Friday, January 26, 2024

Wolverine Hooiser Athletic Conference (WHAC) Preview - 2-10-2024 (Saturday)


It's hard to believe, but qualifier season is upon us.  It's time to find out who is going to the national tournaments and who is staying home.  It all starts here in the NAIA with the WHAC (Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference) as we try and determine who will be our qualifiers.  Hosted by Marian, the WHAC also features Cleary, Rochester, Indiana Tech, Lourdes, Siena Heights & Cornerstone. 

Weight by Weight, I'm going to tell you what's on my mind. 

125 lbs

125 lbs in the WHAC is going to be great!  Our final here is most likely #6 Nick Rodriguez of Indiana Tech taking on #8 Trevor Marsman of Cornerstone.  Marsman was last year's champion, who then went on to have a stellar NAIA tournament placing 3rd.  Rodriguez last year's runner-up, finished one match shy of placing.  Yet in recent results, Rodriguez took 2nd at the Missouri Valley Invitational to Marsman finishing 4th.  It'll be interesting to see who wins the likely battle between these two All American hopefuls. 

I would also look for Jeff Bailey, another Cornerstone representative to make a strong case for 3rd place.  He recently took 7th at the Missouri Valley Invitational. 

133 lbs

Confident that our champion here is most likely going to be Elijah Anthony of Indiana Tech. Thus far he's had a great season, which included winning a title at the Trine Invitational.   As to who I think might meet him in the finals? I think Devan Johnson of Cornerstone is a strong candidate.  He finished one match shy of a top 8 showing at the prestigious in-season Missouri Valley Invitational. 

141 lbs

A WHAC champion last year, I'm still left in shock that Logan Wagner of Marian came up a little short in achieving All American status.  As far as I'm concerned, he is NAIA national champion material. I expect him to win another title here at the WHAC & then be a top contender at the NAIA's. 

149 lbs

Another likely champion for host school Marian in my estimation is Seth Johnson.  An NAIA qualifier in '22 & thus far a three time NAIA scholar athlete, I say he makes it back to the national tournament with a WHAC title. 

157 lbs 

A WHAC champion last season & 6th in the NAIA nation, I feel pretty confident that Nate Wheeler of Indiana Tech wins title number two this weekend.  Thade Radosa of Cornerstone is the most likely candidate to meet Wheeler in the finals, but I'm anxious to see what happens in a likely semi-final between him & Elijah Chacon of Indiana Tech.  Radosa was 8th at the prestigious Missouri Valley Invitational where Chacon failed to place.  Nevertheless, Chacon has been ranked in the past & he's had some nice wins.  Another wrestler to look for in this bracket, capable of pulling off an upset himself is Drew Torres of Lourdes.  He took an impressive 3rd place showing at the Patriot Open towards the beginning of the season. 

165 lbs

On paper it would seem that #3 Jonathan Kervin of Indiana Tech, a Missouri Valley Invitational champion earlier this season should win a WHAC title without much challenge.  However, I think he could possible face a challenge & ironically enough, both wrestlers I refer to are from Marian.  Noah Hollendonner has slipped from the rankings, but nevertheless it cannot be overlooked that he finished R12 at last year's NAIA tournament & he himself won a WHAC title.  He was 3rd at the Patriot Open.  Jeff Dunasky, himself a tough wrestler who finished one match shy of a top 8 showing at the Missouri Valley Invite. 

174 lbs

Another Champion hopeful for host school Marian, Elliott Rodgers will look to repeat after winning a title last season. 

184 lbs

A bronze in '22 & a silver last season, William Speight of Lourdes looks to end his final WHAC appearance with a gold medal.  An outstanding runner-up performance at the Missouri Valley Invitational, he also looks to finally earn that NAIA All American honor that he came up just short of last season.  As he goes for the gold, he'll want to be weary of Leo Galasso of Indiana Tech.  A former Central Michigan Chippewa who in his own right is looking to make some noise here in Indianapolis. 

197 lbs 

Leading the way is '23 NAIA 5th place All American Nathan Critchfield of Indiana Tech, who is our likely WHAC champion at 197 lbs.   As to our other finalist? Kyle Scott gives the Warriors from my vantage point, their best bet in placing someone in the finals.  Justice Cash however is another wrestler who despite being unranked, I could see doing well here. Tournament settings, especially in front of a home crowd can bring out the best in wrestlers.  Cash was one match shy of a medal at the Missouri Valley Invitational. 


Pretty sure our final at HWT in the WHAC will be a battle between two wrestlers who are neck and neck with one another in the rankings.  Jackson Schenk and Braydon Erb did not meet in the dual between the two teams, as Rochester sent out another wrestler to do battle with Erb instead, who was pinned rather quickly.   Should be a good match between these two talents. 

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