2011 Mid-Season All American Predictions: 174
by, 01-20-2011 at 12:23 PM (798 Views)
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)
1. Mack Lewnes (Cornell)
2. Jon Reader (Iowa State)
3. Ed Ruth (Penn State)
4. Chris Henrich (Virginia)
5. Ben Bennett (Central Michigan)
6. Nick Amuchastegui (Stanford)
7. Colby Covington (Oregon State)
8. Jordan Blanton (Illinois)
R12. Mike Letts (Maryland), Scott Glasser (Minnesota), Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa), Austin Meys (Lehigh)
Back in the fall (when this weight class still made sense) I picked Mack Lewnes and based off the season that he's had thus far I'm sticking with him despite the loss that he took to Ed Ruth at the Southern Scuffle. That match the first time he'd lost a regular season match since he was a freshman. Read that sentence again. Up until that match against Ruth (which wasn't a fluke loss, Ruth dominated the entire match) Lewnes had appeared that he was well on his way to a dominating run back to the NCAA finals. He's got three wins so far this year over Ben Bennett including one by major. Since going down to Ruth he's majored Glasser twice. Then he has other wins over Ben Jordan, Caldwell, and Heflin. Most amazing thing about the match that he dropped against Ruth was how Ruth was able to get in and finish on Lewnes. This is a guy who didn't give up a single takedown last year until the NCAA finals, and hadn't given one up this year until he met up with Ruth. In the future against Ruth and the other guys on this list he's just got to focus on getting to his offense, when he's done that the last couple years he's put up big scores against tough guys.
I wondered coming into the year why Iowa State moved Reader up when he never seemed like a big 165, and whether or not he'd struggle a little early on wrestling larger opponents here at this weight. Given the fact that he is currently undefeated and ranked #1 in the country I think the answer to my question is a pretty definitive "No." Similar to his start's as a sophomore and last year as a junior he's looked very impressive so far this year both with the opponents that he's beating and the dominating scores that he's putting up against them. He's got two wins so far this year over Ethen Lofthouse, one of which came by major. He beat Jake Swartz twice at National Duals by comfortable margins. Then he's got other wins over Jarrion Beets, Letts, and Bennett. Has a great ground and pound style that he's able to use to wear guys down. He's got a match this weekend with Benefiel which he should take care of with no problem, then he has a HUGE match up next weekend when Cornell travels out to Ames where if he's able to win that one he should make it through the rest of the year undefeated and get what is shaping up to be a very valuable #1 seed.
When I talked about this weight class not making sense anymore, Ed Ruth and the great tournament that he had at the Southern Scuffle where he knocked off Lewnes and Henrich in successive matches is the primary culprit. He went out in both matches and just dominated, from all three positions. In the past he'd had matches that he seemed like he'd sleep walk through and with him being so big you'd always wonder about his gas tank if he got up against an opponent who really pushed things, but neither of those issues showed up as problems against Lewnes or Henrich. He stayed aggressive with his attacks (showing great aptitude for finishing when he got to legs) for all seven minutes of both matches, and he did a great job working hard on top against both guys as well. He had wins earlier in the year over Meys and Giffin. Only has one loss, dropped a 9-4 match to Letts at the Nittany Lion Open.
While you kind of always figured that Henrich was going to be overshadowed a little bit this year (during the regular season anyway) by Lewnes, with Reader moving up and Ed Ruth emerging as a title contender he seems like he's slipped way under the radar now and that may wind up being something that suits him just fine. Hasn't really run up against a ton of top level guys but despite that fact he's still got some nice wins this year over Meys and Ethan Headlee. While its probably no consolation to him he had an absolutely dirty foot sweep that he hit against Ed Ruth to pick the first takedown up in their match despite the fact that he'd wind up losing. He's got a match left on his schedule with Letts which should be interesting to watch given that they haven't wrestled since Letts beat Henrich twice back when he was a freshman.
Ben Bennett has kind of emerged as the break through guy at this weight so far this year having taken up the spot here as the best of the next tier after the top 4 guys who have separated themselves a little bit. He came in last year expected to wrestle 184 but wound up beating out returning NCAA finalist Mike Miller here at this weight, starting for the Chippewas here and eventually finishing 6th at NCAA's. So far this year he's met up with Mack Lewnes in a dual meet and in the finals of two tournaments, going down in all three matches. He made the finals at Midlands and went down there to Reader. He's got a pair of wins so far over Austin Meys, then other wins over Glasser (who he sent home at NCAA's last year), Heflin, Swartz, and Manuel. Got a nice well rounded style but he's able to augment that with big moves that he's able to utilize to pick up quick pins.
Nick Amuchastegui was one of the major surprises last year at NCAA's when he upset Nick Marable in the first round (for the second year in a row) en route to eventually finishing 4th for Stanford. Up here at 174 now he hasn't really missed a beat from how he was performing at the end of the year last year, he's looked good. Wrestling for Stanford he's a guy who is always going to exist a little under the radar but he's taken advantage of his opportunities to wrestle quality guys this year. He competed in the All Star match beating Blanton 4-0. Then he came out at Midlands and wrestled well en route to taking 3rd. He split matches with Austin Meys going down by fall in an early round match (his only loss of the year thus far) before coming back through the consolations and beating him for 3rd. En route to that match he also beat Mike Letts. He's got other wins over Giffin, and Swartz. Similar to Henrich he's a guy who will have a tough storm to weather in his conference with matches against Swartz, and against the defending conference champion Covington still left on his schedule.
Speaking of Covington here he is here in the 7th spot where he may be a bit underrated given that I've placed him under Amuchastegui despite the fact that he's the defending champion in the Pac-10 and like Amuchastegui he's only lost one match so far this year (in his splitting matches with Tyler Caldwell out at Las Vegas). Other than those matches he's got a pair of wins over Jake Swartz and other wins over Patrovich and Manuel. Was one of the most surprising guys in the country last year looking much improved for the Beavers after an awful stint in the Iowa room. He came in last year and wrestled an aggressive style that would have endeared him to Hawkeye fans had he shown it while he was there. That aggressive style makes a match up with Amuchastegui interesting as it should be a nice clash of styles with Amuchastegui looking to keep things a little more technical while Covington will be trying to brawl.
Similar to the prior weight I wrestled for a while as to who I liked to finish here in the 8th spot eventually deciding to give the nod to Blanton despite the fact that he's banged up based off the idea that unless you have a really good reason not to (and right now I don't) you go with the guy who has done it before. Blanton has an All American finish under his belt, the four guys that I have just off the list do not. Blanton is just a straight up banger and he's got a good gas tank which obviously helps when it comes to imposing his style. Comes straight forward, tries to beat up guys heads and then looks to score with doubles and high crotches. Solid enough on the mat but its not really where his strength is. So far this year the only place he's really wrestled was out at Las Vegas. He split matches there with Jake Swartz losing early but coming back to beat him for 5th. He also had a win over Nick Heflin. Then other than the loss against Swartz he's also dropped matches against Caldwell and Luke Manuel.