It's Almost Wrestling Season
Penn State just wrapped up its Intrasquad Dual, and the All-Star Classic takes the stage Saturday night. Grab your headgear, and let's take a look around the Big Ten and Nationally to see what our Lions will be up against.
November - what a glorious month. We're kicking leaves as we walk, pushed along by a tailwind that's got a little bite. The football buffet remains 30 dishes deep on Saturday and Sunday, and, somewhere deep within the damp, foul smelling recesses of the gym, wrestle offs are being fought. It's almost WRESTLING SEASON! Let's take a spin around the Big Ten and National landscape (with a huge thank you to Intermat).
|2||Nico Megaludis||Penn State||Sophomore|
|6||Jarrod Garnett||Virginia Tech||Senior|
|7||Nikko Triggas||Ohio State||Senior|
Matt McDonough has finished 1st, 2nd, and 1st in the last three years. He's pretty good, and is your favorite to repeat both in the Big Ten and Nationally. But the rest of the nation won't make it easy for him. #3 Jesse Delgado was McDonough's lone loss last season. The RSSO is quick on his feet, and scrambles very well. #5 Alan Waters had some big victories early in the season last year, and had climbed as high as #2 in the rankings before having a nightmare of an NCAA tournament, failing to make All-American despite his #3 seeding. #6 Garnett and #7 Triggas both return to action after redshirt seasons, but neither are terrific threats to McDonough's chances at a 3rd National title.
OTHER B1G NAMES: Minnesota's David Thorn makes Intermat's rankings at #11, as he cuts to 125 from 133 last year, after losing his spot there to Chris Dardanes. Michigan's Sean Boyle is back for his 28th season, ranked 15th. And Purdue's Camden Eppert lands at #19 entering the season, after falling 2 wins shy of All-America status last year.
B1G CHAMP: McDonough
NATIONAL CHAMP: McDonough
|1||Logan Stieber||Ohio State||Sophomore|
|2||Scott Sentes||Central Michigan||Senior|
|5||Joe Colon||Northern Iowa||Junior|
Ohio State's Logan Stieber has the target on his back this year, after knocking off Okie State's (and Easton's) Jordan Oliver in a (somewhat) controversial title match (I thought it was a takedown). Scotti Sentes, all 9 feet, 133 lbs of him, returns to action at Intermat's #2. But I think Stieber's real threat - on and possibly off the mat - is right in his own backyard. #3 Ramos has a ginormous chip on his shoulder, and is begging to fight Stieber, while #4 Dardanes handed Stieber one of his two losses on the year. This should be a battle all year long.
OTHER B1G NAMES: Three of the top four are B1G, and Quiroga missed AA by 2 matches last year. But after that there's a gap down to #16 RSFR Jesse Thielke of Wisconsin. He was a top recruit a season ago, doing well at Fargo.
B1G CHAMP: Pick one of Stieber, Ramos and Dardanes
NATIONAL CHAMP: Repeat step 1
DARKHORSE: DQ'd when you have a tie among the top 3
|2||Michael Mangrum||Oregon State||Junior|
|4||Hunter Stieber||Ohio State||Sophomore|
We're finally rid of Kellen Russell and Montell Marion, and in that vacuum Kendric Maple takes Intermat's top spot at 141. #3 Graff returns from an Oly redshirt and bumps here from 133. #4 Hunter Stieber reportedly lost his wrestle off to fellow Buckeye Ian Paddock, but unless he takes a redshirt, my money's on true sophomore Stieber. Illinois' BJ Futrell looks to finish his last season in style, while the Gopher's other Dardanes tries to improve on his freshman campaign which saw him fall one match short of All-American.
OTHER B1G NAMES: #11 Stephen Dutton transferred from Lehigh to Michigan, though I don't know why. Intermat has Iowa's Mark Ballweg (the older one) at #16 heading into the season. But even without Russell and Marion, the B1G still has four of the top eight pre-season spots.
B1G CHAMP: I like Stieber over Graff
NATIONAL CHAMP: Maple's got skillz
DARKHORSE: Mangrum. Yeah, he's pre-season #2 now, but he'll be a darkhorse by February as everyone forgets the left coast.
|1||Jordan Oliver||Oklahoma State||Senior|
|2||Jason Chamberlain||Boise State||Senior|
|5||Cam Tessari||Ohio State||Sophomore|
|6||Scott Sakaguchi||Oregon State||Junior|
|7||Andrew Alton||Penn State||Sophomore|
Perennially starved Jordan Oliver bumps to 149lbs this season, and Jason Chamberlain returns from an Oly redshirt to fill the void left by graduated champ Frank the Tank Molinaro. #3 Dylan Ness is awfully fun to watch, while #5 Tessari finished 5th in the B1G last year, but 4th at NCAA's as a true freshman. #6 Sakaguchi will be forgotten by February because he wrestles on the west coast, but will upset someone in March.
OTHER B1G NAMES: Michigan's #11 Eric Grajales, Nebraska's #14 Jake Sueflohn, and Purdue's #16 Ivan Lopouchanski pepper the bottom half of Intermat's rankings. And unlike 133 and 141, there isn't a wide gap between the top of the B1G and this middle pack. Should be an exicting weight class all year.
B1G CHAMP:: Ness
NATIONAL CHAMP: Oliver
|1||Derek St. John||Iowa||Junior|
|2||Dylan Alton||Penn State||Sophomore|
|7||Jesse Dong||Virginia Tech||Senior|
Last year's champ Kyle Dake appears to be bumping up to 165, leaving four B1G wrestlers in a season-long fight for the top spot on the podium. Iowa's St.John has to be the favorite of that group, having never lost to either Alton (two close victories last year) or Welch or Green. #7 Jesse Dong returns from a redshirt. He's not a favorite for the finals, but he earns a special mention because his last name is Dong. No more yanky my wanky, the Donger need foo.
OTHER B1G NAMES: The four above have a clear gap up on the rest of the B1G - and there isn't a lot behind them. Only Ohio State's #19 Josh Demas makes Intermat's top 20. Purdue will run out Tyler Churchard, who, like the rest of the Purdue squad, finished 2 matches shy of All-American last season. Minnesota has a hole here as well due to Jake Deitchler's career ending concussions, though I've always liked the way Danny Zilverberg wrestles, even if the results haven't been there for him up at 157.
B1G CHAMP: Pick 'em
NATIONAL CHAMP: Pick 'em
|2||David Taylor||Penn State||Junior|
|3||Tyler Caldwell||Oklahoma State||Junior|
|5||Peter Yates||Virginia Tech||Senior|
Intermat gave the top spot to Cornell's Kyle Dake. We'll see if he still has it after Saturday. #3 Tyler Caldwell returns to the mat after an Oly redshirt - but this appears to be a 2-man battle royale all season long. Dake and Taylor are already legendary - Dake because no one can score on him at tournament time, and Taylor because he never stops scoring on everyone. Be still my beating heart.
OTHER B1G NAMES: Oh yeah, the 717's Mike Evans has the best bro-stache in Iowa - and that's saying something. But, uhhh - six of the top eight are from the B1G, including true frosh phenom #8 Massa, so this is a pretty decent weight class. Minnesota's #11 Cody Yawn and Northwestern's #17 Pierce Harger - a completely appropriate Northwestern name - fill out the top 20.
B1G CHAMP: Taylor
NATIONAL CHAMP: Taylor. Damn right I'm a homer.
|1||Chris Perry||Oklahoma State||Junior|
|3||Nick Heflin||Ohio State||Junior|
|5||Matt Brown||Penn State||Sophomore|
Color me unimpressed. Okie State's Chris Perry takes the pre-season #1 spot, but I'm not a fan. Blanton, Heflin and Asper, like Perry, are 'a-takedown-off-a-counter-will-win' kind of guys. Maybe that's being to hard. But this weight clearly lacks the top end of the two weights on either side of it, at least at this stage of the (pre) season.
OTHER B1G NAMES: Northwestern's Lee Munster checks in at #10, Michigan's Dan Yates at #15, and Nebraska's Tyler Koehn at #17 - so while this class currently lacks a clear cut favorite, it is awfully deep.
B1G CHAMP: Brown
NATIONAL CHAMP: Brown
DARKHORSE: uh, Brown
|1||Ed Ruth||Penn State||Junior|
|5||Ben Bennett||Central Michigan||Senior|
|7||Ryan Loder||Northern Iowa||Junior|
State College High's Steve Bosak is your returning champion, and Lehigh's Robert Hamlin's finished 2nd and 3rd the last two years - but this is Ed Ruth's weight class. Thanks for stopping by everyone else.
OTHER B1G NAMES: Central Dauphin's Tony Dallago checks in at #9 for Illinois. Iowa's Grant Gambrall, who reportedly is trying to cut to 174 (I don't blame him) is your pre-season #11. Ohio State's CJ Magrum was an NCAA qualifier last year, but may have lost his spot to Central Dauphin's Kenny Courts, who grabs Intermat's #14 spot. And Michigan's frosh Jordan Thomas lands at #19 pre-season.
B1G CHAMP: RUUUUUUUTH
NATIONAL CHAMP: RUUUUUUTH
|1||Dustin Kilgore||Kent State||Senior|
|2||Quentin Wright||Penn State||Senior|
|7||Blake Rosholt||Oklahoma State||Junior|
Dustin Kilgore won this weight in 2011, took an Oly redshirt last season, and is your pre-season favorite this season. #6 Brent Haynes I haven't figured out yet - he can major top ranked guys early in the season, but hasn't put together his best NCAA tournament year. #8 Mario Gonzalez was your surprise B1G champion last season. He just missed the podium at the NCAA's, but he's got real athleticism. We haven't seen Kilgore in a year - at least, I haven't - so it's hard to say this weight is his. This could be a wild one.
OTHER B1G NAMES: True SO #9 Andrew Campolattano looks to make the podium this year for the Buckeyes. Minnesota sends out #11 Scott Shiller, who's done well in freestyle. Purdue's #17 Braden Atwood did not place as a freshman at last year's NCAA. And Michigan's #19 Max Huntley looks to improve on his freshman season as well. I don't see any of these guys taking the B1G hardware, though.
B1G CHAMP: Q
NATIONAL CHAMP: Q
|3||Alan Gelogaev||Oklahoma State||Senior|
|4||Jarod Trice||Central Michigan||Senior|
|7||Chad Hanke||Oregon State||Senior|
Minnesota's Tony Nelson is your returning NCAA and B1G champ, and I thought he looked pretty good winning both. Okie State's Gelogaev is supposed to be excellent, but he's been injured the last two years and I haven't seen him in any tournaments. Wyoming Seminary's Mike McMullan is a smaller, more athletic heavyweight - in direct contract to #2 Bradley and #4 Trice. How in the hell is #8 Jeremy Johnson only a junior?
OTHER B1G NAMES: The B1G qualified 10 - ten - heavyweights last year for the NCAA's. Ten, mind you. The back end of the rankings this season are still filled with B1G schools: Michigan's #12 Ben Apland; Wisconsin's #15 Connor Medbery; Michigan State's (there you guys are!) #16 Mike McClure; Indiana's #17 Adam Chalfant; and Ohio State's #18 Peter Capone.
B1G CHAMP: Nelson
NATIONAL CHAMP: Nelson
|1||Penn State||107.5||Big Ten|
|4||Oklahoma State||87.5||Big 12|
|5||Ohio State||75||Big Ten|
Iowa and Minnesota are going to be awfully tough in dual meets because neither squad has more than one or two 'hole' weights. Okie State - if they ever wrestle above seed again - could challenge at the national tournament, because they have a couple of horses that could make runs. So does Ohio State. But make no mistake - our Penn State Nittany Lions are the favorite to win their 3rd straight National Championship.
B1G CHAMP: Penn State
NATIONAL CHAMP: Penn State
DARKHORSE: no one outside the pre-season top 5 has any kind of shot. Ergo, DQ'd.
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