2010-2011 Pre-Season All American Predictions: 141 Pounds
by, 10-17-2010 at 05:54 PM (781 Views)
1. Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State)
2. Kellen Russell (Michigan)
3. Jimmy Kennedy (Illinois)
4. Tyler Nauman (Pittsburgh)
5. Mike Thorn (Minnesota)
6. Zack Bailey (Oklahoma)
7. Chris Diaz (Virginia Tech)
8. Chris Villalonga (Cornell)
R12. Germane Lindsey (Ohio), Michael Mangrum (Oregon State), Filip Novachkov (Cal Poly), Colin Palmer (Ohio State)
1. Kellen Russell (Michigan)
2. Jimmy Kennedy (Illinois)
3. Tyler Nauman (Pittsburgh)
4. Mike Thorn (Minnesota)
5. Zach Bailey (Oklahoma)
6. Chris Diaz (Virginia Tech)
7. Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly)
8. Chris Villalonga (Cornell)
R12. Germaine Lindsey (Ohio), Chris Drouin (Iowa State), Collin Palmer (Ohio State), Michael Mangrum (Oregon State)
Looking strictly within one conference you're going to be pretty hard pressed to find two tougher brackets than the ones that Kellen Russell won in the Big 10 when he was a freshman and a sophomore. Even more impressive over that two year span is the fact that during the Big 10 season he only lost three matches total against those same opponents all three of which came during his freshman year. Russell redshirted last year and didn't show up at any open tournaments so its been a while since we've seen him. When he comes out this year I imagine that he'll probably be the same guy that we got used to over the prior two years. He was never the greatest guy in the world when it came to initiating his own offense, and if he's managed to improve in that area then that's something that should provide him even more of an advantage during this coming season. He's an excellent scrambler, especially when he's put in defensive position either when guys get in on his legs or when he's working from the bottom. Then he's tough on top. Not really someone who racks up back points, but he can get them. Even when he doesn't he's generally able to pick up riding time.
Kennedy is a guy that a lot people are high on coming into this year and with good reason in my opinion. Like Russell he redshirted last year, however we did get an opportunity to see him wrestle as he showed up at the Midlands tournament in December where he wound up finishing 2nd to Alex Krom. He had wins over Lou Ruggirello and Joe Slaton en route to making the finals. He also got out and wrestled some freestyle this summer recording wins over Eric Grajales, and Levi Jones. While he was down at 133 he was always one of the more offensive and explosive guys. He was also a very large 133 pounder which could have contributed to his upset loss in the first round of the 2009 NCAA tournament after coming in as the Big 10 runner up and #2 overall seed. Kennedy is a guy who can look to the success that Reece Humphrey had last year after moving up to 141 as something that he could seemingly very easily replicate. The fact that Kennedy is much better as a mat wrestler than Humphrey was should be a big advantage when it comes to him looking to improve upon Humphrey's 3rd place finish last year.
Tyler Nauman had an interesting year last year where he was very good to start the year off, he was arguably the most impressive 141 in the country over the first half of the season. He was very average in the middle of the season where he picked up some losses and dropped toward the bottom half of the top 20 in most places. Then he was very good at the end of the year as well winning the EWL and crashing the semi's at NCAA's as a #10 seed before dropping a close match in the semi's to Montell Marion and going on to finish 5th overall. Last year during the year he had a tech fall over Ryan Prater, and then other wins over Seth Ciasulli, Nick Nelson, Trevor Melde, Juan Archuleta, Cole Schmitt, Filip Novachkov, Jamal Parks, and Germaine Lindsey. He's a guy that wrestles a wide open, scrambly style.
Kind of have to ask myself how I've got the reigning Big 10 champion down here underneath two guys in his own conference who didn't wrestle last year. Mike Thorn came out last year and was a markedly more consistent wrestler through out the year than he was as a sophomore. Still liked to scramble and go for big moves but he seemed to have cleaned up his wrestling style to where he could thrive in the shoot out type matches that his style works well in, but he also showed an ability to win the slow paced grind it out type matches best typified by his 3-1 victory over Reece Humphrey in the Big 10 finals. Last year he beat eventual NCAA runner up Montell Marion twice by bonus points, once by fall and then once by major in the Big 10 semi's. He majored Dalton Jensen, Cole Schmitt, Chris Drouin, and Ryan Prater. He pinned Todd Schavrien and had another win over him as well. He had wins over Conor Beebe, and Seth Ciasulli, then had a fall over Chris Diaz in the 7th place match at NCAA's.
You could make the argument here that I'm showing a little bit of disrespect to Zach Bailey given that he's the highest returning placer here in this weight class and that I'm predicting him to finish below two guys that he beat at NCAA's last year, but even after his great performance last year he's still a guy that I just don't see "it" from. He came into NCAA's last year as the #5 seed at this weight class and was upset in his pig tail by Seth Ciasulli in a match that a lot of people wound up predicting. After being sent to the consolations though he absolutely caught on fire. In consecutive matches he majored Pac-10 champion Adin Duenas, majored Derek Valenti, beat Filip Novachkov, sent Levi Jones home in the Round of 12, and then had the aforementioned wins over Thorn and Nauman in the All American rounds. Over the rest of the year he was one of two people to defeat eventual NCAA champion Kyle Dake. He had additional wins over Jones and Valenti. He had a pair of wins over Dalton Jensen, and then had other wins over Seth Ciasulli, Michael Mangrum, Todd Schavrien, and Jamal Parks.
Despite his stellar season two years ago Chris Diaz was a guy who spent quite a bit of the year last year wrestling kind of under the radar. Didn't have quite as good of a tournament out at Las Vegas last year as he did two years ago when he utilized his stellar performance there to launch himself into the national spot light. He had an impressive 17 match win streak during the middle part of the year last year before going down to Alex Krom at ACC's. He's just a guy that wrestles solid from all three positions. Last year he came into NCAA's as a guy who was in a very favorable position in the bracket from the #11 seed but then wound up going down in the first round. During the year he had three wins over Derek Valenti, and then other wins over Adin Duenas, Seth Ciasulli, Conor Beebe, Alex Krom, and then his win over Jamal Parks in the Round of 12.
I've already commented when I wrote about Filip down at 133 that I find the Novachkov weight switch this coming year to be odd, as it is I will say that I feel better about predicting an All American finish for Boris here than I do for Filip down at 133 given the fact that Boris is coming up in weight and the fact that he was an All American last year. Like Filip he made his first appearance on the National radar at the Las Vegas tournament, unlike his brother his brother however he won the tournament recording wins over Steve Mytych, Tyler Graff, and Mike Grey in the process. Over the rest of the year he had another win over Mytych and then also had wins over Jordan Oliver, Kelly Kubec, Brandon Low, Kendric Maple, Matt Fisk, and Steve Bell. Had a razor close match in the quarterfinals last year with Jordan Oliver that some say he deserved to win.
I'll readily admit that my biggest justification for this pick coming into the year is "Rob Koll is just that damn good." Cornell has had at least one freshman make All American each of the last five years and I like Villalonga to make it six straight next March. He comes in as a higher rated recruit than the guy he's replacing at 141 in the Cornell line up. All Dake did last year of course was come in and win the NCAA tournament and Villalonga is a guy who comes in as a very similar recruit. Probably not as good as Dake was from neutral, but its certainly not a weakness for him. He's someone who wrestles a more mat based style. He's someone who while not quite as big as Dake was is still physically mature and should be a full sized 141. The one question mark about him will be his health as he supposedly had shoulder surgery after his season ended this year at Blair. Watching the updates from Cornell that have been posted so far in the pre-season though it doesn't seem like its going to be something that effects him early in the year as he's very prominently featured working hard with no limitations.