Dec. 14, 2009
(All rankings refer to Intermatwrestle.com's preseason rankings)
125 -- Northwestern's Brandon Precin may be redshirting this season but the third-place finisher at the 2009 NCAA Championships has every intention of defending his 2008 Midlands championship in his home arena. He will be faced with a challenging field that includes 2009 NCAA champion Paul Donahoe--formerly of Edinboro--wrestling for the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. Meanwhile, No. 9 Ben Kjar of Utah Valley will be in the mix along with Central Michigan's 15th-ranked Conor Beebe and 17th-ranked B.J. Futrell of Illinois.
Former national champions in the field this season include: Paul Donahoe (125, formerly of Edinboro), Brent Metcalf (149, Iowa), Jake Varner (197, Iowa State), and Mark Ellis (heavyweight, Missouri). NCAA runner-ups include Mike Miller (174, Central Michigan), Andrew Howe (165, Wisconsin) and Aaron Anspach (heavyweight, Penn State assistant).
133 -- 2008 Midlands champion Daniel Dennis of Iowa is back to defend his title, which he captured by upsetting second-seeded Nick Fanthorpe of Iowa State in the final, 4-3. Dennis and Fanthorpe garnered No. 4 and No. 5 preseason rankings, respectively. Maryland's eighth-ranked Steve Bell joins Dennis and Illinois' Jimmy Kennedy as 2009 All-Americans among the competitors at 133 pounds in this year's Midlands Championships. Five more top-20 grapplers are in the field as well, including Bucknell's David Marble (No. 13) and Tristen DeShazer (No. 15). Also of note is Central Michigan's Scotti Sentes, an All-American at 125 last season who has made the move to 133 pounds as a true sophomore.
141 -- As was the case in 2008, this is another Midlands field that is loaded with top-20 talent and returning NCAA All-Americans, highlighted by Iowa State's Nick Gallick, a third-place finisher at both Midlands and the NCAA Championships a year ago. Maryland's third-ranked Alex Krom placed fifth in the nation at 141 in 2009 while Iowa senior Joey Slaton (No. 6) figures to be in the mix as well. Three of the top four Midlands place-winners from a year ago have graduated, however, making this weight class one that is available for the taking.
149 -- 2009 Midlands champ and NCAA runner-up Brent Metcalf is the heavy favorite while Wisconsin's Kyle Ruschell, ranked No. 3 nationally, will be looking to earn a rematch of the 2008 Midlands final. American's Kyle Borschoff is in position to advance deep into the tournament after placing fourth a year ago while Purdue's Jake Patacsil, a 2009 All-American who is now in his redshirt season, will try to reach the tournament's finals after his third-place showing in 2008. Matt Mauseth of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the top-ranked 149-pounder in Division III and the 2009 WIAC Wrestler of the Year, is looking to make some noise as well. Finally, Northwestern's 15th-ranked Andrew Nadhir is aiming to make the leap to the Midlands medal stand for the first time.
157 -- In addition to eight wrestlers ranked in the top 20, the 157-pound field also includes Northwestern's returning NCAA qualifier Jason Welch, who is redshirting this season, as well as NU assistant coach Matt Storniolo, an NCAA All-American while at Oklahoma. Harvard's fourth-ranked J.P. O'Connor is another of the field's strong performers while Central Michigan's Steve Brown (No. 10), Chattanooga's Joey Knox (No. 11), Purdue's Colton Salazar (No. 12) and Indiana's Kurt Kinser (No. 13) all hope to make their presences known in the late rounds. Michigan State's Anthony Jones (No. 17) is also back in the field after placing sixth at Midlands last season.
165 -- With the return of Iowa State's fifth-ranked Jon Reader and Iowa's fourth-ranked Ryan Morningstar, the potential exists for a rematch of the 2008 Midlands final. Morningstar got the best of Reader in last year's Midlands championship bout, winning 5-4 in tiebreakers, and also edged Reader in the third-place match at the NCAA Championships by winning 7-5 in the first sudden victory session. Wisconsin sophomore Andrew Howe, who made it all the way to the NCAA finals as a freshman, is aiming to improve on his fourth-place showing at the 2008 Midlands. Bucknell's sixth-ranked Andy Rendos and Missouri's seventh-ranked Nick Marable have a chance to place highly in their respective senior seasons while Rutgers' Scott Winston, a would-be sophomore who is redshirting this season, will be looking to place after moving up from his 157-pound spot last year.
174 -- Central Michigan junior Mike Miller the nation's top-ranked 174-pounder and a runner-up at both the 2008 Midlands and the 2009 NCAA Championships, will have to contend with Iowa's second-ranked Jay Borschel, who finished third at Midlands a year ago. Maryland's Mike Letts took home third place from Midlands in 2008 and is ranked fourth nationally while Illinois sophomore Jordan Blanton entered the season with a No. 11 ranking. Other hopefuls include: Shane Riccio of Bucknell (No. 13), Dorian Henderson of Missouri (No. 14) and Luke Manuel of Purdue (No. 17).
184 -- Iowa's Phil Keddy, ranked No. 2 at 184 pounds, reached the finals of both Midlands and the Big Ten Championships before losing Northwestern's two-time NCAA champion Jake Herbert. Keddy is a favorite to win his first Midlands crown this year while American's Mike Cannon, the 2008 Midlands champ at 174, has made the move 184. Cannon, an All-American, is ranked fourth in the nation behind another member of this year's field, third-ranked Max Askren of Missouri. This stacked weight class features three more top-10 grapplers in Binghamton's sixth-ranked Josh Patterson, Harvard's eighth-ranked Louis Caputo and Lehigh's 10th-ranked David Craig. Patterson placed seventh at the NCAA Championships last season to become Binghamton's first-ever NCAA All-American wrestler.
197 -- Iowa State's top-ranked and defending NCAA champion Jake Varner lost a close 2-1 decision in the 197-pound finals of the 2008 Midlands to Wisconsin's Dallas Herbst but is the clear favorite to take the title this season. Maryland's third-ranked Hudson Taylor hopes to improve on his seventh-place finish at last year's Midlands while Wisconsin's sixth-ranked Trevor Brandvold will try to fill the void left by a departed Herbst. Another trio of highly ranked Big Ten competitors--Chad Beatty of Iowa (No. 10), Patrick Bond of Illinois (No. 11) and Logan Brown of Purdue (No. 15)--will be able to use Midlands to get an early look at their conference opponents.
285 -- The heavyweight field is headlined by two Missouri Tigers, top-ranked senior and defending Midlands champion Mark Ellis as well as redshirt Dominic Bradley, who finished fourth at Midlands a year ago. Another favorite comes in the form of Aaron Anspach, a member of the Penn State coaching staff and a 2007 NCAA runner-up at heavyweight for the Nittany Lions. They will be met with stiff competition by Iowa's Dan Erekson (No. 4) and Lehigh sophomore Zach Rey (No. 6) as well as Jarod Trice of Central Michigan (No. 10). In addition to four more top-20-ranked competitiors, the field also features Dan Laurent of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the nation's top-ranked heavyweight in Division III.