Photo: Sam Janicki

Predicting NCAA semifinals, finals in every weight class

One of the most exciting NCAA Division I wrestling seasons in recent years will come to a close on Saturday night in Kansas City when 10 NCAA champions and a team champion are crowned. Predicting what upsets will happen at the NCAAs is always challenging. This season brought many unexpected results so expect the unexpected this weekend. Brackets will get turned upside as lower seeds make unexpected runs. Here are predictions for the semifinals and finals in each of the 10 weight classes.

125: Semifinals

No. 8 Richard Figueroa (Arizona State) over No. 4 Matt Ramos (Purdue)
The Pac-12 champion Figueroa had a slow start to his season but is trending upward heading into the NCAAs. He sneaks past Ramos in a barnburner for the second time in two seasons.

No. 7 Jakob Camacho (NC State) over No. 3 Drake Ayala (Iowa)
Camacho, like Figueroa, enters the NCAAs on a hot streak. The ACC champion advances to the finals with a close victory over Ayala.

125: Finals

Figueroa over Camacho
The former No. 1 recruit Figueroa shows it's not how you start but how you finish. He tops Camacho in the finals, becoming Arizona State's first NCAA champion since 2019.

133: Semifinals

No. 1 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) over No. 5 Dylan Ragusin (Michigan)
Fix moves into to the finals with a controlled semifinal victory over Ragusin. With the victory, Fix improves to 4-1 in NCAA semifinal matches.

No. 6 Vito Arujau (Cornell) over No. 2 Ryan Crookham (Lehigh)
The returning NCAA champion Arujau punches his ticket to the national finals by beating EIWA rival Crookham after losing to him twice this season. It marks the first official loss of Crookham's collegiate wrestling career.

133: Finals

Arujau over Fix
Arujau rides the momentum of beating Crookham in the semifinals and repeats as NCAA champion, defeating Fix in a rematch from last year's NCAA semifinals. Both Arujau and Fix are senior world medalists in freestyle and could see each other again next month at the Olympic Team Trials in State College.

141: Semifinals

No. 1 Jesse Mendez (Ohio State) over No. 5 Anthony Echemendia (Iowa State)
Mendez, an All-American last season as a freshman at 133 pounds, has looked strong all season at 141 pounds. The Big Ten champion earns his first trip to the finals with a win over a game Echemendia.

No. 2 Beau Bartlett (Penn State) over No. 3 Real Woods (Iowa)
Bartlett beats the returning national finalist Woods for the second time this season to set up a Big Ten finals rematch with Mendez.

141: Finals

Mendez over Bartlett
The top-seeded Mendez comes out on top in the rubber match, claiming his second win over Bartlett in three weeks.

149: Semifinals

No. 1 Ridge Lovett (Nebraska) over No. 4 Caleb Henson (Virginia Tech)
Lovett has had a spectacular season, holding the No. 1 ranking all season long despite taking a loss on the final weekend of the regular season. He secures his spot in the finals for the second time in his career with a win over Henson in a rematch from the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational finals.

No. 6 Austin Gomez (Michigan) over No. 2 Kyle Parco (Arizona State)
Gomez, wrestling in his fourth NCAA tournament for his third different team, earns his first trip to the national finals with a hard-fought victory over Parco, avenging a loss from the 2023 NCAAs.

149: Finals

Gomez over Lovett
The 2024 Olympian Gomez adds another remarkable achievement to his wrestling resume, winning a national title in his final college season, avenging a loss to Lovett.

157: Semifinals

No. 1 Levi Haines (Penn State) over No. 13 Michael Blockhus (Minnesota)
Haines makes it two national finals appearances in two seasons at Penn State. He wins a tight semifinal match over the returning All-American Blockhus.

No. 3 Meyer Shapiro (Cornell) over No. 2 Jacori Teemer (Arizona State)
Shapiro, a two-time age group world champion, has lived up to the lofty expectations in his first season in the Big Red lineup. He defeats Teemer in a wild semifinal match.

157: Finals

Shapiro over Haines
Shapiro becomes Cornell's third freshman NCAA champion ever, joining a club that includes NCAA wrestling legends Kyle Dake and Yianni Diakomihalis. For the second straight year, Cornell has a pair of national champions.

165: Semifinals

No. 4 David Carr (Iowa State) over No. 1 Keegan O'Toole (Missouri)
The final chapter in this historic college wrestling rivalry goes to Carr as he flips the result from the Big 12 finals. These two age group world champions will be seeing much more of each other in the coming years as they battle for the 74-kilogram spot on U.S. world and Olympic teams.

No. 2 Mitchell Mesenbrink (Penn State) over No. 3 Julian Ramirez (Cornell)
The Nittany Lion freshman Mesenbrink takes care of business in the semifinals, overcoming an early deficit to beat Ramirez and stay undefeated on the season.

165: Finals

Carr over Mesenbrink
Carr comes out on top in an action-filled championship match, giving Mesenbrink his first college loss. The Cyclone great finishes his career as a two-time NCAA champion for Iowa State.

174: Semifinals

No. 9 Carter Starocci (Penn State) over No. 4 Shane Griffith (Michigan)
Starocci sends shockwaves through the college wrestling world by reaching the finals from the No. 9 seed (tongue-in-cheek, of course). His semifinal victory comes after the Penn State star topped No. 1-seeded Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals.

No. 6 Rocco Welsh (Ohio State) over No. 2 Cade DeVos (South Dakota State)
Welsh, a true freshman from Pennsylvania, grinds out a tough victory over DeVos to secure his spot in the finals. His semifinal victory gives the Buckeyes a second national finalist as he joins Mendez (141) in the finals.

174: Finals

Starocci over Welsh
Starocci is pushed hard by Welsh for the second time this season but prevails. He captures his fourth NCAA title, becoming just the sixth wrestler ever to accomplish the feat and the first for Penn State.

184: Semifinals

No. 1 Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa) over No. 4 Trey Munoz (Oregon State)
Keckeisen rolls into the finals by beating Munoz at the NCAAs for the second consecutive season. His offense proves to be too much for the Pac-12 champion.

No. 3 Dustin Plott (Oklahoma State) over No. 7 T.J. Stewart (Virginia Tech)
Plott guarantees his highest NCAA finish ever as he gets past a red-hot Stewart to set up a rematch of the Big 12 finals.

184: Finals

Keckeisen over Plott
Keckeisen claims the elusive national title after losing just a single match in each of the past three NCAA tournaments. He beats Plott for the third time this season and finishes the season undefeated.

197: Semifinals

No. 1 Aaron Brooks (Penn State) over No. 4 Michael Beard (Lehigh)
Brooks adds to his legacy by advancing to the NCAA finals for the fourth straight season, beating a tough Beard in the semifinals.

No. 2 Trent Hidlay (NC State) over No. 6 Lou DePrez (Binghamton)
The four-time ACC champion Hidlay returns to the NCAA finals for the first time since 2021 with a win over arguably the comeback wrestler of the year in DePrez. It marked the third meeting between Hidlay and DePrez in college but the first in over four years.

197: Finals

Hidlay over Brooks
After losing to Brooks in three consecutive NCAA tournaments, Hidlay comes out on top in his final college tournament, preventing the Penn State star from winning his fourth NCAA title. Hidlay finishes as undefeated NCAA champion and one of the frontrunners for the Hodge Trophy.

285: Semifinals

No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State) over No. 4 Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State)
Kerkvliet wins a hard-fought, tight match against the Greco-Roman standout Schultz to earn a spot in the NCAA finals for the second straight season.

No. 2 Yonger Bastida (Iowa State) over No. 3 Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force)
Bastida, who moved up from 197 pounds this season, gets multiple takedowns against Hendrickson and leaves no doubt, widening the gap from their Big 12 finals match.

285: Finals

Kerkvliet over Bastida
Kerkvliet wins his first NCAA title after losing to Michigan's Mason Parris in the finals last season. He edges Bastida in a match that is decided in the final minute.