#3 Dylan Wisman, VA (12) – State Champ
#9 Blake Rypel, IN (11) – State Runner-Up
#12 Nathan Traxler, IL (11) – State 4th
#19 Ross Graham, VA (11) – State Champ
#2 @ 152 Zahid Valencia, CA (12) – 2X State Champ
#11 @ 170 Kollin Moore, OH (12) – State Runner-Up
#14 @ 195 Jack Harris, OH (11) – State Runner-Up
#20 @ 170 Corey Hazel, PA (12) – State 5th
Willie Bivens, NC (12) – State Champ
Chance Cooper, MO (12) – 2X State Runner-Up
Ben Darmstadt, OH (11) – State Runner-Up
Triston Engle, NY (12) – State 3rd
Dakota Geer, PA (11) – State 3rd
Evan Hansen, IA (12) – State Champ
Timmy Knipl, OH (12) – State 5th
Jared Langley, KS (12) – State Champ
Dontae McGee, FL (12) – State Champ
Chad Solomon, TN (12) – 2X State Champ
Adolfo Sotolongo, (12) FL – State Runner-Up
Currently #2 Valencia is the hottest name in high school wrestling. He’s moved up 6 weight classes since the state tournament; thus, many (such as myself) were skeptical that he could compete with #1 Myles Martin at Who’s Number One a couple weeks back. Well, not only did Valencia compete, but he edged Martin 3-1 with an OT takedown. Now he’s moved on to his next challenge as an upperweight: winning his first Super 32 title.|
The top challenger is #3 Wisman who many have already penciled in to wrestle Valencia in the finals. Both will have some challenges along the way, but I’d pretty surprised to see anyone else in the finals. Wisman is a 2X Junior Freestyle AA with the physical tools to beat any 182lbr in the country. I’m having a hard time picking against Valencia after watching his Who’s Number One win, but it’s definitely a matchup I can see going either way.
I think the next tier consists of #9 Rypel, #12 Traxler, and #14 Harris. Are all among the country’s best big guys in the class of 2016. Harris has been a bit inconsistent throughout his career, but I love his aggression and he will be a physical monster at this weight class. Rypel and Traxler are both coming off phenomenal offseasons. Rypel won a Junior Folkstyle National title while Traxler earned Freestyle AA honors at Junior and FILA Cadet Nationals. I’m expecting all 3 to place in the top 6.
The remaining nationally ranked wrestlers are #19 Graham at 182, and #11 Moore and #20 Hazel at 170. Geer is a hammer as well and I think he’ll slip into the national rankings after this weekend. My sleeper pick is Darmstadt. He’s moving up a couple of weights, but I was thoroughly impressed by his performance in Fargo. Coper and Langley are a couple of other relatively unheralded guy that I could see doing some damage.
PICKS: 1) Valencia 2) Wisman 3) Rypel 4) Harris
#4 Hunter Ritter, MD (12) – National Prep Runner-Up
#16 Jacob Cooper, MI (12)– 2X State Champ
#17 Kevin Mulligan, NJ (12) – State 6th
#20 Jeff Velez, NJ (12) – 2X State Qualifier
Jeff Allen, VA (10) – State Champ
Steve Allen, OK (12) – State 4th
Drew Kasper, OH (12) – State Qualifier
Elliott Lee, GA (12) – State Champ
Tyler Oliver, PA (12) – State 7th
Drew Phipps, PA (12) – State 4th
Dylan Reynolds, PA (12) – State 3rd
Gabriel Rangel, IA (12) – State 3rd
Jacob Worthington, OH (12) – 2X State Placer
As far as preseason tourneys go this is a terrific group of big guys; but, in comparison to the rest of the weights it’s definitely on the weaker side. The 4 nationally ranked wrestlers is the lowest total of any weight (106, 170, and 285 are next with 5 apiece). #4 Ritter is one of the most clear-cut favorites of the tournament. He’s among the nation’s most established big guys on the FS/GR circuit, and this summer he made the FILA Cadet Freestlye World Team. He’s not quite as established in Folk, but he did win an NHSCA title in 2013.
Beyond Ritter it’s an extremely wide open field. The 3 additional nationally ranked wrestlers are #16 Cooper, #17 Mulligan, and #20 Velez. S. Allen, Phipps, and Reynolds are right on the cusp as well. I think all 6 have relatively equal odds to make the finals opposite Ritter, but if I gotta pick 1 it’s Cooper. He looked very sharp at the GFC a couple weeks ago. I’m also high on Phipps. He placed 4th at Super 32 last year and will be the only returning AA on the chart barring any last minute weight changes.
Look out for Kasper as a potential sleeper. He placed at Flonationals in the spring and split matches against #14 Jack Harris at the Disney Duals this summer. J. Allen is another kid to keep an eye on. He’s a sophomore with the potential to be one of the country’s best big guys by the time his senior year rolls around.
PICKS: 1) Ritter 2) Cooper 3) Reynolds 4) Mulligan
#1 Jordan Wood, PA (11) – 2X State Runner-Up
#3 Austin Myers, KY (12) – 3X State Champ
#11 Youssif Hemida, NY (12) – State Qualifier
#12 Buzzy Maines, PA (12) – State Runner-Up
#13 Patrick Grayson, VA (12) – State Champ
#19 Ethan Andersen, IA (11) – State Champ
Vincent Feola, NY (12) – State Runner-Up
Tyler Gilbertson, VA (12) – 2X State Runner-Up
John Kramer, TN (12) – State Champ
George Lahar, MI (12) – State 3rd
Jacob Plaster, VA (12) – State Champ
Luke Ready, MI (11) – State 4th
Michael Smith, MD (12) – National Prep 3rd
This weight class should feature one the tournament’s showcase matchups. #1 Wood was Cadet World runner-up in Freestyle this summer and is also the reigning Super 32 champ at this weight. Last year he was untouched, scoring bonus in all but 1 of his matches. This time he should be in for a much tougher challenge with #3 Myers on the chart. This offseason was the most active of Myer’s career. He finished runner-up at NHSCA’s and earned double Junior AA status in Fargo. Wood is the favorite against any other 220 in the country, but an upset is definitely not out of the question either.
The 4 remaining wrestlers in the national rankings are #11 Hemida, #12 Maines, #13 Grayson, and #19 Andersen. I’m an especially big fan of Hemida. After failing to place at the state tournament he’s been red hot throughout the offseason. Most notably, he finished runner-up at Flonationals and placed 6th at Junior Freestyle Nationals. For the most part these 4 are pretty interchangeable and I’m confident they will all place, but in my opinion Hemida’s the best bet to take 3rd.
There’s also an awesome contingent of unranked guys. The most notable is Feola who placed 4th at this weight a year ago. Smith is a stud as well and is currently on the bubble of breaking into the national rankings. Ready looked phenomenal earning Cadet Freestyle runner-up honors in Fargo this summer, and Lahar just upset him at the GFC.
PICKS: 1) Wood 2) Myers 3) Hemida 4) Andersen
#15 Allan Beattie, PA (12) – State 3rd
#18 Dane Drimmer, CO (12) – State Runner-Up
#7 @220 Andrew Dunn, PA (12) – State 3rd
#9 @220 Michael Rogers, PA (12) – National Prep 3rd
#10 @220 Ian Butterbrodt, MA (12) – NE Champ
Bucky Dennis, FL (12) – State 3rd
Zack Mauldin, NC (12) – State Runner-Up
Adam Olsen, NC (12) – State Champ
As far as heavyweight goes, this is a stellar field for a tournament that takes place in the middle of football season. There’s plenty of top-end talent with no glaring favorite. The highest ranked is #7 Dunn who finished 4th at this weight a year ago. The other returning AA is Butterbrodt, last year’s runner-up at 220.
That leaves 3 additional nationally ranked entrants: #15 Beattie and #18 Drimmer at 285, and #9 Rogers moving up from 220. I really like Rogers. He’s a bit undersized but seems to wrestle better against bigger opponents. Beattie and Drimmer are right there as well and it wouldn’t be a shock if any of the 5 ranked kids brought home a belt.
The depth trails off a bit, but Dennis, Mauldin, and Olsen round out a pretty solid top 8. All 3 were NHSCA AA’s this spring with Olsen placing 5th, Mauldin 7th, and Dennis 8th.
PICKS: 1) Dunn 2) Rogers 3) Butterbrodt 4) Beattie
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