#4 Thomas Gilman (Iowa) 24-1 vs Brent Fleetwood (Central Michigan) 19-11
Fleetwood has had a solid year in the MAC, and qualified by taking third, but Gilman hasn’t had trouble in the past against wrestlers of Fleetwood’s caliber. Look for Gilman to win and advance with bonus points.
#9 Dylan Peters (UNI) 14-2 vs Shakur Laney (Ohio) 23-11
Peters has been banged up this year and finished second in the MAC, but pretty well handled Laney twice this year, once by pinfall and in the MAC championships 9-5.
Kyle Larson (Iowa State) 23-15 vs Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State) 22-0
Larson has faced his share of tough matches this season and “stole” an automatic spot in the NCAA’s; he’ll need to wrestle his best match of the year to upset Tomasello.
#2 Cory Clark (Iowa) 22-1 vs Jade Rauser (UVU) 20-6
Big Ten Champion Cory Clark’s first match should be a win; much like Gilman Clark hasn’t struggled with foes at Rauser’s level.
#8 Earl Hall 29-7 (Iowa State) vs Josh Martinez (Air Force) 23-8
The senior Cyclone has a tough match in his opener; Martinez has been right on the edge of being a top 25 wrestler all season, but Hall should be able to use his athleticism and experience to advance.
#15 Josh Alber 26-10 (UNI) vs Gary Wayne Harding (Oklahoma State) 15-11
This match should be interesting, as both men are underclassmen and are on the upswing of their careers, however Harding’s less-than-full season I think is his undoing, and Alber wins to advance to face Clark.
#2 Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) 25-1 vs Nick Barber (Eastern Michigan) 18-9
Sorensen is coming off finishing second at the Big Ten Tournament, falling to the #1 seed Zain Retherford. I think Sorensen can come back from that loss, and it starts with a bonus point win over EMU’s Barber, although I like Barber, he just had the bad luck of drawing Sorensen in the first round.
#13 Edwin Cooper Jr (Iowa) 17-9 vs Tyler Berger (Nebraska) 21-11
Cooper had a solid showing at the Big Ten championship, making the quarterfinals before finishing fourth, however he only won by one over Berger during their dual meet match. I think Cooper wins the rematch.
Bryce Steiert (UNI) 21-9 vs Spartak Chino (Ohio) 23-11
Steiert is the first of two Panthers to wrestle a pigtail match, matching up against MAC opponent Chino for the second time this season. Steiert won the first match 2-0 and I think he increases the gap this match. If Steiert wins he’ll get another MAC opponent in Luke Smith (Central Michigan, 30-8), whom he is 1-1 against this season, defeating him 6-3 at the MAC Championships. If Steiert can finish his attacks and score like he did two weeks ago he’ll win this match as well.
#9 Tanner Weatherman (Iowa State) 28-8 vs Dakota Juarez (Eastern Michigan) 14-10
Weatherman got a fairly favorable seed (I thought he could be as low as 13th coming in) and his first round opponent, despite finishing 2nd in the MAC, should not be a problem for the senior.
Cooper Moore (UNI) 15-6 vs Mitchell Wightman (American) 22-15
I don’t like when Panthers go up against wrestlers from American (UNI went 0-2 last season at the NCAA tournament against wrestlers from AU) but this should be a winnable match for Moore as long as he can find his offense and doesn’t let Wightman back into the match late in periods. He’s the second UNI wrester with a pigtail match, and his second would be against #14 David McFadden (Virginia Tech, 21-9) whom he lost to 11-5 earlier this season. That was Moore’s first match coming back from a concussion at The Midlands, and I expect the rematch to be much closer.
Patrick Rhoads (Iowa) 13-11 vs #13 Jim Wilson (Stanford) 24-6
Roads had a really nice Big Ten Championship, finishing 7th and earning a wildcard to make the tournament, but he’s got a tough match against Wilson, and I think winning this match would be a big boon for Iowa.
#13 Alex Meyer (Iowa) 23-4 vs Gordon Wolf (Lehigh) 13-10
Meyer is coming off a 6th place finish at the Big Ten tournament and a bonus point when in this match could be big for the team, but Meyer should advance.
Lelund Weatherspoon (Iowa State) 24-10 vs #2 Brian Realbuto (Cornell) 33-3
Weatherspoon won the Big 12 this year at 174 pounds but has a big hill to climb as he gets the number two wrestler right off the bat. Weatherspoon will have to pick his spots carefully and finish attacks to move on.
#2 Sammy Brooks (Iowa) 24-3 vs John Lampe (Chattanooga) 21-5
Brooks won’t need any mullet magic against Lampe in the opening round, the Hawk should be able to handle him even if Brooks was bald.
#14 Willie Miklus (Missouri) 18-5 vs Corey Griego (Oregon State) 23-10
Miklus had a bit of a disappointing MAC Championship, dropping a close 3-1 match to CMU’s Ellingwood, but came back to take third. Miklus’ scramble ability has never been questioned, and as long as he doesn’t fall asleep he’ll advance.
Dane Pestano (Iowa State) 24-13 vs #12 Hayden Zillmer (NDSU) 30-4
Here’s another conference rematch from the Big 12 tournament two weeks ago, Pestano will have to hold off Zillmer and connect on another shot in order to change the result against the Bison wrestler.
#4 Nathan Burak (Iowa) 23-2 vs Trent Noon (Northern Colorado) 24-8
Burak’s questionable seeding doesn’t come into play yet, as I think he handles Noon, hopefully with bonus points for the Iowa squad.
Patrick Downey (Iowa State) 6-2 vs #11 Phil Wellington (Ohio) 25-6
I don’t think we’ve seen enough of Downey at 197 pounds to make a determination on how successful he’ll be, but this should be a good match with Wellington. Downey will probably have to take a few shots, as Wellington can match his upper body strength.
#11 Sam Stoll (Iowa) 22-5 vs Boyce Cornwell (Gardner-Webb) 22-9
I don’t think anybody, other than Stoll, knows how bad his knee is really injured. Whether or not he can come out on top of any given match in the tournament is based on how he can defend from neutral and his ability to get out from bottom. I think he wins the match against Cornwell however.
#14 Blaize Cabell (UNI) 22-6 vs Joseph Goodhart (Drexel) 24-12
Cabell is coming off his most successful conference season of his career, going undefeated in the MAC and winning a MAC Championship. This first round match shouldn’t give Cabell too much trouble, although we have seen him take two or three unexpected losses this season.