Since we already went into depth on who the Big Ten lost after the 2021-22 season ended, it’s time to take a look at who returns for the country’s toughest wrestling conference.
Today and each of the next couple Tuesdays, we’ll be counting down the 30 best returners (and incoming transfers) from the Big Ten Conference that you can expect to be at or near the top of the NCAA podium this coming season.
Let’s start with the Bottom Ten.
Big Ten’s 30 Best (Nos. 21-30)
30. Carson Kharchla - Ohio State
The former big-time recruit out of Ohio, Carson Kharchla took hold of the Buckeyes’ starting spot at 165 pounds as a redshirt freshman this past season.
He was impressive as he finished in 7th place at the NCAA Championships for All-American honors. He finished with a 25-5 record on the year. Here, he can be seen finishing off Iowa’s Alex Marinelli, a four-time Big Ten Champion.
Statement win from the young Buck Carson Kharchla over The Bull https://t.co/44Yk1SFsY2— FloWrestling (@FloWrestling) January 22, 2022
As a sophomore this year, Kharchla will absolutely be in contention for conference and NCAA gold.
29. Jakob Bergeland - Minnesota
In his first year as a starter for the Golden Gophers, Jakob Bergeland finished as an All-American while cementing himself in the lineup.
Bergeland is the Big Ten’s lone returning All-American at 141 pounds as he finished in 7th place at NCAAs with a 23-9 record on the year. Now with the conference’s heavy hitters like Nick Lee, Jaydin Eierman, Sebastian Rivera and Chad Red out of his way, he could be one of the favorites in this weight class.
28. Real Woods - Iowa
An incoming transfer from Stanford, Real Woods comes to Iowa to take over for the All-American Eierman.
At Stanford, Woods went a combined 42-8 while qualifying for NCAAs three times, finishing as an All-American this past season as he finished in 6th place, just ahead of Bergeland.
With the Iowa pedigree, it’ll be interesting how good the junior will be for the Hawkeyes. He has a really high ceiling, but he’s never done it in the Big Ten yet. So I’m pumping the brakes a little bit and slotting him in here at No. 28.
Both Austin DeSanto and Real Woods attempted Kimuras at the NCAA tournament before transferring to Iowa. Coincidence? pic.twitter.com/ZPpQGkCJlH— Richard Mann (@RichardAMann) April 3, 2022
27. Rayvon Foley - Michigan State
One of the Big Ten’s veterans, Rayvon Foley moved up this past season from 125 pounds to 133 and he didn’t miss a beat as he finished with a 29-6 record but fell short of All-American honors.
The Spartan senior is a four-time NCAA qualifier and was an All-American all the way back in the 2018-19 season when he finished in 7th place at 125 pounds. Foley holds a 103-29 career record and returns for one last chance to get back on the podium.
26. Kaleb Romero - Ohio State
A veteran for the Buckeyes, Kaleb Romero returns after securing his first career All-American honors this past season.
Romero finished in 6th place at 184 pounds with a 17-6 record on the year. Romero holds a career record of 59-25 but has been one of the conference’s tougher outs for years, and he’s only been improving year in and year out.
25. Ethan Smith - Ohio State
Ethan Smith has been a staple in the Buckeye lineup for years at different weights. Smith wrestled at 165 pounds until his junior year when he bumped up to 174.
He went 24-7 while falling one win short of All-American honors. He did finish 6th at 165 pounds in 2021.
Smith seems destined to anchor the Buckeye lineup this season with Romero and co.
24. Dean Hamiti - Wisconsin
A true freshman last season, Dean Hamiti proved he belongs with an impressive 28-4 record while finishing 6th at NCAAs for All-American honors.
Easily the freshman of the year. Hamiti lost to eventual Big Ten Champion Alex Marinelli in the first round of the Big Ten Championships in March. He wrestled back to finish third, defeating Nebraska’s Bubba Wilson 10-4 along the way, as well as a win over Kharchla in the 3rd-place match.
A long and lean guy, Hamiti will be a threat to win conference and national titles until he’s expired his eligibility.
23. Chris Cannon - Northwestern
Just a sophomore technically, Chris Cannon has already earned All-American honors twice at 133 pounds. He finished 7th in both 2021 and 2022 at the NCAA tournament.
Cannon has a 32-11 career record to this point and looks to be one of the anchors of Northwestern’s lineup. Watch below as Cannon pins Arizona State’s Michael McGee at the 2021 NCAA tournament. McGee is one of the country’s best at 133.
22. Trent Hillger - Wisconsin
Trent Hillger seems like he’s been holding down heavyweight for Wisconsin forever. The four-time NCAA qualifier is a two-time All-American with his best finish 6th place in 2021.
The senior has a career record of 77-30 and has consistently been one of the Big Ten’s better 285-pounders. With a stacked field at heavyweight, Hillger may struggle to find the podium, but he’s one of the best in the country regardless.
Here’s Hillger taking on Nebraska’s Christian Lance in a dual this year.
21. Lucas Davison - Northwestern
Another big-time Big Ten heavyweight is Lucas Davison. The Northwestern junior is already a three-time NCAA qualifier and found his way onto the podium this past season. Davison finished in 6th place at NCAAs.
During his NCAA run, Davison beat Nebraska’s Lance, but his real claim to fame was that he took down Gable Steveson, the only takedown the Olympic and NCAA Champion gave up all year. Seen here at the 3:55 mark.
With another year of seasoning, Davison will again be an All-American threat.