Below is the blog without some of the interactive pieces. Click on this link to see the original post. http://claunchinator.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/its-wrestling-season-kind-of/
Okay, so we are legitimately a ways away from college wrestling season from starting. Try outs and organized practices should be getting going in another couple weeks, but realistically, kids probably just got back to campus within the last two weeks. It doesn’t matter though, I’m ready for it to begin. Not a whole lot to touch base on other than some (really) early season predictions, mention some news that I’ve heard, and predict who is going to win it all (it’s not too early right? Should I also predict next seasons results? No, too early for that). This last year was pretty impressive, with multiple returning national champions, however many of them graduated. This has left some of the weight classes almost wide open, while others will be like like running a marathon while being punched in the face just to become an All American (141, I’m looking at you). 133, 165, 174, 184, and HWY have National Champions graduating (174 had two graduate and HWY had a former 2xer and 3x finalist graduate), leaving the door open for some guys working a long time for their shot at a title. However, I want to get started with the teams.
In my eyes Minnesota is the clear favorite coming back. Overall, I believe their team from last season was better than the one coming into this season, but there have been a lot of teams lose some studs from last season, these guys just lost less and historically do a phenomenal job of reloading and recruiting. The only thing that they are losing from last years lineup are Steinhaus (admittedly a multiple time All American, but I’m not worried about them reloading there), Thorn at 133 (5th at 133 last year), Tony Nelson (2x champs, 3x finalist, I know that’s hard to lose), and word on the street is that they will have to get someone to fill the 174 spot because Storley may be dropping to 165 (moving forward, I’m just assuming that is not happening, but it’s certainly out there). They have studs at every other weight class, and with Storley at either 174 or165 (for whatever reason that always seemed to be the most difficult spot for them to fill, at least in the last 5-7 years), and their history of reloading with top notch talent, I see them taking it all this year. Not to mention they will have National Championship contenders in Ness, Storley, and Schiller. All Americans in 125, 141, 149, and I’m assuming that 1 or 2 of their incumbent wrestlers will be ready to AA right away. The rest of the top 10 includes Cornell, Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Northwestern, Edinboro, and Nebraska. Realistically, anyone in the top 8 has a shot at a National title in my eyes this year, but Minnesota comes back with the most known commodities in my eyes. On to the weight classes!
Jesse Delgado lost a couple times in the regular season in the last two years, but he seems to put it together in March, having won the last to NCAA championships at 125. Everyone in the top 8 from last season returns for this season, and assuming they are all the same weight class (Cory Clark from Iowa is bumping up to 133, but he’s being replaced at 125 by Thomas Gilman, who should AA easily), I don’t see much changing. Rumor is that Alan Waters from Missouri may be dropping back down to 125, and honestly he may be the toughest for Delgado, or anyone else for that matter, to get through. He is a monster on top, and without the annoying ankle hold/stalling tactic that Delgado has mastered. It should be impressive to see what happens though. Can some of the young guys jump up a notch to become champs this year? If so, my money is on Joey Dance or Earl Hall (and old Junior) to make the leap into National Championship contention. My condolences to Nico for never winning a National Title.
133 AJ Schopp
I’m not exactly blowing the doors off of the hinges with these first two predictions, but with 7 of the top 12 guys in this weight class graduating, it’s a pretty simple decision. There are some young guys going into their Sophomore and Junior seasons, but I just think that Schopp has been around for long enough, has beaten some of the best at this weight already (including last years NCAA champ), and it’s his time to win (also, he has bad ass flannel shoes). Some sleepers are Cory Clark from Iowa, bumping up a weight class from 125. In the end, I believe this will help him out as he appeared to be cutting a TON of weight from last year to get down to 125. Additionally Rossi Bruno from Michigan could have the year many expected him to have coming out as a 5x Florida State Champ… Also I’m a huge homer.
141 Logan Stieber
I’m very confident in this pic, but just throwing this out there, has he gotten much better since his freshman year? It’s strange that I’m nitpicking what should be a 4x NCAA Champ, but I’m not really sure that he has improved much. Maybe he was just a little small for 141 last year. Maybe he just took Retherford lighly going into their match. Maybe he beat Maple at the All Star Classic last year and thought that this year was going to be a cake walk having already wrestled some really accomplished guys (and beaten many of them) on the senior level in Freestyle. Who knows, but I want to see a big year from Logan this year, and I trust that we will. I don’t believe he loses a match and it’s just possible that he actually finishes a match this way with his bar arm series and chicken wings.
I may be a homer for Michigan, but I am not blind, and this is one of my favorite wrestlers in the country to watch. This weight class is stacked though. I heard that Devin Carter from VA Tech may be jumping up to 149 (I don’t blame him, quite frankly, every Senior here with championship aspirations , not named Logan Stieber, should go up or down) but assuming he stays at 141, 10 of the top 12 are returning, and 7 of the top 8 are Seniors (Zain Retherford being the only Sophomore).
149 Hunter Stieber
Ohio State could indeed be in the top 3 (or win it all for that matter) if the Stiebers perform as I expect them to. Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern) won the title last year as a Freshman, beating Josh Kindig (Oklahoma State, a 9 loss wrestler with a great NCAA tournament) in the finals in a close match. I expect to see Tsirtsis back in the finals, but Stieber should be fresh at 149 this next year and having come off of a red shirt, could certainly put together an NCAA championship season. Hell, he beat Kellen Russell (Michigan) a couple years ago as a true freshman. Kellen ended up winning his second consecutive NCAA championship that year, so there you go. Sleepers for this weight class could be Drake Houdashelt (Missouri), who entered the NCAA tournament last year as the 1 seed, ultimately losing in the semi’s to Tsirtsis, but he could certainly win it all. Additionally, Jake Sueflohn (Nebraska), who has somehow never become an All American, certainly has a shot.
157 James Green
I specifically chose this picture because it helped me make my pick. Watching Ian Miller (Kent State) wrestle this summer in freestyle helped me get an idea of how spectacular a wrestler he is. I wanted so badly to make Ian Miller my pick. Look what he did to Tyler Caldwell (2x NCAA finalist, lost in the finals to David Taylor and Jordan Burroughs). Check it out at the 1:00 mark if you are impatient.
This guy is a monster, and I trust that he will improve in the off season, as it looks like he already has. However, after Dylan Ness (Minnesota) beat James Green in the quarter finals of the NCAA tournament with his patented garbage roll (not hating, it’s just a garbage roll), Green destroyed everyone else in the tournament, ultimately destroying Ian Miller to take 3rd place. I have been on the James Green fan train for 3 years now, so it’s hard for me to just jump off now. To me, this doesn’t seem to be the same as the Eric Grajales roller coaster that I was in the front row of. James may lose a match or two, but A), this weight class is stacked, especially in the big 10, and B) Historically he tries to coast to wins when he should keep his feet on the gas. I see him winning it all, but Dylan Ness, and Ian Miller have legit chances at winning this as well.
165, Taylor Massa
I’m not trying to make a ballsy pick here and stir things up. If I wanted to do that, I would have picked Ian MIller at 157. 165 is a stacked weight class and has a ton of talent, and national championship contenders. The pre season number 1 is Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State), who won the championship a year ago at 157, and is bumping up to 165. This weight class is losing a lot of top heavy talent in David Taylor (Penn State), Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma State), etc… In fact, 8 of the top 12 in last years 165 were Seniors. It is a relatively fresh group of young and talented guys fighting for this spot, and I don’t think that there is any reason that Massa, coming off of a red shirt year, and not having to adjust to a new weight class, can’t win a national title this year. He is going in being ranked 8th by the Associated Wrestling Press (AWP), but I watched him dismantle Pierce Harger (Northwestern), who is currently ranked 4th and took 8th last year. I think he tech’ed him in the 2nd. Either way, that’s my pick, and he may be thought of as a dark horse going in, but my other dark horse pick is Taylor Walsh of Indiana. This dude may lose 8 to 10 matches on the year, but he throws hay makers all day long and if he adjusts well to 165 (he is bumping up from 157), and has a big NCAA tournament, he could do it. I’ve certainly seen stranger things happen in March.
174, Mike Evans
I feel like if I didn’t make this pick, my facial hair would just stop growing and my chest hair would all fall out. I don’t remember the last time that Iowa didn’t have at least 1 National Champ, and I don’t think that this is going to be the year. 174 had the top two guys graduate this year, leaving the top 4, being the 4 young studs, who now happen to be old studs. There are 4 seniors (Evans, Storley of Minnesota, Kokesh of Nebraska, and Brown of Penn State) who placed 3-6 last year at NCAA’s and whose losses were only to the other guys in the top 6, and to nobody below them. Each of them lost and beat one another at any point last year, which is what makes this so much fun. I just like Evans the most and feel like he will be extra crazy in March. Something happens when people realize that this is their last chance, and I trust that Mike Evans will realize that, and it will make him go completely insane. Realistically, I only see one of those top 4 guys winning this championship, but Mike Ottinger of Central Michigan University has an interesting body type and he gave both Howe (Wisconson, er, Oklahoma) and Perry (Oklahoma State) some trouble last year.
184, Gabe Dean
Hey, remember when Gabe Dean beat Ed Ruth(Penn State) last year? That was stupid, but in a good way. Dean had a spectacular Freshman year, beating the unbeatable Ed Ruth, and proving that it wasn’t a fluke by taking 3rd in the country, losing the rematch to Ruth in the semi finals. He comes in as the clear cut favorite to win it all, considering both of the guys that placed above him have graduated, as have much of the competition that he will face this year. Like 165, there was a lot of talent last year that is now gone, but unlike 165, it’s pretty clear who should win this. Dark horse pick is Blake Stauffer from Arizona State. He is young and talented, but didn’t have much to work with in the way of coaching staff (I’m just assuming considering that they were all fired) or wrestling partners last year. He now has a new coaching staff, and they are bringing in some studs in new recruits and a world class coaching staff to wrestle with and learn from.
197, J’Den Cox
My man J’Den. We’re friends on Twitter, but that has nothing to do with me making this pick. Really it’s simple. The dude is a total monster, won it all as a true Freshman (at 197, where full grown men try to kill each other, not 125 where little dudes hit low singles and roll around) in rather convincing fashion. I mean, he won in overtime, but I bet if you wrestled that match 10 times, he wins them all, and that was the closest that it was ever going to get. He is going to get stronger, smarter, and learn how to continue to separate himself from the competition. My “dark horse” is going to be Phil Wellington (Ohio), who didn’t place last year, but had a great year, is entering this year at 8, and looks like he can improve as well. Morgan McIntosh (Penn State) should be a threat, as well as Scott Schiller (Minnesota).
285, Adam Coon
I don’t know what happened to Coon last year at the end of the season. I know what I watched, which was his opponents at Big Tens run away throughout the entire match, without getting called for stalling AT ALL, and he ended up getting frustrated and ended up putting himself in bad position to try to win, but ultimately losing. I wasn’t at NCAA’s, but I feel like the results there have got to be from similar issues. It was truly refreshing watching him wrestling in the world championships where people are forced to wrestle him instead of run and see what he is capable of. He was ranked #1 in the country, and for good reason, being undefeated and beating the defending 2x NCAA champ recently. He ultimately went down in the round of 12, but I’m sticking with him to ultimately finish this year strong and win it all. My dark horse pick is not really a dark horse, but rather Mike McMullen (Northwestern), who I just feel like deserves to show us what he can do when he is healthy, and I think he can do quite a lot.
Well, it’s September 7th, legitimately 2 months away from wrestling season beginning, and I’m ready to roll. I may have to dust off my shoes and get back on the mats this week. November can’t get here fast enough. Here is something to hold you over, many thanks to Flowrestling for what they do.