When I analyze a tournament, I'm always trying to figure out who the place-winners might be. I've asked around & no one seems to know how many place-winners this tournament will have. My initial guess with the number of teams that I know are going to be there, would be six. I don't see them giving out as many as eight, but I could see as few as four.
My other thought is that the Soldier Salute has the potential to be the premier women's collegiate wrestling tournament. I would love to see that happen.
Spencer Lee is going to slice through this bracket as if it were tinfoil. He'll pin, tech and major his way through this tournament without giving up a single offensive point. The real question is, who will be his finals opponent? (Assuming this is bracket style & not round robin). My initial guess would be Army freshman Ethan Berginc who is having himself an outstanding rookie season. 13-1 on the season, he already owns a win over All American Brandon Kaylor of Oregon State. With that said, it wouldn't surprise me to see Tanner Jordan upset Berginc and find himself in the finals. The Jackrabbit has his ups and downs, but can certainly be tough when he wants to be. Other place-winners I would predict to be Columbia's Nick Babin & Wyoming's Garrett Ricks.
Very confident that the final here will be between Kyle Biscoglia & Brody Teske. A match that I look very forward to. Both of these guys have had moments where they've looked outstanding. Biscoglia wrestled the best he's ever wrestled at CKLV a couple of weeks ago. He wrestled like that this tournament, he's going to be tough to beat. Teske has equally looked just as sharp at certain times during his career. You get both of these guys at their best, the 133 lbs final is gonna be one to watch. I look for the battle for 3rd to be between Richard Treanor and Angelo Rini.
If seeds reflect rankings, we're looking at some very good semi-final match-ups & some rather good quarter-final matchups too. Real Woods is highly favored to win this bracket, although I can see him being challenged. He owns an 11-4 victory over Clay Carlson, who on paper should meet Cael Happel in what should prove to be an excellent semi-final. Happel leads the series two to one, with a 4-1 & 8-6 decision, as Carlson owns an 11-4 decision. I'd imagine that Josh Koderhandt & Matt Kazimir might meet in the quarter finals. Koderhandt who has a loss by fall in 6:22 to Carlson, owns a 12-5 decision over Job Greenwood. Kazimir owns a 10-6 decision over Greenwood & a 12-1 major over Julian Sanchez. Sanchez, ironically enough wrestled Carlson to a tight 7-4 decision. Another wrestler in this bracket to look out for if Wyoming sends more than one here (and if that's allowed here...) is Darren Green
I've made it clear in many post that I feel three time NCAA R12'er Max Murin is one of the best wrestlers in the nation yet to All American. Yet, it won't be any easier this year than what it has been in year's past. If he wants to win his first & only Solider Salute, he better be on his toes, because Colin Realbuto has been looking real good as of late. The Panther had one heck of a weekend knocking off both Ohio State's Sammy Sasso & North Carolina State's Jackson Arrington. I believe our battle for 3rd here will be between Army's Thomas Deck & Wyoming's Chase Zollman.
Very competitive weight class featuring seven ranked wrestlers. Should see great wrestling in this bracket from the get go. Jacob Wright with ranking & experience is the favorite, giving the Cowboys a hope for a champion. He owns a 5-4 decision over Derek Holschlag. Cobe Siebrecht who has been a pleasant surprise for the Hawkeyes this season hopes to keep a title home & propel himself up in the rankings. He owns an 8-0 major decision over Nathan Lukez. Andrew Cerniglia hasn't faced any of the competition here yet, but his other showings prove that he'll be a contender. Holschlag himself owns an 8-6 decision over Lukez as well as a 4-0 victory over Selwyn Porter. Swensen has a 3-1 decision over Holschlag & an 8-7 decision over Alvan. Alvan could very well end up the one to watch out for this tournament. As he adjust to collegiate wrestling, the PAN-AMERICAN medalist silently keeps getting better and better. He pulled off a 7th place finish at CKLV with some nice victories. Porter also has it within him to pull off a few upsets. Although he hasn't wrestled his best as of late, he is an NCAA qualifier & can be tough.
If you don't believe in spontaneous combustion, stand near Coach Doug Schwab when the best of collegiate wrestling within the state of Iowa is discussed. People go on and on about the long tradition of Iowa & how they're right back in the mix to challenge for the NCAA team title. They'll talk of Kevin Dresser & how the Cyclones of Iowa State are brick by brick building back the winning foundations of yesteryear when Dr. Harold Nichols ran the show. You'll see the steam build up in Schwab's eyes & the smoke come out his ears. He is hell bent on people thinking, talking & feeling Northern Iowa wrestling every bit as much as they do Iowa & Iowa State. He's coming in here looking to bring home a multitude of champions & Austin Yant is one of them. The Panther looks to meet Patrick Kennedy in what should prove to be a fantastic final. While the two have never met, their one like is Josh Ogunsanya, who Yant defeated 9-2 & who Kennedy defeated 22-9. Yant also owns a 13-0 major over Val Park. While both Yant & Kennedy look to make the Soldier Salute final, depending on seeding, who ever meets Tanner Cook along the way, should not dare overlook the Jackrabbit. Cooks goes into every match as if he's going to win it & he'll put you on your back and stick you if you aren't prepared. That's exactly what he did to Carson Kharchla of Ohio State in the CKLV semi-finals. For the record, he does own a 6:11 fall over Yant as well. Ogunsanya didn't look pretty against Yant or Kennedy, but he's still a threat to place. As are both Park & Dalton Harkins. Ogunsanya owns a 13-5 major over Park. A guy to keep an eye on here is Cole Moody. I have no idea why he's been wrestling as poorly as he has been as of late, but if he can find himself and get back on track, he's a very tough competitor. He owns a 6-3 decision over Yant as well as a 13-3 major over Cook. The other time he wrestled Cook, he gave him a very good 12-10 match.
A weight class featuring five ranked wrestlers, I see 174 lbs being a very fun bracket. Most of these guys have never seen one another before although Lance Runyon owns a 5-1 victory over Hayden Hastings & Cade DeVos has defeated Hastings twice by scores of 5-2 & 7-4. The likely final here is Runyon Vs Brands, although it could as easily be DeVos in the finals. Army's Ben Pasiuk has proven himself to be a good tournament wrestler & Columbia's Lennox Wolak has pulled off a few huge upsets already this season. Lastly, I could see The Citadel's Ben Haubert having a good tournament.
The way Parker Keckeisen has been wrestling lately, it's hard to imagine him getting beat, but out of the handful of losses the Panther does have, one of them is against Abe Assad. It was by a score of 6-5. If the Hawkeye were to knock off the Panther once again, the Xtreme Arena would come unglued. I'd wager to say it would be the loudest the black & gold faithful got this tournament Much, much easier said than done. I think the race for 3rd will be a real one. Cade King is the favorite as he has the highest ranking & he does own a 9-4 decision over David Key. Key, I feel is one of the most disrespected & overlooked wrestlers in the nation, as he is not ranked. He owns a 9-4 victory over Sam AbdulRazzaq, as well as a 10-1 major over Zach Brown. If indeed the Soldier Salute places the top 6 per weight, Quayin Short will also be within the fight.
99.99% positive the final we'll see here is Jacob Warner Vs Tanner Sloan. The last these two met, Sloan took a dominating 19-3 technical fall, but I highly, highly doubt that will be the outcome of this match. For 4th place, look to NCAA's best of the unranked, Tyler Mousaw. While the Keydet seems to always linger just outside the top 33 rankings, he somehow or another always shows up and does well at tournaments like this. While subject to upset himself, he is a strong candidate to meet Koser in the consolation finals. The last the two met, Koser took a 10-3 decision.
With Tony Cassioppi the heavy favorite, the real story at HWT will be the likely semi-final between Tyrell Gordon and A.J. Nevills. Both of these guys have looked exceptional thus far this season, as both own close victories over the other. Gordon who recently knocked off Tate Orndorff in action, defeated Nevills 3-1 for 5th place at CKLV. Coincidentally Nevills pulled off a huge upset, defeating NCAA runner-up Cohlton Schultz of Arizona State at the same tournament 5-2. In turn, Nevills owns a 4-3 victory over Gordon. For what it's worth, he took Cassioppi to a 12-8 decision the last they met. Now, with all of that noted, it is not dare lost on me that Grady Griess is looking pretty hot this season. A 17-3 record, he took Nevills to the wire in an 8-6 match. No doubt about it, be it Gordon or Nevills, either way the Midshipman spells serious challenge. Look to Griess' backup Ryan Catka (if he enters this tournament or for that matter if he's even allowd to) to be a strong candidate for 5th.