Lock Haven All-American Anthony Noto (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
Over the next week, InterMat will unveil its annual, year-end conference awards. Each day will feature a new conference. Award winners have been selected by InterMat's editor and respective conference correspondent(s).
2022-23 InterMat MAC Wrestler of the Year: Anthony Noto (Lock Haven)
Just a year after taking home InterMat's Freshman (or rookie) of the Year honors, Anthony Noto has moved up to win the MAC Wrestler of the Year award. Noto was the highest-placing wrestler from the MAC finishing fourth at the 125 lb weight class for Lock Haven. In Tulsa, Noto posted wins over two past All-Americans (Eric Barnett - Wisconsin and Killian Cardinale - West Virginia), along with the 2023 Big Ten runner-up, Liam Cronin (Nebraska). In order to secure a place on the NCAA podium, Noto downed Rutgers freshman Dean Peterson 3-1 in the bloodround.
Before the NCAA Tournament, Noto claimed his second MAC title in as many tries. After a couple of close bouts in the early rounds, Noto left no doubt by majoring Jake Ferri (Kent State) 8-0 for the conference crown. Through two full years of competition, Noto has not lost to a MAC opponent in duals or tournaments.
Noto's second MAC title gave him an 18-match winning streak heading into the national tournament. For his body of work, Noto was given the eighth seed at 125 lbs. That was quickly proven to be too low as Noto certainly outperformed that seed.
Through two years of competition at Lock Haven, Noto sports a 65-7 record. He managed to tally five falls this season among his 34 victories.
George Mason national qualifier Nathan Higley (Photo courtesy of Art Pittman; George Mason athletics)
2022-23 InterMat MAC Freshman of the Year: Nathan Higley (George Mason)
It was in late December that George Mason redshirt freshman Nathan Higley may have first caught the eye of college wrestling fans nationwide. That was when Higley got on the podium at the 2022 Midlands Championships, finishing eighth at 149 lbs. Higley notched wins over a trio of returning NCAA qualifiers in Marshall Keller (Princeton), Graham Rooks (Indiana), and Jarod Verkleeren (Virginia). The Rooks win (by fall) looks even better in hindsight as the Hoosier upset fourth-seeded Caleb Henson (Virginia Tech) at the NCAA Tournament and made the quarterfinals.
After the Midlands, Higley hit a rough patch, but headed into the postseason after winning three of his final four bouts. Though he didn't earn an allocation for the MAC, Higley pinned a pair of wrestlers who did to earn a spot in the MAC finals. Since the conference was given five slots for the NCAA Tournament, Higley's fall over second-seeded Ryan Burgos (Edinboro) in the semifinals, punched his ticket to Tulsa. A match early he pinned Quinn Kinner (Rider) the third seed.
Higley's berth in the MAC finals made him the first wrestler to make the conference championship match since George Mason moved into the conference for the 2019-20 season.
Though he did not win a match in Tulsa, Higley gained valuable experience with matches against 2021 All-American Yahya Thomas (Northwestern) and Oklahoma State's redshirt freshman Victor Voinovich.
Clarion head coach Keith Ferraro (Photo courtesy of Clarion athletics)
2022-23 InterMat MAC Coach of the Year: Keith Ferraro (Clarion)
The Golden Eagles have continued to rise under Keith Ferraro's leadership and in 2022-23 they hit some significant milestones. 184 lb MAC champion Will Feldkamp finished in seventh place at the NCAA Tournament and gave Ferraro his first All-American as a head coach. During Feldkamp's consolation run, he knocked off a pair of Big Ten wrestlers seeded above him (#9 Isaiah Salazar - Minnesota and #13 Lenny Pinto - Nebraska). He concluded his tournament by pinning North Carolina's Gavin Kane in the first period.
Feldkamp was one of three wrestlers for Clarion competing at the NCAA Championships. All three were MAC finalists in 2023, which was the most for the school since moving to the MAC and the most since 2018 when they competed in the EWL.
Along with Feldkamp, Seth Koleno also came away with a conference title (141 lbs). That marked the first time since 2016 that Clarion crowned multiple conference champions.
Feldkamp was the only wrestler that earned an NCAA allocation for the MAC so Koleno and John Worthing had to outperform their pre-tournament seeds to go to nationals. Worthing was able to grab a pair of wins in Tulsa, including a major decision over #16 Sam Wolf (Air Force), while Koleno pinned Bloomsburg's Josh Mason in a MAC finals rematch.
As a team, Clarion was third at the 2023 MAC Championships an improvement from their fifth-place showing a year ago.
During the regular season, Clarion amassed an 11-6 dual record. Most notable were wins against typical MAC powers Lock Haven and Central Michigan. The win over Lock Haven was Clarion's second in three years, after dropping the previous five meetings.
2022 Award Winners
MAC Wrestler of the Year: Matt Stencel (Central Michigan)
MAC Coach of the Year: Scott Moore (Lock Haven)
MAC Rookie (Freshman) of the Year: Anthony Noto (Lock Haven)