We have eight ranked wrestlers, among six returning Southern Scuffle place-winners, including a champion. This weight class will also feature perhaps the most talented freshman in the nation.
While there is an assortment of young talent in NCAA DI wrestling right now, I'd argue with conviction, that among the very best is Paniro Johnson. The sensational freshman has but one loss this season & it was a sudden victory loss to three time NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell. Among his victories, wins over both Austin Gomez of Wisconsin & Max Murin of Iowa. Normally it is the youth looking to knock off the experience, but in this case it is the experience who goes in the underdog to youth. Johnson will have a target on his back.
4th at the 2020 Southern Scuffle, Jonathan Millner looks to make this year's finals and take a crack at Paniro. Among his victories over the competition, a 4-1 decision over Noah Castillo & a 9-1 major decision over Quinn Kinner.
Back off of a redshirt, the Southern Scuffle was the only competition Brock Mauller competed in last season. He took a 5th place finish. Among his victories of note, a 7-4 decision over Jonathan Millner, a 4-2 decision over Michael Blockhus & a 3-1 decision over Kellyn March.
Another tough contender in this bracket, Michael Blockus owns both a 2-1 & 4:26 fall over March, a 6-4 sudden victory over Chris Sandoval & a 3-1 decision over Victor Voinovich.
Here's who I'm most anxious to watch at 149 lbs this Scuffle. The 22'-23' season hasn't started off the best for Jaden Abas, but I don't find that much of a concern. It's nothing new for the Cardinal to start off a little slow, maybe suffer some early season losses before he kicks it into high gear and really gets going. Let's not forget, he won a Southern Scuffle title in 2020. Let's also not forget he owns a 5-3 decision over Millner & a 9-4 decision over Blockhus. For the record, also a 7-4 decision over Sandoval. He may not go in with the best seed, but I'd still call him a title contender.
The freshman finished one match shy of earning a medal at last year's Scuffle during his redshirt. Ethen Miller will look to finish top 8 this year.
Another tough freshman in this bracket, Victor Voinovich was 3rd here last season during his redshirt. A wrestler who competes a full seven minutes with an incredible gas tank, Voinovich has both a 3-2 victory over Castillo & a 4-1 victory over Sandoval.
Wrestling on his own home mats in front of a home crowd, Noah Castillo will look to earn a top 8 finish this Scuffle.
As to the unranked talent?
I'd be on my toes & ready to go if I had to face Quinn Kinner this tournament. The 2022 MAC champ was 7th here last season & will be a threat to anyone he steps on the mat with.
Another unranked wrestler to watch this tournament is Chris Sandoval. He has close matches with many of those in this bracket that could potentially be turned into wins & he was 5th here a year ago.
North Dakota State
March has yet to have a real defining moment in his collegiate career, although he is more than capable of one. He's good enough to be top 8 this tournament & definitely good enough to be top 12.