual National Qualifiers return from the 2020 NCAA field, four of them who were seeded in the Top 8 at this weight class. Max Bishop, Wabash College, and Rocky McGeary, Waynesburg University, are two of those seeded wrestlers, however neither competed at the NWCA tournament in 2021.

Jordon Brandon, of Wartburg College, and Isaiah Espinoza, of Adrian College, round out the returning seeded wrestlers from 2020’s NCAA Championships. Both Brandon and Espinoza also wrestled, and placed at, the 2021 NWCA Nationals with 6th place and 8th place finishes, respectively.

Other returning qualifiers include Wyatt Wreidt, Loras College; Richard Knapp, SUNY Brockport; Jordan Lemcke, UW-Oshkosh; Palmer Rodenhaber, Alvernia University; and Cole Fibranz, University of Chicago. All of the aforementioned were making their first trips to NCAA’s when the rug was pulled out from under them. Nico Ramirez is a two-time NCAA National Qualifier and finished on the NWCA podium in 2021 out in Cedar Rapids.

Wreidt also capitalized on the NWCA event, taking home the title. He downed Auggie sophomore, Tyler Kim, in the finals who had a breakthrough performance. Kaleb Reeves, of Coe College, failed to qualify in 2020, but made a deep run in 2021, finishing third at the weight.

With ten returning NCAA Qualifiers and six of the eight NWCA placers also back, 285lbs may be the most exciting weight class to watch throughout this season!


Top Returners

  • Max Bishop - Wabash College - 2020 NCAA National Qualifier, #4-Seed at the 2020 Championships, 2020 NCAA Central Regional Runner-Up

  • Wyatt Wreidt - Loras College - 2021 NWCA National Champion, 2020 NCAA National Qualifier, 2020 NCAA Upper Midwest Regional Runner-Up

  • Jordon Brandon - Wartburg College - 2021 NWCA All-American (6th, 285lbs), 2020 NCAA National Qualifier, #6-Seed at the 2020 Championships, 2020 NCAA Lower Midwest Regional Third Place

  • Rocky McGeary - Waynesburg University - 2020 NCAA National Qualifier, #6-Seed at the 2020 Championships, 2020 NCAA Southeast Regional Champion

  • Isaiah Espinoza - Adrian College - 2021 NWCA All-American (8th, 285lbs)2020 NCAA National Qualifier, #8-Seed at 2020 Championships, 2020 NCAA Central Regional Third Place

  • Tyler Kim - Augsburg University - 2021 NWCA National Runner-Up

  • Nico Ramirez - Southern Virginia University - 2021 NWCA All-American (5th, 285lbs), 2x NCAA National Qualifier (2020, 2018)


Notable Returners

  • Richard Knapp - SUNY Brockport - 2020 NCAA National Qualifier, 2020 NCAA Mideast Regional Champion

  • Jordan Lemcke - UW-Oshkosh - 2020 NCAA National Qualifier, 2020 Lower Midwest Champion

  • Palmer Rodenhaber - Alvernia University - 2020 NCAA National Qualifier, 2020 NCAA Southeast Regional Runner-Ups

  • Cole Fibranz - University of Chicago - 2020 NCAA National Qualifier, 2020 NCAA Upper Midwest Regional Third Place

  • Kaleb Reeves - Coe College - 2021 NWCA All-American (3rd, 285lbs)

  • Dominick Wilson - Olivet College - 2021 NWCA All-American (4th, 285lbs)


2021 NWCA Nationals Placers

  1. Wyatt Wreidt - Loras College

  2. Tyler Kim - Augsburg University

  3. Kaleb Reeves - Coe College

  4. Dominck Wilson - Olivet College

  5. Nico Ramirez - Southern Virginia University

  6. Jordon Brandon - Wartburg College

  7. Ben Bergen - North Central College

  8. Isaiah Espinoza - Adrian College


Notable Transfers

  • Kevin Mulligan - Transfer from Rutgers University to Centenary University

  • Mulligan was a 2x New Jersey State Champion from Bergen Catholic in high school. He spent one season in red-shirt for the Scarlet Knights

  • Mike Fusili - Transfer from Sacred Heart University to Springfield College

  • Fusili is a DI transfer, filling a void for the Pride in their upper weights. He was in red-shirt in 2020 for the Pioneers and did not compete last season in his first year at Springfield.


Notable Roster Omissions:

  • Dominick Wilson - Olivet College - As of now, Wilson is not listed on the Comet’s roster. He finished in 4th at the 2021 NWCA Nationals and should have two years of eligibility remaining.

  • Ben Bergen - North Central College - Bergen was possibly lost to graduation, however, could make a second half return to their line up, if he is still enrolled at NCC. The heavyweight finished in 7th at the 2021 NWCA Championships.