Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Midlands Preview (Fri Dec 29th-Sat Dec 30th) = 174 lbs


Edmond Ruth

I personally feel out of all of the weight classes at the Midlands tournament, 174 lbs will be the most deep.  Seven NCAA DI ranked wrestlers & seven returning place-winners, six from last year.  This is going to be the most competitive weight class & the one toughest to win as well as toughest to place in.  Edmond Ruth returns as champion, looking to earn another title.   He owns both a 4-1 as well as a 4-3 decision over last year's Midlands runner-up Nick Incontrera.  A 3-1 s.v. over Brody Conley, he owns a 14-4 major over Philip Conigliaro & a 23-6 tech over Alex Cramer. 

Justin McCoy

A four time NCAA qualifier, Justin McCoy is one of the best wrestlers in his final year of competition yet to All American.  He was 5th at last year's Midlands championships down a weight class & as the leader of a team that is other wise very young, he plans to lead by example.  He'll be a challenger to Ruth's title.  Owns both a 10-4 as well as a 10-5 win over David Ferrante. 

Danny Braunagel

Danny Braunagel is currently redshirting with the plans of coming back better than ever for the '24-'25 season.  What better time to give us a glimpse of the improvements he's been making than now?  A two time Midlands place-winner with finishes of 4th & 3rd, he too will challenge for this year's Midlands crown.  Owns both an 8-3 as well as a 10-4 win over Adam Kemp, he also owns two wins over Ferrante (14-3 & 24-11). He also has a 10-4 win over McCoy. 

Adam Kemp
Cal Poly 

Kemp has his fair share of losses, so it'd definitely be a surprise to see him make the Midlands finals if you look at it strictly from an on paper perspective.  However, it is still feasible when you take into consideration that he's the type that can take losses and turn them into wins in high pressure situations.  Do I see him getting hot enough to win a Midlands title? It'd take at least two if not three high profile wins in a row to do so. 

Nick Incontrera

A Midlands runner-up last season, it'd take a few upsets for Nick Incontrera to once again make the finals, but it is feasible.  The Quaker has both a 5-3 victory over Philip Conigliaro as well as a 7-0 win over Kole Mulhauser. 

Brody Conley
West Virginia

This year's Midlands will feature an assortment of young talent & Brody Conley is one of them.  The freshman had already earned a Midlands medal as he took a very impressive 3rd place finish last year.  Among his wins Vs the competition, he has a 4:46 fall over Cael Valencia & a 12-0 major over Alex Cramer. 

Alex Cramer
Central Michigan

Alex Cramer is one of the last remaining of the Old Dominion final squad that was forced to transfer because of the selfish & idiotic decisions of Camden Selig. For that fact alone, I wouldn't mind seeing him take top 8 honors here at the Midlands.  Opinions aside, the fact that he's a very talented wrestler has more merit for why he's likely to be.  Owns a 7-5 decision over Cael Valencia & a 4-0 win over Max Maylor. 

Max Maylor

Maylor never quite got his shot while he was at Michigan, but now that he's at Wisconsin he's ranked in his final season on the mat.  For him to take a top 8 finish at the Midlands would be quite the statement not only for him & his team, but for the sport of wrestling in general.  I guess I can't say it is only wrestling that does this, but wrestling is certainly guilty of it.  Thinking that everything has to happen right here, right now as soon as possible.  I see so many young wrestlers give up on themselves if they aren't achieving great things within their freshman seasons.  For some it does happen that early.  For others, the hard work, sacrifice and disciple pay off a little later.  Maylor is among those eligible to take home a top 8 finish.  Owns a 7-5 win over Cramer. 

Philip Conigliaro

You know something that I don't like about wrestling?  How easy it is to be forgotten about.  A few bad losses and suddenly you're nobody. No one cares about you. No one talks about you.  It can be a rather depressing sight.  You know one of the things I love about wrestling? How easy it can be to be remembered.  All it takes is a couple of good wins & a good showing at a tournament like this & you're back. Philip Conigliaro has fallen off the radar, but there's no reason to think that he can't find his way back this tournament.  He owns both a 6-4 as well as a 3-2 victory over Incontrera & he also has an 8-4 victory over Kole Mulhauser. 

David Ferrante

Here's a guy that for many reasons I would keep an eye on this tournament.  While inconsistent, he's pull off some very notable wins in his career.  Two of them are a 14-5 major decision as well as an 11-5 decision over Danny Braunagel.  Wrestling on his home mats in front of his home crowd, who knows what he is capable of? He's not one I'd take likely or look past, I do know that. 

Sal Perrine

Here's another guy that I wouldn't dare look past this tournament.  A strong wrestler with upset capabilities, Sal Perrine owns both an 8-5 s.v. over Valencia as well as a 3-1 s.v. over Conley. 

Kole Mulhauser

The Tiger was 7th at last year's Midlands Championships and I will be even more impressed among this competition if he is able to earn another medal this year.  Owns an 8-3 decision over Valencia. 

Cael Valencia
Arizona State

As the kind of guy who enjoys predicting things in wrestling, Cael Valencia can often make me wanna pull the hair out of my head. He's literally the kind of guy that could get knocked into the consolation bracket by an unranked non-DI wrestler & then win his R12 match to medal against one of the top ranked DI wrestlers in this bracket.  That's how he wrestles.  That's who he is.  How do you predict a guy like that?  Well, all you can do is say that you know what he's capable of if he wrestles up to his potential. I honest think he could beat anyone in this bracket.  I also know that he could easily go 0-2.  So make of that what you will. 

D.J. Shannon
Michigan State

Here's another guy that frustrates me, but for different reasons.  YOu ever watch a wrestler on the mat & feel that he's so much better than what he's displaying? That if he'd just get out of his head, let loose & wrestle he'd be so much better?  D.J. Shannon is one of those wrestlers for me.  I'm not thinking he's gonna be a world beater, gunning for the NCAA DI title. I'm not saying that, but he's definitely top 33 material.  No reason at all why he shouldn't end this season as an NCAA qualifier.  What I really think it is with him is confidence. He just needs something big, something important to happen in his career. Placing at the Midlands, especially in a rather loaded bracket would be that something.  If you think I'm off my hinges in saying so, just remember that he does own a 7-6 victory over Kemp. 

Jared Stricker
UW-Eau Claire

We're really stretching it here. Among the DI competition in this bracket, for a non-DI wrestler to place top 8, it'd take miracle type wrestling.  No offense, but that's just the reality of it.  IF there be a non-DI wrestler to step up and do it, it'd be last year's D3 runner-up Jared Stricker.  For the record, the Blugold did take Iowa's Brennan Swafford to an 8-6 match, for whatever that is worth. 

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