As it has been throughout the course of its history, the Michigan State Open will again prove to be one of the tougher beginning of the season tournaments. Most likely all of these teams will not send their full squad of varsity starters, but man oh man what a treat that would be for wrestling fans if they did. Nevertheless there will be some great wrestling at the Michigan State Open. A tournament that places the top 6 at each weight class, a placing worth noting on over all credentials and accomplishments.
What a fun weight class this will be if all of the varsity starters show up. I predict a final of Justin Cardani of Illinois Vs Michael DeAugustino of Northwestern. As of now, they are 1-1 against one another, both tight matches. Cardani won a 4-2 decision in 2020 & DeAugustino won a 2-1 decision in 2021. The other thing that excites me is to see how Joey Prata fares against the competition. I've been backing him up as Virginia Tech's best backup for quite some time now & feel that he can do some great things for Oklahoma. Wins over any of these guys & a top 3 showing at the MSU Open would be a great way to start his final season.
Michigan's Stevan Micic is obviously the forerunner for the title here, but what an opportunity it presents for Rayvon Foley to potentially knock off who some have ranked #1 in front of a home crowd at his own tournament. With that said, he'll have his hands full with Lucas Byrd of Illinois who I would personally seed #3 if I were seeding the tournament. As to the rest of the weight class, I see before me six talented grapplers all with something to prove, looking to earn a top 6 placing.
I think Dom Demas of Oklahoma makes a run at the NCAA title this season and I think he'll show his domination here. With that said, I do think Illinois' Dylan Duncan is capable of giving him a scare. Duncan has steadily improved over the years and had a phenomenal showing at last year's NCAA's. If both show up to compete at the MSU Open, this should be the final. With that said, if all of these varsity starters show up, I think we're looking at our top 6 place-winners.
Remember how I said earlier that if all of the varsity starters show up that the MSU Open will be a real treat for wrestling fans? I wasn't kidding. This is a tough weight class where I can see 6 of the 9 wrestlers mentioned above making a run at the title. Every one of these guys has something to prove. Lamer that he is All American material & that despite many of the negatives California collegiate wrestling has faced over the years, Cal Poly is a positive. Carr that he's healthy and back to form, ready to go. I'll say the same for Gomez. Thomas that last year's NCAA 3rd place performance was not a miracle, not a fluke, but for real. Moore that he's a top guy. Omania, Cheloni and Hagan that they can hang with these guys. We have a full bracket full of all or at least most of these varsity starters, it'll be a fight just to take 6th.
Ryan Deakin obviously takes the cake here and I feel pretty confident in saying that I believe that it'll either be Will Lewan or Justin Thomas against him in the finals, with the loser of that likely semi-final taking 3rd. The last time the two met Lewan squeaked by in a tiebreaker. I really hope to see a matchup between Lovett and Slivka. Oddly enough Lovett can beat a lot of guys that Slivka cannot beat, but it has been Slivka who has had his hand raised every time the two have met. Can Lovett finally figure Slivka out? Or will Slivka still have his number yet again? Saldate obviously wants to have a good showing being a home tournament, as Pappas and Model look to place within the top 6 as well.
We haven't seen Wick in quite a while, but nevertheless I still believe he's going to be one of the contenders for the NCAA title this season. Should win this tournament with relative ease should he enter. I'd like to see Jake Tucker have a good appearance in his final MSU Open & there's no reason to think that he couldn't take runner-up honors. He's 0-2 Vs Cam Amine but he took him to a 4-3 match that with a bit more time on the clock might have turned into a win. Danny Braunagel is always tough, always capable of an upset, plus you have some other talent mentioned. Will be a fun bracket.
I'm glad I don't have to seed this bracket. What a mental mind screw. Anthony Mantanona has defeated Andrew McNally twice by scores of 11-10 and 12-8, but he's lost to both Oliver and Shannon, as McNally defeated Oliver. I think regardless of how these guys get seeded, we're looking at some good semi-final matches & potentially even some good quarterfinal matchups. The feud between Oliver and Kauffman will continue as Kemp and Shannon have opportunities to improve their rankings.
Does Bernie Truax have the size and strength to contend at 184 lbs? We'll find out on Saturday. I don't see him upending Myles Amine but I'm very anxious to see him compete against either/both Wilson and Weiler. Both of those matches if they happen will give us a great indicator of where Truax is up weight classes from last season. On Paper I'm thinking Amine Vs Wilson for the finals and Truax vs Weiler for 3rd. Good semis, good finals, good consolation finals. I forgot to include Zac Braunagel in this. Not on purpose, as he'll too contend for placement status & is more than capable of a huge upset.
Will the MSU Open be the return of Pat Brucki to the mat? I'd love to see that. Health could be an issue for Brucki and we'd get to see where he stands against the stiff competition of both Caffey and Woodley. If he's there, look for a good semi between Caffey and Woodley and if he's not there, that should be our final.
If you follow JT#1 you know good and well that I'm a big fan of Matt Stencel and now that I know he doubles as the Wolfman, I'm an even bigger fan. (Seriously, look at that pic and tell you that you don't see 1930's Wolfman). I'm obviously not much of a comedian, but what I am is an enthusiastic wrestling fan! And what I'm excited to see is Stencel with a shot at avenging a tough loss to Hillger at the NCAA's last season & with the opportunity to let all the "wrestling experts" know that in the "who will face Steveson in this year's NCAA finals" his name BELONGS in the discussion. With that said, anxious to see how this bracket plays out. 4th, 5th and 6th places, along with who fails to make the top 6 will be rather interesting.
There you have it, my thoughts on the 2021-2022 MSU Open. A tournament that doesn't get a lot of press, but should, especially if all teams bring their varsity starters. Will be some great wrestling.
UPDATE: I recently found out that Micic will actually be at 141. That obviously changes things. I don't have time to make a new photograph listing (attending the funeral of a very good friend), but I will give my thoughts on how that will obvious change things ups.
I would think that the #1 seed would still be given to Demas and that a final between the two will give us great insight to Micic at 141.