The Midlands championships. This is one of the best tournaments of the year for a plethera of reasons. First of all, it is great competition for even the high end programs, so many of the nations best wrestlers will be there. Secondly, anyone can wrestle in it. Dan Gable could decide that he wants one more Midlands title to add to his resume, and sign up for next years event (don't kid yourself, he'd still win it). We have openly discussed Chris Bono putting in work against Cyler Sanderson a couple years back (although from the looks of it, he didn't have to work too hard), and it's always cool to see names like Montell Marion, or Darrion Caldwell, thrown into the mix. Thirdly, it is never one of those tournaments that ends the way you think it will. Last year Iowa's backup, better known these days as Thomas Gilman, went out and beat the defending National Champion in the finals. Remember when then relatively unknown Devin Carter beat Tony Ramos in the finals? Remember when Jordan Burroughs entered the day of, and won all of the weight classes, 165 and up? Okay, one of those hasn't happened (yet), but it could. It's the Midlands. Crazy stuff is about to go down, and it's my job to predict how it is going to go down. I don't want anyone to try to predict themselves and end up getting hurt. Let's leave this up to a professional (and by professional, I mean someone who is paid by someone else to do something completely unrelated). Also, I want that hat above.
This weight class has defending Midlands Champ seeded 2nd and the defending NCAA Champ seeded 1st. Typically I would agree, but I don't believe that Delgado has wrestled yet this year, and I do believe that Gilman beat him the only time that they wrestled one another. Again, tough to make the case that the defending Champ shouldn't be seeded 1st, but it's also tough to make the case that the winner of the big ten should be seeded 5th at NCAA's and 3rd place at Big Tens be seeded 2nd at NCAA's in the same weight class, but that happened. In the end, Gilman wrestles in the Iowa room, and Delgado hasn't wrestled yet this year in live competition. I see him being upset by either Darrion Cruz of Lehigh or Martinez of Air Force, with Gilman winning the Midlands in the end. I still believe Delgado wins his third NCAA title this year, but he's never been one of those untouchable guys, and it's hard to have your first tournament back be the MIdlands. Watch out for Micic of Northwestern. I see him upsetting Joey Dance before eventually falling to Gilman in the quarter finals.
This weight class is quietly stacked. It's not 165 stacked, but it's pretty good. We've got the number 1 ranked wrestler in the country in AJ Schopp of Edinboro. We have Cory Clark of Iowa, as well as Jarrod Garnett, formerly of Virginia Tech, as well as Zane Richards of Illinois to round out the top 4 seeds. Garnett could sneak into the finals with a win over Clark, although I'm not sure that happens. He seems to always wrestle in this tournament and always seems to find a way to screw it up. Although I did begin this post by talking about how we can never predict what is going to happen, so I say Garnett beats Clark. Unfortunately for Garnett, I believe Schopp will have left a trail of beaten and broken men on his way to a dominant Midlands championship.
Port looks really good. Unfortunately, so does Devin Carter. A third unfortunate circumstance, is that Richard Durso, aka Big Dick Durso, aka BDD, aka BDSquared, is also here. Trying to do my best to not over think this (shouldn't be hard for me), I am going with Port to win this one. Although Devin Carter did come back from the muscle being ripped from femur to make the NCAA Finals... Hmmm... CARTER IT IS!!! Sorry Port, you have awesome shoes and you win lots of matches, but Devin Carter is a man on a mission, and that mission is to take 2nd once more at the NCAA championships to @logiebear. I see BDD giving Carter a tough match, but I think that will help prepare Carter for another battle in the finals.
This is where things can get really funky. Tsirtsis from Northwestern is the defending National Champ, although he is certainly not going to get a ton of major decisions or techs with his style. If you get someone in there who is a bit funky, and can push the pace, I see him possibly having a slip up. On the other hand, it isn't as if he has never wrestled anyone funky before, and this is essentially a Home Tournament for the Northwestern Wildcat wrestlers. On the other side of the bracket, you have 3rd ranked David Habat has what appears to me, a cakewalk to the finals. The 3 seed is Brody Grothus of Iowa, who appears to be taking a red shirt year. He also may not be able to beat Brandon Sorensen in his own room, who is ranked 10th nationally, and seeded 8th somehow at this very tournament. I'm not a believer in Grothus posing a huge threat to anyone here, so I see Habat in the finals. Back to the other side of the bracket, I'm going with the upset of Adam Krop of Princeton over Tsirtsis of Northwestern. He is a senior, who has historically wrestled very well at this tournament. Midlands are funky, and so is Krop. Habat ultimately takes this championship in my opinion. He may not be tested all day, and should be fresh for the finals.
This is the most weak weight class of the tournament with only the top three seeds being ranked nationally in the top 20 (9th, 14th and 16th). Isaiah Martinez, or iMart (one of the super clever nicknames given out...) is the highest ranked wrestler, was one of the (if not the) top recruits in the country two years ago, and he should win it all. He's currently undefeated and has been rather dominant in his matches thus far, despite not really wrestling anyone noteworthy. I'm going with Markus Scheidel to get the upset over Brandon Zeerip of Eastern Michigan to make his way into the finals. I am going with Zeerip to upset Pack in the quarters, because I'm a homer and that's what I do (Go Eagles, EMU coached by two Chippewas by the way). I like what is happening at Columbia, and was impressed with their wrestlers when I was able to see them this year. Either way, iMart with the championship here.
Whoever is in the finals in this weight class will absolutely deserve to be there. It's a shame that there can only be one champ, but that's the way it is. It's got to be such a bitch to finally have David Taylor gone, and yet still have to go through hell just to end up as an All American this year. Anyway, not only do you have all of this years college wrestling studs, but you also have Nestor Taffur (bloodround guy at 157 for Boston University, rip) who is wrestling in the tournament as well. Dude is seeded 6th!!! That means that the seeding committee legitimately figures that there are at least 5 guys better than he is. I'm sorry for stating the obvious, but I'm not sure that's the case. Regardless, I see him upsetting Nick Moore of Iowa, before losing to Taylor Walsh in the semi's. Walsh and Taffur had an absolute blood bath of a match at NCAA's last year with Taffur coming out on top, but I just don't see Walsh allowing that to happen again. On the other end of the bracket we have Isaac Jordan (COUSIN of Bo Jordan) along with Pierce Harger of NW and Jackson Morse of Illinois. I'm going with Morse over Harger followed by Jordan over Morse to get in the finals. It turns out the Jordan's are really good at wrestling, but I'm still going with my man Taylor to get this one. He has too many big moves, and he seems so hungry this year for a championship, that I predict he will avenge his earlier loss to Isaac.
Mike Evans is a monster. Even without the mustache he appears to be just as tough (I know, it doesn't seem right, but it is). Part of me wants to predict that it will be an all Iowa finals with Evans meeting Alex Meyer in the finals, so that's what I'm doing. Meyer placed 7th at Midlands last year, and 4th at University Nationals. He also has the unfortunate task of being punched in the face by Mike Evans on the daily. For that reason alone, I feel he will knock off the 2 and 3 seeds on his way to being punched in the face again by Mike Evans. He thought he was going to get a day off, but it just wasn't meant to be. If that doesn't happen though, Brock Gutches makes the finals. Homeboy wrestled tough in the All Star match against now number 1 ranked Robert Kokesh and yet he is seeded 7th. That's stupid. The 6th or 7 seeds are making the finals here.
Lorenzo Thomas enters this as the number 1 seed, with Jack Dechow of Old Dominion slipping in as the 2 seed. This is a sneaky deep weight class as well, and it will be interesting to see how this unfolds. Rather than going off the hinges with these predictions, I'm going to go with the boring picks here. I see this being a 1 vs 2 finals, with Thomas sneaking out the win. I'm picking that based on the fact that he is a Senior, and his only loss on the year being a 5-3 decision to Max Thomusseit of Pitt, the now number 1 ranked guy in the Country. Also, Lorenzo Thomas is a bad ass name.
Abe Ayala is going into this seeded 3rd, and ranked 10th in the Country. The dude has beaten a lot of the guys he would need to beat to get to the finals, and has a 9-8 loss to Polizzi, who is the 2 seed. I see him avenging that loss and meeting Nathan Burak of Iowa. Burak is tough, but the last time he wrestled was November 15th, so I think he has a chance at being caught by a tough wrestler. Ayala gets it done. #inthehunt.
Mike McMullan in a war at Heavyweight loses to Bobby Telford. I am happy to see McMullan wrestling well, and I want to see him get it done this year, but I completely changed my opinion on Bobby Telford when I saw the poster above. I like to think that poster is based on everyday occurrences of hawks just befriending Bobby and frequently landing on his arms or shoulders. He wrestles like he is trying to kill the other person, and I think he will get the upset win over McMullan. This gives me 4 (possibly 5) Iowa wrestlers in the finals. I see them winning the tournament rather easily.