Tuesday, February 14, 2023

JT#1 Vs Portillo Brothers Vs Swayz "Pick Em" Contest: Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference


As we have for other conferences in the NAIA, The Portillo Brothers, Swayz & myself will pick who we think will win each individual weight class in the KCAC & why. 

*NOTE* - Portillo's picks are purposefully underdog picks. (And so are some of mine!!) 

JT#1: Diago Hernandez Ottawa
Portillo Bros: Jake Stanton Oklahoma Wesleyan
Swayz: Brody Gee Saint Mary 

Tough weight class that involves a very tough Brody Gee of Saint Mary. However, I'm gonna go with Diago Hernandez of Ottawa, who was a KCAC champ at 133 last season & one match shy of All American honors at the NAIA's. 

Portillo Bros:  Jake Stanton, Oklahoma Wesleyan. Last year here, Stanton pinned eventual NAIA qualifier Eddie Daniel before falling to 6th. Tom Carr’s Oklahoma Wesleyan will have a lot of under-the-radar guys due to their schedule. Stanton is one of them, and will be on the heels of the top-2 here, who are both All-American contenders.

Swayz: This weight could have been way deeper if not for 2 York Wrestlers not
appearing in this bracket anymore. Dez McSellers who was nationally ranked last
year at one point left the team for personal reasons and Harley Williamson’s cut
was a challenge so he’s opting to go up to 133 (insider info I have on the other
guys since I do York’s play-by-play). Diago Hernandez is on a contested 3 match
skid, I think he makes the finals, but I’ll pick Gee of University of St. Mary.

JT#1: Kolby Encinas Oklahoma Wesleyan
Portillo Bros: Harley Williamson York (Neb) 
Swayz: Kolby Encinas Oklahoma Wesleyan 

JT#1: Going with last year's KCAC runner-up Kolby Encinas of Oklahoma Wesleyan. 

Portillo Bros: Harley Williamson, York. Williamson always seems to heat up this time of year and is a 2x national qualifier. Crazy story, he had to forfeit at nationals last year on the backside because his team arrived at the wrong time, and being a 125-pounder, he missed his match! He’s one of the funkier guys in the NAIA, always looking for reversals. Barring any scheduling mix-ups, he could qualify for the third time if he places top-3

Swayz: This weight will be interesting. Tyler Johnson has good wins at this weight, and honestly the top half of this bracket could be screwey, but I’m going with Encinas too.

JT#1: Austin Kolvek Ottawa
Portillo Bros: EZ Ortega Friends
Swayz: EZ Oretga Friends 

JT#1: Going with Baker transfer Austin Kolvek of Ottawa

Portillo Bros: Ezavion Ortega, Friends. Give me Ortega as Friends University’s first national qualifier. I am aware of how good the top-2 are here, but Ortega owns a SV win over #13 national Donte Lopez and pinned 2-seed at 133 Barajas in under a minute. The semi between Lopez/Ortega should have all eyes on it.

Swayz: I’ll roll the dice on an under the radar kind of kid. Ezavian Ortega
probably has to battle in the room with Friend’s Head Coach Tim Prescott a lot.
Prescott is a former 3x AA (2x at Neosho CC) and 1x (NATIONAL CHAMPION) as a
junior at St. Cloud State. Ortega is a true freshman and a true surprise coming
out of the gate this year. Ortega is my pick.

JT#1: Chad Sakamoto Oklahoma Wesleyan
Portillo Bros: John Fox York (Neb)
Swayz: John Fox York (Neb) 

JT#1: This is probably the wildest pick you'll see me make throughout the entirety of the "Pick em" contest that I'm doing with the Portillos & Swayz.  You got title contenders Hunter Wagner of Ottawa as well as Logan Johnson of Avila, but I'm going out on a limb here.  I'm picking Chad Sakamoto to have a good run this KCAC. The Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagle has a go for broke, leave it all out on the mat style that I appreciate. I think he can beat anyone. Can being the operative word. We'll see if he does. 

Portillo Bros: John Fox, York. John Fox ranked #4 in this conference?! Blasphemy. We are talking about a 2021 National semifinalist, 2x All-American, and 3x national qualifier. He hasn’t lost to an NAIA foe all season, mostly up at 157. Luckily this weight takes 4, but he’s my pick to win the bracket.

Swayz: Rankings show John Fox has dropped to 149 and is likely to be a 4th seed
here. Dangerous 4 seed. 2x AA that just missed the podium last year. He
wrestled 149 in the Dakota Wesleyan Open back in early November but has
wrestled 157 since. His 3 losses on the year are to DII guys. He’s funky and
strong. If he somehow draws a bye or very favorably first round…I can see him
getting the nutrition in and doing well. I’ll go with John Fox as a bracket buster
assuming he has weight down in the right way.

JT#1: Johnny Cash Saint Mary
Portillo Bros: Christian Knighton Avila
Swayz: Brad Mahoney Avila 

JT#1: Ah!!!!! John Fox moving down to 149 really threw me off!! Doesn't change my pick of Sakamoto but it made me have to go back & do some thinking on 157.  For the sake of being different & the fact that he has such a cool name, Johnny Cash. 

Portillo Bros: Christian Knighton, Avila. Only the 5 seed, Knighton has pinned the 2 seed Johnny Cash Thomas. This weight only sends one, but I don’t see a clear favorite.

Swayz: Fox dropping down surprised me as I know he’s liked to be fat and happy
during the season. So my pick Brad Mahoney of Avila who in 17 wins has 14 by
bonus, the other 3…ffts! Put respect on his name! Although any kid with the
name Johnny Cash Thomas gets a special recognition from me (wrestles for
University of St. Mary).
JT#1: Dayton Hill Ottawa
Portillo Bros: Jett Merlo Avila
Swayz: Dayton Hill Ottawa 

JT#1: Going with Dayton Hill of Ottawa. I really think he has the potential to become a four time KCAC champion & this will be title #2 for him. 

Portillo Bros: Jett Merlo, Avila. Merlo will attempt to disrupt an all-Ottawa final here. He almost tech falled #16 at 157 Michael Lucas earlier in the year 18-4.

Swayz: Braden Anderson of Ottawa might be the 2 nd seed, but he has moments
where you are impressed (losing 3-1 to Khaytiov Mirzo of Ellsworth for instance
(ranked # 2 in NJCAA Coach’s poll), but then will struggle with some mediocre
wrestlers. Dayton Hill is clear favorite in this bracket and my choice.

JT#1: Cameron Young Leggett Ottawa
Portillo Bros: Jordan Lomeli Ottawa
Swayz: Cameron Young Leggett Ottawa 

JT#1: Cameron Young-Leggett of Ottawa is my pick here. 

Portillo Bros: Jordan Lomeli, Ottawa. Ottawa has a lot of depth showing here, bringing the top-2 seeds at 165 and 174. Lomeli was at 165 part of the year before bumping up. We will see if he can beat his teammate Young-Leavitt if they wrestle.

Swayz: Young-Leggett…more like Old-Pro. This will be just another tournament
for him and I think we will see a beast unleashed as I believe it is finally his senior
year after a great run at the NJCAA and NAIA levels. C Y-L wins.
JT#1: J.D. Perez Ottawa
Portillo Bros: Daryus Webb Avila
Swayz: Daryus Webb Avila 

JT#1: Going with All American J.D. Perez of Ottawa who was 5th at the NAIA's last season. 

Portillo Bros: Daryus Webb, Avila. Webb spent a few years at Williams Baptist but transferred back near his hometown to Avila in for the 2022 season. He has 13 pins and 2 of them were against #4 174-pounder Tsermaa and previously ranked Brahn Howard. Also of note, he took Perez, the 1 seed, to the wire 13-12 when he lost to him in the dual.

Swayz:  J.D. Perez started the year 0-2 and has gone 28-2 since. His four losses?
1 pt to #14 Bober of Baker, a wild 17-13 loss to #9 Knudtson of Eastern Oregon,
along with loss by pin to former NAIA runner up (and non Top 12 in the room)
Grand View’s Tyson Beauperthuy. His lone non NAIA loss was to Anthony Des
Vigne who currently is ranked 5th in DII (at 174). Gabe Chesboro is gritty tough
legacy type of name out of Oklahoma, but I love the fearlessness and hips of
Daryus Webb of Avila who lost a wild 13-12 match with JDP earlier this year. KC
Chiefs may have a guy that throws for a Super Bowl Championship team, but he’s
not the only prolific thrower in KCMO. Like Tosh.O I predict a Webb Redemption.
Webb wins.

JT#1: Tucker Tomlinson Ottawa
Portillo Bros: Josh Cortez Oklahoma Wesleyan
Swayz: Tucker Tomlinson Ottawa 

JT#1: Again, Ottawa, Tucker Tomlinson. 

Portillo Bros: Josh Cortez, Oklahoma Wesleyan. Cortez has been bothered by injuries this season and hasn’t gotten into his groove… yet. He’s my pick to make the finals and perhaps knock off Tomlinson.

Swayz: I would have potentially gone with Marce Vasquez the #2 at 197, but as of
not it looks like he is being entered at HWT for KCAC. Josh Cortez of OkWU isn’t
a bad wrestler either but his injuries don’t have me sold on him winning it this
weekend. Tucker Tomlinson Champ.

JT#1: Griffin Qualls Avila
Portillo Bros: Griffin Qualls Avila
Swayz: Justin Darter Ottawa 

JT#1: I think this will be our best final here at KCAC. The past two seasons Benito Hernandez & Justin Darter of Ottawa have met up in the finals. Hernandez won the championship in 2021 as Darter won it in 2022. The monkey wrench here is Griffin Qualls of Avila, who surprised Darter earlier this season with a 6-5 victory.  Toughest decision in all of the KCAC & I will go with Qualls. 

Portillo Bros: Griffin Qualls, Avila. Qualls biggest win this year came over Justin Darter of Ottawa, but he will most likely have to beat Hernandez to qualify for nationals.

Swayz: Top to bottom there are some solid dudes here. Jaden James of Oklahoma
Wesleyan never quite got to where he wanted in High School, but the kid is
talented and given Griffin a tough match falling 7-5 in SV. He only has 2 matches
on the season, so be interesting to see how he does in tournament setting, and
would not be a guy I’d want to draw 1 st round. I want to shout out the Benito
(Benny) Hernandez and Griffin Qualls have had awesome journeys to where they
are now in the wrestling world, great young men and verry proud of the amazing
pathway they have traveled. Tough weight to pick…like I could throw a dart at a
board and it hit a number of great options, but being that I feel like I’m throwing
darts…I’ll go with Darter of Ottawa for the title.


And that's it! I hope you have enjoyed our "Pick Em" contest for the NAIA qualifiers in terms of individual titles. I love collegiate wrestling & try and follow it to give the best coverage I can to the best of my ability. Yet when it comes to NAIA wrestling the Portillos & Swayz truly are the experts. That's why I wanted to bring them on to be a part of this to showcase their vast knowledge, as well as extraordinary passion for this particular division of college wrestling. 

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