2021 NCAA D1 Nationals Preview
By Drew Hughes
This year there will be 13 Indiana guys competing in St. Louis across 8 different weight classes. This puts only 7 other states ahead of us for the number of qualifiers. Out of these 13 qualifiers only 1 of them is not from the Big Ten.
Drew Hildebrandt will be competing in the 125-pound bracket for the Central Michigan Chippewas. This will be Drew’s 3rd NCAA tournament appearance and has earned the 4th seed. The Penn High School graduate also won his 2nd MAC title to qualify for the tournament and is undefeated on the season.
Nick Lee will be competing in the 141-pound bracket for Penn State and will be in the hunt to win a national title. Lee comes into the tournament as the 2nd seed just like he was last year for the cancelled championships. The Evansville Mater Dei graduate is 8-1 on the season with his 1 loss coming in the Big Ten finals to the 1st seed Eierman.
Chad Red will be competing in the 141-pound bracket for Nebraska where he will be looking to All-American like he has at every NCAA tournament he’s wrestled in. Red comes into the tournament as the 8th seed with his only losses this year coming from the 1st and 3rd seeds of the tournament. As most people have seen, the New Palestine grad has always showed up for the big show.
Cayden Rooks will be competing in the 141-pound bracket for Indiana where he will be wrestling in his first NCAA tournament. Rooks earned an at-large bid to qualify for the tournament and will be the 32nd seed. Cayden is a Columbus East High School graduate where he won 2 state titles.
Graham Rooks will be competing in the 149-pound bracket for Indiana, and this was his 2nd time qualifying for the NCAA tournament. After a 6th place finish at the Big Ten tournament, Rooks earned himself the 21st seed. Graham is also a Columbus East grad and is the older brother of previously mentions Cayden Rooks.
Brayton Lee will be competing in the 157-pound bracket for Minnesota, and this was his 2nd time qualifying for the NCAA tournament. After being seeded 7th for last year cancelled tournament Lee will be 1 spot higher at the 6th seed this year. The Brownsburg native is coming off of an impressive 3rd place Big Ten finish.
Jake Tucker will be competing in the 165-pound bracket for Michigan State, and it is a little controversial to claim him for Indiana. Tucker went to Mount Carmel High School in Illinois BUT has lived in Lowell Indiana his entire life. Since he has an Indiana driver’s license, I think it’s only fair we get to claim the now 2-time NCAA qualifier. Tucker earned the 25th seed after finish 6th place at the Big Ten tournament.
Joe Lee will be competing in the 165-pound bracket for Penn State where he will be wrestling in his first NCAA tournament. The Evansville Mater Dei grad will be the 23rd seed of the tournament after placing 8th at Big Tens. While Joe didn’t get a top 8 seed like his brother Nick, he does still have 1 more state title then his older brother.
Donnell Washington will be competing in the 174-pound bracket for Indiana where he will be wrestling in his first NCAA tournament. The Portage grad has really proved himself this year and will be the 9th seed. Washington is coming off a 6th place Big Ten finish and holds a win over the 3rd seed.
Drew Hughes (also the person writing this article) will be competing in the 174-pound bracket and is the 32 seed. This will be his 4th NCAA tournament and holds one of the worst records in the entire tournament at 3-7 on the year. All that we can know for sure is that the Lowell High School grad is going to choose top and probably get hit for a few stalling calls.
Lucas Davison will be competing in the 197-pound bracket for Northwestern, and this will be his 2nd time qualifying for the NCAA tournament. Davison is coming into the tournament as the 12th seed after placing 5th at Big Tens. The Chesterton native will be looking to become an All-American just like his dad was back in the day.
Thomas Penola will be competing in the 197-pound bracket for Purdue, and this will be his 2nd time qualifying for the NCAA tournament. Penola qualified for last years cancelled tournament at 285-pounds. This year he’s down a weight and earned himself the 19th seed of the tournament. The Zionsville High School graduate finished 7th at the Big Ten tournament.
Mason Parris will be competing in the 285-pound bracket for the Michigan wolverines, and this will be his 3rd NCAA tournament. Parris will be the 2nd seed of the tournament for the 2nd year in a row. The Lawrenceburg native has placed 2nd at the big ten tournament the last 2 season and will be looking for a rematch of the Big Ten finals in the NCAA finals.