The brackets are out for the big dance, and that means it’s time for my favorite writing of the year. I enjoy researching and hypothesizing who will be the surprise guys. It’s also very nice when they actually come through (thank you 2016 Bryce Meredith!).
There is no real criteria for this, or how low someone must be seeded. Obviously though, this article isn’t going to be about Bo Nickal’s chances.
125: #13 Drew Hildebrandt (Central Michigan)
I hate going homer right away, and considered starting this article at a different weight, but oh well. Sarah’s brother is a redshirt sophomore and has had a really solid season. He’s also been wrestling better down the stretch including avenging a loss to Foley (Michigan State). Most importantly, I like his draw. The #4 seed is Bresser (Oregon State), which I think is the most vulnerable of the top eight seeds. If he gets past him, it could be a quarterfinal against Mueller (Virginia) who dropped back down to 125 this year and only has 17 matches on the season. The quarterfinals are Friday morning after weigh-ins so this could be a great recipe for Hildebrandt to shock.
Other potential surprises: (ugh full homer) don’t sleep on former Chippewa #10 Brent Fleetwood (North Dakota State). Not a bad draw and has been wrestling well.
133: #19 Josh Terao (American)
There are guys that you have to watch wrestle, because you know it will be exciting. Josh follows in his older brother’s foot steps of being really damn fun to watch and a knack for putting up a lot of points. Josh got to watch his brother make the semifinals in 2016 as the #15 seed. If Terao can get past #14 Myers (Virginia Tech), he would face #3 Suriano (Rutgers) in the 2nd round. It seems implausible, but who better to knock Suriano off his controlling game than a wide open Terao? Even if he falls short on the front side, this guy could make some noise on the back end coming off a good second place finish at the EIWA’s.
Other potential surprises: #12 Bridges (Wyoming) is a returning All-American who took some losses earlier this year. No reason he can’t beat #5 Pletcher (Ohio State) and make a run with his draw.
141: #13 Kyle Shoop (Lock Haven)
Unless you look at the NCAA dominance rankings, where Shoop has been with a lot of tech falls, you may not know much about the muse for the Salt N Pepa song. He’s actually not even currently ranked by Intermat. The dude puts up points, and has seemed to make a leap forward this year. This year he won the EWL with two tech’s and a 13-0 finals major. He will be a tough out that could very well find the podium.
Other potential surprises: #11 Tristan Moran (Wisconsin). With #6 Carr (Illinois) not looking 100% at Big Ten’s, Moran has a good draw.
149: #14 Requir van der Merwe (Stanford)
The South African native won the PAC 12 championship helping the Cardinal unseat Arizona State for the team title. His conference slate included wins over Rohlfing (CSUB) and Maruca (Arizona State). He also has a win over Prince (Navy). This weight class has been a mystery after the top few guys all year and there’s no reason to think that he could win some matches and end up on the podium.
Other potential surprises: #25 Rohlfing (CSUB) mentioned above is a fun guy to watch and his funky style makes him dangerous in any match.
157: #14 Zach Hartman (Bucknell)
I was a little surprised to see Hartman seeded so low, but the freshman does have a couple poor losses on the season. Still, he enters the tournament with a 26-7 record including a 3rd place finish at the Midlands. The 14 seed puts him in the bracket with #3 Deakin (Northwestern) who did not look great at the Big Ten tournament taking 5th. All of this certainly screams upset possibility. Even if he lost his match with Deakin the likely highest seed guy he would have to face before the Bloodround would be #11 Hayes (Ohio State), who has also struggled down the stretch.
Other potential surprises: #23 Chase Straw (Iowa State), one of my new favorite names, won the Big 12 title in a weight class that certainly wasn’t stacked, but #23 seems pretty low. #26 Quincy Monday (Princeton) is extremely dangerous, and his brother certainly turned it on last year with help from legendary lineage.