Big Ten Wrestling Power Rankings: Is it Penn State Wrestling and everyone else?

Penn State's Carter Starocci, right, wrestles Virginia Tech's Mekhi Lewis at 174 pounds in the finals during the sixth session of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, Saturday, March 19, 2022, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Mich.220319 Ncaa Session 6 Wr 056 Jpg
Penn State's Carter Starocci, right, wrestles Virginia Tech's Mekhi Lewis at 174 pounds in the finals during the sixth session of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, Saturday, March 19, 2022, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Mich.220319 Ncaa Session 6 Wr 056 Jpg /
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Iowa’s Austin DeSanto, right, wrestles Illinois’ Lucas Byrd at 133 pounds during the second session of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships, Saturday, March 5, 2022, at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.220305 Big Ten Semi Wr 014 Jpg
Iowa’s Austin DeSanto, right, wrestles Illinois’ Lucas Byrd at 133 pounds during the second session of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships, Saturday, March 5, 2022, at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.220305 Big Ten Semi Wr 014 Jpg /

. . Fighting Illini . 9. team. 807.

Dual Rank: 25
Record: 0-0
Ranked Wrestlers: 5
125 No. 22 Justin Cardani
133 No. 6 Lucas Byrd
165 No. 21 Danny Braunagel
174 No. 16 Edmond Ruth
197 No. 13 Zac Braunagel

The Fighting Illini got the season rolling by participating in the 2021 Michigan State Open. And the results were fairly mixed.

Zac Braunagel was the only Illinois wrestler to take home an individual title as he won the Open division by pinning Ohio State’s Gavin Hoffman in the 197-pound final. Illinois also had seven grapplers finish in the top six in both the Open and Freshman/Sophomore divisions.

As with both Rutgers and Purdue, this season is going to be a hard one for the Fighting Illini. Both Lucas Byrd and Zac Braunagel are super competitive guys at their respective weight classes but that’s about as far as the top tier talent goes. Edmond Ruth is a guy who could have a breakout year, but it won’t be apparent until he gets tested later in the year during the Big Ten portion of the schedule.

The rest of the Illinois squad is decent, and they should fare well early in the season in duals against NC State and Pittsburgh. The results of these two duals should give everyone a much better idea of whether or not the Fighting Illini can make any noise in the Big Ten.

But my money is still sitting on the “Nope” button.

Next on the docket for Illinois is a trip to Missouri where they are slated to compete in the Tiger Style Invite on November 12th.