Was actually able to get a hold of who all would and wouldn't be participating in this year's Wolfpack Open and have to say that some of the names missing from brackets really surprise me. As told by someone more important than myself, "No one really cares about winning an early season open." Perhaps true, but one would think as tough as it is to qualify for the NCAA championships, you'd want as many quality victories on your belt as you could get. Nevertheless even with some who I thought would be competing not competing, it'll still be an interesting tournament full of some great wrestling.
The saga continues at Campbell. Many were left in shock when Anthony Molton not only took the varsity spot, but took it in fashion with an 8-3 victory over Storm. Great win showing the tremendous improvement and growth that Molton has done since last season, but as the Riddler from the 60's BATMAN television series often stated, "He may have won the battle, but the war is far, far from over." There's no way that this is a said and done issue. Storm still wants that spot and for that matter so does Meink. We're looking at a triple threat between three very talented wrestlers. What fun for us wrestling fans that all three are entered in the Wolfpack Open. We could very well see a final with two Camels in it, with the other going for 3rd. I think Moore easily places in the top 6 and although I don't see him upsetting any of the top DI talent listed, I do think Shupp represents DII well by finding his place within the top 6 as well.
Trombly should win this open with little to no trouble. His biggest adversaries will be teammate Orine who he has defeated 8-4 in the past and Heilmann who he owns 3-1 & 10-2 victories over. Orine majored Heilmann 15-6 the last the two met, so we're likely to see a final between the two teammates battling it out for a starting position.
Thus far into week two of the NCAA season, Jack has looked solid and sharp as he continues to climb in the rankings. Won the The Citadel Open last weekend with an impressive 10-2 major decision over Air Force's Cody Phippen & should add title #2 to his resume this Sunday. Expect his finals opponent to be Hanna, although I can see Lewis giving Hanna a match should they meet in the semi-finals. Can't see Small defeating any of these three, but do expect the fiery DII wrestler currently ranked #3 by Bryce Villa to wrestle well this tournament to a top six placing.
Rivera at 10-0 is so far undefeated in his career as a Camel and could likely end his day on Sunday still having 0 in the loss column. I do think that Williams, who Rivera defeated 5-3 in competition last week at the Southeast Open will give him another match though. 149 at the Wolfpack Open does not strike me as particularly deep & there is plenty of room for surprises. As of right now, Rivera strikes me as the man to watch.
Last weekend we saw a barnburner of a match between teammates Kovacs and Scott, with Kovacs edging Scott 9-8 in the finals of The Citadel Open. Wouldn't be the least be surprised to see a final between the two again on Sunday, although I can see Dallara possibly throwing a monkey wrench into the situation. I think the war between Kovacs and Scott for the 157 varsity spot is one of the best in collegiate wrestling and I don't think we'll have our final answer until right up to the ACC's. Again don't see Burger defeating these three, but do see him with a good shot at placing within the top 6.
Another situation where the battle for varsity is real and the battle for varsity is fierce. Santiago squeaked by Mazzara 3-2 in the wrestle-offs a couple of weeks ago and it is likely to be every bit as tight if the two meet up again this weekend. Even though Estrada is redshirting this season, his current victory over Princeton's Grant Cuomo illustrates the depth that the Tar Heels have in their wrestling room. Mazzara defeated Estrada 5-3 at the Southeast Open. If these three were to ride the bus home gold, silver, bronze within the placings it would not surprise me, but I wouldn't dare overlook Nation who has yet to really do anything at 165, but has plenty of notable wins on his resume at 157 & 149 to suggest that within time he will. Representing DII, believe that Perkins will place top 6.
On paper I would imagine that Kane takes the #1 seed into the tournament, but for the record Faison owns a 5-4 victory over Kane. There's no way on this blue and green earth Faison will ever take the starting spot from Hayden Hidlay but it just goes to show you how tough it is to even make a varsity lineup in NCAA DI wrestling. It also helps to illustrate that when Hidlay graduates, the Wolfpack already have an outstanding replacement. Haven, another DII wrestler I see placing top 6.
I said this earlier before the season began and I'm going to say it again now. It pains me to think that a three time NCAA qualifier might not even make the varsity this season, but does look to be the case with Reenan. With Trent Hidlay at 184 & Trumble at 197, there just doesn't seem to be room for him in this season's lineup. Nevertheless he'll prove himself in various ways this winter and he could very well do so at his final Wolfpack Open. He'll most likely face an always tough and always read to go Hopkins in the finals.
Trumble hasn't been near as dominate as I was thinking he would be this season. I was expecting a liaison of majors, techs and pins, but most of his wins so far have been closer than expected decisions. I am picking him to win the Wolfpack Open, but I do think Hopkins could possibly give him a scare in the finals.
Last week Trephan won a decisive 10-3 decision over Wilson. Can he garner such a victory over his teammate again? Or, will Wilson make the necessary adjustments to turn and ugly loss into a win? He might not even get a chance to. I would imagine the #3 seed here would be Catka, who took Wilson into a tiebreaker the last the two met in a 2-1 loss. Should be another close match.