Here is the first half lineup preview that we promised yesterday. If you missed the 165-HWT preview, go check that out!
Nic: Dylan Peters is clearly the man here. Peters is a good wrestler, but not a great wrestler as it stood at the end of last season. He has the capability of beating some of the best wrestlers in the country, and I think he needs one or two wins over some of those guys (Jessie Delgado, Nico Megaludis, or even Cory Clark) to be considered great. While his matches with those guys have been close, he has beaten everybody that has come his way in the MAC but he hasn’t seen Alan Waters yet. It doesn’t help that his workout partner Joe Colon is gone, but I think Peters finds a way to beat at least one of those top names at 125, and makes it back to All American status.
(Ross: I agree, 125 is Dylan Peters and no one in that room is touching him. Peters has always been extremely talented, I just never thought his talent would translate so quickly into college success. Actually that may be an understatement. Peters dominated the NCAA by racking up pins and tech falls ranking 3rd in the nation in pins, and still made the top 25 in technical falls. Most exciting thing about Peters season? He will get a crack at the #2 and #4 All-Americans with Nahshon Garrett of Cornell at the Graple of the Garden, and Joey Dance coming to town from Virginia Tech. If he could get a surprise win over Garrett he can really set himself up for seed when March rolls around.)
MAC Outlook – Peters pretty much cruised through the MAC schedule last year, going 12-0 in conference. This will probably change this year, since Missouri’s Alan Waters is coming back for the Tigers. Waters was an All American two years ago at the NCAA’s, taking fourth. He held the number one seed in the tournament, and was undefeated on the year until losing to Penn State’s Nico Megaludis in the quarterfinals. I would expect Waters to be the favorite against Peters, simply because of age and strength. Arguably Peter’s closest match last year was against Central Michigan’s Corey Kreener, who took him to Sudden Victory in the semifinals of the MAC championship. But I see no reason to not expect Peters to challenge Waters for the top spot in the MAC.
This might be the biggest hole to fill for the Panthers, but luckily they’ve got an NCAA qualifier waiting in the wings. Levi Wolfensperger was last seen on the national stage two years ago, when he was short of becoming an All American. He’s mostly seen open tournaments for UNI over the last year, but he should come in as a strong favorite for the 133 spot. The other name here is Tyler Willers, a redshirt sophomore from Pleasant Valley High School. He finished with an overall record of 13-6 last year wrestling unattached for UNI placing as high as third. I don’t see Willers getting the starting spot except in a back-up role.
MAC Outlook –I expect Wolfensperger to be fighting for the top spot in the MAC this year. With Central Michigan’s Joe Roth graduating, I think it comes down to Wolfensperger, Mackenzie McGuire of Kent State and Matt Manley from Missouri. Wolfensperger went 10-3 in duals two years ago and finished second in the MAC., and this might be a weaker field then he had in 2013. There’s no reason to think that the purple and gold can’t repeat at 133.
Another hole to fill for UNI comes at 141; Joey Lazor took home 6th at the NCAA tournament last year after a medical forfeit to Zain Retherford from Penn State. I would look for a push from two guys at the top here, Jake Hodges and Adam Perrin, since Gunnar Wolfensperger seems to be up at 149 permanently now. Of the two I like Perrin a little bit more, he’s had some conference action (going 4-1 last year) and is a year older. It wouldn’t surprise me if the two split leading roles to start the season though. If Tyler Patten would come back down to 141 after bumping up to 149 last year that changes things a little also, but I don’t think that’s a realistic outlook.
MAC Outlook -UNI has some work to do in the conference here. The top seed in the MAC tournament Chris Mecate from Old Dominion comes back, and will have a grudge after he got pinned by Lazor in the MAC Championship. Zach Horan from Central Michigan is also looking to come back after a loss to Lazor in the MAC Championships, he was the 2 seed and gave Lazor his toughest fight of the day, losing 8-6. These two guys will provide a tough challenge to whomever UNI puts out there, and I don’t necessarily see the Panther getting over it. Best case that I see is UNI gets 2nd or 3rd here in the MAC.
This looks to be the first weight without an established name ready to go, although we might recognize the name Gunnar Wolfensperger on the roster I’m not entirely convinced that he’s ready to go at 149. If Patten stays here this year I think it’s his job to lose, which definitely isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Patten needs to improve a lot over last year; he had a winning record overall (19-16) but needs to improve on that and especially on his dual record (3-6 last year). If Wolfensperger can get a bit stronger and push Patten, we might have another split job for UNI.
MAC Outlook –The MAC got four bids here last year but UNI would need jump up from Patten going 0-2 last year in the tournament. While I think the Panthers do better this year, I don’t see them getting to 4th, and that would be about what it would take to make the NCAA’s. All four top seeds in the MAC come back this year, led by NCAA 5th place finisher Drake Houdashelt. Placing here would be huge for UNI, but unfortunately I don’t see it happening.
Here we go again, with another weight up in the air. Jarrett Jensen was the starter last year, going 7-14 overall, and just 2-6 in the MAC. 157 is a weight that UNI needs some help with, and with Bryce Steiert coming in next year (although I don’t think he’ll actually wrestle) that should help some. This year though Jensen will be pushed by Zach Witte, who probably had a better year last year but against weaker competition. I never saw Witte wrestle myself, so I’m giving the nod to Jensen on this one.
MAC Outlook –It’s about the same story here in the MAC as it was for 149. The MAC got three autos here, and once again they bring the top four wrestlers back from the conference tournament. Although Jensen was slightly better (1-2) in the tournament, he’ll still have to get at least one more win on the right side of the bracket to contend for an NCAA spot. I don’t see it happening, and I feel like this is probably the weakest of UNI’s weights this year. Hopefully the prove me wrong, but 1-2 or 2-2 at the MAC tournament is about what I see.
So now the entire lineup has been posted. If you have any thoughts or questions, share them in the comments below!
Also, look for the post coming later today on IA Wrestle TV’s first episode of cRoss Face.