2013 InterMat JJ Classic Preview
The 2013 InterMat JJ Classic takes place on Sunday at the UCR Regional Sports Center in Rochester, Minn. Wrestling gets underway at 9 a.m. The semifinals and finals will be live streamed, and some earlier action will be live streamed as well, courtesy of MN/USA Wrestling. Check the InterMat homepage on Sunday morning for the live streams. Results can be found on TrackWrestling.com.
Below is a weight-by-weight preview of this year's InterMat JJ Classic, along with predictions from InterMat JJ Classic recruiters Steve Elwood and Pat Priebe.
Note: This preview includes wrestlers registered through 12 p.m. CT on Friday. Information in this preview is subject to change due to additions, scratches, and weight class changes.
This is the only non-NFHS weight class contested, and it's filled with wrestlers who have excelled in state, regional, and national age group events but many have limited high school wrestling experience or production. One wrestler entered in this weight class who has excelled at the high school level is K.J. Suitor (Swan Valley, Mich.), a state placewinner who compiled a 57-5 record as a freshman. Suitor was a fourth-place finisher at this year's Grappler Fall Classic at 103 pounds. Alexander Crowe (Shakopee, Minn.) is coming off a strong spring and summer. He was a runner-up in both the Cadet National folkstyle and Cadet National Greco-Roman competitions at 88 pounds. Justin Portillo (Toledo Central Catholic, Ohio) has solid results this fall, placing in the Grappler Fall Classic and going 5-2 at Preseason Nationals. Neil Schmalz (Mound Westonka, Minn.) had a winning varsity record as an undersized 113-pounder last season. Ethan Cota (Kenyon-Wanamingo) was third at Mental Aerobics and the Rumble on the Red, and has also been productive in MN/USA events. Alex Davis (Champlin, Minn.) was a MN/USA state champion in both freestyle and Greco-Roman this year. Tyler Eischens (Anoka, Minn.) is coming off a third-place finish at Preseason Nationals. Stone Mendez (Kiewit, Neb.) was a Schoolboy All-American this year in freestyle and Greco-Roman, and also placed this fall at the Conflict at Carver and Blue Chip Fall Brawl. Two eighth-graders from Willmar to keep an eye on this weight class are Israel Navarro and Clay Carlson. Several other credentialed wrestlers could figure into the mix at this weight class.
Steve Elwood's Prediction: With a gaudy 57-5 record as a freshman, I'm not picking against K.J. Suiter. Michigan takes the first title here.
Pat Priebe's Prediction: There are not a lot of guys in this weight with varsity experience, but these young lightweights have some solid national credentials. I think Alexander Crowe will make a run to the finals, and I believe he will meet K.J. Suitor, who was a Michigan state placer last year at 103. Suitor had 57 wins last year and placed seventh at state, and that's why I am picking Suitor to win this weight class. Justin Portillo could be the dark horse here and may surprise a few people.
Austin Gomez (Glenbard North, Ill.) will make his much-anticipated high school wrestling debut this winter, and is one of the favorites to come out on top at this year's JJ Classic. Gomez was a Cadet National double finalist this past summer in Fargo. He claimed a title in the Cadet Greco-Roman competition and finished runner-up in the Cadet freestyle competition at 94 pounds. He won a FILA Cadet freestyle title at 42 kilos this past spring, which earned him a spot on the Cadet World Team that competed in Cadet World Championships in Serbia this past August. Ian Parker (St. Johns, Mich.) was a state runner-up in Michigan last season as a freshman, going 48-3. This fall Parker finished runner-up at the Grappler Fall Classic. He also earned All-American honors this year in the FILA Cadet freestyle and Cadet freestyle competitions. Brent Jones (Shakopee, Minn.) is coming off a strong spring and summer. Jones was a Cadet All-American in all three styles of wrestling this year, winning a title in folkstyle and finishing third in freestyle and Greco-Roman. He was a FILA Cadet double All-American and Northern Plains double champion this year as well. Jones dropped matches to Gomez at FILA Cadet Nationals and in Fargo. Drew West (Highland, Iowa) won the InterMat JJ Classic last year at 100 pounds. He was a state champion this year in all three styles at 106 pounds. West earned All-American honors this year in the Cadet National Greco-Roman competition at 106 pounds. Tucker Sjomeling (Delano, Minn.) is a state champion who should contend in this weight class. He finished third in this year's Cadet National folkstyle competition at 100 pounds. Joshua Portillo (Toledo Central Catholic, Ohio) won 45 matches last season. Andrew Smith (Amery, Wis.) is a multiple-time Cadet folkstyle All-American, and also placed in the Minnesota Christmas Tournament. Jaxon Sommers (Totino-Grace, Minn.) and Skylar Hieronimus (Adrian, Minn.) are state qualifiers capable of finding a spot on the podium. Sommers was a Cadet folkstyle All-American in 2012. Dillon Swift (Dakota, Ill.), Brenden Baker (Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Iowa), Nick Pastika (Rochester Century, Minn.), and Lee Schmalz (Mound Westonka, Minn.) all won 20-plus matches last season.
Elwood's Prediction: I like Ian Parker over Brent Jones in a grinder in the semis. Ian Parker then will stare down Austin Gomez and win a high-scoring, action-packed final
Priebe's Prediction: I believe any of the top seeds could win this weight class on any given day. I think we will see Austin Gomez make the finals with a familiar foe in Brent Jones. Gomez got the best of Jones in Fargo, but I am going with Jones in a close battle.
This weight class is deep and filled with talent. Michael Cullen (Cary Grove, Ill.) enters as the favorite. Cullen placed third in the Junior National freestyle competition this past summer at 113 pounds, and was fifth the previous summer in the Cadet National freestyle competition at the same weight class. He was undefeated at this year's Junior National Duals in freestyle. At the high school level Cullen is a two-time state placewinner, finishing fourth and sixth. He has a career record of 89-7. Kanen Storr (Leslie, Mich.) compiled a perfect record of 58-0 this past season as a freshman en route to winning a state championship. Storr earned All-American honors this year in the Cadet National folkstyle and Greco-Roman competitions. He placed third in the FILA Cadet National Greco-Roman competition. Storr also won a title this year at the Ohio Tournament of Champions. Iowa has couple top challengers in Nolan Hellickson (Southeast Polk, Iowa) and Tanner Rohweder (Iowa City West, Iowa). Hellickson compiled a 50-1 record last season, with his only loss coming in the state semifinals. He won titles at the Cheesehead, Ed Winger, and Gardner Edgerton tournaments, and has performed well in regional and national freestyle events. Rohweder has been a multiple-time Junior freestyle All-American, and a titlist in 2012. He is also a two-time state placewinner. Travis Piotrowski (Prairie Ridge, Ill.) is a state third-place finisher and Cadet freestyle All-American. He's coming off a fourth-place finish at Preseason Nationals. Austin Anderly (LeSueur-Henderson, Minn.) posted a 38-4 record last season as a sophomore en route to winning his state title at 106 pounds. He was a Northern Plains Greco-Roman champion this year, and finished third in the Northern Plains freestyle competition. At last year's InterMat JJ Classic, Anderly earned the award for the most falls in the least amount of time, and finished third in the event at 100 pounds. Brad Osatiuk (Maple Grove, Minn.) was a state finalist last season. Other state placewinners in this weight class include Ty Pelot (Two Rivers, Wis.), Ryan Schmalen (Clear Lake, Iowa), and Alex Lloyd (Shakopee, Minn.). Patrick Augustyn (Glenbard North, Ill.), a 44-match winner last season, could be the bracket buster in this weight class.
Elwood's Prediction: An unreal amount of talent in the top six here. Storr went 58-0, winning a state title in the Wolverine State. Cullen is already a two-time state placer, going 99-7 in the last two seasons. Meanwhile Noah Hellickson went 50-1 in Iowa, finishing third. How about Minnesota state champ Anderly? I'm going with Noah Hellickson. Winning the Cheesehead last year showed me he is ready for a JJ title.
Priebe's Prediction: I think most people will pick Michael Cullen to win this one after his stellar performance in Fargo. I, however, will pass on him and undefeated state champ Kanen Storr, and go with Southeast Polk's Nolan Hellickson. Hellickson is tough as nails and went 50-1 last year with an injured hand.
Kyle Akins (Sycamore, Ill.) was a state champion last season and has two other state medals on his resume. He raised his stock nationally this past summer when he finished third in the Junior National freestyle competition, losing only to top-ranked Nathan Tomasello of Ohio. Akins will wrestle collegiately at Buffalo. Akins' biggest challenge in this year's InterMat JJ Classic will likely come from Mitchell McKee (St. Michael-Albertville, Minn.), a multiple-time national champion. McKee has been a Cadet National Greco-Roman champion in each of the last two summers. This year he was a Cadet National freestyle runner-up and third-place finisher in the Cadet National folkstyle competition. He placed third in the FILA Cadet National Greco-Roman competition. McKee is a two-time state placewinner at the high school level, finishing third this past season as a freshman at 106 pounds and runner-up as an eighth-grader. He has compiled a record of 90-7 over the past two seasons. McKee was a runner-up at the InterMat JJ Classic in 2012 at 106 pounds. Ben Thornton (La Crosse Central, Wis.), a three-time state finalist, is entered in this weight class. Thornton was a state champion in 2012, and finished as a state runner-up in 2011 and 2013. He is also a three-time Bi-State champion, winning titles at 103, 106, and 113 pounds. Thornton has a career record of 146-2. Anthony Luft (Worthington, Minn.) is a state champion and three-time state placewinner. Luft compiled a 38-1 record last season as a junior en route to capturing a state title at 120 pounds. He was a state fifth-place finisher as a sophomore at 106 pounds, and a state sixth-place finisher as a freshman at 103 pounds. Seth Elwood (Medford, Minn.), Jamin LeDuc (Farmington, Minn.), Joe Fischenich (Windom, Minn.), and Kelby Hawkins (Groton, S.D.) are all returning state placewinners. Tanner Cole (Owatonna, Minn.) won 44 matches last season as an eighth-grader, and also went undefeated at The Clash.
Elwood's Prediction: Although my heart has Mitchell McKee (extremely tough Greco-Roman talent), I see him losing to three-time state finalist Ben Thorton (146-2 career record) in the semis. In a great final, I'm picking Illinois to crown Kyle Akins (40-1 state champ) with their first JJ title of the day.
Priebe's Prediction: Kyle Akins is back and is looking for redemption from last year's InterMat JJ Classic where he was upset in the quarters by the No. 8 seed. Akins had a great run in Fargo, with his only loss coming to Nathan Tomasello. This year I predict Akins will make it to the finals and meet another stud that had great Fargo performances this year. I am going with Fargo double finalist Mitchell McKee in a great finals match vs. Akins.
University of Minnesota commit Tommy Thorn (St. Michael-Albertville, Minn.), one of the nation's top senior wrestlers, will enter this weekend's event as the No. 1 seed. Thorn is a three three-time state champion. He has compiled a career record of 149-6 as a high school wrestler. His state championships have come at 103, 113, and 120 pounds. Thorn has been a Junior National freestyle champion (2012), FILA Cadet National freestyle champion twice (2011 & 2012), Cadet National freestyle champion (2011), and Cadet National folkstyle champion (2011). Tommy Thorn's father John was an All-American wrestler at Iowa State University in 1983, finishing fourth at 118 pounds. His oldest brother Mike was a two-time All-American and 2010 Big Ten champion for the University of Minnesota. His older brother David is currently on the University of Minnesota wrestling team and is a returning All-American. Another multiple-time state champion entered in his weight class is Lincoln Olson (Davison, Mich.). Olson has compiled a record of 101-2 over the first two years of his school wrestling career. He has been an All-American in freestyle at the Cadet, FILA Cadet, and Junior levels. This fall he won a title at the Grappler Fall Classic at 125 pounds. In 2011, Olson represented Team USA at the FILA Cadet World Championships. He is a seven-time national champion. Olson attends Davison (Mich.) High School, the same high school that produced NCAA Division I wrestling champions Brent Metcalf, Jon Reader, and Paul Donahoe. Kaz Onoo (Mason City, Iowa) is a state runner-up and Junior National All-American. Onoo was a runner-up at Reno Worlds in April. He is a two-time InterMat JJ Classic placewinner, finishing third last year and fourth in 2011. In addition to Onoo, there are three other multiple-time state placewinners from Iowa entered in this weight class that should battle for spots on the podium, John Gioffredi (Indianola, Iowa), Hunter Genco (Clinton, Iowa), and Brady Ruden (Wilton, Iowa). Gioffredi is a two-time state placewinner, finishing runner-up last season and sixth the previous season. He was runner-up to Onoo at this year's Blue Chip Fall Brawl. Genco is a three-time state placwinner, with finishes of third, sixth, and seventh. Ruden was a state runner-up last season and sixth in 2012. He has also been a folkstyle All-American at the Cadet and Junior levels. Louie Sanders (LCWM, Minn.) and Kal Gerber (Cameron, Wis.) are both returning state champions. Sanders compiled a record of 36-4 this past season en routing to winning a Minnesota state title in Class A at 120 pounds. He became a Minnesota/USA Wrestling Triple Crown winner this past spring by capturing state championships in all three styles. Sanders is also a Cadet National folkstyle All-American and Northern Plains Greco-Roman champion. Gerber went a perfect 47-0 en route to winning his state title at 113 pounds. Other state placewinners entered in this weight class include Collin Kraus (Stoughton, Wis.), Travis Swanson (Cambridge Isanti, Minn.), Joshua Markham (Northeastern, NC), and Paul Fitterer (Cannon Falls, Minn.). Adam Hedin (Rosemount, Minn.) is a dark horse to watch in this weight class. Hedin, who battled an injury for half of last season, finished fourth in last weekend's Preseason Nationals.
Elwood's Prediction: I finally come to a weight class where I can feel comfortable picking a champion (and one from Minnesota). Tommy Thorn is my pick. He's on a different level here as a three-time state champ. He is also Minnesota's top senior. I expect Lincoln Olson to squeeze past Kaz Onoo in a semifinal thriller.
Priebe's Prediction: The clear frontrunner is Tommy Thorn and he is my pick. I think the field is very balanced from 2-12. I think Louie Sanders pulls some upsets but falls short in the semis vs. Lincoln Olson. Iowa also has some real studs here with Onoo, Gioffredi, and Genco and I believe they will make some noise here. My darkhorse is Travis Swanson. He has been known to pull some major upsets in brackets.
One of California's most accomplished wrestlers, PJ Klee (Cardinal Newman, Calif.), is a strong favorite to finish on top in this weight class. Klee spent the first two and half years of his high school career at Blair Academy in New Jersey, the preeminent high school wrestling program in the country, before moving back to his home state of California midway through his junior year. He is a two-time NHSCA Nationals champion, winning titles as a freshman and sophomore. This past spring he finished fourth in the NHSCA Junior Nationals. He has twice been runner-up at the Beast of the East and also a runner-up at the POWERade. He has placed at several other national events, including the Walsh Ironman, FILA Cadet Nationals, and Cadet Nationals. Klee is ranked as the nation's No. 50 senior wrestler. In September Klee gave a verbal commitment to wrestle at Army for Joe Heskett. Austin Eicher (Hartland, Mich.) is a state champion and three-time state placewinner. Last season Eicher compiled a 52-1 record en route to winning his state title at 130 pounds. He finished fourth at last year's InterMat JJ Classic. Nate Jozsa (Argenta-Oreana, Ill.) is back in the InterMat JJ Classic for the first time since winning a title in the inaugural event in 2010 as a 112-pound freshman. Jozsa finished last season 45-1, with his lone loss coming in the state semifinals. He is coming off a strong performance at Preseason Nationals, where he notched a win over nationally ranked Colton Adams of Nebraska, and finished runner-up in the competition. Iowa wrestlers Chris Walters (Iowa City West, Iowa) and Joshua Wenger (Cedar Rapids Prairie, Iowa) are both multiple-time state placewinners. Walters was a state third-place finisher last season, and a state runner-up the previous season. He has also been a Junior folkstyle All-American. Last weekend he finished fifth at Preseason Nationals. Wenger is a two-time state fourth-place finisher. He finished fourth at last year's InterMat JJ Classic. He was a placewinner in last weekend's Preseason Nationals, with one of his losses coming to Colton Adams, 6-5. Nick O'Brien (Wayzata, Minn.) is a three-time state medalist, finishing runner-up last season, and sixth in each of the two previous seasons. Alexander Butler (Boylan, Ill.) was a Cadet freestyle All-American this past summer, finishing third at 132 pounds. He was a state fourth-place finisher last season as a sophomore. Butler finished sixth in last weekend's Preseason Nationals, with one of his losses coming to Walters. Devin Bahr (West Salem, Wis.) is a talented freshman who could make some noise in this weight class. Bahr is a FILA Cadet Greco-Roman champion, and Cadet All-American in folkstyle and Greco-Roman. He claimed a Preseason Nationals title last weekend. Dylan Connell (Chisago Lakes, Minn.) is a state placewinner and Cadet folkstyle All-American.
Elwood's Prediction: Most people think the guy traveling the longest distance to get here, PJ Klee (California), is the prohibitive favorite. He would be smart to be in top shape. Austin Eicher (52-1, state champ from Michigan) is dangerous. Jozsa is also a tough customer (45-1, state third from Illinois). I'm picking P.J. Klee. The question is who will Klee face in a challenge match after the tournament?
Priebe's Prediction: I like PJ Klee to win this weight class. I believe we will see Klee vs. Walters in the semis with Klee pulling out the win. On the other side I will pick Nate Jozsa to beat Austin Eicher in the semis. Jozsa has been on fire this preseason and had a dominating win against Colton Adams last weekend to get himself a second-place finish at Preseason Nationals.
Zac Hall (St. Johns, Mich.), one of the nation's most accomplished wrestlers, tops this weight class. Hall won a title at last year's InterMat JJ Classic at 126 pounds, which included a 10-2 finals victory over Fredy Stroker of Bettendorf, Iowa. Hall is a three-time state champion with a career record of 146-2. His most recent state championship came at 125 pounds after a 48-0 season. Hall is a two-time Junior freestyle All-American, FILA Cadet freestyle runner-up, and two-time Cadet freestyle All-American. He recently became the first wrestler to win three titles at the Grappler Fall Classic in Michigan. He also won a title this fall at the Southeast Kickoff Classic, also known as the Freak Show, in Las Vegas. Hall has committed to wrestle at the University of Michigan. Two-time state finalist Mark Voss (St. Michael-Albertville, Minn.) was a runner-up at last year's InterMat JJ Classic at 132 pounds. This past spring Voss earned All-American honors in the Junior National folkstyle competition at 132 pounds, placing sixth. In addition, he was a fourth-place finisher in the FILA Cadet National freestyle competition at 58 kilos. At that event he recorded a victory over nationally ranked Zahid Valencia of California. Voss was also a Northern Plains freestyle champion this year. Ben Brancale (Eden Prairie, Minn.) has been a state placewinner, Cadet freestyle All-American, and multiple-time InterMat JJ Classsic placewinner. Last season Brancale entered the state tournament ranked No. 1 in the state, but had a disappointing tournament and failed to place. He was runner-up to Apple Valley's Seth Gross in the 2011 InterMat JJ Classic, and finished fifth in the event last year. Brandon Moen (Owatonna, Minn.) was a state fourth-place finisher last season as an eighth-grader at 113 pounds. Moen placed fourth in last weekend's Preseason Nationals. He has also been a Minnesota Christmas Tournament placewinner. Miles Patton (Rochester Mayo, Minn.) is coming off a strong performance at Preseason Nationals, where he finished sixth. Patton has won 30-plus matches in each of the past two seasons. Taylor Lehman (Clarion-Goldfield, Iowa) and Zachary Beaumaster (Monticello, Minn.) are returning state placewinners who could figure into the mix.
Elwood's Prediction: Zac Hall is probably the highest profile wrestler in the tournament. He's a three-time state champ (146-2) with plenty of national credentials. The guy he will most likely see in the finals is perhaps the most underrated wrestler in Minnesota. Mark Voss is going to push Zac Hall and I expect this to be one of the day's best finals. I like Zac Hall in a close one.
Priebe's Prediction: Zac Hall will be tough to beat at this weight and should make it to the finals. I think he will meet Mark Voss in the finals and it will be a great match. Voss is overlooked nationally by many and has impressive wins over Seth Gross, Zahid Valencia, and Logan Massa. I am going with Mark Voss here.
This weight class was decimated by injuries. The two wrestlers expected to be the top two seeds, both Cadet National champions, were late scratches after suffering injuries in other preseason wrestling events. There is no clear favorite in this weight class, but still some very talented wrestlers, which should make for a very competitive weight class. Matthew Rundell (OPRF, Ill.), a Freak Show finalist, will enter as one of the top contenders. Jacob Gorial (Hartland, Mich.) was a state runner-up last season, losing to his teammate Austin Eicher in the state finals. Joseph Nelson (Stoughton, Wis.) was a Wisconsin state medalist two seasons ago as a freshman. Last year he transferred to Wyoming Seminary (Pa.), but is now back in Wisconsin for his junior season. He was a Cadet National Greco-Roman champion in the summer of 2012. Other state placewinners in this weight class include Mason Brownlee (TCU, Minn.), Blake Carlisle (Prior Lake, Minn.), Carson Brolsma (Osseo, Minn.), and Connor McDill (Utica-Eisenhower, Mich.).
Elwood's Prediction: I like Illinois to take another title back home with Matthew Rundell (recent Freak Show runner-up) as the top pick here. Jacob Gorial from Michigan is a tough customer and Mason Brownlee from Minnesota might be ready to have that breakout win.
Priebe's Prediction: After his solid Freak Show performance I am going with Matthew Rundell. I think Rundell will meet Carson Brolsma in the semis and win a very tight match. I see Mason Brownlee making the finals as he will beat state runner-up Jacob Glorial in the semis. I think Brownlee vs. Rundell will be a great final, with Rundell coming out on top.
Like the 145-pound weight class, there is no clear frontrunner in this weight class, but a lot of very solid wrestlers capable of reaching the finals. Danny Bush (Davenport Assumption, Iowa) has had a productive fall on the mat, finishing third at the Conflict Carver and fourth at Preseason Nationals. He also won a couple matches at the Freak Show. Bush was a 40-match winner last season. Brandon Krone (Anoka, Minn.) was a state fifth-place finisher last season. He also has a Mental Aerobics title and an InterMat JJ Classic placement on his resume. Brady Nelson (Rochester Mayo, Minn.) was a state placewinner last season, and like Bush, placed at Preseason Nationals last weekend. Quincy Kalkbrenner (Le-Win, Ill.) is a state champion and two-time state medalist. He posted a 42-3 record last season en route to capturing a state championship at 145 pounds. Trey Blaha (Cedar Rapids Prairie, Iowa) is a two-time state placewinner and two-time InterMat JJ Classic placewinner. He finished third in the inaugural InterMat JJ Classic, where he split matches with Josh Alber, and placed fifth the following year. Harvey Friederichs (Chatfield, Minn.) was a state runner-up last season and finished with a 42-4 mark. Both Owen Webster (Shakopee, Minn.) and Jose Rodriguez (Henry Sibley, Minn.) were state medalists last season at 138 pounds. Webster was fourth, while Rodriguez was fifth. Carter Nielsen (Foley, Minn.) went 25-3 last season, but an injury kept him out of the state tournament. Charles City (Iowa) has a couple solid entrants in this weight class, Zach Milks and Alex Mitchell. Milks was a Conflict at Carver champion. Mitchell has won 30-plus matches in each of the past two seasons. Davionte Young (Apple Valley, Minn.) was a 20-match winner last season, and could surprise. Jake Raschka (Pewaukee, Wis.), who trains at the Askren Wrestling Academy, placed fifth in both the Conflict at Carver and Preseason Nationals.
Elwood's Prediction: My favorite wrestler in the city of Rochester is Brady Nelson. He will have to take out Danny Bush and Brandon Krone to win it. Brady Nelson is my homer pick of the day.
Priebe's Prediction: This weight class is a tough one to pick but I have to go with my guy Brady Nelson. Nelson had a great weekend last week in Cedar Falls and I believe it will continue this weekend. I see Nelson vs. Owen Webster in the semis with a back-and-forth battle. On the other side, look for Danny Bush to make the finals. Nelson over Bush by a takedown.
Dayton Racer (Apple Valley, Minn.) will be looking to claim his second straight InterMat JJ Classic title. Last year he captured the title at 152 pounds. Racer is a two-time state finalist, winning a state championship last season as a sophomore at 145 pounds. He finished the season with a 32-1 record. His combined record over the past two seasons is 72-6. In 2012, Racer was a Cadet National folkstyle champion and earned All-Americans honors in Greco-Roman. This past spring he finished third in the Junior National folkstyle competition and was a Northern Plains runner-up in freestyle. He is also a two-time Minnesota Christmas Tournament finalist, winning a title as a freshman. Racer placed fourth at last weekend's Preseason Nationals. Alex Davies (Canton, S.D.) is a two-time state champion and three-time state placewinner. He finished last season with a 50-3 record, winning the state title at 145 pounds. Davies' first state title came in 2012 at 138 pounds. Colten Carlson (Willmar, Minn.) was a state finalist last season as a freshman at 152 pounds. This past spring he was a MN/USA state champion in folkstyle, and also a Brute Nationals champion. Lucas Westrich (Lakeville North , Minn.) and Matt Njos (Anoka, Minn.) are both returning state placewinners who should contend for spots on the podium at the InterMat JJ Classic. Westrich was a state fourth-place finisher at 160 pounds, while Njos was up two weight classes at 182 pounds, where he finished sixth. Both Jacob Rukavina (Eastview, Minn.) and Sean O'Neil (Prior Lake, Minn.) were Mental Aerobics finalists this year. Rukavina placed at Preseason National last weekend. O'Neil has won titles or placed in numerous MN/USA events.
Elwood's Prediction: Alex Davies is a two-time state champion from South Dakota (145-12). He should have a shootout with Colten Carlson in the semis. I like Davies to win, only to face Dayton Racer, who is too physical and will cruise to the title.
Priebe's Prediction: I am going with Dayton Racer. I think we will see Racer vs. Westrich in the semis, with Racer winning handily. I like two-time South Dakota state champ Alex Davies to make the finals against Racer. I think Colten Carlson will make the semis against Davies, but Davies will be too much to handle for Carlson.
With Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.), a two-time InterMat JJ Classic champion, being a late scratch due to injury, this weight class is wide open. Dan Marquette (Hastings, Minn.) was a MN/USA state champion in freestyle this year up a weight at 182 pounds. Cory Flaata (Park, Minn.) is a Cadet folkstyle All-American, and also a MN/USA state placewinner in all three styles this year, including a state runner-up in folkstyle. Tyler DeMoss (Hononegah, Ill.) was a Cadet All-American in both folkstyle and freestyle this year. He has also placed at the Grappler Fall Classic. Samuel Grove (Moorhead, Minn.) was a Freakshow champion this year in the 15 and under division, and is coming off a runner-up finish at Preseason Nationals. He won 27 matches last season as eighth-grader at 170 pounds. Seth Gardner (St. Michael, Minn.) was a MN/USA state champion this year in freestyle and Greco-Roman.
Elwood's Prediction: With Mark Hall's injury, this weight class is there for the taking. It wouldn't be surprising to see a few guys move into this class. I like Tyler DeMoss from Illinois to get by Cory Flaata. Then, I'm picking Tyler DeMoss to beat Dan Marquette in tight one.
Priebe's Prediction: I will go with Dan Marquette here. Marquette had an active offseason and looked very good. I think Marquette should see Cory Flaata in the finals, with Marquette coming out the victor.
Nationally ranked junior wrestler Bobby Steveson (Apple Valley, Minn.) will be after to his second straight InerMat JJ Classic title. Last year his title came at 170 pounds. Steveson, who recently moved from Indiana to Minnesota, was an undefeated state champion this past season at 170 pounds wrestling for Merrillville (Ind.). He has compiled a record of 78-2 over the first two seasons of his high school wrestling career. This past spring Steveson won a Junior National folkstyle title at 182 pounds. He was a runner-up in the FILA Cadet National freestyle competition in May. In August, Steveson represented the United States at the FILA Cadet Pan American Championships in Medellin, Colombia, and claimed a gold medal in both Greco-Roman and freestyle. Corey Parsons (Andover, Minn.) and Brian Bertram (Byron, Minn.) are both returning state third-place finishers looking to play spoiler to Steveson. Parsons was third at 170 pounds, while Bertram's third-place finish came at 182 pounds. One wrestler to keep an eye on in this weight class is Gable Steveson (Apple Valley, Minn.), the younger brother of Bobby Steveson. Gable, an eighth-grader, has won six straight USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals titles, and recently won a title at the Freak Show in Las Vegas.
Elwood's Prediction: Apple Valley chugs along with Bobby Steveson. He is way better than most people know. Corey Parsons is tough, and finishing second here is a nice accomplishment.
Priebe's Prediction: I will go with Bobby Steveson at this weight class. I have gotten to see Bobby in action and he is the real deal and will handle anyone in this bracket. I will take Corey Parsons to make the finals against Steveson, but Parsons will not have enough to beat Steveson.
This is a balanced weight class with no overwhelming favorite. Nicholas Pegelow (Eastview, Minn.) was an InterMat JJ Classic placewinner last year up a weight. He placed in the top three this year in both the MN/USA state freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments. Ryan Jones (St. Michael-Albertville, Minn.) was a Conflict at Carver runner-up and won two matches at Preseason Nationals. Taylor Cole (Charles City, Iowa) is a solid wrestler who could make a splash in this weight class. Jake Olson (Anoka, Minn.) won 18 matches last season and competed up a weight class in his section tournament.
Elwood's Prediction: Things get a bit murky here. I'm going with the unheralded STMA wrestler Ryan Jones.
Priebe's Prediction: I think Ryan Jones will win this weight class. Jones has been pretty active this preseason, taking second at Conflict at Carver and going 2-2 last weekend in Iowa. I think Austin Benton will make the finals vs. Jones, with Jones coming out on top.
Nathan Rose (Sibley East, Minn.) was named the Outstanding Wrestler at last year's InterMat JJ Classic after defeating Lance Benick (Totino-Grace, Minn.) in the finals. He is favored to win his second consecutive InterMat JJ Classic title. Rose has won state championships in each of the past two seasons, going a perfect 90-0 combined over those two seasons. He is also a two-time NHSA Nationals champion. Rose has committed to the University of Minnesota. Christian DuLaney (Benilde-St. Margaret's, Minn.) was a state runner-up last season, and has placed in numerous regional and national events. Dulaney won three matches at the Super 32 Challenge this year and just missed out on placing at 195 pounds. Cody Linssen (Park, Minn.) was an InterMat JJ Classsic runner-up last year, and was a state placewinner in 2012. Last year he compiled a record of 18-1 before an injury ended his season. Sophomore Ryley Ostbye (Canton, S.D.) was a state fourth-place finisher last season as a freshman. He has placed in several national events throughout his career. Jacob Lynch (Rush City, Minn.) went 26-5 last season and was ranked in the top ten in the state.
Elwood's Prediction: Nathan Rose is the popular pick. He's going to have a nice challenge from Christian Dulaney. Nathan Rose wears him down in the third and wins.
Priebe's Prediction: It's hard to pick against future Gopher Nathan Rose, and he will be my pick. I think Rose will meet Ryley Ostbye from South Dakota in the semis, with Rose winning. Christian DuLaney will be the other finalist at this weight class. DuLaney looked very good at the Super 32 Challenge, but fell one round short of placing. I believe DuLaney will challenge Rose, but Rose moves well and will overwhelm DuLaney.
George Weege (Winona, Minn.) was a state placewinner last season down a weight at 220 pounds. Reid Johnson (Chanhassen, Minn.) is a talented big man with state tournament experience. The other heavyweights entered in the tournament are Jacob Krebs (Shakopee, Minn.), Timothy Duffy (Eastview, Minn.), Ryan Burton (Rochester Mayo, Minn.), and Aaron Moore (Minnetonka, Minn.).
Elwood's Prediction: This is a tossup. I'm picking George Weege from Winona to finish at the top of the heap.
Priebe's Prediction: I am picking George Weege here after his solid year in 2012-2013.