Now here is one tough weight class. 14 ranked wrestlers, 5 of which are in the top 10. Last year's champion, runner-up, 3rd place finisher, 4th place finisher, 5th place finisher & 7th place finisher all return, PLUS a 6th place finisher from 165 lbs. There will be wrestlers here that finish better at the NCAA's than what they will here. Here in lies your testimony as to why so many call CKLV the toughest of all the in-season tournaments.
NOTE - 125 though 184 were written before preseeds came out, so I did my best to guess what they might be. 197 & HWT will actually feature what the seeds ACTUALLY are. I'm surprised we got to see these TWO days in advance. Usually we're only given the day before & usually they come out in the evening. Not near enough time to write-up 10 previews.
Picture Guide =
Ranking & Name
Previous CKLV Finishes
What I would Seed
A National champion in 2019 & an NCAA runner-up this past season, Virginia Tech's Mekhi Lewis in my opinion deserves the *1 spot here. Make no mistake about it though, he'll more than be challenged. Ethan Smith of Ohio State recently gave him a 3-2 match & the last time he met up with Cornell's Chris Foca he needed a tiebreaker to beat the Big Red 3-1. Even Lance Runyon of Northern Iowa gave him a decent 8-5 match.
*2 I give to last year's champion Mikey Labriola of Nebraska. In three meetings with Smith, he's won two hard fought matches by scores of 9-5 & 7-5 s.v. Smith won the other one 4-2 s.v. If seeds go as I predict & if seeds hold, it should be a great semi-final.
I give Foca the nod above Demetrius Romero of Utah Valley, as Foca was 3rd here last season & he has that close match with Lewis. Some may have switched them around or even put Romero at *3 & sorted it out between Smith & Foca for *4 & *5. Romero gave Labriola a great match the last time the two met, dropping a tight 5-4 decision. Against Lewis, he dropped a 9-4 decision.
*6 going with Philip Conigliaro of Harvard. He's new to the 174 lbs weight class, so a bit of this is based on faith. 6th here last year at 165 lbs, I'm banking on him wrestling as well 9 lbs up as he did 9 lbs down.
*7, *8 & *9 I based on a few different factors. Rankings for one as Cade Devos of South Dakota State is #13, Lance Runyon of Northern Iowa is #14 & Hayden Hastings of Wyoming is #15. It's also noted that Devos is 2-0 overall against Hastings with 7-4 & 5-2 victories. Runyon also has a victory over Hastings by a 5-1 decision. Ironically enough though, out of the three Hastings is who interest me the most. He seems to always be up for big matchups. He took Foca to a 9-7 decision & while Labriola whipped him once 10-2, he's also wrestled the Cornhusker to 14-11 & 5-3 decisions. Plus he gave Romero a 5-3 match.
*10 going with Troy Fisher of Northwestern who was 5th here last season. A lower ranking & a loss to DeVos is why he's not higher.
*11 Sam Wolf of Air Force who has a 3-1 victory over Jared McGill of Edinboro who I put at *12.
And now for the monkey wrenches....
Thus far in his collegiate career Cael Valencia of Arizona State has not lived up to the legacy of brothers Zahid and Anthony. Eventually he will, and it'll be without warning. At some point be it sooner or later he'll suddenly realize, "wait, I'm a Valencia" & magically start wrestling very well. We've seen glimpses of it. He does after all own a 3-2 victory over Hastings. Could CKLV 2022 be his moment of turn-around?
Albert Urias of Cal State Bakersfield is another tough wrestler to watch out for. He has many notable victories in his career thus far, one of which is an 8-6 s.v. over Wolf.
Here's the guy to really watch out for this tournament, Aaron Olmos of Oregon State. I've been waiting for him to have a breakout performance & really show what he's capable of & I think this could be the place he does it. He was one match shy of placing here last season. A 6-4 victory over Urias, he's taken Foca to a 2-1 decision.
Going out on a limb here, maybe even to the twig but I'm dying to see that monumental moment happen for the Sharks of LIU. If anyone is gonna do it, I think the answer is Blake Bahna. For what it is or isn't worth, he recently stuck Valencia in the first period.
Sammy Starr of Navy is always tough. Sal Perrine of Ohio & Joe Walker of Michigan both ranked in the top 33, ones to look out for.
Last but not least is Lennox Wolax of Columbia who recently proved to the wrestling world just how susceptible those at the top are to upset. He defeated Smith 8-6 in a recent dual.
Tournaments like these, with brackets like these are what makes a guy like me love this sport!!
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