Olympic Sports

Blog: Big 12 wrestling tournament preview

By Cyclone Fanatic user/wrestling guru Judoka

Hey there Fanatics. Coming up this Friday and Saturday are the Big XII Duals and Big XII Wrestling Championships. Since only four remaining schools participate in wrestling (and West Virginia complained about travel costs), the Big 12 decided to better simulate a multi-day tournament by having round-robin duals on Friday followed by the conference tournament on Saturday. This is the first year that this format has been utilized so it is tough to predict how the event will go. I expect at least a few forfeits and JV guys sent out in order to protect seeding for Saturday.

The Big 12 has earned 19 automatic bids to NCAA’s in Des Moines. Most weights will qualify the top two, but 125 and HWT will only send one. 165 will send three. Four Iowa State wrestlers earned an allocation for the conference. Mike Moreno, Tanner Weatherman, Boaz Beard, & Kyven Gadson. Three others – Ryak Finch, Luke Goettl and Matt Gibson were just shy of earning an allocation.

Though allocations are earned by individual wrestlers, actual NCAA qualification is determined by conference finish. For example at 125, the Big 12 has earned one allocation, from Shane Young of West Virginia. But the spot in Des Moines will go to whoever takes first, regardless of whether it is a wrestler who earned the spot for the conference. As you read through this post, you will see we have a lot of guys likely seeded third in weight classes with only two allocations. That means the 2/3 seed matchups are the most important in the tournament for a lot of Iowa State wrestlers. A win there will send them to Des Moines regardless of what happens in the finals and a loss would leave them crossing their fingers for one of the few at large spots.

For those that don’t earn a bid, four spots are held back nationwide at each weight for at-large bids. Generally, athletes who earned an allocation for their conference but get upset at their tournament get first consideration for wild card bids.

Once they are accommodated, any wrestler who meets two of the following criteria are considered for any remaining spots:

* Top 33 RPI (updated after conference championships)

* Top 33 Coaches Poll Ranking (not updated after conference championships)

* .700 winning percentage against all competition

* At least one win against a wrestler who was a pre-qualifier

* Qualifying event placement one below automatic qualification

The committee evaluates all eligible wrestlers using the following criteria:

* Head-to-head competition

* Qualifying event placement

* Quality wins

* Results against common opponents

* Winning percentage

Coaches ranking

* Number of matches contested at that weight class

Most of our team will be eligible for a wild card spot if they do not earn an automatic bid. But depending on how many upsets happen around the country there may not be many spots available. Among our guys that didn’t earn an allocation, Luke Goettl and Matt Gibson probably have the best resumes to snag an at large spot if they don’t place high enough on Saturday.

If I were to guess right now I think we’ll qualify 4-7 guys to Des Moines.

125 (1 Allocation)

1st Seed – Edward Klimara – OSU – NR/32/15 – 21-14, 2-1
2nd Seed – Ryak Finch – ISU NR/NR/21 – 15-8, 2-1
3rd Seed – Shane Young – WVU – NR/29/NR – 12-3,1-2
4th Seed – Kyle Garcia – OU – NR/NR/NR – 11-13, 1-2

Of all the weights, this is the only one I wouldn’t be surprised if the seeding was turned upside down after Friday’s matches. To earn a trip to Des Moines, Finch needs to the Big 12 Champion. His path will be much easier if he is able to go 3-0 on Friday and take the No. 1 seed into the tournament on Saturday. That would require taking care of business against Young and Garcia and getting an upset against Klimara. But that is a pretty low chance. To illustrate how tight this weight is, the Big 12 allocation at this weight was actually earned by Shane Young of WVU, who will likely be the third seed! If Finch takes second he will have an outside chance at an wild card bid due to his win over Young earlier in the season and his RPI ranking.

133 (2 Allocations)

1st Seed – Jon Morrison – OSU – 6/7/4 – 20-6, 2-0
2nd Seed – Cody Brewer – OU – 9/9/6 – 18-5, 2-1
3rd Seed – John Meeks – ISU – NR/NR/24 – 11-10 1-2
4th Seed – Colin Johnson – WVU – NR/NR/NR – 7-9 0-3

Meeks is in the worst situation of all our wrestlers simply due to the fact that the two allocations at this weight are looking to be filled by two top ten guys. To earn a trip to Des Moines, Meeks must beat Cody Brewer in the 2-3 seed match. Brewer beat him 2-6 when they met in the dual, so it isn’t completely out of the question. However, Meeks would need to wrestle the best match of his season. While Meeks would be eligible for a wild card bid if he takes third, his resume doesn’t give him a very good chance at it. 

141 (2 Allocations)

1st Seed – Kendrick Maple – OU – 1/1/1 – 23-0 4-0
2nd Seed – Nathan Pennesi – WVU – 14/13/11 – 21-7 2-1
3rd Seed – Luke Goettl – ISU – 19/27/NR – 12-10 1-3
4th Seed – Julian Feikert  – OSU – NR/NR/32 – 17-16 0-3

Goettl just missed getting an allocation at this weight. His Coaches Poll ranking was high enough, but his RPI wasn’t. That means his path to Des Moines will go through Nathan Pennesi of WVU, who beat him 1-5 earlier in the season. I wouldn’t count Luke out – last season he scored an upset win over No. 1 Maple. However, I would not be at all surprised if we forfieted or sent out R.J. Hallman against Pennesi in the dual on Friday so Luke doesn’t have to try to beat him twice in two days. Luke has had a mediocre season so far but is capable of beating anyone. If he is unable to beat Pennesi on Saturday he will have a decent chance at getting a wild card due to being ranked and having multiple wins over wrestlers who did earn allocations for their conferences. 

149 (2 Allocations)

1st Seed  – Jordan Oliver – OSU – 1/1/1 – 28-0 3-0
2nd Seed – Nick Lester – OU – 16/15/20 – 15-9 2-1
3rd Seed – Max Mayfield – ISU – NR/NR/NR – 12-12 1-2
4th Seed – Tre Miller-Scott – WVU – NR/NR/NR – 6-14 0-2

Mayfield has almost no chance at a wild card bid. His only shot at Des Moines is through Lester. Lester only beat Mayfield 4-6 when they met earlier this season, so a win is certainly possible. Just like at 141, I wouldn’t be surprised to see us duck Lester on Friday so Max only has to beat him once. If you are following this weight at all make sure to watch Oliver. He is a dominant wrestler that is a questionable call away from being on track for his third national title. He is easily the most dominant wrestler in the entire conference and possibly the entire country.

157 (2 Allocations)

1st Seed – Alex Dieringer – OSU – 8/7/8 26-2 3-0
2nd Seed – Matt Lester – OU – 18/18/23 15-7 1-1
3rd Seed – Logan Molina – ISU – NR/NR/29 16-15 1-2
4th Seed – Jason Luster – WVU – NR/NR/NR 5-10 0-3

Molina is in an almost identical situation to Mayfield. Down to needing to beat Nick Lester’s slightly larger twin Matt in order to make it to Des Moines. He even lost by an identical score of 4-6 in our dual against Oklahoma. Just as in the past four weights, the two/three seed match is the most important one in the bracket. Win that match and Logan has punched his ticket. Lose that match and he’ll be watching from the stands.

165 (3 Allocations)

1st Seed – Tyler Caldwell – OSU – 3/3/2 26-3 3-0
2nd Seed – Bubba Graham – OU –  5/5/4 20-3 3-1
3rd Seed – Micheal Moreno – ISU – 19/18/13 22-6 2-1
4th Seed – Ross Renzi – WVU – NR/NR/NR 7-10 0-2

Moreno has had a great sophomore season after being disappointing as a freshman. With three of four wrestlers qualified at this weight the Big 12 tournament will be mainly about setting up for seeding at Nationals. A win over Graham would push Moreno into being seeded (only the top 12 are given seeds, the rest of the matches are done by draw) in Des Moines, which would give him a much easier path to AA.

174 (2 Allocations)

1st Seed – Chris Perry – OSU – 2/2/1 26-2 3-0
2nd Seed – Tanner Weatherman – ISU – 20/20/21 15-5 2-1
3rd Seed – Jakob Scheffel – WVU – NR/26/NR 10-5 1-2
4th Seed – Matt Reed – OU – NR/NR/NR 12-15 0-3

Weatherman battled with Mikey England for the starting spot all season but eventually came out on top. Weatherman has had a pretty good season so far and there is a decent amount of distance between him and Scheffel. Weatherman lost to Perry 3-0 earlier in the season and, just like Moreno, and upset win would go a long way towards earning himself a seed in Des Moines.

184 (2 Allocations)

1st Seed – Boaz Beard – ISU – 15/16/22 13-7 2-0
2nd Seed – Chris Chionuma – OSU – 11/10/10 22-8 2-1
3rd Seed – Lance Bryson – WVU – NR/NR/NR 9-12 1-2
4th Seed – Greg Wilson – OU – NR/NR/NR 6-11 0-2

Beard scored an upset 8-2 win over Chionuma at the dual, his best win of the year. Chionuma will be looking for vengance and I wouldn’t be surprised if we send Mikey England out against him at the dual on Friday in order to protect the No. 1 seed for Beard. Beard has enough good wins that he would feel pretty comfortable about getting a wild card even if he has a bad tournament and fails to place in the top two. But at the same time another win over Chionuma would be unlikely to bump him up into the top 12. So of all our wrestlers Boaz has both the least to lose and the least to gain at Big 12’s. His goal should just be to keep healthy.

197 (2 Allocations)

1st Seed – Kyven Gadson – ISU – 7/7/6 20-2 3-0
2nd Seed – Blake Rosholt – OSU – 11/11/NR 11-5 2-1
3rd Seed – Anthony Vizcarrondo – WVU – NR/NR/NR 6-10 1-2
4th Seed – Brad Johnson – OU – NR/NR/NR 12-16 0-3

Gadson has had an amazing season since coming off of several shoulder injuries the past two years. He has wins over numerous top 20 wrestlers and both of his losses were by a takedown or less against other top ten ranked guys. He’s looking at an All American run and another win against Rosholt would help him keep the No. 6 seed at Nationals – which would give him the easiest path possible to the podium. Rosholt is no slacker himself and will be looking for a win to improve his own seeding prospects in Des Moines. I expect this to be a great match.

HWT (1 Allocation) 

1st Seed – Alan Gelogaev – OSU – 2/2/4 20-3 3-0
2nd Seed – Matt Gibson – ISU – 20/21/NR 14-7 1-1
3rd Seed  – Keldrick Hall – OU – NR/NR/NR 10-15 1-2
4th Seed – Phil Mandzik – WVU – NR/NR/NR 9-16 1-2

Gibson was one match shy of earning an allocation for the Big 12 at this weight. He was scheduled to go to the National Collegiate Open with a few other members of the team the weekend before allocations were announced, where he would have gotten that needed match. But a family emergency came up and he was unable to attend. So instead he has to knock off the NO. 2 wrestler in the country for a spot. This is more attainable than it sounds however. Gelogaev is a good stylistic matchup for Gibson and when they met earlier in the season Gelogaev only won by a single point, 6-5. With a second place finish Gibson would still have a pretty good shot at an at large bid due to having some quality wins this season and being the highest ranked guy at Heavyweight who did not get an allocation. A win on Saturday would be ideal to give Gibson his second Big XII title and secure a guaranteed spot in Des Moines. But going 1-1 against Gelogaev with a win on Friday and a loss on Saturday would still likely be enough for Gibson to punch his ticket to Nationals.

*Rankings are: Intermat/Coaches Poll/RPI



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