Breaking down matchups, brackets for Iowa, Northern Iowa at Journeymen Collegiate Wrestling Duals

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

A handful of the nation’s best Division I wrestling teams are converging on Florida’s panhandle for a two-day wrestling extravaganza, and depending on who you ask, this event has a few different names.

The Iowa Hawkeyes, for example, listed the event as the “Rokfin Duals” on their schedule, since Rokfin will be streaming all 18 duals, featuring eight of the top-25 teams in InterMat’s recent Division I rankings, across Monday and Tuesday.

Journeymen, the official sponsor, even called it “Wranglemania” in a recent social media post — which sounds a bit like WWE but the excitement is well-documented.

Tom Brands and the Iowa wrestling team will be competing in Florida on Monday and Tuesday at the Journeymen Collegiate Wrestling Duals.

Arizona State, who is also part of the 12-team field, recently referred to competition — hosted by Northwest Florida State College — as the “national duals,” which is what the event was initially billed as when it was first announced in August.

That caused a rub with some of the other teams involved.

“I don’t think this has anything to do with a dual championship,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “I’m not saying that it’s not still there, and maybe if the NCAA sanctions something, there would be legitimacy there.

“We were in right away, then they called it the national duals, and we were out. We’re just not going to be an advocate for the national duals. This is a dual meet event. When they switched their thinking back to a dual meet event, we’re in. It’s that simple.”

The actual name is the Journeymen Collegiate Wrestling Duals. It was first announced as a reformation of the Division I portion of the National Duals, but that title is owned by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, which still hosts a multi-divisional national dual competition for Division II, Division III, NAIA and junior colleges.

“Ever since my brother Pat wrestled in the National Duals while at Oklahoma State in the late 1990s, I have been fascinated by duals and particularly a dual championship,” Frank Popolizio, the founder of Journeymen and the brother of North Carolina State head coach Pat Popolizio, said in a release back in August.

Both the Hawkeyes, InterMat’s top-ranked team, and No. 22 Northern Iowa are in the field, plus: No. 2 Penn State, No. 3 Arizona State, No. 6 N.C. State, No. 7 Virginia Tech, No. 9 Cornell, No. 10 Mizzou, Binghamton, Lehigh, Hofstra and Central Michigan. 

“Collegiate duals, national duals — some people I guess don’t want to call it the national duals,” Northern Iowa coach Doug Schwab said. “It doesn’t matter. You’re trying to get the best teams in the country, and there’s a whole lot of them down there.

“Obviously, we’re going to be challenged. That’s why we’re going down to this event.”

Journeymen Collegiate Wrestling Duals format, matchups, schedule,

All 12 teams were divided into two pools, a Red Pool and a Blue Pool. Within each pool is another group of three teams. Those three teams will wrestle each other in a round-robin format on Monday.

Iowa is in the second group in the Red Pool, and will face both Central Michigan and Lehigh on Monday at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. CST, respectively. Northern Iowa is in the Blue Pool’s second group, and will face Cornell and Penn State at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Here are the full pools:

Red Pool

Group 1

  • N.C. State
  • Missouri
  • Binghamton

Group 2

  • Iowa
  • Central Michigan
  • Lehigh

Blue Pool

Group 1

  • Arizona State
  • Virginia Tech
  • Hofstra

Group 2

  • Penn State
  • Cornell
  • Northern Iowa

How each team finishes on Monday will dictate who they face on Tuesday. The teams that take first in their groups will face each other in the crossover matchup on Tuesday. Same with the teams that take second and third. For example, if Iowa and N.C. State win their groups, they’ll face each other on Tuesday in the Red Pool championship.

If Northern Iowa finishes behind Penn State and Cornell, they’ll wrestle whoever takes third in the Blue Pool’s Group 1. There will be no crossover between the Red and Blue Pools — so no Iowa-Penn State.

Here’s the full schedule. All times are Central:

Monday, Dec. 20

  • 10 a.m. — Missouri vs. Binghamton; Virginia Tech vs. Hofstra
  • 12 p.m. — N.C. State vs. Binghamton; Arizona State vs. Hofstra
  • 2 p.m. — N.C. State vs. Missouri; Arizona State vs. Virginia Tech
  • 4 p.m. — Lehigh vs. Central Michigan; Cornell vs. Northern Iowa
  • 6 p.m. — Iowa vs. Central Michigan; Penn State vs. Northern Iowa
  • 8 p.m. — Iowa vs. Lehigh; Penn State vs. Cornell

Tuesday, Dec. 21

  • 1 p.m. — Red Pool 5th-Place Dual; Blue Pool 5th-Place Dual
  • 3 p.m. — Red Pool 3rd-Place Dual; Blue Pool 3rd-Place Dual
  • 5 p.m. — Red Pool Championship Dual
  • 7 p.m. — Blue Pool Championship Dual

All 18 duals can be streamed on Rokfin. You need a Rokfin account, which costs $10 a month, and also purchase the pay-per-view through the Journeymen Wrestling Rokfin page, which is another $10.

Who could Iowa wrestlers face?

Iowa will face both Lehigh and Central Michigan on Monday — which means a big day for both Tony Cassioppi and Kaleb Young.

Cassioppi, ranked No. 7 by InterMat at 285 pounds, is expected to see both Lehigh’s eighth-ranked Jordan Wood and Central Michigan’s ninth-ranked Matt Stencel. Young, ranked No. 7 by InterMat at 157, is expected to see Lehigh’s 10th-ranked Josh Humphreys and Central Michigan’s 19th-ranked Johnny Lovett.

Lehigh’s Jaret Lane is also ranked No. 11 at 125 pounds. Spencer Lee, Iowa’s three-time national champion, will be with the team in Florida, but didn’t reveal any plans about him wrestling. If Lee doesn’t go, Jesse Ybarra is expected to man the spot.

Elsewhere: Central Michigan’s Dresden Simon is ranked No. 7 at 141, and would be a great test for second-ranked Jaydin Eierman. Lehigh has six total ranked wrestlers, with Malyke Hines (No. 24 at 133), Manzona Bryant (No. 30 at 149) and Brian Meyer (No. 27 at 165) joining Lane, Humphreys and Wood.

On Tuesday, Iowa is likely to see either N.C. State or Missouri. N.C. State boasts 10 ranked wrestlers, including: Jakob Camacho (No. 5 at 125), Tariq Wilson (No. 3 at 149), Hayden Hidlay (No. 5 at 174) and Trent Hidlay (No. 3 at 184). Missouri has nine ranked wrestlers, led by Keegan O’Toole (No. 3 at 165) and Rocky Elam (No. 4 at 197).

Iowa's Tony Cassioppi, top, wrestles Army's Ben Phillips at 285 pounds during a NCAA non-conference wrestling dual, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Who could UNI wrestlers face?

Northern Iowa will face both Cornell and Penn State on Monday — which means a big day for a number of Panther wrestlers.

Penn State will bring a lineup with eight ranked wrestlers, including six in the top five at their respective weights. The Nittany Lions are led by four returning NCAA champs: Roman Bravo-Young at 133, Nick Lee at 141, Carter Starocci at 174 and Aaron Brooks at 184. They also have Max Dean, No. 3 at 197, and Greg Kerkvliet, No. 4 at 285.

Cornell’s lineup is headlined by Vito Arujau, a past All-American at 125 pounds, and Yianni Diakomihalis, a two-time national champion and Senior men’s freestyle world team member, at 149 pounds. Cornell has six other ranked wrestlers, all of whom are in the top 25 at their respective weights.

So Northern Iowa’s Kyle Biscoglia (No. 31 at 133), Cael Happel (No. 26 at 141), Colin Realbuto (149), Pat Schoenfelder (174) and Parker Keckeisen (No. 4 at 184) will all likely get their hands on national champions on Monday. Realbuto, Schoenfelder, Keckeisen, Noah Glaser (197) and Tyrell Gordon (285) will all likely wrestle two ranked opponents.

Come Tuesday, Northern Iowa could see either Arizona State, Virginia Tech or Hofstra. Arizona State features eight ranked wrestlers, Virginia Tech has eight (and already beat Northern Iowa earlier this season) and Hofstra has four.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.