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2010/2011 Big 12 Wrestling Predictions: 174

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by , 09-08-2010 at 02:34 PM (1471 Views)

1. Jon Reader (Iowa State)
2. Mike Benefiel (Oklahoma State)
3. Caleb Kolb (Nebraska)
4. Jeff James (Oklahoma)
5. Dorian Henderson (Missouri)

Reader came out last year and for a time looked like he was on his way to having the best season of his career. He finally started beating Ryan Morningstar, he ended Nick Marable's Big 12 winning streak, and he was more consistently dominant against his lower level opponents. That is what made him not making All American last year so odd. Came in as the 4th seed and went out in arguably the biggest upset in the first round. To his credit he lost to Chris Brown who wound up an All American but he was still the biggest name to go down. It'll be interesting to see what he does going up in weight. He never really struck me from looking at him on tape as a bigger 165 but he's a go getter and he's got good technique so even if he is a little out sized I like him to have a big year.

After being kind of average during the early part of the year after being ruled ineligible for the first semester Benefiel burst onto the scene when he absolutely demolished his Reno tournament bracket. Wasn't exactly loaded but he just killed everyone. He was solid through out the rest of the season en route to finishing 2nd in the conference last year to Dwyer. It'll be interesting to see how he's progressed during the off season and whether or not he's gotten more comfortable after spending an off season in a more stable situation.

Going with the upside here and taking Kolb as the #3 guy here. Had a great redshirt season last year going 27-5 after coming highly recruited out of Pennsylvania. Given the success that Nebraska has had at these middle and upper middle weights in recent years I like him to continue the success that he's already seen. I do worry a little bit though as I came into last season very high on a Nebraska redshirt freshman (Josh Ihnen) and he wound up having a very static season before turning things on at the end and making the round of 12 at NCAA's.

I said I was going with upside in taking Kolb instead of going with Jeff James who I feel like we already know all there really is to know about. He's just an all around solid wrestler. Seems like he's perennially always ranked in the lower part of the top 10. I think I called someone either earlier here or maybe in the Big 10 a gate keeper for a weight class and James in my opinion is kind of like that guy for the 174 weight class nationally. He's going to beat all the lower tier guys, and if you beat him you're generally a guy who is going to be challenging for an All American finish or better. He's a guy who if his draw falls right he could make it up on the podium. Seems like he's been around forever.

James got the nod over Dorian Henderson primarily because he beat him in their matches last year. Henderson moved down to 174 last year after wrestling at 184 as a redshirt freshman and seemingly had a more consistent year. He had some nice wins including one over Benefiel during the early part of the year. Don't see him beating Reader or Benefiel (he only beat him the first time last year) but he's a tough athletic guy so he could if things fall right for him finish as high as third here at this weight.