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2011 Mid-Season All American Predictions: 149

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by , 01-17-2011 at 01:53 PM (685 Views)

1. Darrion Caldwell (NC State)
2. Kyle Dake (Cornell)
3. Frank Molinaro (Penn State)
4. Kevin LeValley (Bucknell)
5. Jason Chamberlain (Boise State)
6. Jamal Parks (Oklahoma State)
7. Mario Mason (Rutgers)
8. Torsten Gillespie (Edinboro)
R12. Dylan Carew (Iowa), Danny Zilverburg (Minnesota), Kurt Kinser (Indiana), Brian Stephens (Virginia Tech)

Mid Season
1. Darrion Caldwell (NC State)
2. Kyle Dake (Cornell)
3. Frank Molinaro (Penn State)
4. Kevin LeValley (Bucknell)
5. Jason Chamberlain (Boise State)
6. Mario Mason (Rutgers)
7. Cole Schmitt (Wisconsin)
8. Brian Stephens (Virginia Tech)
R12. Andrew Nadhir (Northwestern), Jamal Parks (Oklahoma State), Kurt Kinser (Indiana), Ivan Lopouchanski (UNC Greensboro)

We kept wondering when we were actually going to see him this year (and unfortunately he wound up missing the two events where he'd see his best competition) and now Darrion Caldwell is finally back, and he seems to be pretty much the same guy that he's always been as he's 6-0 right now with five pins. He really hasn't wrestled anyone yet as the most significant of those wins so far was his fall over Josh Roosa in his first match back, but its encouraging for his future prospects to see that he's dominating guys that he's supposed to dominate. He would have wrestled his best opponent so far this past weekend but wound up sitting out of the dual against Virginia and missing an opportunity to wrestle Derek Valenti. He's got matches left on his schedule with Parks and Stephens, then he should see Stephens again at ACC's but he'll definitely come into NCAA's relatively untested against the best of the best guys at weight.

Dake came in this year off his hugely successful true freshman national championship season moving up a weight class. Given that he was probably the biggest 141 in the entire country last year he hasn't had much of an issue size wise but he hasn't exactly set the world on fire this year like he did last year though. He spent the early part of the year banged up and struggling with getting down to weight, and wound up missing both the Body Bar and Las Vegas tournaments as a result. The Body Bar wasn't a huge loss but he'd have seen some tough guys out in Vegas. Right now he's still undefeated having recorded shut out wins over Stephens (10-0), Molinaro (1-0), and Jantzen (2-0). The Molinaro and Jantzen matches are pretty emblematic of his general style, he's so good at defending shots and he's tough enough on top to where much like Russell he can salt matches away even if he isn't turning you. If he's healthy though I think Caldwell is just too athletic while still being a very talented wrestler to where he'll beat Dake.

Coming into the year I wondered if I wasn't not showing enough love to the Gorilla Hulk given that all of his losses from last year were now gone from the weight class, however much in the same vein of the last two guys an injury (in his case a broken bone in his foot) has caused that question to possibly remain a little unclear here at the halfway point of the season. Since he made his return at the Sprawl 'N Brawl though things have kind of gotten back to form for him. He still likes to get out and take a lot of shots and beat people up on the feet, still tough on top, still can be ridden or at least he still believes that he could be ridden. That ineffectiveness on bottom cost him in one of his two losses this year as he took neutral in his Scuffle final against Dake and wound up losing 1-0. He's split matches this year with Mario Mason coming out victorious in his first match back in the line up, and losing in the Nittany Lion Open finals as Mason's final victim in his run of defeating three straight Penn State wrestlers. Other than those matches he's got a pair of majors over Torsten Gillespie, and a win over Sakaguchi. Came into the year predicting him to pretty much walk through the Big 10 and while I'm higher on some guys now than I was in the pre-season I still like Molinaro as the heavy favorite.

Kevin LeValley continues to function this year much like he did last year, just cruising along under the radar and continuing to win. Mario Mason recently knocked him from the undefeated list, but other than that lost he has been far more consistent so far this year. He got started early this year with a shut out win over Gillespie in the All Star match. Other than that he's got another win over Gillespie, he's got wins over Dylan Ness and Cole Schmitt en route to winning the Midlands, then he's also beaten Kinser, Parks, and Lopouchanski. He's got a little bit of a lull stretch now in terms of his level of competition, he won't see a ranked opponent from now until his last dual of the year where he'll wrestle Sanjaa. That should leave a prospective match up between him Dake at EIWA's as one of the more interesting matches at conference tournaments.

I liked Jason Chamberlain last year as a breakout guy, he spent most of the year wrestling kind of inconsistently before knocking off LeValley and making the quarters at NCAA's (where he fell victim to a brutal pin by Lance Palmer) before going out in the Round of 12. So far this year he's seemingly fixed the consistency aspect as he's undefeated so far having won the Las Vegas and Reno tournaments, but he still hasn't exactly been blowing people away. Part of that is a function of his competition level as he just hasn't run into many top level guys so far. He has three wins over Sakaguchi, and then other wins over Kinser and Jantzen. He'll see Sakaguchi here again in a few weeks but the match that may be most telling as to whether or not he's ready to be a contender this year will be when he wrestles Parks in Boise's last dual of the year before Pac-10's. Should he win that will immediately become his best win of the year headed into the post season.

Thinking back to the pre-season predictions that I did, I recall a rather spirited debate occurring between myself and another poster pertaining to the likelihood of Mr. Mason making the All American podium. I was arguing in the affirmative due to Mason's seemingly higher comfort level this year at Rutgers both because he was closer to home and with the coaching staff, and it causes me endless joy to see that at least over the first half that I was right. Mason has looked much improved this year both in terms of his results and in terms of just his overall demeanor on the mat. Had a little bit of a slow start, taking all of his losses during the first month of the year (decisions to Molinaro and Green, and a fall to Steve Santos) but since December he's been very tough recording marquee wins over Molinaro and LeValley. He's got matches with Stephens and Sanjaa left on the schedule, and he'll be an interesting addition to that already mentioned pairing of Dake and LeValley as far as quality guys who won't have met before their conference tournaments.

I spent quite a bit of time debating as to who to go with here in these last two spots (if you have the time take a look at D1CW and see how Schmitt, Stephens, Parks, Kinser, and LeValley have exchanged wins this year) and wound up going with Schmitt here. He's a guy who like Kyle Dake moved up from 141 last year where he was kind of back and forth. He was solid but he had a tendency to get blown out by some of the top level guys. So far this year he's got two wins over Accordino, and then other wins over Sanjaa, Nadhir, and Stephens. He's got a pair of losses to Lopouchanski, and then he's also beeen beaten by Stephens, Jantzen, and LeValley. Stylistically I like him as he's a guy who is getting better at being hard to score on (from the feet anyway, he's still susceptible to being turned) and he's tough on top.

Came into the year pretty high on Stephens as a break out guy this year and while he's performed well enough to earn a spot on this list he's been kind of inconsistent as to what I actually expected him to do (although again look at D1CW for the results between these two guys and my Round of 12) as odd as that sounds given that I only picked him as a R12 guy. So far this year he's beaten Gillespie, Schmitt, Lopouchanski, Accordino, and Parks. Then like most of his teammates in the Virginia Tech line up he's taken his fair share of losses this year as an individual having lost to Kinser twice, and then also to Carr, Lopouchanski, Schmitt, and Dake. To his credit other than the loss to Dake all of his other losses have been very close and he's been in the match until the end.