As we head in to the Midlands and the Southern Scuffle, this week is a tournament week that we usually find out a lot heading in to the conference dual season. What are the major story lines this week?
1) The Freshmen: It seems every year we are eager to see the freshmen at the major tournaments, but this does seem exceptional. Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) heads to the Scuffle to follow up the greatest collegiate debut since Kolat pinned Zadick. Brock will face a loaded 133 lb bracket that includes Nahshon Garrett (Cornell). Other Cowboy freshmen have been in the headlines all season. Will we see Jojo Smith unattached? How will Chance Marsteller fare? Oklahoma State seems to have a window here to claim a National Title, and Jojo Smith may prove he's by far the best chance to do it.
Penn State's National Championship hopes hinge on a couple freshmen in Nolf & Nickal. If they continue to live up to the billing, it's tough to imagine someone running them down.
Michigan's Logan Massa has torn through open tournaments and qualified for the Olympic Trials. We are expected to see him at 165 where Dieringer reigns. However, another strong showing could pressure the Wolverines to take the redshirt off of Massa in a similar situation Oklahoma State faces.
Joey McKenna (Stanford) appears to be firing on all cylinders this year and will look to take the 141 bracket at the Scuffle.
2) David Taylor wrestling in the Midlands will be awesome. Will he be at 184 or 197? Not sure what his walking around weight is, but we know he weighed in at 189 in Vegas. Will he wrestle 197 to get used to moving the bigger guys around as preparation for the Trials at the bigger weight?
3) Andrew Long: Does he show up to the Midlands? Is he the best 141 lb guy in the country? The loaded bracket will likely include Ashnault (Rutgers), Jack (NC State), Mecate (Old Dominion), Durso (F&M), and Abidin (Nebraska).
4) Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern): Another former champ with struggles is going to face tough competition with Sorensen (Iowa) in particular. There could be as many as nine other ranked guys in the bracket as well to give anyone fits who may be struggling. Conjecture over one loss can easily snowball out of proportion, but it is possible to see more adversity here.
5) Amarveer Dhesi (Oregon State): Dhesi, a Canadian, beat Adam Coon (Michigan) in freestyle and won the 2013 Junior World Championships since the Georgian didn't pass his drug test. Dhesi did not compete last year out with an injury but has looked much better than he did his freshman season 2013-14. A field at the Midlands including 2-time NCAA Champ Gwiazdowski (NC State) will be an interesting test to how Dhesi can start having the same success in Folkstyle.
6) Righting the Ship: Early season struggles are common and we see them every year. This week gives a chance to see a lot of guys get back on the right foot that we haven't mentioned year. Past results would indicate better records at this point but it's early to panic. Still it's interesting to keep an eye on a list of guys that include Beckman (Lehigh), Jordan (Wisconsin), Bruno (Michigan), Youtsey (Michigan), Durso (F&M), Megaludis (Penn State), Henderson (North Carolina), Moisey (West Virginia), etc.