I'll never doubt McDonough again though I still think the more he makes this cut, the more a toll it takes on his body. I would have been interested to see how he would have performed up a weight in his career because I think he is good enough to get it done up a weight as well. I like the fact that Waters has had Henson in his corner this year and I think with his great rides and a tad more from his feet, he can break through and get in to the finals. I just think Delgado is pretty strong in all three positions. I think he lays low all year and then makes a nice little run at NCAA's. I've seen enough of Thorn already to know this: he's a Thorn...that means he is always going to wrestle with a bit of an edge and not always by the book. I think this means he may have some headscratching losses but also some brilliant wins. I think it culminates at NCAA's where his ability to score and his "funk" carries him far enough to place ahead of Megaludis. Speaking of Megaludis, I don't have him at 5 because I think any less of him, I just think he caught lightning in a bottle last year and snuck up on some people. I think there is more film on him now and that will lead to better match strategies by some of his opponents who will get to see him a few times this year. I think Snyder, the senior, puts it all together this year. He put a 6-1 win up against Soto and really puts lesser opponents away. His 24-5 record last year only really had one blemish with the loss to Opfer. His other losses were all against Megaludis, Waters, Sanders and Perrelli. I'm pulling for Garnett to just put together the type of effort we seem to see early in every season. He can be a dominating wrestler at times and disappear at others. Really talented wrestler who I hope can end his career with an AA finish. I'm going to get bashed for Triggas but other than McDonough and I think Delgado, Triggas is perfectly capable of upsetting any of these wrestlers with his pinning ability. As he gets in to the season and away from Freestyle, I think we will see a more consistent Triggas emerge and I can see him getting through a couple of rounds at NCAA's and then just dropping in to 8th place. Seems kind of fitting for Triggas. (Man, these are harder to do than I thought, I'm taking a beer timeout.)
1st Logan Stieber
2nd Tony Ramos
3rd AJ Schopp
5th C. Dardanes
I saw that NCAA match between Stieber and Ramos. Ramos is so slick but Stieber just seemed to be a step ahead of him. I like Stieber to repeat in a hotly contested finals with Ramos. Worth the price of admission itself. Russ introduced me to AJ Schopp and every time I watch him wrestle it seems he picks up another weapon for his arsenal. I also like how both he and Sentes can put guys away which should help them get through the grind of NCAA tournaments in the early rounds. I also think Schopp/Sentes presents an interesting match-up. Both guys are tough on top. The Dardanes brothers just seem to get stronger as tournaments go on. They are grinders and don't back down from anyone. If I can get a little more established offense from C. Dardanes, I can see him moving up higher here and I don't think anyone above him wants to see his name drawn in the semi-finals. I think Colon ends up not making it down to 125 and settling back here at 133. He has some impressive wins but seemed to crap out at NCAA's last year. I'll need to see more against the elite before I move him up above 6th. The only reason I put McCormick here is that I am looking after the top 8-10 at 133 and I just don't see other guys who are any better than he is. That doesn't mean he can't get beat but so far this year I've liked what I have seen from him. He was 16-7 last year but his only loss to a non-AA was to Zac Stevens and Shelton Mack. No one seems to get less respect in fantasy wrestling than Quiroga but he is a guy who is tough to knock off and send home from NCAA's. He stands in against anyone and goes 7 minutes and if you do beat him, you will know you've gone 7 minutes. He's also the only wrestler in D1 with a last name that begins with Q.
Maple is just an amazing athlete. Its a long season and I anticipate he'll get a loss or two but I think he'll be there when its all said and done. I'm not sure if the loss to Jackson announces the arrival of Camryn Jackson or a chink in the armor for Mangrum, lets say a little of both? I think Mangrum uses the experience of last years NCAA to slingshot up to #2 this year. I am HOPING we see the Graff of two years ago once the season gets some traction. He was an absolute killer on his feet like Oliver back then. I think he shakes off the cobwebs and gets it together come March. I just like the way Futrell wrestles for 7 minutes. He's also good from all three positions and finds different ways to win. He can win close ones and win dominantly. I have to be completely honest, I haven't watched H Stieber wrestle much so putting him here for me is strictly off his pedigree but there's too much talent there to put him any lower in my opinion. Again, the Dardanes boys just keep coming at you and even as freshmen stood in against the best of the best and gave people everything they wanted. Hoping to see more bonus points for teams sake during duals but I anticipate at NCAA's it will come down to takedowns. When Nevinger is on, he is ON, when he's not, he's pretty average. I think the early season has been pretty inconsistent for him with the wrestle-off loss and the loss to Bonaldi but I think Nevinger will get over his knicks and bruises and get back on the podium where he was last year, 7th place. Vaith has had some early season success and I think he builds on that. I'm not predicting a consistent season from him but he's shown me enough that he belongs in the AA conversation.
8th Von Ohlen
Okay, this weight kind of sucked for me. I'm not drinking the Kool-Aid as yet on Oliver, I am more than sure I am going to take a beating for that but I really think Chamberlain has all the tools to win this weight. I thought he had the tools last year to win the weight as well which is why I drafted him last year. Chamberlain is just to technically sound for Ness and wins the final. If (when) Oliver and Alton meet I think Oliver beats Alton 4 out of 5 matches and thats what happens here. Vinson and Sakaguchi make a great match-up for 5th and 6th and I see a tightly contested high scoring affair, call it 10-8 Vinson. This weight just isn't all that deep after that and I like Lester to get himself back on the podium one spot higher than last year. I will admit Von Ohlen is strictly a "because I want him to get an AA pick". He's a great kid and a great role model as are most of these guys generally speaking.
1st St. John
St. John made a believer out of me last year in his finals match with Dake. That was impressive on one leg. To me this #1-#8 is probably the most hotly contested up through 157. I can see all of these guys getting AA's but certainly in a different order than this. Welch and St. John I think will split some matches during the regular season, no doubt. I think Alton took his early season loss and will rebound nicely but with all of the competition at this weight in the B1G I expect the battle for the #1 seed to be a barn-burner. There's a whole lot of offense in this group. I like Fleming to finish just below the three talented 157's from the B1G unless he runs in to Green early. Green got him last year and handed him an 8-3 loss. I know it looks like I'm handing out alot of AAs to B1G wrestlers but in this weight class, I think its warranted. Everyone says Green reminds them a bit of Burroughs and though I think Burroughs is a once in a lifetime athlete for a college coach, its hard to deny some of the similarities. Dong, Hickman and Napoli have some quality wins against some of the guys above them on this list and and I think will be fighting it out in R12 and then they will sort it out amongst themselves.
I kept going back and forth on this one in my mind and though I think Taylor is an absolutely stellar wrestler and technician, I think Dake just has a gear at NCAA's that is second to none. Taylor will need to press him for 7 minutes if he wants to win I think and really kind of wrestle with some wreckless abandon. I think Dake is a great scrambler and counter-puncher so Taylor is going to have to possibly go "funk" to get a win otherwise Dake is going to give him the 165 lb version of the human "back-pack". I'll never say never and I am considering coming to NCAA's this year just to see this match. Caldwell is just the best of the rest and I think gives both of these guys a bit of a scare but in the end falls short in the semi's against one of them. Yates and Monk are seniors and I think they find a way to get through the first 2 rounds. From then on it will be grit and guts to grab those 4th and 5th place slots and some long days. I actually think Polz fits in that category as well. Monk only had losses to Deitchler, Kolodzik and Bonin among his losses to non-AA's last year and he had three to James Green, one to Dake, one to Fleming and one to Sanjaa. Yates had 8 losses last year, every one of them a quality loss if that's possible. Yohn is going to have to wrestle with some energy this year at NCAA's which I haven't seen before and he is my "come ON" pick this year. I'd like to see him go out as an AA. Toal seems to be close as well and I was torn between he and Sulzer. Is this the year he reaches up and gets on the podium? I say "sure, why not". If Evan's wrestles at 165, drop him in at 5 and move everyone else down one.
This was the toughest weight so far. I am going to drink some beers and redo 174.
Okay, redid 174. Its still a mess and I think after Perry and Asper its just a you pick'em. You could argue Blanton, Munster, Zanetti and probably Yates in there as well. I won't even try to defend this set of picks after #1 and #2 because I think if you tried you'd just be pulling it out of your ass.
Ruth was an absolute beast and a specimen at 174. With 10 additional pounds he is STILL a specimen and that's in a weight FULL of specimens. I don't think he has the dominating years that he's had in the past at 174 in terms of bonus but I think he's just too good on his feet for this field and will catch some of these guys in the occasional tilts and cradles, just not as many. I've watched Hamlin and Bosak trade one point matches last year but with Bosak sitting out and Hamlin getting more mat time, I will give the nod to Hamlin this time. Steinhaus and Bennett split last year but Steinhaus won his when it mattered most at NCAA's last year. I'm really curious to watch Lofthouse up at 184 this year. He and Ihnen I think will probably trade victories this year with no clear winner but as Lofthouse gets used to the weight, I think he flips some of the results from the early season at the big tournament. I for one thought that Loder would beat Trotman last year at NCAA's but Trotman just absolutely turned it on last year and to me was the surprise of the tournament. Tough time to run in to a hot wrestler. With Loder seeing Ihnen last year in their last bouts of the season, I think he'll come in with a different game plan and turn that 5-3 loss around.
Lots of big boys in this class and I'm sure that arguments could be made for Boley, Gonzalez, Meeks, and Burak but I don't think there's anyone who doubts that Kilgore is going to put his stamp on this weight this year at NCAA's. Wilps was close last year but Honeycutt just had his number seemingly. I think he saw what Wright had to offer at 197 and I think he would be smart to be careful in matches against Wright. I think he's actually fortunate that he got to wrestle Wright early in the season to see what he's like a little bit before the end of the season. As much crap as I give Wright, he is really fun to watch. He'll charge right after anyone and as he gets more comfortable at the weight, I'm sure we'll still see fireworks from him this year. Just nickname him Mr. March. Hernandez had an impressive season last year and looked good in Freestyle this summer. I've seen Haynes look like $1 MM and then turn around and look like a $2.00 ham sandwich. When he's on, he's on. I'm thinking he's on this year. If your name wasn't Wilps, Honeycutt, Byers or Kennedy, I think Haynes has won 25 straight. He seems to get stronger as the season goes on and then when he hits NCAA's he just can't get past the Joe Kennedy's of the world. I like watching Rosholts at NCAA's, seems like there's been one there for the last 20 years. I've had a chance to watch Schiller now the last couple of years. As a redshirt he was 26-4 with some decent wins mixed in there and he is 6-0 to begin this season though not against much quality but this kid gets after it on his feet and puts points on the board and I think that's going to be invaluable come tourney time. He will mix in some losses this year but they will all be learning opportunities, by season's end, I think he's ready to put together a nice run. I really wanted to put Burak here at #8 but then I remember Austin Trotman last year coming in and having a great NCAA tournament from the middle of the seeding bracket. I like Schiedel to be this year's Austin Trotman.
I will be completely honest, I went with Russ's strategy and just threw them down exactly how I saw it without too much thought. Just gut feeling. I hate ranking the heavies but I will say I've never seen anyone ragdoll Nelson like Gelogaev did and until he goes down with an injury or loss, I will give him the nod in the next head to head with Nelson. That still has to be on Nelson's mind from last year. I want to see more offense out of Nelson this year. People said his freestyle work this summer should help his leg attacks but I haven't seen it yet. Then again, the man is on a 25 match winning streak. I think Bradley and Nelson could wrestle 10 times and split 5-5. I'll give it to Nelson until I see something from Dom that leads me to believe that his year off has benefited him. The rest I just threw out on here because A) I'm tired and B) they are heavyweights and C) the more I say the l less smart I become.