By Stephen Stonebraker
A weight class that will be taking the top four to the NCAA tournament, in an all in all out dog fight between eight wrestlers. The obvious forerunner here is three time BIG 12 champ Nick Piccininni of Oklahoma State who should have no problem securing his fourth title. He’s dominated the conference competition albeit one close match, a 9-6 decision over Northern Iowa’s Jay Schwarm.
As to Schwarm I feel certain losses will put him at a seed lower than what he should finish. The guy is a pinner & I would not be the least bit surprised to see him with the most amount of falls in the least amount of time in this tournament. He lost 20-4 technical fall to Iowa State’s Alex Mackall earlier in the season but more recently pinned him at the 2:17 mark in the first period.
North Dakota State’s McGwire Midkiff has an odd loss to Northern Colorado’s Jace Koelzer 5-2, but has managed to squeak by a lot of one and two pointers in viable matches against other conference competition.
The real guy here to watch in my opinion will be Oklahoma’s Christian Moody. He’s wrestled well exactly ONCE all season. A 7-14 record it’s a wonder to put any faith in him at all but I do so for a few reasons. He defeated Air Force’s Sid Flores 13-4 & by saving grace, Flores defeated Koelzer 9-4. I think this should put Moody as the #6 seed, which by my calculations puts him up against Midkiff early on. I think that is a winnable match for him. Moody has always wrestled well at the BIG 12’s. He’s been 4th-6th-4th here in the past & while he’ll have to wrestle a hell of a lot better than what he has been this season, another fourth place finish is doable. I have no doubt that he’ll finish his career at Oklahoma a four time BIG XII place-winner. It’s simply a matter of whether he’ll qualify for his fourth NCAA appearance I doubt.
How I would seed?
#1 Nick Piccininni senior Oklahoma State
# 2 Alex Mackall junior Iowa State
#3 McGwire Midkiff sophomore North Dakota State
#4 Danny Vega junior South Dakota State
#5 Jay Schwarm senior Northern Iowa
#6 Christian Moody senior Oklahoma
#7 Sid Flores sophomore Air Force
#8 Jace Koelzer freshman Northern Colorado
All eight of this year’s place-winners will qualify for the NCAA championships & good thing as an immense amount of parity makes it difficult to decipher exactly how the weight will be seeded.
I think there is a small but worth mentioning chance that South Dakota State’s Zach Price could sneak in a placement/qualification & an even smaller chance that Jared Van Vleet of Air Force could as well. Also in the discussion is Fresno State’s Lawrence Saenz if he wrestles at 133 lbs. Yet for the most part I’m pretty confident that the eight I have pictured will be the eight that place at the BIG 12’s and thus advance to the NCAA tournament.
As to who wins the title, I think we’ll see a final between LaMont and Bridges although both have sustained losses thus far this season that point to realistic upsets. Cam Sykora has suffered losses to each but neither match looked unwinnable. In all sense of reality looking over the results about anything is as possible as it is imaginable. Much like 184 lbs in the BIG 10, the parity here is ostentatiously apparent.
How I would seed?
#1 Taylor LaMont junior Utah Valley
#2 Montorie Bridges junior Wyoming
#3 Cam Sykora senior North Dakota State
#4 Anthony Madrigal sophomore Oklahoma
#5 Todd Small junior Iowa State
#6 Jack Sudlarczyk freshman Northern Iowa
#7 Mosha Schwartz freshman Northern Colorado
#8 Reece Witcraft freshman Oklahoma State
Despite a fluke loss by fall to West Virginia’s Caleb Rea, Oklahoma’s Dom Demas looks poised to win his second BIG XII title with a take on all challengers approach. While he’s had a few scares throughout wrestling within the conference, he’s had his hand raised in ten of eleven matches.
A challenger to his title is likely to be Iowa State’s Ian Parker who after getting annihilated by Demas at the beginning of the season 19-4 technical fall, recently narrowed the gap in a 3-1 loss in overtime.
As to the rest of the weight class it leaves itself open to a variety of possibilities.
The top 5 qualify for the NCAA tournament & while that seems a tall order for Rea mentioned earlier, besides the fall over Demas he also owns a 2-1 tiebreaker victory over Clay Carlson of South Dakota State. Another contender for a place on the award stand although I don’t see it being any higher than sixth is Northern Colorado’s Chris Sandoval.
Despite wrestling twenty-six matches this season D.J. Llorn of Fresno State hasn’t faced much competition within the conference. It’ll be interesting to see how he matches up against opponents for the first time.
Dusty Hone of Oklahoma State & Michael Blockhus of Northern Iowa are two wrestlers I am anxious to see compete at this tournament. Hone nearly upset Demas in a tight 4-3 loss & Blockhus took Demas into the tiebreakers before ultimately losing 9-3.
Should be an interesting weight class.
How I would seed?
#1 Dom Demas sophomore Oklahoma
# 2 Ian Parker junior Iowa State
#3 Michael Blockhus freshman Northern Iowa
#4 Dusty Hone freshman Oklahoma State
#5 Clay Carlson freshman South Dakota State
#6 D.J. Lloren junior Fresno State
#7 Dylan Droegemueller freshman North Dakota State
#8 Lenny Peterson junior Air Force
Oklahoma State’s Boo Lewallen has established himself as the forerunner for this year’s title. With a major decision over Northern Iowa’s Max Thomsen, that should make South Dakota State’s Henry Pohlmeyer the #2 seed. Thomsen having defeated Jarrett Degen twice this season by scores of 12-7 & 3-1 s.v. should be our #3. I say should be because Degen has a history of being seeded higher than wrestlers despite losing to them.
The weight class takes the top five to the NCAA’s & our fifth seed should be Northern Colorado’s Andrew Alirez.
As to the rest of the weight class at least on paper it seems a clear distance between the top five & everyone else. Fresno State’s Greg Gaxiola looks to be the forerunner for the sixth place slot but imagining fifth or higher would take at least one major upset. And that is of course, if he can avoid getting upset himself.
Seth Houge of West Virginia & Jacob Butler of Oklahoma who owns a win over Gaxiola should fight for spots on the award stand but I don’t see either of them qualifying.
How I would seed?
#1 Boo Lewallen junior Oklahoma State
#2 Henry Pohlmeyer senior South Dakota State
#3 Max Thomsen senior Northern Iowa
#4 Jarrett Degen junior Iowa State
#5 Andrew Alirez freshman Northern Colorado
#6 Greg Gaxiola junior Fresno State
#7 Jaron Jensen junior Wyoming
#8 Jaden Van Maanen sophomore North Dakota State
Cyclone freshman sensation David Carr obviously takes the honor of the #1 seed although I don’t know if the match is as signed, sealed and delivered as some treat it. If Oklahoma’s Justin Thomas can avenge a loss to North Dakota State’s Jared Franek in what should be a classic semi-final, I think he can give Carr another good match.
Oklahoma State’s Wyatt Sheets is one that I’m often not sure what to make of. When on he’s capable of big things such as defeating Thomas 8-3. When off, he loses matches you wouldn’t think he would. I can see him sneaking in to the finals and I can see him failing to place in the top five needed for qualification & having to rely on an at large bid.
Last season I named Fresno State’s Jacob Wright as one of the best wrestlers to not qualify for the NCAA championships. I think unless he upsets someone at the BIG XII’s he’ll make the list again this year.
Lastly I don’t know if I’d call him one of the best to never qualify for the NCAA tournament, but despite having never made the trip, Wyoming’s Dewey Krueger has had a fairly solid career. I don’t see him upsetting his way to a fifth place finish or higher, although he most certainly should place in the top eight. He’ll most likely end his career just shy of 100 wins & as this year’s RENO tournament of champions champion. A reminder that even if accomplishments weren’t at the NCAA tournament, one can still look back at successes in their career.
How I would seed?
#1 David Carr freshman Iowa State
#2 Jared Franek freshman North Dakota State
#3 Justin Thomas junior Oklahoma
#4 Keaton Geerts freshman Northern Iowa
#5 Wyatt Sheets junior Oklahoma State
#6 Jacob Wright sophomore Fresno State
#7 Dewey Krueger senior Wyoming
#8 Nathan Moore freshman Northern Colorado
A rather tough weight class that will take six individuals to the NCAA tournament and all six are capable of earning All American honors. Not only that but you also have North Dakota State’s Cordell Eaton who is capable of an upset and if he is seeded seventh like I predict so too is Northern Colorado’s Jake Seely.
Noah Adams of West Virginia has been the sole highlight for the Mountaineers this season as he looks poised to win his first BIG XII title.
The hunt for second place looks to be a good one between five viable wrestlers. Jake Woodley of Oklahoma, Tanner Sloan of South Dakota State, Stephen Buchanan of Wyoming, Tanner Orndorff of Utah Valley and Dakota Geer of Oklahoma State. Some weight classes are a battle, this one will be a war.
How I would seed?
#1 Noah Adams sophomore West Virginia
#2 Jake Woodley sophomore Oklahoma
#3 Tanner Sloan freshman South Dakota State
#4 Stephen Buchanan freshman Wyoming
#5 Tanner Orndorff senior Utah Valley
#6 Dakota Geer junior Oklahoma State
#7 Jake Seely senior Northern Colorado
#8 Cordell Eaton senior North Dakota State
Looking over the HWT’s, the forerunner here is Utah Valley’s Tate Orndorff who is 6-0 within the BIG XII. His finals opponent could be the likely #2 seed Gannon Gremmel of Iowa State. The behemoth Cyclone rarely seems to win pretty, but at the end of the day, as long as you get your hand raised.
Fresno State’s Josh Hokit of course will look for an appearance in the finals & will challenge Gremmel for that spot in what should be a Godzilla Vs King Kong semi-final. As much as Northern Iowa’s Carter Isley has improved this season, I don’t see him upsetting his way into the finals.
This weight class takes the top seven & while neither roll the dice as an eleven or a seven, both Kayne Hutchison of Air Force and Brandon Ngati of West Virginia have the ability to sneak into that seventh place slot.
How I would seed?
#1 Tate Orndorff sophomore Utah Valley
#2 Gannon Gremmel junior Iowa State
#3 Josh Hokit senior Fresno State
#4 Carter Isley junior Northern Iowa
#5 Brian Andrews junior Wyoming
#6 Dalton Robertson junior Northern Colorado
#7 Brandon Metz sophomore North Dakota State
#8 Kayne Hutchison sophomore Air Force