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2011 Mid-Season All American Predictions: 184

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by , 01-22-2011 at 07:57 PM (807 Views)

1. Kirk Smith (Boise State)
2. Quentin Wright (Penn State)
3. Chris Perry (Oklahoma State)
4. Joe LeBlanc (Wyoming)
5. Chris Honeycutt (Edinboro)
6. AJ Kissel (Purdue)
7. Jon Fausey (Virginia)
8. Lee Munster (Northwestern)
R12. Steve Bosak (Cornell), Travis Rutt (Wisconsin), Robert Hamlin (Lehigh), Grant Gambrall (Iowa)

Mid Season
1. Kirk Smith (Boise State)
2. Chris Honeycutt (Edinboro)
3. Joe LeBlanc (Wyoming)
4. Steve Bosak (Cornell)
5. Travis Rutt (Wisconsin)
6. Robert Hamlin (Lehigh)
7. Quentin Wright (Penn State)
8. Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota)
R12. Jon Fausey (Virginia), Chris Perry (Oklahoma State), Josh Ihnen (Nebraska), Luke Rebertus (Navy)

Spent a long time this year waiting and wondering if/when we were going to see Kirk Smith back in the line up. It was a legitimate question too given his injury rumors, he's got a redshirt that he could have taken but he was back in Boise's line up for National Duals a few weeks ago where he recorded a nice win over Kevin Steinhaus in his second match of the day. Back in the fall I talked about how Smith was a guy who despite his great season last year (undefeated until getting worked by Askren in the NCAA finals) and stellar summer (decisive win over Wright at WTT's) was still very underrated. Wrestling wise he's always been at his best on his feet. Not the most aggressive guy in the world, but one of the most efficient. When he decides to go he almost always scores. He's always been solid on the mat, Askren worked him last year but Askren worked everyone last year during the tournament.

Right now I like Honeycutt to come in at the end of the year and comprise the second half of what I'd call the "No Love" final as I spoke about him being underrated by a lot of people (myself included) when he came in this year off his redshirt. Like Smith he spent the early part of the season out of the line up getting in a little more rehab on a shoulder that he had surgery on during the off season. Had kind of an alarming match early on in his return as a result of an apparently pretty awful weight cut, gassing badly and very nearly going down to Peter Capone before powering into a late TD and ride out after taking a blatant lung time out. Since that match though he's looked tough. He won the Southern Scuffle, recording wins over Rebertus and Bosak in the process. Then a few weeks ago at Virgina Duals he recorded another quality win over Jon Fausey. So far he and Smith are the only guys here on the list who haven't lost in what has been a pretty wild weight class so far this year. He's got a dual left with Thomusseit on his schedule (and then would likely see him again at conferences) but other than that his path is pretty clear up until NCAA's. This isn't really a weight class where the struggle for the #1 will be big (since its been such a cluster) but I'm sure it'd be something nice to have for him.

Due to Wyoming having scaled down their schedule some from last year (where they went to the Body Bar and Las Vegas tournaments) LeBlanc has been flying under the radar some just because we haven't seen much of him against high level guys. He spent a period of time ranked #1 by nearly all ranking services and it was barely noticed. Despite the fact he isn't wrestling a lot he's still wrestling very well just like he has over the course of the first few years of his career. He had wins early in the year over Kissel and Ihnen en route to gaining the #1 ranking. A few weeks ago at Virginia Duals he got his first extended run against competition winning matches against Rebertus and Fausey, but going down in a close back and forth match to Robert Hamlin. He's got a match left on his schedule with Chris Perry that could be interesting (coming into the year I thought it would be a huge match). The last two years he's proven that he always brings it at NCAA's so even without as much competition as he's had in the past this year he should have no issue turning it on when it counts.

Had I managed to get this write up out a few days ago Bosak would have been at least one spot (if not more) higher on the list, and the tone of this write up likely would have been a little different. As it is, he's right up there with Josh Asper as either 1A or 1B on the list of guys that I underrated the most coming into the year. I had him on the AA list for a while during the pre-season based off his stellar year last year, but I still didn't really think he was that good so I spent a lot of time searching for a guy that I liked better that I could replace him with. So far this year he's been the replacement for Kyle Dake on the "Rob Koll is that damn good" team this year (Koll having said in a newsletter before the season started that Bosak was much improved and would challenge for a national title). Super fun guy to watch wrestle. Great from the feet with his elbow pass series. Then tough on top with his cross wrist and 2 on 1 tilts. Before dropping a match the other night to Hamlin (who I'll talk more about later) the only match he'd lost was to Honeycutt in the Scuffle finals. He's got a pair of wins this year over both Nate Schiedel and Kevin Steinhaus, then he has other wins over Travis Rutt and Mike Larson. He's got the upside to be higher, but even at his peak I don't see him in the finals. To me he feels more like a guy who gets knocked into the consi's in the quarters and then just lays waste to everyone the rest of the way.

Out of all the picks that I made here at this weight class in the pre-season taking Rutt as one of my top 12 is the one that I'm most proud of based off how things have gone down this year, he's a guy who I really had a good feeling about coming into the year and he's exceeded even my expectations with how he's performed so far. He's only dropped one match so far, going down 2-0 to Bosak out at Las Vegas. He won the Midlands back in December recording wins over Thomusseit, Hamlin, and Ihnen in consecutive matches. Other than that he's got an additional win over Ihnen last night, two wins over both Andrew Saunders and Kevin Steinhaus, and then another win over Ryan Loder. He has a pretty big greco background, but you wouldn't necessarily know it in watching him as he does a good job getting to and finishing his leg attacks. Very strong at this weight which is obviously something that he's able to use to his advantage.

I talked about underrating Smith and Honeycutt in the pre-season and based off his results so far I may be doing the same thing here with Robert Hamlin. He's come up to this weight after having a solid year last year at 174 and at the halfway point of the year he already has ten quality wins (more than anyone I have listed at any weight) including marquee victories over Wright, LeBlanc, and Bosak. The win over Wright made the second straight year he came into the Lehigh/Penn State dual and knocked off an opponent ranked higher than him. He wrestles just like he did last year, just comes forward and keeps shooting. He doesn't always score but the volume that he comes at guys with means that eventually he's going to figure guys out and get himself on the board. Other than the wins I've already mentioned he's got three wins over Mike Larson, two wins over Loder, and then other wins over Thomusseit and Fausey. He's dropped matches to Rutt and Rebertus.

Tough year so far for Quentin Wright. He started off as one of the highest rated guys in the country and someone who was seen a major contender for a national championship and perhaps even the consensus favorite. That kind of went out the window a little bit when he dropped the aforementioned early season match up to Hamlin in a match where he looked sluggish overall and was just really unable to get anything going from his feet. After taking that loss he wrestled well including a win over Dan Rinaldi (not overwhelming) but then wound up injuring his shoulder in the Nittany Lion Open finals which kept him out of the Penn State line up until last night when he made his return recording a nice win over Max Thomusseit. Even in that win though he showed some of the same issues that he displayed against Hamlin. Seemed to slip into looking for just one big move to try and win the match rather than looking to just score with basic stuff. Had some gas issues but with it being his first match back that's kind of expected. If he's able to stay healthy he's just too well rounded not to make it up here.

While I've talked about guys who were underrated during the pre-season Steinhaus is someone who you really can't call underrated because there was no reason for him to be on anyone's mind during the pre-season, he's been a major surprise so far this year for the Gophers. Came in out of high school as a 160 pounder but has really done a great job building himself up into a 184 who hasn't struggled against even the larger opponents here at the weight. Great duck under from the feet, also has solid leg attacks. Probably most comfortable though from the top where he likes to run tilts, and where he's very effective as a rider even if he's not able to turn the guy. So far this year he's got wins over Perry, Ihnen, Fausey, and Rebertus. The wins over Perry and Ihnen both displayed that riding ability as he really took the fight out of Perry from the top, and actually rode Ihnen for the entire third period to win that match. So far this year he's lost a pair of matches to Bosak, and then also dropped matches to Perry, Trotman, Smith, Rutt, and Kissel. Struggled to score from the feet in his match last night against Kissel but I think that's a problem that he's able to solve as the year goes on.[/QUOTE]