Through a variety of reasons, every year there are a host of wrestlers who are very lowly seeded or not seeded at all looking to crash the party. Wrestlers often say the records are gone once the brackets are drawn and that is actually true. In Wrestling, we don't decide the best matchups and wait for our pre-determined selections to face each other in the finals. The winner of each moves on even if you're a 1 seed from Iowa or an unseeded wrestler from a school most did not know exist. So who will make a splash this year like Kevin Jack (North Carolina State) did last season? It's tough to tell, but here are some guys I have my eye on.
125- Alfredo Rodriguez (SIU-Edwardsville)
- Better known as Freddie, he was a 3-time State Champion in Michigan (out of Lansing) headed to Oklahoma, and things didn't work out. He then won a JUCO title for Iowa Lakes before headed to Southern Illinois in Edwardsville. He is drawn in against Joey Dance (Virginia Tech) after winning the SOCON. He was not able to compete the first semester. He lost to Wyoming's Drew Templeman 9-8 for his only loss on the season and has a 15-1 record. After the SOCON performance, it appears Freddie may be ready (see what I did there?) to make a surprise run at the podium.
133- Robert Deutsch (Rider)
- The senior is currently ranked 13th by Intermat, but is unseeded at the Garden. He went 0-3 at the EMU Duals to start the season, but has been 20-2 since and won the EWL. This is a dangerous wrestler with a lot of experience who appears to be healthy and ready to finally get the All-American finish.
141- #14 Bryce Meredith (Wyoming)
- Meredith was a starter two seasons ago for NC State at 133 and went 15-7. He may have seen the writing on the wall with Kevin Jack, and transferred home to the Cowboys (as a native of Cheyenne). He enters the Garden with a record of 25-4 with two of those losses being one point defeats to Heil (Oklahoma State) and Thorn (Minnesota). If he wins his first round match, he will face Jack and former practice partner matches are always weird. Meredith also likes to pin so if anything, his matches are usually entertaining.
149- #14 Mitch Finesilver (Duke)
- Intermat currently has him ranked #9, but he enters New York with the #14 seed. He has had some ups and downs to the season, but since his 5th place finish at the Southern Scuffle his only losses are to Tsirtsis (Northwestern) and Henderson (North Carolina). His draw is favorable with a banged up Lavion Mayes (Missouri) and a sputtering Tsirtsis in his quarter bracket. Maybe the 2-time Colorado state champ out of Cherry Creek and one half of twins can make an unexpected appearance in the semis.
157- Aaron Walker (The Citadel)
- He is honestly one of the best wrestlers to watch in D1. He is a pinner, long, and seems to have the grip strength of 1,000 men. The Citadel has a dangerous 157 who can win matches anywhere so keep an eye on him as he's out there. Something exciting will happen. Speaking of exciting, he drew Ian Miller (Kent State). Miller may not be ready to go after defaulting out of the MAC, and this opens up this section of the bracket to someone surprising.
165- Austin Trott (Gardner-Webb)
- Trott was mentioned on Episode #2 of Bloodround, we won't go in to the reason why. He has hovered in and out of the rankings the last couple seasons. After a slow start to the season, the SOCON champ only has one loss since the Southern Scuffle. He has a tall draw against Dieringer (Oklahoma State), but should make some noise in the bracket.
174- #6 Bryce Hammond (California State Bakersfield)
- So a #6 seed isn't much of a longshot especially when you consider he was an All-American two seasons ago. His previous season was cut short with a shoulder injury. He lost his second match of the season and then dropped a pair at the Southern Scuffle to the #1 and #2 seeds at this tournament: Nickal (Penn State) & Realbuto (Cornell). Those are his three losses and I think the bottom half of this bracket is for the taking making a semifinal rematch with Realbuto very possible. Watch out for this Roadrunner, because this ranking is not just because of a pretty record. Oh, and he is a pinner who is fun to watch too.
184- #10 Nate Brown (Lehigh)
- He was in the NCAA Finals last year losing to Gabe Dean (Cornell) 6-2. Actually, four of his six losses were to Dean last year. Before his two losses at the EIWA's last weekend, he had two losses this whole year: Dean & Dudley (Nebraska). How he ended up with the 10-seed is confusing. Sure, wrestling at Lehigh doesn't always have you in the spotlight so if you are betting on someone to beat their seed, this is your guy. I also like the draw. Dudley and Brooks (Iowa) can be beat and suddenly he's in the semi-finals.
197- #7 Brett Harner (Princeton)
- The Junior from Norristown, Pennsylvania won Princeton's first EIWA championship in 13 years. The growth of the Princeton program has been incredible, and it's one of those things that doesn't happen overnight. There are no easy draws at 197, but Harner enters the tournament with a 33-3 record and hopes to bring an All-American honor back to the emerging program.
285- Riley Shaw (Cleveland State)
- Shaw is a senior from Ohio entering the tournament with a 28-5 record and a 2nd EWL title. He entered the tournament last season with a 31-4 record, but went a disappointing 1-2 performance. Shaw is a talent at heavyweight and the senior will be a very tough out at the Garden. He drew Marsden (Oklahoma State), who I almost chose to highlight since he is also under-appreciated. Shaw should make some noise as many wins are for the taking to land on the podium with the major conferences not being as deep at heavyweight as previous seasons. In any way you cut it, Shaw has been one of the best big guys in the country in the past couple seasons.