2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships Preview, Part 1

WRESTLING!

BSD previews the coming 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships in two parts. In this first installment, we look at 125 LBS - 157 LBS.

One of the best five month wrestling seasons in recent memory has just five days remaining. Penn State started November as the pre-season tournament favorite, and remains so - but not by much. Iowa, Minnesota, and Oklahoma State all travel to Des Moines (or, in the Hawk's case, cross the street) with legitimate hopes for the big trophy. Check out JtotheP's breakdown for just how close the top 4 squads really are.

Other Helpful Links:

The NCAA Wrestling Brackets; the last Coaches Poll and RPI; our BSD National Preview, from back in November 2012; our BSD Penn State Preview, also from November 2012; Intermat rankings, because they're good dudes; and a dandy of a spinach salad recipe.

125 LBS

What We Knew In November

Iowa's McDonough was the top dog, and no one else was a real consideration. Our guy Nico, the National Runner-Up, was second, while Illinois' Delgado sat third, after finishing 7th in 2012. Steve Bonnano of Hofstra, the 8th place finisher, gave this weight four returning All-Americans. The rest of the Intermat preseason top 8 went as follows: 5-Waters, Mizzou; 6-Garnett, VaTech; 7-Triggas, O$U; and 8-Mele, jNW. Waters had a terrible tournament, bowing out in the Round of 12 despite a 3-seed. Mele, who had upset Nico in the Big Ten wrestlebacks the week before, went just 1-2 at NCAAs. Garnett and Triggas returned from redshirts.

What We Know In March

McDonough hasn't looked like McDonough all season. On the other hand, he has just three losses. That's the same number as our guy Nico, and the same number as Delgado, who just finished an outstanding Big Ten tournament with a championship, nearly majoring McD in the process. Beware the error of recency.

The lone undefeated is Mizzou's Waters, who missed almost the entire month of January, and sports just one win - a 4-0 stunner of McD two weeks ago - over the rest of the top 5. Waters gets the 1-seed, and will look to overcome his history of early tournament exits. VaTech's Garnett gets the 5-seed, and brings a 27-2 record to the bracket - but he also has just one win (a 5-1SV decision over Delgado at Midlands) on his resume over a top 5 wrestler.

Best First Round Match

Keep an eye on unseeded Nick Soto (Chattanooga) against 12-seed Tyler Cox (Wyoming). If Soto pulls that one off, he gets a second round match with VaTech's Garnett, whom Soto beat earlier in the year, 10-9.

Non-PSU Cheering Interests

8-seed Matt Snyder, Virginia. He's a Wahoo senior (or, 4th year, in their parlance), but originally hails from Lewistown. He lost to Waters in last year's consolations 1-4, in the round before the Round of 12 (here forward known as the Round of 16), and could have a quarterfinal against Waters this year.

Our Guy

Nico gets the 4-seed and a first round matchup against surprise MAC Champ Kevon Powell, who's just 8-13 on the season. But it gets a lot harder after that. His second round match figures to be against Powell's MAC tournament victim, (#15) Christian Cullinan, and then a quarterfinals showdown with VaTech's Garnett. Assuming Waters hasn't been upset by David Thorn or Trent Sprenkle/Matt Snyder, then Nico gets the 1-seed in the semi-final.

Ceiling: 1st; Floor: 6th.

Predicted Order of Finish

Finish Wrestler (seed) School
1 Megaludis (4) Penn State
2 Delgado (2) Illinois
3 McDonough (3) Iowa
4 Waters (1) Mizzou
5 Garnett (5) VaTech
6 Snyder (8) UVA
7 Kraisser (7) UNC
8 Sprenkle (9) NDState

133 LBS

What We Knew In November

Logan Stieber would have the target on his back, and though Intermat stuck Central Michigan's Scotti Sentes with the #2 tag, Stieber's real competition would likely come from fellow Big Ten foes #3 Ramos and #4 Dardanes. Penn State's Frank Martellotti qualified but went just 1-2 in 2012. The word out of the wrestling room was that 112-lber Jordan Conaway had bulked up and would take the weight, with true frosh phenom Jimmy Gulibon and the aforementioned Frankie redshirting.

What We Know In March

Logan Stieber strong like bull. He's undefeated, better than last year, and though he missed some time in January, he's the clear cut favorite to repeat as National Champ. Iowa's Ramos appears to be Stieber's only challenger - and Stieber's 4-0 against him. After those two, there's a tangible gap down to the rest of the competitors.

Upset Special

If 3-seed Tyler Graff makes it past his pigtail opponent (probably Maryland's (Shady Side) Geoff Alexander), I don't think Graff makes it past his quarterfinals opponent, which is likely to be the winner of #11-DiCamillo/#6-McCormick.

Non-PSU Cheering Interests

4-seed AJ Schopp, Edinboro. And Martellotti's former teammate, Maryland's Geoff Alexander.

Our Guy

Jordan Conaway took this spot in the lineup out of camp and never let go. He went 6-2 in the Big Ten dual season, losing only to Stieber and Ramos while beating Graff. He hasn't fared as well at tournaments, though. He didn't place at the Nittany Lion Open (November), nor at the Southern Scuffle (January). But despite wrestling for 9 minutes in his first match at Big Tens, he managed to finish 5th, losing only to Stieber (by fall) and returning AA Dardanes (7-3).

Jordan gets a rematch with Rutgers' Vinny Dellafave in the first round, but probably sees Dardanes again in the second round. It's likely that Jordan will have to do most of his work in the consolation bracket after Thursday.

Ceiling: 7th place; Floor: 1-2, DNP.

Predicted Order of Finish:

Finish Wrestler (seed) School
1 Stieber (1) Ohio State
2 Ramos (2) Iowa
3 Schopp (4) Edinboro
4 McCormick (6) Mizzou
5 Graff (3) Wisconsin
6 Dardanes (5) Minnesota
7 Sentes (10) C.Mich.
8 DiCamillo (11) UVA

Conaway goes 3-2, losing in the Round of 12 to Sentes.

141 LBS

What We Knew In November

Michigan's Russell, Iowa's Marion, and Cal Poly's Novachkov all (finally) graduated. The highest returning placewinners were OU's Kendrick Maple (4th), Oregon State's Mike Mangrum (5th), O$U's Stieber (6th) and Cornell's Mike Nevinger (7th). Penn State's Bryan Pearsall just missed qualifying at Big Tens, and was passed over for an at-large bid. But the self-made wrestler would be back for one more go, and had improved by leaps and bounds from his first two seasons. Pearsall should qualify for the NCAAs in 2013, and with another year of improvement, could threaten to make the podium.

What We Know In March

O$U's Stieber and OU's Maple both sport zero's at the end of their won-lost records. Mangrum, thanks to his left coast orientation and an early season one-point loss to Stieber, is a mostly forgotten man despite getting the 3-seed. Nevinger can look like a top placewinner, and an also-ran. He gets the 11-seed, and a very tough first round match against VaTech's Neibert, a quarterfinalist and R12 from last season. Pearsall qualified, but does not look like a podium threat.

Upset Special

Keep an eye on unseeded Anthony Salupo (Lehigh) against 6-seed Ugi (Citadel). Ugi tends to wrestle close matches.

Non-PSU Cheering Interests

You have a veritable smorgasbord of PA preps. 4-seed Mitchell Port (Edinboro) is from Bellefonte, and a good bet to make a deep run. 5-seed Evan Henderson is a WPIAL kid. West Virginia's Nathan Penessi spent most of the year in the top 15 before sustaining an injury at the Big 12's. 9-seed Richard Durso is wrestling for Franklin & Marshall. How do you not cheer for him?

But if you have to pick just one, take Lock Haven's Dan Neff (Solanco) because he has a first round match with Iowa's Ballweg.

Our Guy

Much like Nevinger, Pearsall can also look like an All-American and an also-ran - sometimes in the same match. Pearsall's likely to see #16 Joey Lazor from Northern Iowa in the first round (Lazor has a pigtail). That will be a very tough match for Bryan. And if he wins it, he'll be matched up with 2-seed Maple, who has the neutral offense to hang a big score on Bryan.

Ceiling: R12; Floor: 0-2

Predicted Order of Finish:

Finish Wrestler (seed) School
1 Maple (2) Oklahoma
2 Stieber (1) Ohio State
3 Mangrum (3) Oregon St
4 Port (4) Edinboro
5 Neibert (US) VaTech
6 Ugi (6) Citadel
7 Ballweg (7) Iowa
8 Cobb (10) Penn

Bryan goes 1-2.

149 LBS

What We Knew In November

After starving for three years, Jordan Oliver was bumping here all the way from 133 lbs. He'd join five returning All-Americans at this weight: #2 Dylan Ness, #3 Donnie Vinson, #4 Cam Tessari, #6 Justin Accordino, and #7 Scott Sakaguchi. Penn State would lose its Champ, Frank the Tank, but had 2011 R12 Andrew Alton taking his place after using a redshirt. And Alton's two years spent wrestling the Gorilla Hulk couldn't be all that bad. Boise State's Jason Chamberlin - another All-American - would also enter this stacked weight, after taking a redshirt.

What We Know In March

Accordino (Wilkes-Barre) appears to be redshirting, or was royally screwed over by the NCAA, as I can't find a single result for him in 2012/2013. O$U's Tessari was replaced by teammate Paddock for the post season because Tessari didn't spend enough time at the tanning beds. Oh - and Jordan Oliver is a certified stud, even up two weight classes.

The rest of it? Who knows? Ness is the real deal, but isn't a guarantee like Oliver - yet, at least. Vinson and Sakaguchi labor in obscurity, though both are certainly ready for the post season. This is a crazy-deep weight class, with guys like Edinboro's Habat, Cornell's Villalonga, and Lehigh's Shane Welsh - all of whom could place with some good wrestling - un-seeded.

Best First Round Match

It comes before the First Round - it's the 3-Seed Donnie Vinson vs. O$U's Paddock in the pigtail. That's a stupid-tough pigtail for the 3-seed.

Non-PSU Cheering Interests

Get behind Clarion's Tyler Bedelyon, of the wrestling Bedelyon's from PA's D6. Brother Nic was an All-American for Kent State last year.

Our Guy

If Andrew Alton's fallen short of expectations, it's because we've grown to expect a lot. And if we fret about gas-tank issues after 6 minutes, it's because the dude is so damn explosive in the first 5 minutes. He really does look like a future National Champ in the first period - he nearly always finishes it with a significant lead. But we're all questioning him because of Big Tens, where he again jumped out to an early lead on Nebraska's Sueflohn before losing (again). And then he got pinned by Lopouchanski in the consolation final after staking himself to a 5-0 lead.

The trap here is the aforementioned error of recency - Andrew got pinned in his last mactch, and looked bad against Sueflohn (again), so we shouldn't expect too much two weeks later. While I think that error is a valid (?), it's hard to overlook two other factors: 1) he has a tough draw, getting Mizzou's Houdashelt (Intermat #10) in the first round, and Ness in the second round; and 2) this is a deep, deep field. Deep. If Alton loses to Houdashelt, his first consi match is likely to be against Intermat's #18 Daniel Young (Army). Alton's surrounded by ranked guys.

Ceiling: 7th; Floor: 2-2

Predicted Order of Finish:

Finish Wrestler (seed) School
1 Oliver (1) Okie St
2 Ness (6) Minnesota
3 Chamberlin (2) Boise St
4 Sakaguchi (7) Oregon St
5 Sueflohn (9) Nebraska
6 Santos (5) Columbia
7 Brascetta (8) VaTech
8 Von Ohlen (4) Air Force

I have Andrew making the Round of 12, but losing for a third time to Nebraska's Sueflohn.

157 LBS

What We Knew In November

Kyle Dake stood a full body length above the rest of the field at this weight, but he was moving up to 165 LBS. That move left National Runner-Up DSJ, #3 Dylan Alton, #4 Jason Welch, and #7 James Green in the weight class - and all in the Big Ten. We also had #5 James Fleming and #8 Walt Peppelman returning to fill the field with six past All-Americans. The Big Tens figured to be a battle (surprise), as DSJ, Alton, Welch and Green were not separated by more than a takedown (though, Iowa's DSJ always seemed to win that scramble).

What We Know In March

Welch and DSJ didn't wrestle this year. Welch won Big Tens and got the 1-seed, while DSJ - who had been #1 all year long - lost twice in the last week of the season and slipped to the 2-seed. James Green, who upset DSJ at Big Tens, pulled the 4-seed; Lehigh's Joey Napoli returned from redshirt and took the 3-seed. Clarion's Fleming is seeded 5th, and Dylan Alton, after a disappointing Big Ten tournament, fell all the way to the 8th seed. But any of those guys can win this weight - they're all still one-takedown matchups.

Upset Special

Maybe the second round doesn't qualify, but I'm going to give you three potential second round upsets to watch out for: a) 12-Jedd Moore, UVA vs. 5-James Fleming, Clarion; b) assuming James Green can get past Kyle Bradley of Mizzou (and that's no sure thing), he has another potential upset in the second round, versus either Navy's Barnheisel or Northern Iowa's Bonin; and c) 6-Dieringer, the true frosh from Okie State vs. 11-seed Peppelman, a returning All-American who was last year's 4-seed, was upset in the first round, and managed to wrestle back through the consolations to finish 8th - no small feat.

Non-PSU Cheering Interests

11-seed Peppelman is from District III Central Dauphin, and it would be nice to see him take out Okie State's Dieringer. 3-seed Napoli is also District III - but he's from Cumberland Valley, which I find impossible to cheer for. And, of course, you should always cheer for the PSAC schools (except Pitt) - so add in 5-seed James Fleming of Clarion, and 9-seed Frank Hickman of Bloomsburg.

Our Guy

This is definitely where that error of recency thing comes into play. Dylan flat out had a bad Big Ten tournament, finishing 6th after being seeded 3rd. But he has the ability to wipe all of that out at NCAA's - and, despite getting a tough pigtail match, his bracket sets up very favorably.

He opens with the aforementioned pigtail bout against a familiar opponent - Jake O'Hara of Columbia, who, as luck would have it, Dylan majored 12-4 in the opening round of last year's NCAA tournament. After the pigtail, Dylan gets a rubber match with Pitt's Donnie Tasser, against whom Dylan owns two victories this year. Following that, his likely second round opponent is - again - another familiar foe, 9-seed Frank Hickman, who Dylan beat to start the 2011 season. Win those 3 matches, and Dylan's likely quarterfinal opponent is 1-seed Jason Welch, who - again- Dylan has beaten the last two times they've wrestled, and against whom he's never given up a takedown - ever. So all things considered, this bracket lines up about as well as you could hope for, given a rough two days at Big Tens.

Ceiling: 1st; Floor: 6th

Predicted Order of Finish:

Finish Wrestler (seed) School
1 DSJ (2) Iowa
2 Alton (8) Penn State
3 Welch (1) jNW
4 Fleming (5) Clarion
5 Napoli (3) Lehigh
6 Moore (12) UVA
7 Green (4) Nebraska
8 Peppelman (11) Harvard

I have Dylan dropping the final to Iowa's mush face, DSJ. DSJ gets the winning takedown after inadvertently eye-poking Dylan - DSJ's 7th inadvertent eye-poke in this tournament.

Stick around BSD to see Galen's breakdown of 165 - Big Boys.


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