Now this a unique weight class. Four of the top contenders have made out like The Jeffersons as they have "moved on up" from 149 lbs to the 157 lbs weight class. There's some that have moved down from 165 too. Believe it or not there are three Midwest Classic 7th place finishers from last season in this bracket. The 149, the 157 & the 165! All in all there are six returning place-winners, including champions from last season as well as from the 2019 tournament. 13 of the top 20 ranked wrestlers, among them 8 NCAA DII qualifiers, 4 All Americans.
To attest to the testimony of how incredibly tough the Midwest Classic is, four time NCAA DII qualifier/two time All American, Noah Hermosillo who won last year's national title, actually finished 3rd here. Now he was a Midwest Classic Champion in 2019. Will he be challenged here? Absolutely. He's had some close matches with some & even losses to others. Among his victories a 10-3 decision over Dom Means. A 6-1 decision over Eric Fought. He's beaten Logan Bailey twice with 8-3 & 8-5 decisions & he's also beaten Ryan Wheeler twice with a 8-2 decision & a 3:47 fall.
Home crowd favorite Logan Bailey was 7th here last year as well as 6th in the nation at 149 lbs. Thus far up a weight class at 157, he has a 9-0 record which includes a first period 1:13 fall over Ben Durocher.
Again we illustrate to just how competitive the Midwest Classic is as 3rd place NCAA Division II All American Ryan Wheeler finished 7th here last season. He hasn't faced much of the competition he'll face here yet, but he does own three victories over Carter Noehre. A 5-0 decision & two victories via fall 2:05 & 4:04.
Remember how I said back when previewing 125 lbs that in some ways it was harder to earn a medal here at the Midwest Classic than what it is at the NCAA Division II tournament? Well I meant what I said. Nate Smith went 1-2 at last year's Midwest Classic. He earned 8th place All American honors at the national tournament. Very anxious to see how he fares this tournament.
I wouldn't at all be surprised if Dom Means comes into the tournament with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Winning last year's Midwest Classic championship, he finished one match shy of All American honors at the national tournament. Also 5th in 2019, he does own a 7-5 victory over Noah Hermosillo. He also has a 6-4 decision over Jack Haskin.
A 2021 NCAA DII qualifier, Eric Faught is currently 11-1 on the season. Do you suppose if he earns a top 8 finish here at the Midwest Classic the headline will read, "Faught, fought hard to earn top 8 finish at Midwest Classic." ?
Ranger Ben Durocher who finished one match shy of earning a medal at last year's Midwest Classic will be looking for a top 8 finish this season.
Gabe Johnson is another NCAA DII qualifier from 2021 who will contend for a top 8 spot here at the Midwest Classic. Currently 12-3 on the season, he owns a 4-2 victory over Jon O'Connell.
Don't have a lot of opinion on John O'Connell at the moment. All I know is that the rankings committee has him ranked #15 in the nation, so he must be pretty good. I try and keep up with as many wrestlers as I can, but have to admit this is one I'm not real familiar with. Anxious to to get know him via this tournament.
Rather unique circumstances for Leo Mushinsky. A former DI wrestler for Buffalo, he was 7th here last season at 165 lbs. Coincidentally he was also R12 at last year's NCAA DII championships. Going down in weight has its pros and cons. We'll really get to see where he stands as a 157'er this tournament.
17-3 thus far on the season, Trent Mahoney gives the Tornados hope for another plausible top 8 finish at the Midwest Classic.
Colorado School of Mines
A bit inconsistent, yet he's wrestled well enough to find himself in the top 20 of the rankings. Carter Noehre is one to lose a match you were sure he was gonna win, yet at the same time he'll come back and win a match where the odds were against him. He finished one match shy of earning a medal here last season & on paper looks to finish in the same spot this season. However, we don't wrestle on paper, we wrestle on the mat. He's capable of a top 8 finish.
As to the unranked ones to look out for?
The two time NJCAA qualifier for Garrett College is looking pretty solid in his first season of NCAA Division II wrestling. 14-6 on the year, he has an impressive 7-6 win over Trent Mahoney.
Southwest Minnesota State
Sometimes you can see a lot in a wrestler from a loss. What really sticks out to me about Sean Howk is that he's twice taken Ben Durocher into the tiebreakers. He's a scrapper & he's a fighter. If he can learn to take close losses and turn them into wins, he could be a surprise this tournament.