Capable of: 1st-4th
Breakdown: Remember Nico's Quentin-like avenging moments at last year's NCAAs? Can we expect more of the same this year? If so then expect another FINALS appearance from the Mega man & another nail-biting, tough as H E L L down to the wire battle for a National Title. If Nico can bust Delgado or Waters in the Semis look for another classic with McD in the Finals.
Prediction: 2nd or 3rd
133 Jordan Conway
Expectations: RD12 (2-2)
Capable of: 4th-8th
Breakdown: Sorry young man but I just think that you need just another year of experience & a few more pounds on your bones to get over the AA hump. There have been quite a few shining moments this year from JC @ 33 to give Nittany Lion fans optimism at this weight again since the departure of Mr Long. BUT one never knows: with a injury default HERE & a tough upset WIN THERE we could see him on the podium. It is all up to HIM & how badly he wants it.
141 Bryan Pearsall
Expectations: RD12 (2-2)
Capable of: 4th-8th
Breakdown: Bryan has given the Rec Hall faithful quite a few OVER-achieving moments to bring us to our feet over the past 2 years. He has become an example of what this bright staff can do with a kid with the right attitude & work ethic. And while DUALS have been his strong point with come from behind FALLS over higher ranked opponents, Tournaments have been his acchilles heel. He is going to have to change that if he expects to land on the podium.Again, with a bit of luck & some strong desire he could do it but I think the Cinderella man will just fall a little short.
149 Andrew Alton
Expectations: RD12 or low AA
Capable of: 4th-8th
Breakdown: At the beginning of the year I had Andrew in my top 3, capable of winning it all. However something happened along the way to getting to the top of the podium. Here is a kid who as a true freshmen came close more than once at beating some of the top wrestlers in the country (Russell, Marion, Kennedy) but just could not get over the hump & ended losing in the RD12 2 years ago to another kid he had decked only a couple months earlier. I figured that a RS year would have solved all of that but here we are again wondering what is going on between the ears of an obviously talented young man.I really feel that his finish just might pace the team. Which Andrew will show up? Have the staff had enough time to work out that issue in the past week or two? I think yes.
Prediction: 6th-8th place with finally a breakout win over a higher ranked opponent
157 Dylan Alton
Capable of: 1st-6th
Breakdown: Dylan had a very impressive showing last year in St Louis finishing 3rd as a RS FR. But an early season loss to Joey Napoli of Lehigh & a few other sluggish outings along with his run in with the Lock Haven police have again left some of the Nittany Nation scratching their heads if there is some sort of curse ala the Red Sox we cant get rid of when it comes to talented kids coming to Happy Valley (see DeAugustino, Jayne, Kolat & Bilman). I do not think it is as acute as with his twin brother Andrew but hopefully the staff have worked with Dykan to get him to peak next week. And while I do not expect him to outperform his finish of last year I expect he will be solid & make it to the quarters & then through the wrestlebacks getting PSU 10-15 points.
Prediction: 3rd-6th place
165 David Taylor
Capable of: 1st or 2nd
Breakdown: i was about 8 or 9 when my Dad got me my first subscription to Sports Illustrated & on the cover was a picture of Joe Frazier knocking Muhammad Ali on his red suited butt. In my mind, Dake-Taylor III is my own little Ali-Frazier & this is the THRILLA in DES MANILLA, excuse me, Des Moines! Early in the season i said I did not care who won the first 2 matches as long as DT won in MArch. I figured the first 2 matches were 14 minutes DT had to figure out Dake's "impenetrable defense." I look for DT to blow away the notion that Kyle is in his Head & use all his practice with Casey Cunningham to good use. Expect some offense AND some back points.
174 Matt Brown
Expectations: Who da heck knows! Semis? Finals?
Capable of: 1st-6th
Breakdown: I was warning people early last season to look out for this kid from Utah. Matt who? Well the NLO & Scuffle last year was his introduction to the Nittany faithful & this year he suddenly had EXPECTATIONS upon him. He had a few matches slip away from this year in the dulas which lead to a lowly 5th seed but oh my did he pull off a QUENTIN & avenged those early season losses with a vengance (is there a theme here?) Last year I told folks that Matt would be a 2x NCAA champ. Unfortunately I still stick by those words BUT not by much.
Prediction: 2nd in a close one
184 Ed Ruth
Capable of: 1st & OW
Breakdown: Undefeated. Gorrian winner. Intermat wrestler of the year. Defending NCAA champ. Hodge front runner. What else can we say about young Mr Ruth? Well it was last year when I was doing commentary of one of the TOM blogs during a dual when I thought "geez these kids KNOW that the cradle is coming. Why the hell aren't they stopping it?" & then it hit me, sort like a rake snapping you in the forehead when you step on it in the dark (but without that THWAPing sound) THEY CAN'T. & I thought "OK, thats GOOD!" And we have been watching the master of the flying suicide far side cradle ever since. 30 points anyone?
Prediction: Champ & not even close & OW
197 Quentin Wright
Capable of: 1st-2nd
Breakdown: So much for those pre-season jitters about moving up a weight. Q is doing a Cael (jumping from 84 to 97) & it didnt even seem to phase him as he strolls into Iowa UNDEFEATED as well. Everyone is pretty much waiting on his last hurrah vs Mr Kilgore of Kent State. I expect this to be a barn burner despite the fact it will be the big men. Thanks for everything Mr Wright & may you go out a champ & another team title.
285 Jimmy Lawson
Capable of: 6th-8th
Breakdown: The problem with having such tough competition in the room is that if you end up splitting time you limit your own time on the mat to hone your own skills. A few weeks ago it seemed like the staff settled on Jon Gingrich at heavyweight but then he fell ill one week & Mr Lawson stepped in & then never relinquished the job. Of course you can try to 2nd guess the coaches & point out that if they would have chose Jimmy from week one we might have ourselves another All-American. Well 3 Scuffle titles & 3 B1G titles don't have me 2nd guessing anyone.I think we DO have a 285 AA in our midst as he just may have gotten enough mat time to become another Dangerous New Jersey wrestler for PSU.
Prediction: 6th-8th YES Virgina EIGHT AAs for PSU....
Team Penn State
Capable of: 3-peat
Breakdown: With the changing of any line up comes a lot of wondering & 2nd guessing. Cael & company have put those fears to rest. Cody has continued to get the most out of the lower weights; Casey makes the best in the country better at the middleweights & Cael has FUN with the big men. All 3 have made this bunch of individual athletes into a TEAM. A team that just might challenge some of the best teams in history (& if not this year then definitely the next!) I expect that Iowa, Minnesota & Oklahoma State will all bring next week but if thise team does what it is supposed to do the 4th team title is theirs.
Prediction: 3-peat with a challenge at the all time scoring record
Love your optimism Kurt, hope it happens exactly as you predict! Some thoughts on our brackets:
A Alton vs Houdashelt in the first round makes me nervous. But if AA can step up his game to what he's capable of I like him not only beating him but beating Ness in the next round as well. Okay maybe I'm being a bit optimisic but he could give Ness fits.
Nico's possible showdown with Jarrod Garnett from Va Tech in the quarters also makes me nervous. Nico needs to get into that zone he found last year. If he gets by Garnett (no gimme) I like his chances agains Waters and making another final.
Matt Brown drew a tough first round assignment with Porter. He beat him at the scuffle 9-4 so hopefully he can replicate that. Otherwise he should cruise to the semi's where either Evans or Storley should await. Go for the sock pull Matt!
I love Dylan Alton's draw. He got stuck in the pigtail but I can see him cruising to the quarters to meet Welch, who he's beaten twice. And if he gets by him, Green in the semi's who he's also beaten twice. He could definitely make a run.
If Conaway, Pearsall and Lawson all make the round of 12 that would be huge but realistically I just don't see it happening. I'm hoping they all win their opening round matches then make a respectable showing in the consy's, maybe picking up a bonus point here or there.
Taylor, Ruth & Q all need to do what they do; rack up the bonus points! Q's going to have a harder time getting bonus at 197 this year but I still see a fall or two from him. Ruth will roll but I'm hoping he's a bit more aggressive than he was at B1G's. And third time's the charm as Taylor will beat Dake.
I really think our three-peat chances lie with the Altons. Will they can step up and score some points or will they fold? I'm guessing they step up just enough and we take it.
Dylan Alton does have a great draw. Compared to some other teams, I think Penn State did pretty well in seeding and draws.
I'm very curious to see how Andrew Alton does. I think he has the potential to make the finals, but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't AA again this year.
For the Penn State fans out there.
I bumped into Dave Taylor on Friday and we chatted briefly. He looks ready.
Good to hear!
I have to admit that Iowa has some tough draws with Evans in Storley's quarter and Burak getting Kilgore first round. But, with wrestlebacks, the bigger issue sometimes isn't who you draw in the championship bracket, but what top seeds get knocked off early that you draw in the consys.