Thursday, December 14, 2023

Midwest Classic Preview (Fri/Sat 12-16/17-2023) 174 lbs


As you've read over these previews, you have probably noticed that in some weight classes the wrestlers aren't real familiar with one another, where other weight classes, they are extremely familiar with one another.  Here's what I have to say about concerning 174 lbs, at a first glance as I analyze the plausibilities for the Midwest Classic.  I appreciate rankings & I applaud those who do rankings.  It's often a very challenging, stressful job, with a lot of criticism & little recognition for what goes into it. Those who do rankings don't get anywhere near the appreciation they deserve.  With that said, I also want to emphasize that rankings are only a reflection of the here and now.  What's happened in recent times.  When you have a class of talent, like that of 174 in NCAA Division II, those #'s can shift around in the blink of an eye.  Who's #1 and who's # 7 or who's # 3 and who's #10 can change around at the snap of a finger.  I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if we see a lot of that this weekend.  You can have your #'s & you can have your *'s but at the end of the day, what matters is what happens on the mat. 

James Penfold
Lake Erie

You know good and well, even with the exceptional good of weather we've had thus far in December that it's a strong possibility we could see a storm inside of Nicoson Hall regardless of whatever is happening outside.  Two time All American James Penfold is looking to bring home a title for Lake Erie & there's good reason to think he'll do so.  A 7-6 decision over last year's Midwest Classic champion, he's defeated a fair number of those he could face this tournament. A 9-3 decision over Cole Casilio, he owns a 5-4 decision over Owen Butler, a 9-6 decision over Hank Carey & an 8-6 s.v. over Dayton Fields. 

Max Bruss

I think the turning point in Max Bruss's season last season as well as in his career, was his winning the Midwest Classic last season. I think that's what really propelled him to the next level & got him over the hump, which then lead to a 5th place finish at the NCAA DII tournament.  He'll have a heck of a field to go through in order to defend his title, but he's given us plenty of reason to believe that he'll do it.  11-5, 5-0 & a 4:30 fall he's defeated Cole Hernandez on three occasions.  A 10-5 win over Nate Barrett & a 4-2 win over Brandon Matthews.  He also owns a 6-4 decision over Sam Kruger, a 7-5 decision over Cade Lindsey & a 4-2 decision over Zeke Waltz. 

Cole Hernandez
Western Colorado

7th at these championships last season & 6th in the DII nation, one of the things Cole Hernandez is going to have to do in order to call himself Midwest Classic champion, is figure out a way past Max Bruss.  That is often the name of the game in wrestling. Figuring out a way to defeat someone whom you've thus far struggled against. Noteworthy victories for the Mountaineer include Nate Barrett (13-7), Cole Casilio (5-2), Owen Butler (8-2), Jack MacKernan (10-2), Kenny Snyder (fall 2:59) & Dayton Fields (16-5). 

Nate Barrett

There's no getting around it, Nate Barrett has struggled against the #1, the #2 & the #3, which will all be in this bracket. Probably wouldn't have to face all three of them, but if he's to win this tournament, it's almost inevitable that he'll probably face to face two of them.  The thing about Ashland wrestlers in general, is that they often figure out a way to get things done, even when the odds are against them.  He has yet to beat the #1, the #2 or the #3, but there's a first time for everything & I wouldn't dare count Barrett out as a very respectable darkhorse to the title.  He owns a9-1 victory over Hank Carey. 

Scott Joll

Surprises? Bracket busters? Is that your thing? If so, Scott Joll could very well be your man.  A transfer from West Virginia, Joll is thus far 10-0 in NCAA DII action this season. A 10-2 major decision over Brandon Matthews.  Here's the ticker.  While not an NCAA DI qualifier during his tenure at West Virginia, what he was, was a wrestler with two winning seasons & some prolific victories to note. He could really make some noise here in Indianapolis. 

Josh Kenny
Grand Valley State 

I've already been pretty vocal this season concerning my excitement to see the return of Grand Valley State wrestling.  A school with such a rich history & by George, they're already adding great accomplishments and credentials in their first year back.  No doubt about it, the Lakers are gonna bring home some Midwest Classic medals! Among the likely candidates? Josh Kenny who owns an 11-3 win over Cole Casilio, a 13-9 win over Brody Hemauer, and an 11-3 win over Kenny Snyder. 

Cole Casilio

An NCAA DII qualifier for the Golden Knights last season, Cole Casilio will be among those fighting for a top 8 spot here at the Classic. Thus far he owns a 1:47 fall over Kenny Snyder & a 9-3 decision over Zeke Waltz. 

#8 Matt Ortiz or U.R. Zeke Waltz

I'm really anxious to see who ends up starting for the Bearcats this tournament. Either way, Matt Ortiz or Zeke Waltz, McKendree has a place-winner contender.  Ortiz owns an 11-3 major over Owen Butler, an 8-4 decision over Cole Casilio & a 5-4 decision over Brody Hemauer.  Waltz on the other hand, one match shy of a Midwest Classic medal last season. He owns a 4-3 win over Owen Butler, a 9-8 decision over Zane Coleman & a 5-1 decision over Brody Hemauer.   Officially, Ortiz owns a 1-0 win over Waltz.  More evidence of just how challenging it can be to even make a varsity lineup. Hard to accept with this level of talent, but one of these guys will be competing this weekend, while the other watches from the sidelines.  Again, keeping in mind that BOTH of these guys are contenders to place top 8. 

Owen Butler

One's gotta wonder the influence & affect that it'll have for the Greyhounds as they compete in their house, on their mats, in front of their fans.  We don't talk about it much in this sport, trying to romanticize the idea of it not making any difference, but truth is, it does make a difference. It can have a lot of effect on a wrestlers performance & that's something Owen Butler has going for his this tournament.  A match shy of a top 8 finish last season, he owns an 8-4 decision over Calan Staub.  To get over the hump, he'll need to pull off at least one if not more upsets. 

Zane Coleman
Central Oklahoma

Similar but not quite the same situation as Scott Joll. Zane Coleman is a transfer for the Bronchos from Arizona State. Thus far in the DII ranks, he carries a 6-2 record, his only losses a one point decision to Zeke Waltz & a loss to a highly ranked NAIA opponent.  Could Coleman potentially come in here and be a big surprise? The fact that he competes for Central Oklahoma alone gives merit to the idea.  This will be his first really big test in the world of DII wrestling. It's wise to keep an eye on him. 

Brandon Matthews

I'll defend myself here for a second incase anyone gets bent out of shape about it...I couldn't find a picture of him in an Lander uniform, so I used this one.

6th at the Midwest Classic last season, Brandon Matthews has decided to spend his final season at Lander & is a contributing factor for why they took the #1 ranking going into the '23-'24 season.  It'll be every bit as challenging if not more than what it was last year, but he once again looks to place within the top 8 this year.  A 13-3 major over Owen Butler, he also owns a 2-1 decision over Jack MacKernan, a 7-5 decision over Brady Ross & a 13-8 win over Calan Staub. 

Jack MacKiernan
American International

An NCAA DII qualifier for the Yellow Jackets last season, Jack MacKiernan looks to try and earn a top 8 finish here in Indianapolis. 

Brady Ross
Glenville State

Only wrestling three matches last season as a freshman, Brady Ross has began to make a name for himself in the NCAA DII ranks now finding himself ranked #16.  A great showing here at the Midwest Classic would only help him to continue on that journey. 

Calan Staub
Mount Olive

The Trojans have a reputation of pulling off some big upsets from time to time & while one can't predict exactly when or where they'll pull off their next upset, it is likely they pull some off here at the Midwest Classic.  Calan Staub a likely candidate.  Owns both a 12-10 as well as a 4:32 fall over Dayton Fields. 

Sam Kruger
Northern State

Here's another guy that has improved tremendous from last season to this season.  A .500 wrestler last year, we're not even into the second semester yet & Sam Kruger has already nearly doubled the wins he had last season. As loaded as this bracket is, taking home a top 8 finish is going to be extremely difficult. But hey, no one got into this sport because the challenges within it were easy. 

Brody Hemauer

I'd put Hemauer into the same category as I would Calan Staub.  A wrestler who probably won't get the best seed this tournament, but one who could very well pull off a big upset or two. 

Kenny Snyder

Kenny Snyder had a losing record last season & now he's ranked #20 in the DII nation! Just goes to show what hard work & believing in yourself can accomplish. What a statement it'd be for him if he were to upset his way to a top 8 finish here at the Classic. Can you imagine the inspiration and motivation that would give other wrestlers? To see a guy who finished with a losing record last year end up taking home a medal from DII's toughest in-season tournament? Gawd, that'd make one heck of a great story. 

Cade Lindsey
Fort Hays State

Like I said, I try so hard not to moan or groan about rankings, but Cade Lindsey not being ranked right now? Seriously? I get being 0-0, but why is it that DI guys can be 0-0 & even some other DII guys be 0-0 & they don't get a ranking, yet Cade Lindsey could very well be the best wrestler at 174 right now & they completely leave him out? Maybe there's more to it. Maybe he's hurt or not wrestling right now, as in won't be.  I don't know.  What I do know is that if he is here and he is competing, he's a title contender. It's that simple.  Collecting bronze at both last year's Midwest Classic & the NCAA DII tournament, he has the wins to back up the claims.  A 3-1 victory over James Penfold, he owns three victories over Cole Hernandez himself. 9-3, a 2:50 fall & a 0:57 fall.  He also owns a 5:35 fall over Cole Casilio, a 7-0 win over Owen Butler & a 3-1 win over Dayton Fields. 

Dayton Fields

Here's another wrestler currently 0-0 on the season who is not in the rankings. One that if we see him compete this weekend, will be in the rankings almost immediately after...or so I predict for good reason.  One match shy of a top 8 finish at last year's Midwest Classic, Fields owns a 13-4 win over Nate Barrett, a 7-2 decision over Owen Butler & a 4-3 decision over Zeke Waltz. 

Hank Carey
Notre Dame (OH)

I could understand it if we were talking about that blood stained, all they give a hoot about is football university over in Indiana. Then it'd make sense why Notre Dame is getting the shaft on some of these rankings. But we're not.  We're talking about The Real Notre Dame in Ohio & Hank Carey makes yet another extremely talented wrestler who is not currently within the rankings. One who could very well prove why he should be this weekend.  One match shy of a medal here last season. 

No comments:

Post a Comment