Tuesday, December 12, 2023

44th Midwest Classic Preview (Sat/Sun 12-16/17-2023) - 157 lbs


Here's where all Hell is about to break loose.  125 through 149, we have somewhat been able to make sense of & use our better judgment to make some predictions.  Throw all of that out the window for 157 lbs. Here, it is pure chaos.  We're talking a lot of back and forth between wrestlers. We're talking a ton of parity. We're talking the possibility of some unranked wrestlers showing up and making a lot of noise. This is not the bracket for Jesse Frederick, cause what ever happened to predictability? I'm not sure, but it sure as the sun shines won't be found here.  If you like the kinda atmosphere where anything can happen, I suggest you pay close attention to the Midwest Classic, 157 lbs.  

Gabe Johnson
Central Oklahoma

7th in the D2 nation last season, Gabe Johnson was also 7th at last year's Midwest Classic & will be looking to bring home a title this season. He certainly has the resume to back up anyone who places their bets on him. Against the competition he's defeated Ryan Wilson twice by scores of 8-4 & 15-0 technical fall.  He's defeated Logan Bailey twice as well, by a 7-3 decision & a 7-3 victory.  Two more wins over Devin Bahr by scores of 10-7 & 6-3. Add in a 4-2 decision over Casey Barnett & a 17-1 technical fall over Jaylon Otero. 

Jack Haskin
Lake Erie

An NCAA DII qualifier for the Lakers last season, Jack Haskin will be a name in the hat among the title contenders here in Indianapolis. Against the competition he has a 12-0 major over Casey Barnett, an 8-2 decision over Max Kiel, a 3-2 decision over Jack Tangen, a 6:24 all over Jaylon Otero & a 3-2 decision over Cale Hoskinson. 

Casey Barnett

NCAA DII R12 by the end of last season, the Dragon took 4th place honors at last year's Midwest Classic & looks to improve upon that finish this tournament.  Among his notable victories against the competition, he has pins over both Eric Faught (2:43) as well as Kailan Keith (3:56).  Two victories over Cale Hoskinson by scores of 7-5 & 9-7, he also owns an 18-11 decision over Logan Bailey. 

Drew Wiechers

Wiechers is a three time NCAA DII qualifier, who was 5th in the D2 nation back in 2022. Looking to reclaim his All American status in March, it'd be all the wiser to claim a top showing here at the Midwest Classic in December. Wiechers is already a two time Midwest Classic place winner at 165, with finishes of 5th & 8th.  Owning both a 7-0 as well as a 10-8 decision over Guy DeLeonardis, he also owns an 8-6 decision over Cale Hoskinson. 

Max Kiel
Belmont Abbey

Another NCAA DII qualifier from last season, Max Kiel is only a sophomore as he looks to add one of the most prestigious honors in NCAA DII wrestling...finishing within the top 8 at the Midwest Classic..to his already impressive resume.  Among his wins, a 14-4 major over Guy DeLeonardis, a 10-6 decision over Jack Tangen & a 10-6 victory over Ryan Wilson. 

Guy DeLeonardis
Glenville State

Despite whatever losses he may have, or the particular seed he happens to get, know that come tournament time, Guy DeLeonardis is usually game. A match shy from earning All American honors last season, he can be known to pull an Ace, even when he doesn't seem to have any cards.  He's thrice defeated Jake Nicolosi by scores of 10-9, 7-1 & 2-1. A 9-8 decision over Drew Wiechers, he also owns a 5-1 win over Jack Tangen & a 5-4 win over Jack Hoskin.  I did mention parity right? 

Devin Bahr
Northern State

An NCAA DII qualifier for the Wolves last season, Bahr will look for top 8 placement here at the Midwest Classic. He owns both a 13-3 major decision as well as a 5-3 sudden victory decision over Eric Faught. He also owns a 4-2 s.v. over Ben Durocher. 

Eric Faught
Upper Iowa

A two time NCAA DII qualifier for the Peacocks, it'd be another feather in the cap for Eric Faught to earn a top 8 showing here in Indianapolis.  A 6-4 win over Devin Bahr, he also owns a 3-1 s.v. over Ben Durocher & a 4-2 decision over Jaylon Otero.  

Ben Durocher

The Ranger was one match shy of a top 8 showing at last year's Midwest Classic & it'll take a Hell of a performance & an upset or two to outdo that finish this tournament.  He certainly has the tools & the talent.  Both a 2:46 fall over Casey Barnett & a 3-1 sudden victory over Eric Faught are plenty of evidence to prove that. 

Bailey Gimbor

This is Kutztown's first appearance thus far on my Midwest Classic previews & I think of the entire Golden Bear squad he is one of the best bets for bringing home a medal. Among his wins an 11-2 major decision over Bo Perkins. 

Bo Perkins

You know me, I'm always preaching how Florida could use more collegiate wrestling & the reason why? Because it produces great talent like Bo Perkins! I know King loves having them on their squad, but forgive me for saying that I'd have loved it if one of the 14 NCAA DII programs in Florida would have at least given him the option. It'll one of the most difficult things he would do all season, but he's among those looking for a top 8 showing here at the Classic. A 3-1 s.v. over Jake Nicolosi on his resume. 

Jake Nicolosi
Mount Olive

Jake Nicolosi was NCAA DII R12 back in 2022 & he's looking to regain that status, plus more this season. Looking at the vast talent that I have already listed, yes, it's gonna be climbing Mount Everest in slippery boots, but that's the name of the game. In order to become the somebody, you often have to beat the someone who already is.  Among Nicolosi's victories, a 4-2 decision over Jack Tangen. 

Jack Tangen

And yet, here's another NCAA DII qualifier from last season.  Is this bracket frickin' loaded or what!?!? Tangen has victories over Jaylon Otero (4-10, Keegan Roberson (21-12) & Logan Bailey 4-2. 

Kailan Keith
Thomas More

The Saints have been on a mission since day one of the 2023-2024 season to show the world of NCAA Division II wrestling they are more than ready for his level of wrestling. Sometimes it takes a team a while to adjust. It's taken Thomas More all over about 15 seconds. They are here, they are now & they keep on proving it wrestler after wrestler, weight class after weight class.  Exactly where does the former NAIA grappler stand in DII?  We're gonna find out aren't we?

Jaylon Otero
Ouachita Baptist

Otero pulled off a huge upset last year at the Super Region IV when he knocked off Logan Bailey in the early rounds.  Bailey would eventually come back to beat him for 3rd place & an NCAA II qualification, but the fact remains, Otero pulled off a huge upset. Which means, that he could very well pull off more upsets. And....if you're gonna pull off upsets, this is one of the places to do it. 

Ryan Wilson
Western Colorado

A senior and one match shy of qualifying for the NCAA DII championships last season. I think back to Superman III in the scene where Ross Webster chews out Gus Gormon for his inability to kill Superman.  "All I asked you to do is to kill Superman, and you couldn't even do that one simple thing."  I wonder as I talk about placing top 8 in the Midwest Classic, if I sound like Ross Webster. If I do, trust me, I'm not meaning to. It's a lot like trying to kill Superman, a damn near impossible task.  Even Tom Cruise might look at the mission & say, "that's impossible."  I know how difficult it is to earn a top 8 showing at a tournament like this.  I also know what it'd mean to the career of someone like Ryan Wilson. 

Logan Bailey

Here's where things get FUN.  For some reason other wrestlers stand currently at 0-0 on the '23-'24 season & they get a ranking.  Logan Bailey doesn't get that advantage. No bother, cause if he does show up & he does compete, trust me, he IS a title contender.  Feel how you want about the losses he does have on his resume, the guy shows up to wrestle at major tournaments like this.  He was 2nd in the DII nation last year & 6th the season before that.  Among his wins a 5-4 decision as well as an 8-0 major decision over Cale Hoskinson.  He also Owns a 6-4 decision over Casey Barnett & a 1:13 fall over Ben Durocher. Both a 7-4 as well as a 5-2 win over Jaylon Otero.  He's also wrestling on his home mats, in front of his home crowd.  I repeat, title contender. 

Cale Hoskinson
Notre Dame (OH)

I try not to give rankers a hard time, because it's hard work & I know how difficult it can be. I did it exactly once back in 2015 & I don't ever want to deal with that nightmare ever again. So, hats off to the rankers, but I do feel that the real Notre Dame is getting some real overlook by not having Cale Hoskinson ranked.  I get it, he's 0-0 right now, but I fail to see why some 0-0 guys get the benefit of the doubt based on accomplishments last season, while others don't.  That aside, I don't know if I'd call Hoskinson a title contender, but I would certainly call him one to fight for a top 8 showing. He was 7th here last season & he owns both a 4-3 win over Max Kiel & an 8-6 decision over Guy DeLeonardis. 

Keegan Roberson

13-2 so far. So yeah, the freshman has taken a couple of losses this season. However, I'm curious as to exactly where he is. He certainly wouldn't be the first freshman to take a lump or two.  Guys can come alive when you least expect it & I'm wondering if the former Camel now Brave might pull a Frankenstein here in Indianapolis.  He owns a 10-4 decision over Guy DeLeonardis. 

Will Kuster

Will Kuster hasn't competed much this season, but the 2023 NCAA DII qualifier is still a threat to a top 8 finish.  Ironically enough, win or lose, he hasn't faced any of the competition he will see here. I've often spoken of him wanting to get out of the shadow of four time qualifier/two time DII All American brother Peter. If he's looking for his own shine, the Midwest Classic is the place to do it. 

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