March 16, 2011

Wrestling Wreport: the NCAA edition

One last chance to post this pic again!!
The Big Ten wrestling champs Penn State Nittany Lions take a short bus trip to Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center to compete in the 2011 NCAA wrestling championships starting tomorrow. Coach Cael Sanderson came to Penn State to win the Big Ten and NCAA championships. Half of that goal has been achieved, can he make Penn State a national champ for the first time in 50 years? We're about to find out.

The good news is that last Wednesday it was announced that while Brad Pataky did not finish high enough in the Big Ten's to automatically qualify for an NCAA bid, he did receive an at-large bid and will compete as an unseeded wrestler. Pataky has been so close to All-American status but has yet to realize that dream and this will be his final chance. Here's a look at Penn State's 8 qualifiers:

125- Brad Pataky: Unseeded

Unlike last season, Brad didn't get that bad of a draw. It's not going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination but Brad has the potential to get somewhere in the championship bracket. Brad will face No. 12 seed Jarrod Garnett of Virginia Tech in the first bout. Pataky and Garnett split two bouts last season. Win that and he would likely get 5th seeded Zach Sanders of Minnesota who Pataky lost to by 2 points in the dual this season. Win that and Pataky would be in the quarterfinals against 4th seeded James Nicholson of Old Dominion. Brad could easily lose his first match but he could also make it pretty far. While he does have top-seeded Anthony Robles in his bracket both Matt McDonough of Iowa and Brandon Precin of Northwestern are in the other bracket. If there was ever a year that Brad has a good opportunity to get that top-8 finish it would be this one.

Prediction: All-American (top-8 finish)call me crazy I just have a feeling Brad will do well this time around

133- Andrew Long: No. 3

Like Pataky, Long got a pretty good draw as well. If Andrew avoids the upset he wouldn't face a ranked wrestler until at least the quarterfinals. Long also would get No. 2 seed Andrew Hochstrasser of Boise in the semi's and I like Long's chances if he gets there.

Prediction: NCAA finalist

141- Andrew Alton: No. 6

Andrew will get Binghamton's Anwar Goeres in the first round and then Matthew Mariacher the 11 seed out of American. Both are winnable bouts for Alton and if he did win it would get him to Borislav Novachkov of Cal poly the 3rd seed. Russell of Michigan, Kennedy of Illinois, and Marion of Iowa, all of who Andrew lost to, are in the other bracket. If Alton makes it to the semi's he would most likely have a tough matchup with 2nd seeded Michael Thorn of Minnesota.

Prediction: All-American – Alton never gives up and I like his chances of becoming a true freshman All-American

149- Frank Molinaro: No. 2

Frank gets a high seed in an admittedly week weight as far as the Big Ten is concerned. Having said that, no other wrestler in the Big Ten even scored on Frank in the Big Ten championships, there's something to be said for that. Frank does have a sort of tough road ahead of him. If he makes it past unseeded wrestlers in his first two matches he'll likely face Mario Mason of Rutgers in the quarters, who was one of the two wrestlers to beat Frank this season.

Prediction: NCAA finalist – I think if Frank makes it past Mason he makes it to the finals

157- David Taylor: No. 3

What more can I say about the Magic Man that I haven't already said this season. Taylor gets the 3rd seed behind Fittery of American and Hall of Boise. Surprisingly Fittery gets the 2nd seed and would likely face Taylor in a Semifinal match that everyone wants to see. I think whoever wins that match is your champ at 157 and I'll never count Taylor out.

Prediction: NCAA champ

174- Ed Ruth: No. 2

Ruth is another wrestler I feel pretty confident about sitting at No. 2. He would likely get Big Ten Championship rematch with Nick Heflin of Ohio State in the quarters and then a rematch with Mack Lewnes of Cornell whom Ed beat handily by an 11-5 score in the dual earlier this year. I don't expect that kind of dominance but I think Ruth gets by to make it to the championship.

Prediction: NCAA champ- I just like the way Ed is wrestling right now

184- Quentin Wright: No. 9

While I've said that most of Penn State's wrestlers have decent draws up to this point, Q is the exact opposite. Wright has a horrendous draw getting a Big Ten championship rematch against Kevin Steinhaus in the 2nd round. That's extremely tough and even worse the winner of that get's top-seeded Chris Honeycutt of Edinboro. Wright would have been way better off getting the 10th seed but you just have to go out and wrestle. I'll never count Q out but he may have to do his damage in the wrestle backs.

Prediction: All-American

285- Cameron Wade: No. 9

Like I say every time I preview Cameron Wade you just don't know which Wade is going to step on the mat. Wade has the potential to go all the way and he has the potential to drop out without placing. Wade gets a very winnable 1st round match against the winner of a pigtail but then gets a rematch with Minnesota's Tony Nelson whom Cameron is 1-1 with this season. The winner of that gets top-seeded Zach Rey of Lehigh which is tough.

Prediction: doesn't place I'd like to think Cameron will get to All-American status but I just don't see it happening


I know I'm looking like a homer predicting 7 All-Americans and two national champs but after watching these guys in the Big Ten's I just think that they are peaking at the right time. Another thing to think about is the fact that it will be in Penn State's back yard so there should be LOTS of Nittany Lion fans filling the stands. Things could go sour fast but I think with some of the draws this could be Penn State's year. If things end up like I'm predicting it will be a close finish. The team championship could be just as close as the Big Ten championships. 

TV coverage 

Thankfully, the ESPN family of networks if covering the championships from beginning to end. The schedule will go like this:

Thursday, March 17 
Session 1 - 11 a.m. (ESPN3)
Session 2 - 6:30 p.m. (ESPN3) 
Friday, March 18 
Session 3 - 10:30 a.m. (ESPNU & ESPN3 simulcast)
Session 4 - 7 p.m. (ESPNU & ESPN3 simulcast) 
Saturday, March 19 
Session 5- 11 a.m. (ESPNU & ESPN3 simulcast)
Session six/championship finals, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)


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