NCAA Wrestling: Studying The Bracket-Part 1

While most of the country and a chunk of the world will be filling out NCAA basketball tournament brackets, John Smith and his Oklahoma State wrestlers have had since last Wednesday to study the brackets the Cowboys will try to advance through in search of individual and team glory in the Chesapeake Energy Arena this coming Thursday through Saturday in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

Let's take a look at each bracket and each weight and check out the Cowboys chances. The goal, as John Smith has often said, is "You want to weigh in three times at nationals (NCAA), because if you do and you're not up in the stands eating popcorn and drinking a soda on Saturday then you're an All-American."

125 Pounds
The Cowboys Eddie Klimara (18-8) is seeded 14th, which doesn't do a whole lot. He opens up with Dominic Parisi (18-6) from Appalachian State. Klimara has not wrestled him but he has seen third seed and likely second round opponent Nick Megaludis (26-3) of Penn State. Megaludis decisioned Klimara 11-7 at State College in a dual after Klimara jumped out to a lead but could not hold on. It's a daunting task, but Klimara is capable of beating Megaludis. Get by Megaludis and the threats ahead in the winner's bracket could be OU wrestler Jarrod Patterson, who has beaten Klimara twice, and second seed Nahshon Garrett (30-1) of Cornell, who major decisioned Klimara in the Southern Scuffle 16-5.

John Smith says:
"We need points from him, but he struggles finding that big win. He's seeded, although ranking the top 16 is goofy. With where he is we need him to find that big win that has alluded him and wrestle well throughout the tournament."

133 Pounds
OSU's Jon Morrison (25-1) is seeded fourth and will open with Penn State's James Gulibon (17-13). Earlier this season in dual action Morrison scored a 2-0 decision over Gulibon. This is not an easy first match for Morrison. Get through that and he likely sees Cory Brewer (20-7) for the fourth time this season as Morrison has won 8-2, 7-3, and 8-1 decisions. These brackets can sometimes be maniacal. Morrison has also beaten eighth seed David Thom (24-6) of Minnesota with a 3-2 decision but has not wrestled top seed Joe Colon (30-1) of Northern Iowa.

John Smith says:
"Morrison has just one loss and it is to (third seed Tony) Ramos (of Iowa). That was not a very easy weight class to rank or to seed. I think he is wrestling very well and he is capable of beating anybody."

141 Pounds
Freshman and Big 12 champion Anthony Collica (28-7) is the 15th seed, again that and four bucks will get you something at the concession stand. He will lead off with Avery Garner (14-8) of Virginia Union. Collica's moment of truth will come with the next match if he wins as he will face two seed Logan Stieber (25-1) from his native state, Ohio State. Collica hasn't wrestled Stieber, but he did wrestle three seed and fellow freshman Zain Retherford (29-1) of Penn State and lost a 2-0 decision.

John Smith says:
"He's had a good year and true freshmen it is a different story for them. Most of the time, 90 percent of them are not ready to wrestle, you know Division I wrestling. They don't have the physique, the power, and the rigorous season of making weight wears on them. You know he's done a good job and his parents did a good job. You want to look at a kid that you want your son to resemble or take qualities from, here he is. He's balanced and serious and he loves to win. He is disciplined with his weight and with his school work."

149 Pounds
Josh Kindig (20-8) just missed on a Big 12 Championship and he pays for it a little here in the bracket as he is the 11th seed. The Big 12 champ is Kendric Maple (22-4) of OU and the fourth seed. Kindig opens with Ian Paddock (25-14) of Ohio State, and then with a win would face Nebraska's sixth seed Jake Sueflohn (29-4). Two wins likely gets him another shot at Maple, and this season Kindig beat Maple 4-3 in the first meeting, lost to the OU wrestler 7-3 in Stillwater and lost 6-3 in the Big 12 Championships. The two seed is Nick Dardanes (32-3) of Minnesota and Kindig lost to him in a dual 6-2.

John Smith says:
"C'mon, you're hitting your junior year and you've got to be helping us. We are Oklahoma State and we need to put pressure on ourselves for that. He needs to think that he's in his junior year and he needs to be winning at the tournament. Hopefully, he is putting that kind of pressure on himself and then responds to that. We need some points and he will need to dig those out and this is a tough weight."

157 Pounds
The Cowboys will need scoring and advancement in the lower weights, counting on Joe Morrison at 133 pounds and then hoping two of the three of Klimara, Collica and Kindig have a strong tournament. The strong run for Oklahoma State could start at 157 pounds with Alex Dieringer (27-1), who in my opinion is badly under seeded at fourth. Dieringer's one loss came to two seed Derek St. John (25-4) in the dual at Iowa as St. John won it 2-1. Dieringer has beaten five seeded wrestlers in the bracket and has not met top seed James Green (29-1) of Nebraska. Dieringer will open with Austin Sommer (14-13) of Drexel.

John Smith says:
"He is at a tough weight, and I think his weight and Morrison's weight (133) are the two toughest weight classes in the country. He is a sophomore and ranked number one in the country going into nationals. He has ben grinding it out and he had to work really hard to make weight. I will just say this, if he will relax and be careful with his attitude and make sure he is hungry to win. He is a tough guy and he needs to remember that."

Part 2 will handle the last five weights: 165, 174, 184, 197, and 285 pounds.

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