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2010-2011 Pre-Season All American Predictions: 174 Pounds

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by , 10-22-2010 at 04:13 PM (969 Views)

1. Mack Lewnes (Cornell)
2. Chris Henrich (Virginia)
3. Jordan Blanton (Illinois)
4. Ben Bennett (Central Michigan)
5. Mike Benefiel (Oklahoma State)
6. Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa)
7. Scott Glasser (Minnesota)
8. Colby Covington (Oregon State)
R12. Luke Manuel (Purdue), Mike Letts (Maryland), Ed Ruth (Penn State), Austin Meys (Lehigh)

1. Mack Lewnes (Cornell)
2. Chris Henrich (Virginia)
3. Jon Reader (Iowa State)
4. Jordan Blanton (Illinois)
5. Ben Bennett (Central Michigan)
6. Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa)
7. Scott Glasser (Minnesota)
8. Colby Covington (Oregon State)
R12. Luke Manuel (Purdue), Mike Letts (Maryland), Nick Amuchastegui (Stanford), Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma)

Up until the NCAA finals last year you could conceivably make the argument that Mack Lewnes had had the most impressive season of anyone in the country, and yes I'm including eventual Hodge Trophy winner Jayson Ness when I say this. Lewnes came into NCAA's having dominated through out the season, consistently putting up bonus points. Then most impressively, before the NCAA finals he hadn't surrendered a takedown. Read that last sentence again. Just a great year last year after moving up from 165, he let us all know that the move up wasn't going to be a problem when he tech falled Mike Letts who some idiot predicted to win NCAA's last year in one of his first matches of the season. Over the course of the year he also beat Letts two other times, hea had a pair of wins apiec over Stephen Dwyer, Robert Hamlin, and Scott Giffin. Then he had other wins over Jeff James, Dorian Henderson, Bagna Tovuujav, Chris Henrich, Dave Rella, Nate Lee, and Colby Covington. Really just a total package. Great offensively and defensively from the feet. Showed some unreal scrambling ability in matches against Henrich and Covington in particular last year. Then tough on top and bottom as well. After the tough loss to Borschel last year in the finals, you've got to think there is a pretty decent possibility that he comes out this year and just lays waste to most everyone he wrestles.

One of those few guys that Lewnes may not lay waste to is Chris Henrich. The two of them wrestled a match last year in the Southern Scuffle finals that doubled as one of the more exciting contests of the year as both guys really showcased their scrambling ability. Henrich is a guy who actually wrestles a very similar style to Lewnes. Aggressive, good offensively and defensively from the feet, and tough on both top and bottom. Unfortunately for him in their individual match last year Lewnes does all of those things just a little bit better than Henrich does. Last year Henrich had a pair of wins over Ben Bennett, and then had other wins over Dorian Henderson, Jeff James, Scott Giffin, Dave Rella, Mike Benefiel, and Stephen Dwyer. The win over Dwyer stands out as being particularly impressive given that Henrich was defeated by Dwyer in the All Star Classic early in the season in a match where he got up early and then Dwyer made a late comeback. This second match up came on Saturday morning at NCAA's less than 24 hours after Henrich had fallen victim to another big comeback in the semi's to eventual NCAA champion Jay Borschel. Henrich was able to rally his spirits and come back and actually major Dwyer to secure 3rd place for himself. He's the first of several Virginia upperweights that I'm very high on coming into the season.

Jon Reader is a guy who really looms large as a true wild card at this weight class coming into the season. He came out last year and during the early part of the season looked as good as he'd ever been. He finally started beating Ryan Morningstar, and then during the mid-late part of the year he was the guy who ended Nick Marable's 2.5 year Big 12 winning streak. Other than the two wins that he had over Morningstar and the win over Marable he also had three wins over Tyler Caldwell, two wins over Josh Asper and Alex Meade, and then other wins over Andy Rendos, Colt Sponseller, Justin Kerber, and Paul Young. Despite the great regular season that he had Reader was arguably the largest of the first round upsets that happened at NCAA's last year going down 5-4 to eventual 8th place finisher Chris Brown and then being eliminated by Andy Rendos in the round before the round of 12. He's come out this summer though and wrestled well in freestyle for the second year in a row. He'll be representing the US at University Worlds here in the coming days. He had wins over Adam Hall and Moza Fay in the process of making the team. He's not a guy who has ever seemed particularly big at 165 but he's mentioned in interviews that he was cutting quite a bit of weight to get down there last year. Like the two guys I have above him right now he wrestles an aggressive well rounded style that should really lend itself to some exciting matches amongst the top level guys here at this weight class.

I came into last year thinking that Jordan Blanton was going to be a guy who was massively improved from the prior year, but for most of the year he was more or less the same guy. Still wrestled the same aggressive, brawling, but not particularly technical style that he had up at 184 as a true freshman and that would lend itself to some ups and downs during the course of the regular season. He came out at NCAA's though and worked his way through a very tough draw en route to making the quarterfinals and eventual finishing as an All American. He had a pair of wins over Ben Bennett during his run at NCAA's last year then had other wins during the year over Dorian Henderson, Dave Rella, Luke Manuel, Duke Burk, and Scott Giffin. I've been beating a Phil Keddy reference into the ground while talking about Blanton here for a while, calling him "Phil Keddy v. 1.5." Meaning he's better technically than Keddy was as a freshman (although that isn't exactly saying a ton) but not quite to the point that Keddy got to as a sophomore and junior. Even if he makes that progress this year I don't know if that will be enough to get him up and over the guys that I have above him but it would do well in terms of setting him up as the favorite at this weight class when he comes in as a senior in two years.

Despite the fact that he was more consistent during the year, and came into the NCAA tournament with a better seed than Jordan Blanton the two losses that he took to Blanton at NCAA's leaves Ben Bennett coming in at #5 here to start the year. He still had a little bit in the way of ups and downs after displacing 2009 NCAA runner up Mike Miller and becoming the permanent starter for CMU at 174. He was a Midlands finalist losing only to Jay Borschel, and then two weeks later at National Duals dropped both matches he wrestled including a 6-0 loss to Jimmy Duffy of Wisconsin. During the year he had two wins over Jarion Beets, and then other wins over Mike Letts, Dorian Henderson, Robert Hamlin, and Scott Glasser. He's a guy who demonstrated a nice ability to put guys on their backs recording a pair of quick falls in the consolation bracket at NCAA's over Covington in the Round of 12, and Beets in the match immediately following that one. Given the propensity of some of the guys above him to roll around and put themselves in danger that's something that could help him in possible upset bids.

Ethen Lofthouse comes into the season as a guy who's weight class may be up in the air as rumors exist after news of Jake Kerr moving up to 174 broke as to whether or not he's going to pull a McDonough and cut down to 165. Wherever he goes he's a guy that should be very tough next year as a redshirt freshman. Last year he had an early season win over Scott Glasser at the Kauffman Brand Open that kind of announced his presence to everyone. He also recorded wins over Caleb Kolb, Cody Yohn, Ben Jordan, and Duke Burk. Then he came out this spring and wrestled very well in freestyle making the finals at University Nationals, winning FILA Juniors, but missing out on the Junior World team as he wound up as Conrad Polz's final victim during his great run. Over the course of those three tournaments he had a pair of wins over his teammate Derek St. John and then had other wins over Dan Yates and Chris Spangler. In watching tape on him he's a guy who wrestles a similar style to Daniel Dennis. He likes to work a russian out on the right side and use it to ether drag his opponent down and work behind or set up single legs to his opponent's right leg. So long as he remembers to shoot rather than just push with that tie its a style that should serve him well over the next four years.

Scott Glasser came out last year and for a time it looked like he was going to put up a similar season to the ones that he'd had during the previous two. Solid guy, but just seems like something missing which you could probably attribute to him being consistently bitten by the injury bug. Things changed for him though after he went down to Phil Moricone in the first round at the Southern Scuffle. From that match up through Big 10's he went 21-3 with all three losses coming to eventual NCAA champion Jay Borschel and looked as good in those matches as he ever had. Over that span he had wins over Duke Burk, Dorian Henderson, Ben Bennett, Dave Rella, and Jordan Blanton. He also had wins during the year over Ben Jordan, Ethen Lofthouse, and Bagna Tovuujav. Reason why I've got him down here instead of up a few spots which would be plenty justifiable in my opinion is that I wonder whether or not he's going to be able to keep healthy over an entire season like he did during the second half of the year last year. If he does in fact stay healthy he's a guy that you could easily see up a few spots here.

Had you told me the day after the 2009 NCAA tournament that Colby Covington would come out the next year and win 40 matches, win the Pac 10 tournament, and make the Round of 12 while wrestling an aggressive style that would have endeared him to Iowa fans had they seen it during his stint in Iowa City, suffice it to say I'd have given you pretty good odds on that one. Despite the fact that he didn't make the podium last year his performance sits as one of the biggest surprises of the year last year to me. During the year he had a pair of wins over both Nate Lee and Luke Manuel, and then other wins over Ethen Lofthouse, Duke Burk, Stephen Dwyer, and Jeff James. With the Pac-10 having cleared out this year I like him to repeat his dominant performance within his own conference and then use that momentum to carry himself to this final All American spot over a host of other solid contenders.