Friday, December 15, 2023

44th Midwest Classic Preview (Sat/Sun 12-16/17-2023) 197 lbs


It's subjective isn't it? We all have our opinions, but if someone were to ask me the very toughest weight class at the Midwest Classic? Well, in terms of winning it?  In terms of placing top 8?  I don't know if you can get any tougher than 197 lbs.  This is a tough, tough weight class.  I mean anything can happen. This sport has proven that fact plenty of times. Anyone can be beat. Upsets will happen. Yet in terms of probability? In terms of plausibility?  I'd say the first five spots on the award stand are all but already paid for. Breaking through here & making a name for yourself, upping your ranking? I don't know if if it gets any more challenging. 

Dalton Abney
Central Oklahoma

Everywhere he's gone & everything he's done, Dalton Abney has been "THE" man the past two seasons.  After finishing as the runner-up at the NCAA DII's three seasons ago, he has won the past two national titles.  He's also won the last two Midwest Classics.  You know what I love most about Abney? He's a working man's champion.  He doesn't avoid anyone.  He takes on any and all challengers.  Against his greatest adversary Derek Blubaugh he's won six of their seven encounters. 6-0, 1-0, 2-0, 6-0, 4-0 & a 1:01 fall against the Greyhound.  He's defeated Chase Stegall by both 11-1 & 6-0 scores.  Two 4-0 decisions over Logan Kvien.  Three wins over Tereus Henry, 3-0, 2-1 & a 6:41 fall. A 4-1 win over Cole Huss & a 5-0 decision over Walker Uhl.  4-1 over Cole Huss & a 15-0 tech over Marvelous Rutledge. He's also pinned both Dakoda Rodgers (1:47) & Jacob Noon (2:29).  When I say he's a working man's champ, I mean it. 

Derek Blubaugh

If there's anyone that can dethrone the king that is Dalton Abney this tournament, it may very well be home team hero Derek Blubaugh.  Finishing 2nd to Abney the past two NCAA DII championships, Blubaugh has beaten the Broncho before by a 7-1 score. He also much like Abney has a work man's approach, with wins over nearly anyone and everyone that he'll meet in this bracket.  Against Chase Stegall he's won a 10-0 major, an 8-6 s.v & a 4:48 fall. Against Tereus Henry he owns 7-3, 8-0 & 5-4 decisions. Defeating Cole Huss 6-3, he owns a 6-0 decision over Anthony Yacovetti & a 6-4 decision over Walker Uhl. Two wins over Logan Kvien (4-3 & 4-0) he also owns a 6-2 decision over Brooks Schrimsher. 

Caden Steffen
Southwest Minnesota State

Kryptonite? Let this make the third time I reference the Superman films of the 70's & 80's while previewing the Midwest Classic.  In the classic Christopher Reeve films it is at first thought that the man of steel cannot be challenged. Cannot be hurt.  That there is nothing useful against Ka-El.  Concerning 197 lbs in NCAA DII, it seems much is the same case for Dalton Abney & Derek Blubaugh in terms of who our Midwest Classic Finalist will be.  Yet in the Superman films it is discovered that Superman has one weakness & that weakness is Kryptonite.  Could Caden Steffen plausibly be Blubaughs and/or Blubaugh's Kryptonite? Winning the Midwest Classic at 184 lbs last year & being a two time D2 All American at that weight, Caden Steffen is now at 197 issuing the challenge.  Thus far he's got a 10-4 decision over Tereus Henry & a 7-2 decison over Gabe Carranzza. 

Cole Huss
Northern State

Another two time All American in this bracket, Cole Huss will fight for a spot on the Midwest Classic award stand. Thus far against the competition, he owns an 8-2 decision over Anthony Yacovetti & a 2-1 tiebreaker over Tereus Henry. 

Logan Kvien

6th in the DII nation last season, Logan Kvien will be among those looking to earn a prestigious top 8 finish here at the Midwest Classic. Owning both a 3-2 as well as a 5-4 decision over Chase Stegall, he also owns both a 6-4 s.v. as well as a 50 second fall over Brooks Schrimsher.  A 10-2 major over Dakoda Rodgers he pinned Marvelous Rutledge in 4:46. 

Dakoda Rodgers
Pittsburgh Johnstown

One match shy of an All American honor at the NCAA DII national tournament, Dakoda Rodgers took 8th place honors here at the Midwest Classic last season. As he'll look to earn another medal, he owns a 4-2 s.v. over Chase Stegall, a 3-1 s.v. over Anthony Yacovetti & a 13-4 major decision over Brooks Schrimsher. 

Wyatt Miller
Grand Valley State

Every weight class has one & here is 197's.  The plausible bracket buster.  Wyatt Miller spent the first part of his collegiate career at Appalachian State.  Now he's in NCAA DII & thus far he is 11-0 in competition.  Wins include a 5-0 decision over Chase Stegall & an 8-5 s.v. over Marvelous Rutledge. While in so many ways this weight class seems fairly open & shut, the monkey wrench that is Wyatt Miller awaits in the wings. 

Chase Stegall

An NCAA DII qualifier last season, Chase Stegall was one match shy of a top 8 finish here at the Midwest Classic last season. This year he will look to take home a medal.  Owning five victories of Brooks Schrimsher (6-5, 5-3, 10-0, 6-2 & 7-2), he owns a 7-1 win over Zach Ferris, a 5-1 win over Anthony Yacovetti & a 3-1 over Logan Kvien. 

Anthony Yacovetti

I spoke a lot thus far in these previews how Lander comes in here with a #1 ranking as a team & how they're going to have to not only perform up to expectation, but also have some guys step it up in order to walk out of Indianapolis with the same distinction.  Among the quality teams here at the Classic, that's a very true statement.  Among those that could very well be the ones to step it up a notch, Anthony Yacovetti.  He's shown what he can do in the past.  5-2 & 3-2 wins over Logan Kvien are proof of that. He also has proven to be a pinner with a 5:48 fall over Marevelous Rutledge & both a 1:00 & 4:17 fall over Micha Clemson. 

Tereus Henry
Fort Hays State

I could make another Superman reference or in this particular case I might reference Rocky. Truth is sometimes our superstars fall from grace & have periods of time where they struggle throughout the challenges.  That seems to be the current status of Tereus Henry.  Last season he was on fire, earning Midwest Classic runner-up honors & then going on to earn a 3rd place finish at the NCAA DII championships.  This year, he's had a few setbacks & he's found himself at #14.  You know what's also true about Superman & about Rocky? They both made miraculous comebacks & it is likely so does Henry.  The Tiger owns a 3-2 victory over Logan Kvien, a 15-1 major over Dakoda Rodgers, a 10-7 decision over Chase Stegall, a 5-3 s.v. over Anthony Yacovetti & a 7-3 decision over Elijah Hinojosa.  A 14-1 as well as a 7-1 decision over Walker Uhl, he also owns a 16-1 tech over Brooks Schrimsher.  If you're gonna make a comeback, the Midwest Classic is the place to do it. 

Micha Clemson

An NCAA qualifier last season for Emmanuel, Micha Clemson will be among those going to war in hopes for a top 8 finish at the Midwest Classic. 

Jake Noon

Another NCAA qualifier who will be looking to have a good showing here at the Classic in Jacob Noon. Thus far against the competition he owns both a 3-1 as well as a 0:27 fall over Marvelous Rutledge & a 7-0 decision over Walker Uhl. 

Elijah Hinojosa
Chadron State

A .500 record two seasons ago & only competing in one match last season, Elijah Hinojosa has really stepped it up a notch & wrestled well enough to earn himself a ranking within the top 20 here at 197 lbs.  You can take a good long look at the immense competition he has in front of him this weekend, but you know someone is gonna get upset & someone has to do the upsetting right? 

Gabe Carranza
Colorado Mesa

Another tough wrestler looking to make a name for himself here in Indianapolis is Gabe Carranza. 

Zach Ferris
New Mexico Highlands

Zach Ferris went 22-6 on the season last year for the Cowboys after transferring from the NJCAA ranks of Cloud County.  He's still looking for that really big monumental happening in his NCAA DII career.  The Midwest Classic more than provides that opportunity. 

Walker Uhl

When a guy like Walker Uhl isn't ranked within the top 20, you really get a grip of just how insanely loaded a weight class truly is.  I talked of how Wyatt Miller may very well be a bracket buster this tournament, well make like George Thorogood and move it on over, cause he's another threat to mix it all up.  Walker Uhl has already earned two Midwest Classic medals in his career.  3rd & 5th place finishes, plus he was one match shy of a medal at the D2 nationals last season.  You think he's gonna be denied a third time of standing on the award stand?  Thus far against the competition he's beaten Dakoda Rodgers in two tiebreakers 3-2 & 4-3. He owns a 3-1 decision over Chase Stegall & he also has both a 7-1 decision over Marvelous Rutledge & a 9-6 decision over Brooks Schrimsher. 

Brooks Schrimsher
Ouachita Baptist

When I said that this bracket was immeasurable in terms of total toughness, I meant it.  Here is yet another place-winner from last year's Midwest Classic who is not currently within the rankings.  Brooks Schrimsher was 7th & he earned that medal with a 4-3 win over Dakoda Rodgers. 

Marvelous Rutledge
Notre Dame (OH)

I'll admit to my insanity to look at this incredible list of talent in front of me and to think that anyone might break through it to have a serious of upsets. I mean you'd have to be insane right?  And I suppose it is asinine to try and guess who it'd be to make that sorta run.  Well, I do anyway, and if there's someone who might "come out of nowhere" this tournament, I can see that someone being The Real Notre Dame's Marvelous Rutledge. 

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