Monday, December 19, 2022

JT#1's Notes, Thoughts & Observations for Week 8 of the 22'-23' Collegiate Wrestling Season!

 First off since I probably won't see you between now and then, Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Happy Kwanza/Happy Boxing Day, Happy have a great day & may it be a rewarding experience to you, whatever it is that you do or don't celebrate.  With that out of the way, it was pretty apparent that my focus for the week was the Midwest Classic, so I will start there as I reflect on another great week of wrestling! 

Brendon Garcia Makes Name For Self at Midwest Classic 

 I tried hard to guess who the "outta nowhere" run would be for the Midwest Classic.  My prediction was Trevon Gray of Pittsburgh-Johnstown.  He didn't wrestle bad. Earning a R12 finish.  Yet it was Adams State representative Brendon Garcia who had one Hell of a run eventually earning a runner-up finish.  He opened up by knocking off last year's Midwest Classic Champion Christian Mejia 7-3.  He then knocked off Caden Howard of Drury in a 12-3 major decision before upending last year's runner-up Dawson Collins 7-5. Another 7-5 decision over Studd Morris in the semis, Garcia defaulted out of the championship match. 

Dylan Lucas Man on Fire 

By George, Dylan Lucas looked G double O D this tournament! Opens up with a 16-0 tech, followed by a 14-4 major decision.  Then he sticks last year's champion, Collin Metzgar in 1:33, following it up with a 2:41 fall over eventual 3rd place finish Eric Bartos. He ends the day handing Reece Barnhardt his second silver medal from the Midwest Classic in a dominating 9-2 decision. I think we're looking at our new #1 133 lbs in NCAA DII. 

Zeth Brower Makes JT#1 Eat His Words 

Brower was my pick to win the Midwest Classic title, but I really thought he'd be challenged along the way. I really did. Boy, did he prove me WRONG. Closest match he had was a 7-2 decision & other than that, he just kicked the crud out of everyone. Stuck Laken Boese, stuck Christian Small & handled Peter Kuster 9-2.  He looked like the national champion that he is. 

"We're the DiBlasi Brothers, and We Pin People" 

Weston & Grayston, along with Colston ought to start their own summer pinning camps. I swear these guys can put someone on their back from absolutely any position.  Weston had three falls here at the Midwest Classic tournament, two of which were in the first period. Grayston finished out his day with a 46 second fall. These guys just seem to grab people by the head and then pin them. Fun wrestlers to watch.  

157 Midwest Classic Crazy as Noah Hermosillo Reclaims His Throne 

157 lbs of the Midwest Classic turned out to be the battle zone I thought it would be. 2019 champion, (who finished 3rd at last year's championship) Noah Hermosillo looked very good as he reclaimed his throne with title #2.  The other guy who looked really good here was Tiffin's Casey Barnett. Another "outta nowhere" performance of the tournament.  First period falls over Eric Faught & Trent Mahoney, what really impressed here was an 18-11 decision over last year's champ Dom Means. 

Shane Gantz wins title #2 as Ty Lucas Climbs Ladder Known as Rankings 

Shane Gantz looked very good in claiming his second Midwest title. The only thing about it that I didn't like is that it wasn't against Cory Peterson of McKendree. No offense to Chase Luensman of Upper Iowa who wrestled an outstanding tournament, but seeing Peterson knocked out due to injury was rather depressing. I hate injuries with a passion. I was really looking forward to a rematch of last year's finals between Gantz and Peterson. Hope it was a minor thing & we'll see Peterson back in action soon.  

I was very happy to see Ty Lucas wrestle so well here for a couple of different reasons. First off, I feel his ranking prior to this tournament was sorta disrespectful.  Sure he's a bit inconsistent, but in DI the rankings don't always reflect a bad loss here or there, so why are they so poignant in DII? Secondly of all, he was 2nd here in 2019.  Hopefully the rankings better reflect next they come out. 

First Ever Collegiate Competition A Great One For Upper Iowa's Dalton Hahn 

Jeff Fahey's doppelganger, better known as Upper Iowa's Dalton Hahn stepped it up a notch this weekend.  He looked great. Using his phenomenal Greco Roman skills he made it to the semi-finals, with a fall over last year's 7th place finisher, Matt Kaylor.  He then medical forfeited out the rest of the tournament for whatever reason. In what I would argue was the toughest bracket of the Midwest Classic, great showing. 

#1 goes down in NJCAA as returning champs in both NAIA & DIII Suffer Defeat

What a weekend of upsets it was! Boburjon Berdiyarov of Northwest Wyoming with a huge 8-5 victory over #1 Joe Mecham of Western Wyoming in the NJCAA ranks.  K.C. Buday of Providence knocked off returning NAIA champ Gage Braun of Southeastern in a huge upset.  In DIII action Tyler Klein of UW-Whitewater upended returning champ Jacob DeCatur of Baldwin Wallace 5-3 s.v.  

Alabama native & Appalachian State Freshman Knocks off Returning All Ameriacan 

The Mountaineers pulled off a huge win over #21 North Carolina & it was due to some outstanding performances including that of redshirt freshman Will Miller. The Alabama native upset returning 8th place All American Clay Lautt 7-5. 

Virginia Tech & Stanford Have Nitty, Gritty, Dirt Fight 

I love duals where all 20 wrestlers in all 10 matches go out on the mat and give it Hell to win.  In the dual between Stanford & Virginia Tech, I felt that the wrestlers went out and fought. Treating the dual with the utmost importance.  I appreciated that.   For example Tyler Eischens was way outta his league as to rankings/results against two time finalist/NCAA champ Mekhi Lewis, but he showed the Hokie absolutely no respect. He acted like he belonged out there on the mat & gave him a tight 2-1 match.  Then Connor Brady went out onto the mat and did the same thing with NCAA champ Shane Griffith, putting the match into the tiebreakers before finally succumbing to a 4-2 decision.  Jason Miranda gave Tom Crook a fight in a 4-1 loss & Nico Provo with a huge 3-1 victory over Connor Flynn.  Was shocked at how Dan Cardenas just manhandled All American Jaden Abas 11-1. 

Future Cardinal Aden Valencia Dominates at Reno 

Speaking of Stanford....  It absolutely dumbfounds me that the athletic director at Stanford at one time actually wanted to miss out on a phenomenal talent like this. Aden Valencia completely dominated his way to a Reno Tournament of Champions title.  This included an 8-3 victory over Michigan State All American RayVon Foley, a 9-3 decision over Oklahoma State's Reece Witcraft & a 2-0 decision over Indiana's Henry Porter. 

Lujan Secures Spot at Spartans Starter...I think 

I'd say at this point as he's been battling Benny Gomez for the starting spot on the Spartan roster, Tristan Lujan has earned the position.  He finished 2nd to Gomez's 4th with better showings against the competition. He defeated Wyoming's Jore Volk 5-4, as Gomez was pinned in 17 seconds by Volk.  He gave Trevor Mastrogiovanni a 5-2 match, as Gomez lost via fall 2:30.  I would think this secures the spot for Lujan. 

The Vikings of Grand View Hold Their Owen Against DI Competition at Reno 

I said in Grand Views loss to Iowa State that even though they didn't win any matches, that they looked like they belonged on the mat with the Cyclones. I took a lot of positive takeaways from that dual & stood next to my comments that the Vikings showed the world the toughness that is NAIA wrestling. They did even more so in Reno this weekend.  Putting six on the award stand, I think they more than earned their respect.   

Carson Taylor placed 5th at 133, giving finalist Henry Porter of Indiana all he could handle in a 6-5 match. 

Shea Ruffridge earned a 4th place finish at 141, defeating Desmond Green of Wyoming 5-3 along the way. 

Jack Latimer earned a runner up finish at 149, with a very impressive 4-2 victory over 2021 NCAA DI qualifier Chase Zollman of Wyoming. 

Marty Margolis earned a 3rd place showing at 165, knocking off Indiana's Nick South 3-1 in the process. 

Isaiah Luellen with the biggest upset of the Vikings. He pinned two time NCAA DI qualifier D.J. Washington of Indiana in 6:33, eventually earning a runner-up finish.  This included taking Wyoming's Hayden Hastings to the wire in an 8-6 loss.  For the record, Alex Reynolds finished 6th here, in a loss to another NAIA standout Nakoda Siegal of Montana State Northern. 

To finish out Grand View's outstanding performance in Reno, Ben Lee took home a 5th place finish at 184. 


A lot of great wrestling to be had this holiday week & it starts today!  Happy Week 9 to you! 

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