The chill in the air is getting me in the mood for Wrestling season. Every year Kevin & I make our pre-season picks. Somehow magically my pre-season ones turn out to be better than my picks the week of the finals. I think it's from some unrealistic expectation that 10 guys will go through the season undefeated and unscathed. Last year was probably the most "star-studded" lineup of pre-season #1's we had in a decade, and only one wrestler was an undefeated national champion (little guy named David Taylor) at the end of 2014.
125- Nahshon Garret (Cornell) is my pick here. While returning 2-time national champ Jesse Delgado (Illinois) deserves the pre-season #1, I think Garrett will end up on top. Some of the best coaching in the country will have Garrett continue to thrive and get better. Also, the stalling rules could seriously affect Delgado. Delgado stalls on top and on his feet. If there was a ref in the finals last year not afraid to put his fist in the air, Garrett likely wins the match. Watch out for Gilman (Iowa) though. Remember when he was Iowa's backup and then won the Midlands? A year as a starter could make him a contender.
133- AJ Schopp (Edinboro) is kind of the favorite by default. 133 will be filled with capable guys who are very good, but it's tough to know who those are at this point. Almost everybody at the end of the NCAA's last year were seniors. Now maybe Cory Clark (Iowa) up a weight may be the guy that emerges as the biggest challenge to Schopp.
141- Logan Steiber (Ohio State)....even the greats trip up now and then. Expect him to have challengers, but still get another title.
149- Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern) was my pick last year, and I'm sticking with him this year. Hunter Steiber (Ohio State) comes off of redshirt and is clearly the #2 heading in to the season. Oddly enough, it doesn't look like they will cross paths until the Big Ten tournament.
157- James Green (Nebraska) looked like a man pissed off and possessed that he got caught in a Ness roll in the quarters. Let's remember he crushed Isaac Jordan (Wisconsin) 15-0 and Ian Miller (Kent State) 13-1 on his way to take 3rd. He then gave one of the best post-tournament interviews I've ever heard. If he still has that fire, guys may want to think about other weight classes.
165- Nick Moore (Iowa) had a rough NCAA tournament. You don't sleep on guys from Bloomsburg! Before the finals he was the 3rd best wrestler in the weight behind DT & Monk (btw can we still be upset about Monk being seeded 4th?). Those two guys are gone and I'm going to chalk up that tourny to injury or illness. Plus I sat behind his mom at Madison and she seemed like a really nice lady. You have to think him being a 5th year Senior with David Taylor graduating who has never been an all-american, this is a year he is ready to start.
174- Robert Kokesh (Nebraska) is my pick. I think he is the best wrestler at this weight in the country, but this weight will be a battle. Last year Howe and Perry were the roadblocks. This year whoever emerges from the Big Ten should make it.
184- Gabe Dean (Cornell) went 40-3 last year as a "greyshirt" Freshman and took 3rd. His losses were to Ed Ruth, Jimmy Sheptock, and Ed Ruth. He also beat Ed Ruth snapping a streak of 5,439 wins. Can't really make a case for anyone else here.
197- Kyven Gadson (Iowa State) is my pick. Yes, I know J'Den Cox is the returning NCAA Champ and deserves to be #1. Last year Gadson had two losses coming in to the NCAA's (both to Schiller (Minnesota). He owned a win over J'Den Cox but was somehow seeded 5th when everyone thought he would be seeded 1st. He then lost to Schiller twice at NCAA's and took 4th. That's right he went 1-4 vs Schiller in 2014 and 29-0 against everyone else. Unfortunately for Gadson, Schiller didn't graduate. However, I think he solves the riddle and wins it all.
285- Adam Coon (Michigan) is the best wrestler at heavyweight this season. Obviously Gwiazdowski (NC State) and McMullan (Northwestern) are major challenges. I do believe Coon is the best wrestler. If he wrestles like it in March, he will be on top of the podium. Let's remember he was a true freshman heavyweight last year.