Saturday, September 25, 2021

2022: The Preseason: Oklahoma State Cowboys

 As far as getting everyone to the NCAA tournament, I don't see any holes in the Oklahoma State lineup. All 10 weight classes provide wrestlers who are top 33 material. Like Michigan, the problem lies in getting all 10 of them on the award stand.  Does John Smith have a team that could place all 10 wrestlers? I wouldn't say it is impossible, but I wouldn't say that it is likely either. 2021-2022 is one of the most loaded season, if not the most loaded season I have ever seen.  

Trevor Mastrogiovanni 
Record: 15-6
BIG 12: 21'5th 

A top twenty wrestler for sure, pretty sure at top 15.  Top 12? Maybe.  Top 8? On his best day.  I have no doubt that he'll do some big things for the team this year. Should wrestle well at the Scuffle, be an asset in duel meets and do well in the BIG 12's.  All American at nationals? I'm not seeing it. Too many top dawgs ahead of him.   He'd have to have one Hell of a draw and he'd have to pull off at least two if not more huge upsets in a row.  I'm thinking more along the lines of R16. 

Daton Fix OR Reece Witcraft
Sophomore OR Sophomore     
Record: 53-3 OR Record: 26-14
NCAA: 19'2nd, 21'2nd OR NCAA 20'NQ
RENO: 18'1st, 19'1st OR 

Daton Fix contends for the NCAA title this year, no doubt about it.  If anything, two NCAA runner-up finishes probably have him more prepared than he's ever been. The state of Texas to the west might compare in size to the chip on his shoulder.  Fix hasn't faced Stevan Micic of Michigan yet, and that's a match I want to see. I also want to see the rematch between him and Roman Bravo-Young of Penn State, as do a lot of wrestling fans.  He hasn't dominated Iowa's Austin DeSanto in 2-0 and 3-2 wins, as far as racking up points is concerned, but he hasn't had to. As long as you have more points than your opponent does, and he can't get out from under you, you win.    

With that said, Reece Witcraft is one hell of a hand to have in the room pushing you.  In his own right, he has wins over All Americans Montorie Bridges of Wyoming and Taylor LaMont of Utah Valley.  As well as Zach Price R12 of South Dakota State and NCAA qualifiers Paul Bianchi of Little Rock & Todd Small of Iowa State. 

Kaid Brock OR Dusty Hone
Senior OR Sophomore 
Record: 105-19 OR Reord: 38-18
NCAA: 17'5th, 18'5th, 19'R12 OR NCAA 20'NQ
BIG 12: 17'2nd, 18'2nd, 19'2nd OR 20'3rd
SOUTHERN SCUFFLE: 16'6th, 17'1st, 19'R12 OR 20'3rd
RENO: 19'3rd OR 

February 3rd, 2021 head Coach John Smith confirmed that Kaid Brock's collegiate career was "most likely" done.  That makes me 99.99% positive that we will not see him, but I suffer from anxiety and the 0.01% chance that we see him pop up just makes me have to include him when writing about the preseason.  Even if he's back, he hasn't been healthy in a long time and it is wishful thinking to think that he'd be at 100%.  If he were 100%, I'd have no quarrel in thinking he's NCAA champion material. He's 0-1 Vs Jaydin Eierman of Iowa and 0-2 Vs Dom Demas of Oklahoma, but I don't think he was 100% in any of those matches.  Most likely, it's a moot point.  We'll most likely see Dusty Hone in the picture instead. 

Now as to Hone, I think he's capable of more than some would give him credit for.  He owns wins over 3rd place All American Tariq Wilson of North Carolina State as well as All American Kyle Shoop of Lock Haven.  I don't think capability is an issue but I think consistency might be. He'd have to turn it up a notch and that's what I do question.  Capable of All American? Yes.  Do I think he does this season? No.  I'm thinking R16 or so. 

Kaden Gfeller
Record: 60-14
NCAA: 19'NQ, 21'DNQ
BIG 12: 19'1st, 21'8th 
RENO: 19'1st
SOUTHERN SCUFFLE: 18'1st, 19'1st, 20'2nd 

The shortened 2020-2021 season last year really hurt some wrestlers and Kaden Gfeller was one of them. Some need the benefit of wrestling a full season 20+matches and a season of wrestling 15 or less isn't going to cut it.  Gfeller looked like absolutely crap at last year's BIG 12 tournament and I have to blame that partially on the shortened season. I also wonder if the cut to 141 lbs was getting to him too. He is so much better than an 8th place finish at the BIG 12's. So much better.  I think that winning the BIG 12's in 2019, along with three Southern Scuffle finals appearances, with two championships speaks for itself.  I think he'll do much better at 149. Now, do I think Gfeller is going to beat Cornell's Yanni Diakomihalis or Sammy Sasso of Ohio State? No, but I'm serious when I say I think he's good enough to beat anyone else put in front of him. 

Wyatt Sheets 
Record: 77-41
NCAA: 20'NQ, 21'8th 
BIG 12: 19'4th, 20'2nd, 21'DNP 

I'm not sure if I believe in a deity or not, but I do believe in miracles. I'm not sure how you could have watched what Wyatt Sheets did last year and not call it a miracle. He wasn't even supposed to be at the NCAA tournament. He didn't even qualify.  Then someone got hurt, he was his replacement and as the 33rd seeded wrestler, he wrestled his way to an 8th place finish. Now he ended the season with an 11-9 record, but he entered the NCAA tournament with a 6-6 record.  Whatever luck, fortune, grace, whatever you want to refer to it as that he had last season, he'll need it this season as well.  0-3  Vs David Carr of Iowa State, that's a match I don't ever see Sheets winning.  He's 0-1 Vs Northwestern's Ryan Deakin and that's another match I can't see turning into a victory.  As to the rest of the field? He's 0-1 Vs Jacori Teemer of Arizona State, 0-1 vs Quincy Monday of Princeton and 0-2 vs Josh Humphreys of Lehigh. I think all three of these could potentially be wins.  Although he has lost to Kaleb Young of Iowa twice, he's already proven he can beat him too.  I'm not thinking a high placement, but he's more than capable of sneaking his way onto the award stand again. 

Travis Wittlake
Record: 66-7
NCAA: 20'NQ, 21'4th 
BIG 12: 20'1st, 21'3rd

I absolutely think that Travis Wittlake can contend for an NCAA title this season.  There's no reason not to. He not only defeated NCAA runner-up Jake Wentzel of Pittsburgh twice, he soundly defeated him both times.  9-2 and 7-3.  In that, his losses to the top rated wrestlers have all been very close matches. 4-3 to Keegan O'Toole of Missouri, 3-2 to Iowa's Alex Marinelli and 4-1 Vs Shane Griffith of Stanford. These 1-3 point losses could be the result of youth, which experience will eventually conquer.  With the potential of the upside, also comes the potential of the downside.  A 5-3 sudden victory loss to Luke Weber of North Dakota State indicates that Wittlake is also susceptible to losing when he shouldn't. Again that could be a factor of youth.  Only time will tell, but in the fairness of prediction, have to note it. 

Anthony Montolvo OR Dustin Plott
Sophomore OR Freshman 
Record: 45-10 OR Record: 15-6
NCAA: 20'NQ OR 21'NQ
BIG 12: 20'3rd OR 21'4th 

Montalvo has spent most of his career at 184 lbs and I'm anxious to see how he does at 174.  I'm not completely sold that he beats out Plott for the spot, but if I'm told I have to make a choice, I'm giving him the nod.  With him at 174, having never faced any of the opposition, it's difficult to predict how he'll do. Comparatively speaking to how he did at 184, I think he's All American material.  I want to see him against the top 5 before I start having too many thoughts, but a top 8 finish? Doable. 

Dakota Geer
Record: 122-34
NCAA: 17'NQ, 19'7th, 20'NQ*, 21'5th 
BIG 12: 19'3rd, 20'3rd, 21'3rd
EWL: 17'3rd 
SOUTHERN SCUFFLE: 17'4th, 19'4th, 20'5th
RENO: 19'1st 

Geer is one of those guys you look at that just frustrates the bejeezus out of you. He's a tournament wrestler, there's no taking that away from him. Yet on the same hand, he can't seem to figure out Wyoming's Tate Samuelson who defeated him twice last season by scores of 10-6 and 6-2.  While he does own notable victories over Taylor Venz of Nebraska and Hunter Bolen of Virginia Tech, as well as taking Northern Iowa's Parker Keckeisen into sudden victory, what really sticks out to me is getting majored, 10-0 by Binghamton's Louie DePrez. I realize those types of matches can be turned around. Keep reading this article, I'll even give you an example.  Parity rules the roost at 184 lbs, so I see Geer somewhere between winning the whole darn thing & 5th. 

A.J. Ferrari 
Record: 20-1
BIG 12: 21'1st
NCAA: 21'1st 

Now he did lose to Noah Adams of West Virginia (btw, where is he at? He for sure has eligibility left and he's not on the WVU roster) but like Gable Steveson in his first year of wrestling with losses to Anthony Cassar of Penn State, I think that's simply a case of freshman jitters. Now I know my history. I remember thinking that Dustin Schlatter would never get beaten again after he won the NCAA title his freshman year. I know in NCAA wrestling anything is possible, you never say never, but I will say this.  If Ferarri continues to wrestle like he did at the NCAA's last year, he's unstoppable. Until given reason to think otherwise, I'm calling champ. 

Austin Harris
Record: 40-36
BIG 12: 21'WC
NCAA: 21'NQ 

I've felt and continue to feel that what has hurt Harris the most over the years has been a lack of size. Always felt that putting on a few pounds of muscle would do him a world of good.  I was happy to see him make the NCAA tournament and he surprised me in how well he wrestled.  When I write about Central Michigan, I'll get plenty of crap for how high I am on Matt Stencel. He's not the first wrestler to have a nightmare NCAA tournament and in my opinion that's all that happened last year.  With that said, Harris did beat Stencel 7-4 and he also flattened Missour's Zach Elam at the 3:58 mark.  Do I think Harris is capable of an AA finish? Yeah, somewhere between 6th-8th I think is doable. I also think it's a possibility that he goes 0-2. He majored Air Force's Wyatt Hendrickson 12-2 and then turned around and was majored by him 13-3. Those types of results leave possible on the table regardless of where you stand.   


125 - R16 
133 - Champ 
141 - Champ (That's if Brock IS back) 
149 - 3rd
157 - 6th, 7th, 8th 
165 - Champ 
174 - 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th take your pick 
184 - Good as Champ, but could see as low as 5th
197 - Champ 
HWT - 6th, 7th, 8th 

That's the best I see it for the Cowboys this season. Brock is most likely out, so replace the champ at 141 with R12 or low AA.  Fix and Ferrari are going to be the leaders of the team, as they'll need Wittlake to step it up a notch and prove what he's capable of.  Geer is for sure All American points & I'd like to think that Gfeller is too, or at least he should be. Now everyone else is sitting on the fence.  I'll give the greater probability to Sheets, not knowing exactly how to feel about Montalvo yet. Harris? A big maybe. Mastrogiovanni? An even bigger maybe. 

1 comment:

  1. After seeing pictures of Montalvo over the summer, don't see him making 174 ever again