1. Dustin Schlatter
2. Gregor Gillespie
3. Mike Poeta
4. Jordan Leen
5. JP O'Connor
6. Dan Vallimont
7. Cyler Sanderson
8. Adam Hall
It was requested, and here it is. Before this is discounted as the biased Gopher fan in me talking take a look at Dustin's history with the guys at this weight. 2-0 against defending champion Leen including a near major in the Scuffle finals two years ago. 2-0 against Sanderson including a near major the first time they wrestled. He's got a win (albeit also a loss) over O'Connor. Then granted the Vallimont we saw last year was a much improved version of the one we before Dustin laid an absolute beating on him the one time they wrestled beating him 15-4. This isn't even to mention the wins that he had last year including Burroughs, Palmer, two wins over Adam Hall, and two wins over Patacsil including a major. The only name guy at this weight that hes wrestled and hasn't beaten is Gillespie.
While I won't deny that I'd love to see these two meet up in the finals to cap off their careers as I like both guys (and have Dustin avenge the loss) and this may be coloring my pick, Gillespie had an absolutely torrid year last year. Last year he had Majors over Moley (also beat him by dec twice), Bowman, and Marsh. He had tech falls over Sherfey, and Zupancic. He pinned Sanderson in 40 seconds, and he beat Matt Kocher four times. He had a loss to Poeta by a point in what was arguably the match of the year, the two point loss to Leen in the quarters, and then a one pointer to Vallimont after he'd beaten him with bonuses two or three times the previous year.
Poeta was a hair away from taking the title home last year but lost the one pointer to Leen, and given that he's already beaten Gillespie and hasn't wrestled Schlatter its certainly possible that he reverses that result and manages to take it home this year. Last year he beat Craig Henning three times including a pin in the All Star match. He beat Vallimont three times, and then he had the previously mentioned win over Gillespie. His reshots are ludicrously good.
Leen really could be said to be the surprise of the tournament last year when he ripped off consecutive wins over Gillespie, Zupancic, and Poeta en route to the title. Over the course of the season he also had major decision wins over Bowman and Moley, and then a win over Chandler. He appeared to have dealt pretty well with the problems he had on bottom from two years ago when Gillespie and Schlatter rode him like a mule. How he deals with being the hunted will be interesting, I may be undervaluing him here.
The reason that I have these two guys ordered the way they are is that I'm pretty sure that O'Connor beat Vallimont two years ago when they were both down at 149. Last year O'Connor had wins over Garrett Scott (albeit up a weight), Palmer, Churella, and Grajales during the year. Then he had wins over Adam Hall, and a revenge win over Dustin Schlatter at NCAA's after he tore his MCL.
Vallimont is probably underranked here, but it is what it is I guess. Most Improved Wrestler last year was between him and Keddy both guys were leaps and bounds better. Vallimont won his first twenty one matches last year. He had wins over Bowman, Sanderson, two wins over Becker, and then as mentioned a revenge win over Gillespie at NCAA's.
Sanderson helped validate his big brother's "move everyone up" plan when he improved his round of 12 finish as a freshman with his 7th place finish last year. Last year he beat CP Schlatter, he majored Bowman and Oliver. He also beat Chandler, Hluschak and Moley (twice). He should bang heads with Chandler pretty steady to be the guy in the Big 12 this year. While he beat Chandler last year, Chandler also beat him when he knocked him out of the championship bracket at NCAA's.
Hall is a guy who slipped under the radar for much of the year last year. He is yet another guy that I've looked at that very well may have AA'd had he not drawn a guy like Dustin Schlatter in the first round of NCAA's. His best wins last year were two matches that he won over Ervin, and a major over Atkinson at NCAA's that avenged a couple losses that he took during the season. He lost to both Schlatter and Burroughs twice but wrestled them both tough each time.