Starting this Friday through Sunday, University National Championships will be going on in the city of Akron, Ohio.
At the lightest weight we have Phil Laux returning to a more normal weight (we saw him wrestle on the road against Rutgers at 133 pounds this past season) and he will be joined by Northern Illinois true freshman Alijah Jeffery.
Earl Hall will be competing at 61 kg, which is right around where his college weight is (133 pounds). Hall is very savvy in freestyle, making the 2012 Junior World Team for USA and he also has a nice senior level win over Zach Sanders at the 2012 Olympic Trials. Hall may be the favorite in his weight class, and is very dangerous when he lets loose.
John Meeks enters the fray at 65 kg after making the Northern Plains semifinals just over a week ago. His best win there was a 9-7 decision over senior level veteran Chase Pami and the former NCAA qualifier will hopefully be able to open up his offense, after he was unable to keep his spot in the Cyclone lineup this past season. The other name to watch at 65 kg is Iowa wrestler Topher Carton, who is expected to be the Hawkeye’s frontrunner to replace Josh Dziewa at 141 pounds next year. Last Spring we saw Carton make the Junior National finals at 61 kg, so he has some freestyle credentials.
If you are a fan of Iowa wrestling 70 kg is the weight class for you with nine of the entrants either hailing or competing for the state. One of the biggest battles to watch for is which Hawkeye can emerge from this group as Iowa will need to replace 157 pound NCAA qualifier Mike Kelly in the upcoming season. Iowa State’s Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer entering at this weight appears to be an indicator that he will be competing for the 157 pound spot this fall, and is someone to keep an eye on as well.
UPDATE TO 70 kg: Brandon Sorensen is a big late addition to this weight. As a freshman, Sorensen was named to AWN’s Amatuer team at 149 pounds. He cruised to 40 wins his his debut season for the Hawkeyes and finished 4th at the NCAA championships this past March.
Two-time NCAA All-American Mike Moreno will more than likely be one of the favorites at his weight, along with veteran Nestor Taffur. Earlier this month Moreno finished one win away from placing in the top eight at the U.S. Open, so it will be of interest to see how much progress he has made in the past few weeks.
UPDATE 80 kg: Alex Meyer enters this weight and will definitely be among those to watch. A year ago Meyer came into this weight bracket and brought home 4th place honors losing to Tanner Weatherman and Brock Gutches. Meyer made some huge strides over the past season, including defeating Kyle Cutchmer of Oklahoma State, who will be the highest returning All-American at this weight next season.
UPDATE 86 kg: A couple of hammers from Iowa registered today at this weight and the most interesting one might be former Panther All-American Ryan Loder. Earlier this month Loder came out strong at the U.S. Open to take 6th place at 86 kg. Maybe it’s the fact that Loder isn’t overly active in attending tournaments while he trains at the Panther Wrestling Club, but to take top six at a weight class that features greats like Jake Herbert, Ed Ruth, Keith Gavin, and Deron Winn, I came away really impressed.
Sammy Brooks is the other new entrant at 86 kg and is also extremely solid in freestyle making the finals of the 2014 Junior World Team Trials challenge tournament. Brooks wound up losing to Gabe Dean, who went on to represent the USA, but Brooks looked like an animal in his first season as a full-time starter for the Hawkeyes.
The other big name to watch in the upper weights is two-time NCAA All-American Nathan Burak at 97 kg. Burak is strong in the neutral position, and his brother Micah had spent the better part of the last two seasons training with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, so it will be interesting to see where the younger Burak measures up to his older brother.
The other Hawkeye Kris Klapprodt finished 8th at 86 kg a year ago.
UPDATE 125 kg: A pair of interesting late entries here are Dean Broghammer of Grand View and Blaize Cabell of Northern Iowa. I don’t mention these two together because their high school teams have a great rivalry (Interstate 20 battle), but in the past year Cabell has really come into his own since bumping from 197 and made the round of 12 a this past NCAA championships. Broghammer has also emerged rather quickly as one of the better heavyweights on the Grand View roster, which is saying something for a team that’s won four straight national titles.
Alijah Jeffery (Northern Illinois – Linn-Mar)
Phil Laux (Iowa – Iowa City West)
Jacob Colon (Grand View)
Earl Hall (Iowa State)
John Gioffredi (Grand View)
Topher Carton (Iowa – Davenport Assumption)
Jake Hodges (Northern Iowa)
Cristian Lopez (Iowa State)
John Meeks (Iowa State – Des Moines Roosevelt)
Elijah Sullivan (Grand View – Iowa City West)
Tucker Black (Northern Iowa – Eddyville-Blakesburg)
Blayne Briceno (Iowa State)
David Walker (Air Force – Martensdale-St. Mary’s)
Edwin Cooper (Iowa)
Jake Kadel (Iowa – New London)
Marcus Peterson (Grand View)
Karsten Van Velsor (Southern Illinois – Ottumwa)
Brandon Sorensen (Iowa – Denver)
Logan Thomsen (Iowa – Union)
Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (Iowa State)
Skyler St. John (Iowa – Cedar Rapids Prairie)
Tagen Lambotte (Iowa)
Chad Lowman (Grand View)
Logan McQuillen (Iowa- Monticello)
Logan Molina (Iowa State)
Mike Moreno (Iowa State – Urbandale)
Patrick Rhoads (Iowa)
Tanner Werner (Grand View)
Lawton Benna (Grand View)
Dylan Blackford (Grand View)
Alex Meyer (Iowa – Southeast Polk)
Sammy Brooks (Iowa)
Derrick Hawkins (Grand View
Ryan Loder (Northern Iowa)
Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa Graduate)
Dane Pestano (Iowa State)
Mitchell Bowman (Iowa – North Scott)
Nathan Burak (Iowa)
Christian Dulaney (Northern Iowa)
Kris Klapprodt (Iowa)
Dalton Peterson (Grand View – Logan Magonlia)
Blaize Cabell (Northern Iowa – Independence)
Dean Broghammer (Grand View – West Delaware)
Jacob Laden (Grand View)
Jon Scanlan (Iowa State – Johnston)
Tyler Swope (Iowa State – Davenport Assumption)