Returning All-Americans: #1 Alex Dieringer, Oklahoma State (1st, 157) #2 Michael Moreno, Iowa State (5th), #3 Isaac Jordan, Wisconsin (7th, 157), #4 Nicholas Sulzer, Virginia (4th), #7 Pierce Harger, Northwestern (7th)
Iowa Schools Outlook:
#2 Michael Moreno, Senior, Iowa State
Iowa State’s Michael Moreno secured the two seed at 165 after finishing second in the Big 12 Tournament to Alex Dieringer. He dropped that match against Derringer 14-4, and was the second major decision loss that Moreno had to the Cowboy on the year. Moreno gets Nebraska’s Austin Wilson in the opening round, and I think Moreno handles Wilson, probably getting bonus points against the Cornhusker. Next up he’ll either see Ethan Ramos from North Carolina (my pick) or Seth Thomas from Oregon State, but I think he handles either of those men easily. He’ll most likely face Pierce Harger from Northwestern next, which should be a closer match, but I think Moreno will win that as well. The Big Ten Championships were my first look at Wisconsin’s Isaac Jordan, and I liked him so much that I think that Moreno will drop his first decision to Jordan in the semifinals, falling to face Jackson Morse of Illinois in the consolation semifinals, but moving on and then beating Isaac’s cousin Bo, to take home third place.
#13 Cooper Moore, Sophomore, Northern Iowa
One thing I don’t understand is how the MAC Champion at this weight, UNI’s Cooper Moore, is a 13 seed. Especially when the runner-up, ODU’s Tristan Warner, secured the 11 seed and has a much more favorable draw. Moore is as healthy as he’s been since suffering a right elbow injury in the second dual of the year but has a very tough draw. His opening round match is against Patrick Robinson, who Moore defeated by major decision 14-3, but that was the match when he injured his elbow. If he gets by Robinson he’ll have the four seed in Nicholas Sulzer from Virginia waiting for him, and that’s where I think he falls to the wrestlebacks. Sulzer’s only two losses came to Deringer, an 8-2 decision, and Ethan Ramos, who he later beat in the ACC Championship. I’ve got Moore dropping to the consolation side, where he continues on to come just one round shy of becoming an All-American.
Nick Moore, Senior, Iowa
Suffice it to say that Nick Moore did not have the best end to the year that he could have. Going 0-2 in the Big Ten tournament, he had to wait for an at-large to make the NCAA’s. And while he has beaten his first round opponent, Northwestern’s Pierce Harger, the returning All-American won’t go down easy this time. Moore and Harger are 1-1 on the year, with Moore winning more recently in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but Harger taking the decision on a neutral floor, 8-5 at The Midlands. I don’t think Moore gets by Harger in the first round this year, and will fall to the consolation side much earlier than Hawkeye fans would like. I personally see Nick Moore wrestling until Friday Morning, where he drops a decision to Ohio University’s Harrison Hightower to bow out of the NCAA Tournament.
Mike England, Senior, Missouri
Mike England had a solid, if not a prestigious year for the Missouri Tigers. He went 27-14 on the year, with no real notable wins. He won only two matches in the MAC Tournament to take home fifth, avenging a loss earlier in the tournament to Central Michigan’s Jordan Wohlfert. England has the pigtail match in the bracket, against Columbia’s Tyrel White, who England should beat. In the first round match England would have ODU’s Tristan Warner, and while the two have yet to meet this year I expect Warner to win, which puts England in the consolation bracket where he wins just one match before bowing out to Cornell’s Dylan Palacio.
Dakota Friesth, Junior, Wyoming
Iowa native Dakota Friesth made the NCAA tournament field after winning two matches on the backside of the WWC Tournament to place third. The top seed, Air Force’s Jesse Stafford, injury defaulted in the championship, falling to the true second place match against Friesth, where he forfeited. That gave Friesth the second bid at 165 for the WWC. Friesth hasn’t had a great year, but he has two victories over NCAA qualifiers Clark Glass from Oklahoma and Mitchell Polkowske from Northern Colorado. Friesth gets the sixth seed in Taylor Walsh from Indiana in the first round, which is a tough match for him to win. I don’t see him getting by the Hoosier, and that would drop him down to the consolation bracket against either Mike England or Tyrel White. I have him wrestling England and dropping another decision to end his NCAA tournament.
This weight seems like it’s Alex Dieringer’s to lose, as he has just run through all his opponents this year on the way to the number one seed at 165 pounds. An odd placement at this weight, Bo Jordan fell all the way to a five seed after falling to his cousin in the Big Ten Tournament final. If Jordan would have won the Big Ten title he is probably at least the three seed and I think we’re talking about him making the finals. As it sits now though I have him losing to Dieringer in the semifinals. As I said before I have his cousin, Isaac Jordan, upsetting Iowa State’s Michael Moreno and going to the finals, but I don’t think Jordan gets it done against the Cowboy and Dieringer takes home back to back national crowns.
Finals Prediction: Alex Dieringer over Isaac Jordan
2015 Projected All-Americans:
1st: Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State)
2nd: Isaac jordan (Wisconsin)
3rd: Michael Moreno (Iowa State)
4th: Bo Jordan (Ohio State)
5th: Pierce Harger (Northwestern)
6th: Jackson Morse (Illinois)
7th: Tristan Warner (Old Dominion)
8th: Jim Wilson (Stanford)
Returning All-Americans: #1 Robert Kokesh, Nebraska (4th), #2 Matt Brown, Penn State (5th), #3 Mike Evans, Iowa (6th), #6 Logan Storley, Minnesota (3rd), #8 Tyler Wilps, Pittsburgh (7th), #9 Cody Walters, Ohio (8th in 2013),
Iowa Schools Outlook:
MIke Evans received the number three seed and will face the pigtail winner match that features Ethan Smith (UVU) 14-12 and Nathan Jackson (IND) 27-11. Based off what I know about these wrestlers and based off common opponents I think Jackson will be Mike Evans first opponent in the tournament. Jackson will already have one match under his belt to get those nerves out of the body but Mike Evans has been here before. He has two sixth place finishes and I look for that experience to come into play on Thursday. Looking towards the quarters Evans could see Logan Storley from Minnesota waiting for him. We all know these guys track record against each other so this will be the match of the tournament for Evans.
Tanner Weatherman picks of the thirteen seed and will wrestle Dominic Kastl first round. Weatherman will be hungry for the All-American status this year after falling just short last year. He will be favored against Kastl and Weatherman has a good chance to score bonus points in the first round for the Cyclones. Bonus points won’t mean much for the team standings but it will fire up the Iowa State faithful and could start a streak of wins for the Cyclones. When I watch Mike Moreno and Tanner Weatherman in tournaments I can feel the energy they pull from the crowd. Weatherman will have his hands full with Missouri’s Johnny Eblen in a Thursday night showdown. Eblen defeated Weatherman 7-3 in their previous meeting this season.
This weight class will play true to a lot of the seeds. Robert Kokesh and Matt Brown should meet in the finals but Mike Evans will have something to say about Matt Brown making the finals on Friday night. Again I see the rest of the bracket falling into place with no crazy sleepers. Tanner Wilps could make a run on the back side of the bracket but we could be reaching. Kokesh has a heck of a defense and can scramble from any position and that is why I think he will be the 174 pound national champ. Let’s hope Evans and Weatherman get hot early and ride the train to All-American status.
Finals Prediction: Kokesh over Brown
2015 Projected All-Americans:
1st: Robert Kokesh (Nebraska)
2nd: Matt Brown (Penn State)
3rd: Mike Evans (Iowa)
4th: Logan Storley (Minnesota)
5th: Blaise Butler (Virginia)
6th: John Eblen (Missouri)
7th: Zach Epperly (Virginia Tech)
8th: Tyler Wilps (Pittsburgh)
Returning All-Americans: #1 Gabe Dean, Cornell (3rd), Jack Dechow, Old Dominion (4th), Lorenzo Thomas, Penn (6th)
Iowa Schools Outlook:
#9 Sammy Brooks (Iowa) draw will have a tough road to the stand this season, but he will have a good opportunity to bonus with Jack McKeever (Binghamton) and Ben Stroh (Wyoming) will wrestle a pigtail match and the winner will face Brooks. A win in the first round sets up a first round match with Big Ten champion #8 seed Domenic Abounader (Michigan). In their dual meeting Brooks lost 3-2, and he never got a chance to redeem himself at the conference tournament. If Brooks manages to reach the quarterfinals – which he is certainly capable – he will be rewarded with facing top seed Gabe Dean (who beat him 6-2 at national duals). Brooks will need to wrestle perfect to have his chance at finishing top eight, and Iowa will need some points out of the sophomore.
Lelund Weatherspoon (Iowa State) comes in unseeded to the NCAA tournament and as a Cyclone fan you would have to be pretty happy with the draw. He starts off against Oklahoma State’s #12 Nolan Boyd, who he defeated 5-1 in the dual meeting earlier this year. A repeat win will not be a given, but in terms of seeded wrestlers, this matchup appears great on paper. His next match would most likely be against #5 seed Taylor Meeks of Oregon State. Meeks has four losses on the season, with three of them being to #3 seed Blake Stauffer (Arizona State), but his other loss is to Nolan Boyd (which he got thumped 9-3). Weatherspoon appears to have a couple favorable matches to pull back-to-back upsets to reach the quarterfinals.
Willie Miklus (Missouri) enters the tournament with a bit of a tougher draw then Missouri fans hopeful for an NCAA title would like. He comes in unseeded and drew returning All-American #10 Lorenzo Thomas (Penn) as his first match. A win there likey sets up a matchup with #7 Nate Brown (Lehigh) and if he manages to stay on the front side until the quarterfinals he will likely meet #2 Max Thomusseit. As mentioned, its a rough draw for the Southeast Polk grad.
Gabe Dean (Cornell) enters as the #1 seed and as the highest returning All-American, he has everything going for him to be the favorite. He’s had a couple hiccups on the season to be sure, but he’s the favorite on the top side. If he meets up with #4 Jack Dechow in the semifinals it could be a great battle. Max Thomusseit (Pittsburgh) is the #2 seed, but I think it will be #3 Blake Stauffer (Arizona State) who finds a way to come out of the bottom side of the bracket. Stauffer has really taken his wrestling to the next level after failing to get All-American honors a season ago. The key for Miklus may end up being his ability to string together wins on the backside. While it may not be the ideal scenario, he’s shown that he can be a force to be reckoned with as proof when he beat #4 Jack Dechow earlier this season. I think even with a first round loss Miklus will remain a big threat to come through the consolation bracket and still wind up on the stand for Missouri.
Finals Prediction: Gabe Dean over Blake Stauffer
2015 Projected All-Americans:
1st: Gabe Dean (Cornell)
2nd: Blake Stauffer (Arizona State)
3rd: Jack Dechow (Old Dominion)
4th: Max Thomusseit (Pittsburg)
5th: Taylor Meeks (Oregon State)
6th: Hayden Zillmer (North Dakota State)
7th: Sammy Brooks (Iowa)
8th: Lorenzo Thomas (Penn)
Returning 2014 All Americans – #1 J’Den Cox, Missouri (1st), #5 Scott Schiller, Minnesota (3rd), #3 Kyven Gadson, Iowa State (4th), #10 Conner Hartmann, Duke (5th), #2 Morgan McIntosh, Penn State (7th) & #6 Nathan Burak, Iowa (8th)
Iowa School’s Outlook –
#3 Kyven Gadson, Redshirt Senior, Iowa State (Waterloo East)
Kyven is making his final appearance in the NCAA tournament and will be determined to stand on top of the podium when his weight class is announced on Saturday night. Gadson enters the competition with a record of 25-1; his only loss transpired at the Southern Scuffle in January. Kyven’s first round opponent is yet to be determined as he will face the winner of a pigtail match between Rotert (SDSU) and Minto (UNI). Gadson should face Phillip Wellington (Ohio) in the second round. Wellington, if you remember, upset national champion Cox last year in theirdual meet. I see Kyven coming out strong and setting up a Friday morning quarter-final matchup with Iowa’s Nathan Burak.
#6 Nathan Burak, Junior, Iowa
Nathan comes into the tournament fresh off a 4th place finish atthe very tough B1G tournament, losing 3-2 to the 2nd and 3rdplace finishers. Burak (20-5) drew first round opponent Vincent Pickett (Edinboro). If he defeats Pickett, he’ll face fellow B1G wrestler Alex Polizzi of Northwestern. Burak came out on top in the first matchup against Polizzi 4-3 at Carver in January. I am really looking forward to a Gadson/Burak quarter-final; Burak is very difficult to score on and if he can finish his single legs, he will be a tough out in the tournament.
Basil Minto, Redshirt Senior, Northern Iowa (NIACC)
Minto will be looking to make some noise after receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament out of a MAC conference that sent 6 wrestlers at 197. Minto will begin the tournament with a pigtail matchup up against Nathan Rotert (South Dakota State). If he is able to make it past Rotert, Minto will face #3 Kyven Gadson in the Thursday morning session.
National Outlook –
#1 J’Den Cox returns to defend his title that he won as afreshman. His semi-final opponent will likely be the winner of Snyder (Ohio State) and Schiller (Minnesota). Cox lost an exhibition match at the All Star classic to Schiller back in November, but since then has rattled off 33 straight wins.
On the other side of the bracket you have Gadson and Burak,whom I discussed earlier, and the #2 seed Morgan McIntosh (Penn State).
McIntosh comes into the championships with a 26-2 record after winning the first B1G title of his career and simultaneously avenging an earlier loss to Synder. I think there are about 5-6 wrestlers in this weight that could win it on any given day. The outcome will depend on who is ready to put in 3 solid days of strong wrestling.
Finals: Cox over Gadson
2015 All American Predicitions:
1st: J’Den Cox (Missouri)
2nd: Kyven Gadson (Iowa State)
3rd: Morgan McIntosh (Penn State)
4th: Nathan Burak (Iowa)
5th: Kyle Snyder (Ohio State)
6th: Scott Schiller (Minnesota)
7th: Conner Hartmann (Duke)
8th: Max Huntley (Michigan)
Returning All Americans: Nick Gwiazdowski NC State (1st), Mike McMullan Northwestern (3rd), Bobby Telford Iowa (4th), Austin Marsden Oklahoma State (8th)
Iowa Schools Outlook:
#3 Bobby Telford (Iowa) comes in as one of the top 285lbers in the nation. He is coming of a runnerup finish at the big ten tournament where he lost only to Mike McMullan of Northwestern. Telford will have Spencer Myers of Maryland first round. Bobby shouldnt have too much trouble getting by his first two opponents. This brings us to the quarterfinals where #6 seed Adam Coon could be waiting. The two have met 4 times in college with Coon having won 3 and. Telfords only win in the series came at last years NCAA’s. Coon is one of 2 wrestlers to beat Telford this season. Look for a very low scoring match with a potential for overtime. Should he get by Coon he will then potentially meet Mike McMullan of Northwestern in the semifinals. McMullan is another opponent Bobby is no stranger to. These two have wrestled so many times it’s anyones guess who could win this next one. Returning champ Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State should make it to the finals from the top half of the bracket.
#7 Blaize Cabell (UNI) comes into the tournament with a 26-5 record. Cabell had a fairly solid season as is evident by his #7 seed. He’s had a few head scratcher losses but has some quality wins over Mellon of Mizzou x2 and Walz of Va Tech. Blaize is coming off a runnerup finish at the MAC Conference tournament where Mellon defeated him 4-2 in the finals. Cabell is 2-1 against the Missouri 285 on the year though. His first round match is against Brooks Black of Illinois. Black finished 8th at the Big Ten Tournament. Cabell should get by him and then could face either the #10 seed Ty Walz of Virginia Tech who Blaize has beaten once this year already or the unseeded Nick Tavanello of Ohio State who beat Cabell earlier in the year. The UNI 285lber has a good shot at making the quarterfinals where he could face a very tough Mike McMullan of Northwestern.
#15 Ross Larson (Oklahoma), a former Ballard and Ankeny prep, comes in with a 25-7 record. This is Larsons 2nd straight NCAA tournament berth going 2-2 last year falling only to Coon and McMullan. Larsons first round opponent is Jacob Henderson of Old Dominion who is 23-11. Henderson doesnt have any major wins so Larson should be favored to reach the second round where he could face McMullan. Larson will have to beat some guys seeded above him to make the podium. He will have to beat 2 or 3 of these guys to place (McMullan, Cabell, Walz, Kettler, Medbery, Marsden)
Nick Gwiazdowski of NC State comes in as the favorite and #1 seed. He won the title last year so he definitely has what it takes to do it again. The next 5 seeds (McMullan, Telford, Marsden, Medbery, and Coon) are so even that you could wrestle a round robin with them 5 times and get 5 different champs. Your champ will be one of these 6 wrestlers. At a weight where points are at a premium, one wrong move could bounce you to the backside of the bracket in a hurry.
Finals Prediction: Gwiazdowski over McMullan
All Americans Prediction:
1st: Nick Gwiazdowski (NC State)
2nd: Mike McMullan (Northwestern)
3rd: Bobby Telford (Iowa)
4th: Connor Medbery (Wisconsin)
5th: Adam Coon (Michigan)
6th: Austin Mardsen (Oklahoma State)
7th: Ty Walz (Virginia Tech)
8th: Blaize Cabell (UNI)