It's mid August, which means that summer is over, wrestlers are returning to their respective campuses, and I can start making predictions on who will win championships WAY too early. With that being said, I'll continue my posts on other studs around the country who I trust will win a national championship. With that being said, Nico Megaludis in his first three years has managed to bring home hardware, it just wasn't quite the color he was looking for.
In his first three years wrestling at Penn State, which consequently were his three years on campus, he placed 2nd, 2nd, and 3rd. His freshman year he upset Zach Sanders of Minnesota to make the finals, ultimately losing to Matt McDonough, who was collecting his 2nd title in three years. Sophomore year, he's back and on a tear. He was able to beat eventual champ Jesse Delgado at the All Star Classic, which sadly began a theme of beating Delgado when it didn't really matter. His sophomore year included wins over Nashon Garrett, as well as a semi final win over #1 seeded Alan Waters of Missouri. With that being said, Delgado came through when it mattered most, winning a National Championship after a lot of crazy scrambling ended in the cradle pictured above. Both of these dudes are masters of scrambling, but he happened to end up on the wrong end of this one.
Entering Nico's junior year, he was ranked 2nd in the country, only behind defending champ Jesse Delgado. However, he lost a match early in the year to third ranked Nashon Garrett. It was a rough year in that regard. He ended up on the same side of the bracket as Garrett, and dropped a close 6-4 decision to him in the semi finals. At this point, Nico Megaludis has had about as successful a college career without actually winning a National Championship. However, I doubt that this is what he had in mind when he came to Penn State after wining three Pennsylvania State Titles, and accumulating a 170-1 record.
The way I see it, there are two ways to approach getting that close and not reaching your goals. Freak out and figure you won't actually get there, or re commit yourself, and figure out how you won't come up short the next time. I figure that Nico took this last year as a red shirt year with that in mind. I don't believe he was running from Garrett or Delgado by any means, but more so I imagine taking a break from the grind of college wrestling, focusing on getting better and helping the team reload, will help him enter this season with a fury we haven't seen before from Megaludis. Yeah, we have a defending National Champ returning in the Big Ten, but I would make the argument that Tomasello loses to a healthy McDonough, Delgado, or Garrett, much like Nico did when he met them in the finals. It is going to be interesting to see how much better Nico could have gotten (considering he was capable of beating anyone in the country already), but the only person returning at 125 that could beat him would be Garrett, who is bumping up to 133. The Big Ten is returning 3 other All Americans at that weight, including a National Champ, but I don't feel that any of them can match what Nico is going to bring this year, which is a relentless pursuit of a goal he has yet to accomplish. Do work Nico, do work.
Spoiler alert, Brancale didn't test Megaludis.