This Saturday Iowa is set to host the quarter, semi, and final rounds of the national duals at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, hosting the other seven regional dual winners. The other schools coming to town are Missouri, Ohio State, Minnesota, Cornell, Lehigh, Illinois, and Chattanooga. The squads will all take the mat at noon on Saturday, with the winners facing off in the semifinals at 3pm.
As we said before, Iowa Head Coach Tom Brands wanted to host the national duals this year, giving Iowa fans an exciting event and an excellent opportunity to see some of the top dual squads in the country face off.
Here we have a preview of the other three quarterfinal matchups. You can find our preview for the Iowa dual with Chattanooga here.
#2 Missouri vs #11 Illinois
125 – #2 Alan Waters vs #1 Jesse Delgado or Dominic Olivieri
133 – Zach Synon vs #8 Zane Richards
141 – #5 Lavion Mayes vs #12 Steven Rodrigues
149 – #4 Drake Houdashelt vs Kyle Langenderfer
157 – #12 Joey Lavaliee vs #2 Isaiah Martinez
165 – Mikey England vs #8 Jackson Morse
174 – #5 John Eblen vs #10 Zac Brunson
184 – #14 Willie Miklus vs Nikko Reyes
197 – #1 J’den Cox vs Jeff Koepke
285 – #16 Devin Mellon vs Brooks Black
The second ranked team in the country comes into Carver-Hawkeye Arena on a 25 dual meet winning streak, stretching back to last year, and is 21-0 this season. The Missouri Tigers are on a roll, claiming their first regular-season MAC Championship since joining the conference two years ago. The Tigers are looking to repeat as MAC Tournament Champs; last year they placed two in the top spot to upset Northern Iowa.
Illinois comes in on a five dual meet winning streak, as well as sporting the number eleven spot in the country. The Illini come to Carver with a 13-4 overall record, 6-3 in the Big Ten. Illinois blanked Kent State, 38-0, last Saturday in the opening round of the National Duals.
This side of the bracket for the National Duals should include some great matches, and this dual is no exception. Right off the bat you have the number one and number two guys in the country in Jesse Delgado and Alan Waters at 125 pounds. This will be Delgado’s first real test since returning to the lineup January 25th against Northwestern. Although a lot of people (myself included) don’t see Delgado wrestling in the match, for one reason or another, if it does happen it will be one of the marquee matches of the weekend.
Other than at 125 pounds, this dual will feature three other matches between top 20 wrestlers. Those matches will take place at 141, 157, and 174 pounds and the outcomes will be crucial to the team score. If you go with chalk (as I think will happen and assuming that Delgado wrestles) the squads will split those matches, and as I see it nether team will score bonus points during those. A case can be made for #12, and reigning Big Ten Wrestler of the Week, Steven Rodrigues to score the upset over #5 Lavion Mayes, but I see Mayes as having a little more offensive firepower for the Orange and Blue wrestler to overcome.
Both squads will have the chances for upsets at weights where one wrestler is ranked and the other isn’t though. At 133 pounds Zane Richards for the Illini has a good chance to put up a big number against Zach Synon, and I also like #8 Jackson Morse to score bonus points against Mikey England.
The Tigers will have some chances of their own, as #4 Drake Houdashelt faces unranked Kyle Langenderfer and #1 J’den Cox takes on Jeff Koepke. Both of those matches I expect the Tiger to win at least major decision. At 184 pounds the Tigers also have #14 Willie Miklus (owner of the most wicked spladle since Joey Lazor) going up against Nikko Reyes, and that could easily be a bonus point win as well.
Overall I think that the Tigers have too much firepower for the Illini. Even if Delgado wrestles and wins, I don’t think he gets bonus points, and that win doesn’t tip the scale towards Illinois that much. If Missouri comes out aggressive and scores gets the wins they should, it shouldn’t be that close a final score.
#3 Ohio State vs #11 Lehigh
125 – #7 Nathan Tomasello vs Scott Parker
133 – #10 Johnni DeJulius vs #12 Mason Beckman
141 – #1 Logan Stieber vs #20 Randy Cruz
149 – #7 Hunter Stieber or Randy Languis vs Drew Longo
157 – #11 Josh Demas vs #17 Mitch Minotti
165 – #5 Bo Jordan vs Marshall Peppelman
174 – #13 Mark Martin vs Santino Martinez
184 – #12 Kenny Courts vs #3 Nathaniel Brown
197 – #3 Kyle Snyder vs #10 Elliot Riddick
285 – #9 Nick Tavanello vs Doug Vollaro
The Ohio State wrestling squad comes into the quarterfinals of the National Duals ranked third in the nation, coming in with a 13-3 record, 8-1 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes have already faced two teams in the duals, going 1-1, getting the win against Big Ten foe Minnesota and dropping a dual to Missouri, which they lost on criteria.
Lehigh visits Iowa City sitting at 13-4 on the year, 8-1 in the EIWL, only behind Cornell in conference. Lehigh has a win over Illinois already this year, and will look to go to 3-1 against Big Ten opponents if they can pull off the upset Saturday against the Buckeyes.
That will be quite the task for the Mountain Hawks, as they come in as the big underdog. They’ll be favored in only one match; 184 pounder and #3 Nathaniel Brown will be the favorite over #12 Kenney Courts. Lehigh will have to get upsets from several of it’s wrestlers for the dual to even be competitive, and I don’t exactly see that happening.
The Buckeyes need only to wrestle as they know they can to advance. Other than the Iowa/Chattanooga matchup, Ohio State has the easiest path the semifinals. They’ll be favored in nine matches, with a top ten wrestler in seven of those. There is a little mystery as to whether or not Hunter Stieber will wrestle, but since he didn’t see action in the first round I am not expecting to see him on Saturday. Either way I think the Buckeyes cruse to a victory here to get a rematch with Missouri in the semifinals.
#4 Minnesota vs #5 Cornell
125 – Ethen Lizak vs #3 Nahshon Garrett
133 – #1 Chris Dardanes vs #16 Mark Grey
141 – #4 Nick Dardanes vs Logan David
149 – Jake Short vs #5 Chris Villalonga
157 – #1 Dylan Ness vs #6 Brian Realbuto
165 – #17 Nick Wanzek vs #11 Dylan Palacio
174 – #4 Logan Storley vs Duke Pickett
184 – #13 Brett Pfarr vs #1 Gabe Dean
197 – #5 Scott Schiller vs #9 Jace Bennett
285 – #14 Michael Kroells vs Jacob Aiken-Phillips
This is a great quarterfinal matchup between the third best team in the Big Ten and the EIWL champions. Minnesota comes into the dual ranked 4th, behind Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio State, while Cornell comes in at 5th. The two teams have a combined three wrestlers ranked number one, and only five wrestlers of the two combined squads are not ranked.
There are five matches between ranked wrestlers coming into the dual, with two being top-ten matches. The first, at 157 pounds, pits #1 Dylan Ness against #6 Brian Realbuto. The other comes at 197 pounds, when Minnesota’s #5 Scott Schiller takes on #9 Jace Bennett. These two matches should be the most competitive of the day and if the Big Red can score upsets in either of these, that could turn the dual in their favor.
Other than the top 10 battles there are four other matches between ranked wrestlers. Starting at 133 when Minnesota’s other #1 in Chris Dardanes goes up against #16 Mark Grey. Dardanes will look to put a hammer down on Grey, as I see this match, the 141 and 174 match-ups the only two real possibilities for bonus points for the Gophers.
Cornell will need to get score some upsets to advance to the semifinals. If Realbuto can upset Ness and Jace Bennett can upset Schiller and the rest of their ranked wrestlers hold their rank, the Big Red will score the upset. The way I see it is one of the Dardanes’ and Logan Storley will score bonus points, and while Cornell’s Chris Villalonga may get there also, Minnesota is just a little bit better to edge out the Big Red for a trip to the semifinals.