Photo of Taylor LaMont courtesy of Utah Valley University Athletics
Two weeks ago, I wrote an article looking at the top redshirt freshmen with Greco-Roman backgrounds coming into the NCAA season. Today’s feature will examine more DI wrestlers with Greco-Roman backgrounds.
Mason Manville (Penn State)
Manville is a 2017 Senior World Team member and multiple time Senior National Team member. He will be a contender for the Olympic Team spot at 77 kg, albeit in a very deep weight class.
Manville redshirted his first year on campus and could not crack the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman with studs like Vincenzo Joseph and Mark Hall manning 165 and 174 pounds respectively for Penn State. Last season, Manville took an Olympic redshirt. With Hall and Joseph graduating, Manville has a better shot at making the lineup this year as a redshirt sophomore, but he will have to duke it out with talented redshirt freshman Joe Lee (165) or Carter Starocci (174)
Brady Koontz (Ohio State)
Koontz is currently No. 2 on the National Team at 55 kg. He is also a three-time age-group World Team member, making the U23 World Team in 2019, the Junior World Team in 2018 and the Cadet World Team in 2015. Koontz is currently a redshirt sophomore, he took a redshirt year during the 2017-2018 season and an Olympic redshirt last year.
To crack the lineup at 125, he will need to beat two-time NCAA qualifier Malik Heinselman for the spot. Or he could potentially go 133 pounds and wrestle off Jordan Decatur. Both Heinselman and Decatur have redshirts available, which gives the Buckeyes some flexibility.
Tate Orndorff (Ohio State)
In the offseason, two-time NCAA qualifier and 2020 First Team NWCA All-American Orndorff transferred from Utah Valley to Ohio State. The heavyweight was a 2018/2019 National Team member at 130 kg and a 2019 U23 World Team member. Orndorff is also a 2019 U.S. Open runner-up and a 2018 U.S. Open third-place finisher.
Orndorff will most likely battle returning NCAA qualifier Gary Traub for the starting spot.
Andrew Berreyesa (Cornell)
Berreyesa is a 2018 Junior World silver medalist and a 2019 U23 World Team member. Following a gray shirt season, Berreyesa started for Cornell in 2019 at 165 pounds but did not qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Last season, Berreyesa was pulled out of an Olympic redshirt to help man the 174 pound spot until 2017 All-American and four-time NCAA qualifier Brandon Womack returned from injury. Next year, Berreyesa will most likely be fighting it out with freshmen Chris Foca and Julian Ramirez for the starting position.
Taylor LaMont (Utah Valley)
LaMont has competed in a record-setting seven age-group World Championships. His best finish was a bronze medal at the 2016 Junior World Championships. In total, he has made three Junior World Teams (2016, 2017 and 2018) three Cadet World Teams (2013, 2014 and 2015) and a U23 World Team (2019). He is currently No. 3 on the Senior National Team.
As a redshirt freshman, LaMont made the round of 12 at 125 pounds in 2018. He missed the following season in its entirety due to injury. LaMont was also pulled out of an Olympic redshirt last season and compiled a 17-7 record, qualifying for the NCAA tournament at 133 pounds.
Lenny Merkin (Princeton)
Merkin was a 2019 U23 World Team member who took an Olympic redshirt last season to focus solely on Greco. He is a 2018 Junior Pan American champion at 72 kg and a 2017 Junior Pan Am bronze medalist at 66 kg. In 2019, Merkin took fourth at the U.S. Open and the Dave Schultz Memorial International and eighth at Senior Nationals.
As a junior, he was Princeton’s starter at 165 pounds. With Merkin making his Olympic run at 67 kg (147.7 pounds), it’s possible we see Merkin competing for the 149 pound spot in the lineup. If the cut is too much, he’ll have to either wrestle off two-time NCAA qualifier Quincy Monday at 157 pounds or 2020 NCAA qualifier Grant Cuomo at 165 pounds.
Luke Luffman (Illinois)
Luffman finished seventh at the 2018 Cadet World Championships. He was a 2019 Junior Fargo champion and a 2018 Junior Fargo runner-up. Both years he claimed titles in freestyle as well. He is also a 2017 Cadet Fargo runner-up.
Luffman had a successful season last year as a true freshman. He compiled a 17-11 record at heavy weight and qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
Cam Caffey (Michigan State)
Caffey finished eighth at the 2019 Junior World Champions and was a 2018 Junior Pan Am champion. He is also a 2017 Junior Fargo runner-up.
Caffey will be entering his redshirt junior year for Michigan State. He is a two-time NCAA qualifier and a 2020 First Team NWCA All-American. While he’s been at 184 pounds the past three seasons, it’s possible we see Caffey at 197 pounds next year.
Matthew Schmitt (Missouri)
Schmitt is another wrestler who took an Olympic redshirt season last year. A two-time NCAA qualifier for West Virginia, Schmitt transferred to Missouri last season. In 2019, Schmitt placed fourth at the Bill Farrell International and sixth at the U.S. Open. He is a 2016 Fargo Junior champion and a 2015 Fargo Junior runner-up.
Next season, Schmitt should compete for the 133 pound spot alongside returning NCAA qualifier Allan Hart and 2018 NCAA qualifier Connor Brown.
Anthony Mantanona (Oklahoma)
Mantanona is a 2018 Junior Pan Am bronze medalist, a 2018 UWW Nationals champion and a 2018 Junior World Team Trials champion. Although Mantanona did not compete in the World Championships, as 2017 Junior World champion Kamal Bey took the spot. Mantanona is also a 2016 Junior Fargo champion and a 2015 Cadet World Team runner-up.
Mantanona qualified for this first NCAA tournament last year as a redshirt sophomore and looks primed to be Oklahoma’s starting 174 pounder again this season.