While 174 lbs is still very tough, relatively speaking in comparison to the other weight classes it is a bit more open. I think there is an opportunity here for some lower ranked guys to really shine & even for some unranked guys to make a name for themselves. In this bracket we have 12 of the top 20 in NCAA Division II wrestling with five NCAA DII qualifiers & two All Americans. A total of four returning Midwest Classic place-winners & two more who have been one match shy.
A match away from playing at last season's Midwest Classic, Dillon Walker finished 5th at the NCAA Division II championships. Against the field he has a 4-0 victory over Hunter DeLong, a 9-2 victory over Hunter Reed, a 13-9 victory over Alex Kauffman & a 4:05 fall over Austin Morgan. He's also defeated James Penfold twice by scores of 2-0 & 5-3.
Let's all do one another a favor & call up Camden Selig to let him know the good news if Jack Bond ends up winning a Midwest Classic title. Incase you're unaware, Bond is a former Old Dominion wrestler who transferred to Lander after Old Dominion's wrestling program was unfairly & unjustly discontinued. Among Bond's victories of note, he's defeated Hunter DeLong twice by scores of 3-1 & 8-4.
A match away from earning NCAA Division II All American honors last season, Hunter DeLong will challenge for a Midwest Classic title. He owns a 4:10 fall over James Penfold & a 5-0 win over Hunter Reed.
An All American last season at 165 lbs, James Penfold will test the roughest waters of 174 lbs this tournament. A 17-2 technical fall over Hunter Reed on his resume he was a match shy of being a Midwest Classic Place winner in 2019.
Another title contender for this season's Midwest Classic is Max Bruss, who finished in 4th place last season. Among his notable wins a 4-0 decision over Dillon Walker, a 5-0 decision over Cole Hernandez & a 2:58 fall over Ethan Smith.
8th at last year's Midwest Classic, Hunter Reed has quite an impressive resume against the competition. Falls over both Hunter DeLong (2:21) & Andrew Morgan (4:55) he's defeated Bret Heil 8-6 & James Penfold by scores of 9-1 & 7-1.
Here's a wrestler that has made some serious improvements. He's gone from records of 12-9, 7-5 & 9-8 to already being 10-1 this season. A very impressive 8-7 victory over Jack Bond.
|#11 or U.R.|
Tre'Vaughn Craig OR Alex Kauffman
I honestly don't know who the Broncos are going to put into the bracket here at 174, but either way both of these guys are place-winner material. Kauffman, a DII All American who finished 6th in the nation, was 3rd here last season. He owns both a 6-5 t.b. & 5-3 victory over Austin Morgan. Craig on the other hand owns 10-2 & 3-1 victories over Morgan and he also nearly teched Bret Heil 15-3.
Like Hunter Haven, it's impressive to see the improvements of Alex Weber. It was only a few short seasons ago he finished out the year with a 1-7 record. Now he's ranked #12 in the nation & he owns a 6-5 victory over James Penfold.
Being an Iowa guy myself, of course I like seeing Iowa guys do well, but I'm just not sure what to think of Cael Meyer yet. He's 22-5 over all & he's looked quite good, but nearly all of his victories have been over Division III & NAIA competition. He really hasn't squared up against any DII guys yet, especially those ranked in the top 20. This will be a chance to see where he stands amongst the competition.
Another Ethan Smith & he too is at 174 lbs, go figure. It's a shame for the sake of irony that Drury doesn't wrestle Ohio State this season. With that aside this Ethan Smith will contend for Midwest Classic place-winner status. He owns a 4-2 victory over Zeke Waltz.
It'd take some upsets, but there's a good chance that Zeke Waltz could come into this tournament and dance...er....waltz his way onto the award stand. He owns a 5-2 victory over Andrew Morgan & an 8-0 major decision over Bret Heil.
I would imagine that Bret Heil might enter this tournament with a bit of a sour taste in his mouth. 5th here in 2019, he went 0-2 in last season's championships. I'm sure he's anxious to return to his place on the award stand, but in doing so he'll have to pull off a few upsets. While he was majored by Zeke Waltz as mentioned above, he also owns a 1:43 fall over him.
Another tough wrestler capable of a top 12 showing, if not even maybe a top 8 showing is Cole Hernandez. A 26-11 victory over Rowdy Pfeil & a 5-3 victory over Austin Morgan, among his wins of note.
Here's what I'll say about Austin Morgan. This will be his fourth appearance at the Midwest Classic. Not sure what type of significance that has if it has any, but those types of facts can sometimes have effects on people. If he wrestles like he did when he defeated Bret Heil 6-4 s.v., then we could be looking at a surprise place-winner.
As to those who are unranked??
Fort Hays State
If there's anyone in the 174 lbs bracket who's really going to open up some eyes and shock the wrestling community in Indianapolis, I predict it'll be Cade Lindsey. Before transferring to Fort Hays State he spent three seasons in the Oklahoma State wrestling room under the tutelage of John Smith, getting beat up by the varsity 165 & 174 lbs'ers. He's currently 16-3 with one of those losses being against DI competition.
After talking up Cade Lindsey & speaking in depth of what he's capable of, must point out that in his three losses this season, one was to Rowdy Pfeil by a 5-1 decision.
An NCAA DII qualifier in 2021, it's a possibility that Colby Teague wrestles to a R12 finish or better.
This is my 1,600th post. If you've read them all or if you've only read a few you know I have a nervous habit of going out on a limb and picking out underdogs. This particular dog is a greyhound. I mean why not? He's wrestling on his home mats for his home team in front of his home audience. This would be a perfect time to come alive & really bring it. The thing about Owen Butler is that he's not getting killed or hammered in most of his losses. In fact, most of his losses are rather close. Heck, he took Zeke Waltz into sudden victory. Figure out a way to win by a point or two instead of losing by a point or two & suddenly he'd find himself in the rankings. Again, why not? If you're gonna pull off some upsets and make a name for yourself, do it at your own tournament.