Monday, November 8, 2021

Mountaineer Open Preview (11-14-2021)

 The Mountaineer Open has been rather competitive tournament throughout the years and this season it looks to be as tough as ever.  Most weights should have great semi-finals & finals matches and some will even have some excellent quarterfinal matchups as well as some exciting action in the consolations. 


I would imagine being a returning NCAA finalist that Courtney would take the #1 seed here.  I tell you though, the guy to watch here is Cardani.  Cardani already owns an 8-7 victory over Courtney and could upend the Sun Devil once again.  With that said, I would imagine the #3 seed to be Russell, who has finished runner-up at this open before.  Wrestling on home mats, in front of a home crowd, this should make for an outstanding semi-final between the two All American hopefuls. Hudkins owns a head to head 7-2 decision over Ferri and I'd imagine that Smith fits into the equation somewhere.  Excited to see VomBaur in action. He's thus far had some ups and downs in his career, but seems to consistently improve.  Father Ben  was a two-time All American for Boise State back in 2002 & 2003.  No doubt he IS going to be good, but will he show signs this early into his career?  Wins over any of these opponents would be huge. 


Could likely see a rematch of last year's NCAA 5th place match where  Byrd pinned McGee in 6:17. That could likely be our final.  Van Vleet as of now is the Falcon's starter, but this is the exact tournament years ago that Flores put his name on the map, when he finished an impressive 2nd.  I was disappointed that when the two met in the Citadel Open this past weekend, that they decided not to wrestle.  I'm anxious to see when it is all said and done, who will be the starter.  Take into consideration Carter wants to have a good showing at his home tournament, and your have yourself a pretty tough bracket. 


5th place NCAA All American  Duncan takes the #1 seed here as I imagine he'll face #4 Phippen in an exciting semi-final that gives the young Falcon an excellent opportunity at an upset.  I'd imagine the other semi-final to be between Rooks and Brito? I say this as a question rather than a statement because I don't think we're at a final destination as far as Indiana's 141'er is concerned. As of right now Rooks remains in the rankings, but he recently dropped a wrestle-off to Bolivar.  Then on top of it, you also have Paul Konrath in the mix as well.  It'd be nice to see all three enter the open and see this worked out on the mat.   


Very tough weight class with two All Americans and one R12 that could all be competing.  Highest ranked with a head to head 9-5 decision over Millner, Parco is the obvious #1 seed.  Millner with a head to head 10-7 victory over Finesilver the #2 and Finesilver the #3. After that I would say if Carr enters the tournament he would be the #4, making Rooks the #5.  This potentially sets us up for a great semis and a great finals.  Parco Vs Carr on one side of the bracket and what will once again prove to be an outstanding battle of Millner Vs Finesilver on the other. 

With this in mind, I'm excited to see what Kanzler can do here.  Got over zealous and pinned in the semi-finals by a very tough Mitch Moore of Oklahoma, but other than that, he looked outstanding at last weekend's Michigan State Open.  Upset NCAA qualifier Anthony Cheloni of Northern Illinois twice in route to a 3rd place finish?  Does he have it in him to wrestle like that again this weekend?  If So look for an upset or two out of the seasoned Illini who is making the most out of his final shot.  


Winning a title here ought to be notched and noted for the All American Sun Devil, but I can see Bond on his home turf putting up a fight and giving him a respectable match.  Upsets of course are always susceptible, but I'd bet this will be our final. 


As far as I'm concerned if healthy, I think we're looking at a potential NCAA champion when we look at Valencia. A man on a mission is what I predict to see on Sunday if he enters the tournament and he's 100%.   As to who will be his finals opponent?  A betting man's wager says Formato as he is 4-1 against Mosley.  Nevertheless never count out the unexpected from inconsistent and unpredictable Braunagel. 


These are the types of situations you just eat up as a fan.  Everyone here has something to prove.  Finesilver that he's back, healthy and ready to make a run at All American honors. Flitz, this is his final home tournament, of course he wants to have a good showing.  Valencia wants to show the collegiate wrestling world that he is every bit as talented and good as his brothers.  Shannon and South, to garner upsets to further themselves in the discussion.  I'd wager to say that Finesilver is the #1 seed and Flitz is the #2 seed. After that, I'm not real sure how the seeding will go. I'd rather have Valencia on the other side of the bracket, I will say that. 


Braunagel is the obvious choice for the #1 seed here, but after that I'm not sure how this bracket will be seeded.  I was surprised to see Washington move up to 184 lbs and I'm anxious to see if he can be as effective up 8 lbs as he was at 174 last season.  Anderson and/or McCracken will be excellent tests & if he can get past Braunagel, stamp of approval, welcome to 184.  


The favorite here is Norfleet who I would imagine meets Russell in a semi-final, while the semi-final on the other side of the bracket would be between Wroblewski and Hutchison.  With that said, I would think with the Mountaineer Open placing the top 6, Perrine takes 5th or 6th.  Who I'm really anxious to see compete here is Hoffman. At this point the wrestling world has completely forgotten about him and honestly I can't blame them.  The 2017 NCAA qualifier has wrestled one match in the past three seasons. It's utopian to think that after all this time off, that he might be able to make a come back, but gawd I'd love to see it.  Wouldn't be the first time it's happened either.  Northern Iowa's Mark Schwab years and years ago made a miraculous come back after years off the mat & not all that long ago Cal Poly's Darrell Vasquez did the same. It does occasionally happen.  Maybe it'll happen for Hoffman. 


Looking forward to a likely finals match between Hendrickson and Schultz. Should be a good one.  Hendrickson has pinned Luffman in the past, so while I'll entertain an upset, I would say it's not likely.  

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