Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Lindenwood Open Preview (11-20-21)


This is going to be a fun Open full of great wrestling from Division I, Division II and the NAIA.  Wrestling fans often wonder what the NCAA DI tournament would look like if we still continued to allow the top DII wrestlers to compete as we  did years ago. A tournament like this one gives us a glimpse of what that might look like.  Some of the best in DII and the NAIA could compete this tournament, with the opportunity to defeat their Division I competition.  


The #1 seed here will be Surtin, but he'll have plenty of competition in route to a title and the toughest of that competition could very well be his own teammates.  Punke has defeated him in the past via 3-1 sudden victory, and both Brown and Cardani will be challenges as well.  Cardani himself should be the #2 seed, but his route to the finals will be anything but easy. Depending on seeding, he has lost a 7-0 decision to Brown in the past.  He owns a 4-0 victory over Punke.  As to Cox, he's not defeating any of the top talent here. A 16-0 technical fall loss to Surtin proves that.  What he can do though is find himself in the 5th or 6th slot and I would love to see that.  Love seeing Iowa boys get out and not be afraid to leave the state to compete for other programs.  Lastly I'll say that I was disappointed to not see Cevion Sevarado on the Lindenwood lineup.  He owns a win over Surtin already 4-3, and he kept it close witih him a 5-3 loss.  He also took Cardani to a one point decision 4-3 as well.  He's no longer on the roster though and I cannot find him anywhere else. Hence why he was not included in this preview. 


This has the potential to easily be the best weight class of the tournament.  When I wrote my Fantasy Warfare: NAIA Vs NCAA Division III article a lot of wrestling fans responded that the comparison that should have been made should have been between NAIA and NCAA Division II.  Well, this is very well where that comparison could be made on the mat.  Representing NCAA Division II will be last year's 3rd place finisher Tanner Cole of Central Oklahoma and last year's 7th place finisher Tanner Hitchcock of Lindenwood.  Hitchcock defeated Cole at the Regional in a tight 3-2 decision, but Cole rebounded with a vengeance by defeating Hitchcock 12-3 at DII Nationals.  Within the NAIA, we get a real treat as the three best wrestlers the NAIA has to offer will be in competition.  Champion Connor Gimson, runner-up Esco Walker and 3rd place Mat Gimson.  The best of the NAIA Vs some of the best in DII.  

Almost positive that DI All American Byrd will be the #1 seed here and anxious to see if any of this DII or NAIA talent might be able to challenge him for the title.  Among the other DI talent listed, I think both the DII and NAIA competitors could get some nice victories.  Only the top 6 place at this tournament. It's inevitable that some very good wrestlers won't place. 


Carr has yet to compete this season but I would think that if he does enter here he is going to be the #1 seed. If not, then the #1 seed is clearly Hart.  Hart owns two victories over Ervin 4-2 sudden victory and 8-0 major decision. He has also defeated Smith twice by a fall in 3:21 and a 7-5 decision.  The question here would be whether to give Ervin the #2 seed or give it to Smith.  Both are 2-0 vs Keim.  Ervin defeated him by scores of 8-4 and 5-4, whereas Smith defeated him by scores of 9-1 and 4-1.  I would think that Keim gets the higher seed over Kuster seeing that he's ranked higher and he won their last meeting 4-3. Keep in mind though that overall Keim is 1-5 against Kuster.  Then somewhere in all of this mess, Mulkey who has kept it close in many matches Vs DI competition fits in.  As of right now, IF Carr enters this is how I would seed this particular bracket.  If Carr is not entered, move everyone up a spot.  

#1 Carr
#2 Hart
#3 Smith
#4 Ervin 
#5 Keim 
#6 Kuster 
#7 Mulkey 

Really hoping to see Keim Vs Kuster again.  See if Keim really has finally figured Kuster out or if in many matches, its simply a case of you're bound to get beat at least once.  


Duncan finished 5th in the nation at 141 lbs last season and Mauller finished 5th at 149. I would think that since this is 149 lbs, that Mauller gets the nod over Duncan in the seeding.  I think the only reason why Duncan might get the nod over Mauller, is because Mauller is redshirting.  As to the rest of the bracket?  Edmond at 12-0 is most likely going to be the #3 seed.  Kanzler, who has thus far shown great worth as a backup looking at #4.  Two time DII 3rd placer Landoff #5 and Filippo #6, with Tyus at #7 is how I would put it.  Landoff has defeated Filippo in two close matches 7-4 & 2-1 tiebreaker.  The person I'm most interested in seeing here is Kanzler.  Duncan like Carr, has yet to wrestle this year and as far as I'm concerned, if he doesn't compete here and Kanzler does, then Kanzler deserves a spot in the rankings.  If he's able to wrestle here like he did at the Michigan State Open, he could find himself in the finals.  


Jacques will take the #1 seed here and should cruise to a title.  See him facing either Lucas who he already owns a 10-0 victory over or Gentile in the finals.  The likely semi-final between Lucas and Gentile will be a good one. I would say that since Gentile was NCAA DII runner-up to Lucas' 5th last season that he gets the higher seed, but in their only head to head matchup Lucas won a 1-0 decision.   I would like to see Kristoff with a good tournament.  His grandfather Larry Kristoff was a multiple time World medalist and NCAA Division II champion for SIU-Carbondale who started the wrestling program at SIUE.  


I think most likely we see a finals here between O'Toole and Braunagel that favors the Tiger over the Illini.  With that said I have a feeling that the guy to watch here could very well be Smith.  Before Old Dominion dropped their program he put together a respectable 30-16 record. He finished 3rd last year at the NAIA championships which included a 8-0 victory over Vaoifi who finished 6th.  Wilson was an NJCAA champion for Ellsworth Community College in 2020, who went 6-8 last season at 149 lbs for the Cougars.  Look forward to what could be the 3rd place match between him and Smith. Vaoifi capable of placing top 6 himself. 


This is where NCAA Division II really has the opportunity to prove itself.  Romero was the DII champion last season and if it were up to me I'd give him the #1 seed.  With that said, he has a tremendous challenge in Mocco, who himself is a top 12 wrestler in NCAA Division I.  A win for Romero here would be big for him and for DII.  For those who continue to make the argument that DII champs belong in the DI bracket in March a win makes for excellent testimony. If instead Mocco is given the #1 seed and Romero is given the #2, he'll most likely then have to go through Illinois' Shannon, who himself would be another noteworthy victory for the lion. 


You want NAIA vs DII? I'll give you NAIA vs DII.  In this bracket we will have the 2021 NAIA champ Vermillion and the 2021 NCAA DII champ Gray.  This is a match I predict to see in the consolation finals, although I am not ruling out an upset by either one of them in their semi-final matches against what should be Braunagel and Kent.  As to Braunagel and Kent, I see this being a good match with an opportunity for the Illini to pull off an upset over the Tiger.  Not to be forgotten, I think Wempen could find himself competing in the 5th place match. 


I tell you what, that Rocky Elam is something else.  Still technically only a freshman, I can guarantee we're looking at a five time All American and most likely before his career is all said and done a national champion.  I think he'll toss and throw his way through this entire tournament. With that said, Marriott is a heck of a back up and I think he illustrates it this tournament. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see him in the finals against Elam.  Really puts it into perspective doesn't it?  Abney could very likely win the NCAA DII title at the end of this season, while Marriott graduates a backup.  Simply goes to show how even making a varsity lineup in itself is a tremendous accomplishment.  The Abney/Marriott match as well as the Abney/Wroblewski match should either or both happen, will be great test in the DII vs DI debate.  Look for Rendleman to fight for a spot in the top 6. 


I think this tournament presents a grand opportunity for McKiernan who I would guess gets the #3 seed.  Looking at facing Luffman in the semi-finals and if he can get the upset there, he's likely to face Elam in the finals.  He's beaten Elam before, pinning him in sudden victory.  He's also taken him into overtime as well, dropping a 6-4 decision. It's not lost on me that Elam has also majored McKiernan 11-1 as well as defeated him 5-1. It's simply a match that McKiernan can win.  When I wrote my preseason team previews, I said that McKiernan has gotten more and more conservative throughout the years. As a freshman he seemed to have a nothing to lose, go for it, just wrestle mentality.  That has developed into a timid, more worried about winning that wrestling approach.  This is simply from a fan's perspective watching from a distance, but it is what I see. Ability wish he has the tools to beat these guys ranked way above him. He goes out there and just wrestles, he will.  As to the NAIA, likely to see a championship consolation semi-final rematch between DePiazza and Isaac.  DePiazza won via fall at the 3:34 mark as he went on to place 4th to Isaac's 5th. 


Great tournament full of great representation from DI, DII and the NAIA! 

No comments:

Post a Comment