Top 4 in order...
106 - Right off the bat you get an intriguing 4 v 1 matchup here and I think Bailey of River Forest will give Dominic Skees everything he can handle. And no slight to their potential blood round matchup but the winner of that match will be favored over the 2 v 3 matchup between a pair of unranked wrestlers. Cernus and Roberson are on the other side of the bracket in what would be a semifinal. Malik Hall is probably my 4th. Give me Cernus, Hall, Roberson, Bailey. 113 - Man you have to feel for senior Colin Reagan of Frontier, who has a devastatingly tough road to state as fellow senior Martin Cruz of Merrillville stands in his way. Reagan is a two time state qualifier, while Cruz would be making his first trip. I'm taking Cruz here in an ultra tight emotional win, and he likely faces of with Giovanni Diaz who has a favorable road to the semis. On the other side Moran is a relative automatic to the semis and really, would be heavily favored in any of his potential semifinal matchups, though the battle to be Moran's opponent in that match is intriguing. As it shows on the bracket Tattini, Fogarty, and Armstrong are 5,6,7 respectively in the rankings so look for an excellent scrap in that chunk of the bracket. I'm going to take a shot in the dark with Fogarty since Armstrong/Tattini have to battle it out first round while he faces #4 seed frosh Trevor Shammert in a match he will will be favored in. I'll take Moran, Diaz, Cruz, Fogarty.
120 - While I do think this class may have some upsets, I really thinks Bettich stands above the field here and takes the title down. Tolin of Chesterton makes for a heckuva blood round matchup for regional champion Ty Haskins of Portage. I'm going stick with Haskins in an ultra tight SV type of win. Trey Finnearty of Culver Academies probably gets through without much trouble to be Haskins opponent in the semis. Jace Alexander deserves a mention as the #16 state, but his path to a state semifinal with Bettich is a tough customer in regional champ and #7 SS Tyler Brubaker of McCutcheon. Brubaker pinned Braden Nuest of West Central in that Logansport Regional final in 2:21, so he is wrestling well right now. I still like Alexander to step in and make it the semis, but Bettich takes that one by 6-8 point decision. Give me Bettich, Finnearty, Haskins, Alexander. 126 - Yeah, Mendez. It is quite unfortunate for Brock Peele of Portage to have Mendez standing in his way. With Peele's 4th and 7th places previous finishes at state, he figures to shake up the state brackets from a lower seed as this unfortunate draw will likely drop him to 3rd, though what a time for the senior Peele to step up a pull a big upset over the super frosh. I remember attending the Merrillville SS a few years ago when Steven "Bam" Lawrence finally got over the hump and pulled off the shocker vs Jacob Covaciu. I like Burge and Mark's chances to wrestle their way to the other semifinal matchup, and I have Burge there. Give me Mendez, Burge, Peele, Mark 132 - Really tough potential blood round matches here, with seniors Andres Moreno of Lowell (7th @ 113 last year) and Reese Rodriguez of Morton (2 time state qualifier @ 126) headlining those potential bouts. If he makes it through to the semis he would like get the winner of a showdown between juniors Nate Hadary of Penn and Elijah Hickman of Rensselaer. I'll take Hickman because he is a fellow Jasper county resident, and also because his confidence is likely high after winning the Logansport Regional by tech fall over Isaac Switzer of Lafayette CC. On the other side RIcky Hegedus looks to keep it rolling after his regional championship win over Rodriguez, which he won by a score of 12-8. He likely gets senior SS #6 Brayden Ruiz of New Prairie, who must get through Switzer to get there. Hegedus has wrestled some elite talent this year and fared pretty well, beating #11 state Clay Egli of Mater Dei 2-0 and losing to #5 state Logan Bailey of Cathedral. Look for Hegedus to battle it out in semis with Geremia Brooks of Wawasee, who for me is the man to beat. Brooks would edge Bailey by the same 5-4 score at the Al Smith before suffering his only loss to state #3 ranked Matt Gimson of Jimtown by a 12-9 decision. I'll take Brooks, Moreno, Hegedus, Hickman.
138 - This will be a tale of two sides of the bracket, as it looks a bit imbalanced with the two highest ranked wrestlers meeting in the semis in SS #1/state #4 senior Wawasee's Braxton Alexander and SS# 3/state #18 junior Tyson Nisley of LaPorte. The number 2 ranked wrestler in the EC SS, senior Gabe Weeks of Mishawaka, has faced both wrestlers losing 9-4 to Alexander and winning 10-5 over Nisley. Weeks will have to knock off a pair of DAC studs to punch his ticket, and I really think Rivera of Merrillville will give him everything he can handle before falling. I have unranked AJ Poindexter of Laffy Harrison finding a way through to meet weeks in the other semifinal. Give me Alexander, Weeks, Nisley, Poindexter.
145 - I like the balance in this weight class, and it should line up to be a very entertaining final between senior #8 state/#2 SS Jake Burford of Crown Point and junior #6 state/#1 SS Jorden Douglass of Attica. Burford certainly has the edge in strength of schedule, but Douglass is a fine wrestler for the tiny Attica Red Ramblers. However in order to reach said finals, Burford will have to get through junior Jacob Maldonado of rival Merrillville. Should be noted though that Maldonado's first round match is with Shawn Hollis of Lowell, who battled Maldonado close before falling in a SV 4-2 final. Burford has won twice over Maldonado earlier in the season by scores of 5-0 and 4-2, but beating a close rival three times in one year is no picnic. In the other semifinal against Douglass, it should be a pretty epic section of the bracket as I think the first round match between a pair of seniors in Park of Lake Central and Watts of Hammond Morton starts things off with a bang. Winner of that match likely faces of with Penn senior Jeffrey Harper. Harper and Burford did wrestle earlier in the year, with Burford taking it 5-2. Burford also has beaten Park three times by decision 10-3, 16-4, and 9-7. I'll take Douglass, Burford, Maldonado, Watts.
152 - Another case of imbalance here as the two top dogs in this weight class would meet in a semifinal, with those two wrestlers being sophomore #8 state/ #1 SS Brock Ellis of Chesterton and senior #10/#2 Cole Cervantes of Griffith. Ellis beat Cervantes handily 17-5 in their only meeting of the season. Cervantes has just one other loss on the season, and that belongs to SS #4 Tyler Turley of Hobart, though they did wrestle 4 times and Cervantes won the other 3 matches albeit by close decision. Turley would have to come through to the finals for a rematch being on the other side of the bracket, however his entire road there is fraught with perilous matches. He starts it off with a grind of a match vs SS #9 junior Noah Hollendonner of Crown Point, which would set up a match with Logansport Regional champ soph Spencer Phillips of McCutcheon. Should he make it through that he does have a winnable match in the semis vs SS #7 senior Isaiah Mohmed of Wheeler. I am putting Mohmed in the semis but clearly Penn Regional champ soph Drew Mason of Mishawaka or #5 SS Jacob Beehn of Portage could slide in here as well. I'll take Ellis, Turley, Cervantes, Mohmed.
160 - Well this class is essentially the Donnell Washington show, and while there are some good wrestlers here I really don't see anyone in the field that can honestly pull a shocker...but that's simply a credit to the senior D Wash and not at all a knock on the rest of the field at 160. He's wrestling in peak form right now, pinning all three opponents at the Hobart Regional in the first period including SS #6 Jaymeire Johnson from Hammond Gavit in the final. Johnson has a heckuva battle in the blood round should he win his opening match with soph Jason Tankersley of Winamac. Love seeing the small schools like Winamac, Attica, and North White representing, but here at the SS we really start to see the benefit of wrestling a tough schedule and you start to throw out the records really because just looking at a couple match-ups like frosh Jacob SImpson of Hobart (24-8) and senior Koaldon Kerr of Attica (33-5). Simpson is 7th in the SS while Kerr is unranked because Attica is quite rural and at the mercy of their geographical footprint, as most of the schools nearby are 1A schools with a few 2As sprinkled in, and so you get some inflated records.
Not to dismiss Kerr, because regardless 33 wins is an impressive accomplishment...and as a matter of fact I'll ride the Red Rambler to the blood round. Unfortunately waiting for him will likely be super frosh Braden Welch of Culver Military, who is wrestling out of his mind as he devastated the field at the Penn Regional, winning all three matches by first period fall including a 47 second championship victory over soph Brandon Estepp of Warsaw. What does he receive for snagging a regional runner-up? An unfortunate draw as junior and #2 SS Abel Verbeek of Lowell will toe the line opposite Estepp in that first round battle. Look for Verbeek to face off with senior and state #13 and SS #3 Brock Merkel of Harrison WL. Kind of a toss-up here so I'll take the senior Merkel as my pick to have his chance at Washington. Merkel hasn't wrestled most of the field here so he will be a wild card, but he showed he's in prime condition as he also pinned all three opponents in the first period. Lastly I wanted to highlight the opening round match between junior #9 Garcia of Penn and junior #8 Matt Neff of LaPorte...who I have riding into the semis where I have him falling to the red-hot frosh Welch. Neff has beaten Verbeek 7-2 and other fellow EC SS participant Chesterton's Gavin Layman (4-0) but split a pair with SS #10 Nick Taborski of Crown Peezy...winning once by pin but dropping a 9-5 decision. Unfortunately for Taborski he opens with the super frosh Welch. Give me Washington, Welch, Merkel, and Neff. 170 - If you ask me this has to be one of the most exciting weight classes that EC will offer up, with several different scenarios all likely to play out. Headlining the field will be the two Penn Regional championship contestants, with winner #4 state/#2 SS Joseph Walker of Mishawaka and #2/#1 Graham Calhoun of Plymouth...who suffered his first loss in the 4-3 decision. Those two did wrestle earlier in the season, with Calhoun winning that bout by an 8-7 decision. Walker has only lost one other time this season, and actually that was an impressive match nonetheless as he dropped a 2-1 decision to top ranked Nick South of Columbus East. South is one of the best wrestlers in the state in my opinion, regardless of class with a 2nd place finish at the Super 32 and an impressive 10-5 victory over Donnell Washington. Luckily Walker and Calhoun are on opposite sides of the bracket.
My hometown Kankakee Valley's own sophomore Aiden Sneed has had a good season at 31-5, and has flirted with the bottom of the SS rankings for much of the season...but the key is that Sneed is wrestling his best matches of the season here lately as he won the CP regional with a pair of pins in the first two matches, including the semifinal win by fall (2:28) over fellow EC SS entry senior Luke Lenig of New Prairie and the impressive upset victory over #16/#4 soph Colin Kwiatkowski of Valparaiso by a 10-6 decision. Kwiatkowski will likely be in a tight blood round contest with #7 SS senior Josh Warmick of Portage, should Warmick handle felow senior SB Riley's #10 SS David Sheley. Warmick has had an up and down season with the 16-9 record, and likely battled injuries that reduced his match totals but he seems to be wrestling well as of late. His Hobart regional championship win over soph #8 SS Jason Streck of Merrillville probably wasn't an upset but the win by fall in 2:42 was certainly a surprise to this fan. I like Kwiatkowski to advance here and try to shock the state vs Walker...though I certainly am not predicting it. Looking back at Sneed's path, if he wins his favored 1st round match vs Twin Lakes senior Kaleb Cauble...he's in for a heckuva battle in the blood round. Jason Streck probably thought he would be favored as 2 seed in his opening match, but unfortunately for him the Penn regional had more than just the two hammers Walker and Calhoun...as #12/#3 soph Eli Pack of CMA was also in the field and fell to third place after a 9-3 semifinal loss to Walker. He would take out that frustration on Sheley in the 3rd place match, winning by fall in just 39 seconds. I'll take Sneed in a nail-biter, though mostly through hometown love as opposed to logic. The finals between Calhoun and Walker alone will be worth the price of admission here, and I'll take Calhoun to rebound. Give me Calhoun, Walker, Sneed, and Kwiatkowski. 182 - This will be a tale of broken hearts in this class, as we have some blood round matches that figure to light up the gymnasium. Part of the reason for the imbalanced field was a monumental Mishawaka Sectional upset as senior Alex Castro of Wawasee pulled off a 6-5 decision over previously unbeaten super frosh #4/#2 Andrew Donahue of CMA. This led to a semifinal match at the Penn regional with #2/#1 junior Jacob Laplace of Mishawaka, which would be a truly epic battle that Donahue would take with a 1-1 UTB victory. Senior #15/#5 Noah Brown did give Donahue quite a battle in the finals of that regional losing a 6-5 decision. Should both wrestlers win their favored matches, Brown will face off with Hobart Regional champ junior Khris Walton of Merrillville who won his title with a 4-3 decision over soph Cameron Smith of Hobart. Smith's blood round opponent would be the aforementioned Donahue, a tall order for the Brickie wrestler.
One section of the bracket provides us a couple interesting matches, especially Attica's unranked Jack Hargan and his 33-2 record vs upset specialist Castro. Hargan was pretty impressive at the Logansport Regional, winning all three matches by fall with two in the first period and his championship pin in 3:04 over Logan's own, junior Joshua Manfred, who gets the unfortunate 1st round draw with LaPlace. Hargan's blood round opponent will likely be LaPorte senior #17/#6 Noah Perez, and with the unfamiliarity its hard to gauge this match. I have Hargan simply because I always root for the sub-500 student enrollment schools, and also because the young man is rolling. The final blood round match is a freaking doozy as Laplace will do battle with #5/#3 soph Evan Bates of Chesterton...and how unfortunate for the young Trojan wrestler to draw the top ranked Laplace after Bates pinned his way to the CP regional title match where he promptly dispatched of Perez by tech fall. My picks here are Laplace claiming the title, followed by Donahue, Brown, and Hargan.
195 - Looks like another weight class with the top two wrestlers likely meeting in the semis, as senior #2/#1 Ewan Donovan of Hebron and fellow senior #6/#2 Rockne Hurley of Penn. Hurley suffered just his second loss on the season in the Penn Regional final...dropping a 12-7 decision to upstart senior SS #10 James Snyder of Triton, who was perhaps a relative unknown before the tournament being from 1A Triton. However a Penn Regional title can change that in a hurry. Snyder opens with a winnable match as he will be heavily favored to knock out Munster senior Jonah Clark (5-5 record), but his blood round match will be a battle because fellow Crown Pizzle senior #18/#3 Ethan Potosky will present him with perhaps his most difficult opponent this year (no disrespect to Hurley). I'm going to stay on the Snyder train and ride him into the semis where his opponent is rather tough to predict.
An opening round match between senior #14/#8 Damien Rodriguez of Wawasee and soph SS #5 Bobby Babcock of Hobart is a tough draw for both wrestlers, especially Babcock as Rodriguez is about as tough a 4 seed as you can get, but I'll take Babcock in light of his momentum and regional title. Likely meeting the winner of that match will be New Prairie senior SS #5 Grant Johnson...who I have taking that match and moving on to the semis to face Snyder. Donovan is obviously the odds on favorite here but look out for his blood round match that will feature either Merrillville senior #20/#4 Seyi Akinwumi or unranked senior Jacob Trefarn of CMA, who has just one loss on the season and claimed 3rd at the Penn Regional via a 9-4 decision over Rodriguez. I have Donovan, Snyder, Hurley, and Johnson moving on.
220 - Another weight class loaded with intriguing blood round matchups, and one where the top two wrestlers are on opposite sides of the bracket. I can't wait to see how Calumet senior and #2 state / #1 SS AJ Fowler performs as he looks like a man on a mission to rectify his loss to top ranked Jacob Bolte of Columbus East next week at the state finals. First things first though, and the draw did him no favors after his runner-up finish at the Hobart Regional, as he faces a likely blood round matchup with Penn Regional champ junior Johnathan Thomas (#17/#4) of SB Adams. I have him facing off with CP Regional champ junior Bryer Stoner of Lowell, who I have coming out of his four man section of the bracket in which all the wrestlers are unranked. The CP regional actually did not feature a ranked wrestler for 220, but Stoner did punctuate his journey with a 35 second pin for the championship over CP senior Frank Keller. If Stoner and Fowler were to meet in semis, it would be a rematch of a Fowler win by fall in 4:31. I have Fowler moving on.
Hobart Regional champ senior Drew Bailey of Merrillville, who scored a tight 4-3 victory for the title over Fowler, should be heavily favored in his opening bout and figures to lock into a battle with senior Adam Berta of Penn for a spot in the semis. Bailey will prove to be a bit too much for Berta, and that would likely mean a semifinal vs #6/#2 senior Joey Kidwell (excellent football family too) of West Lafayette. Could go either way on this one obviously but I'm taking Kidwell in a tight one. A couple matches to consider...Ewan Donovan did win a 5-2 decision earlier this season over Kidwell, giving Kidwell his only loss, Bailey has two victories over Thomas this season, albeit very tight ones (4-3 & 8-7 SV). Fowler did pin Bailey in an earlier matchup this season, earning the fall in 5:31. I'm gonna go with Fowler, Kidwell, Bailey, and Stoner. 285 - Likely here on paper we will have a championship bout with junior #2/#1 Yehezquel Devault of Penn and undefeated senior #5/#2 Alex Cartwright of LaVille. Those two would have an epic championship bout in the Penn Regional final, with Cartwright coming out ahead 2-1. This is rather unfortunate news for Crown Point regional champ senior Nick Garcia (#13/3) of Lake Central, who would see Devault in the blood round should both wrestlers advance as expected...this would be a rematch which Devault won the first time 1-0. I have Devault squeaking by once again to face #18/#5 Will Crider of Harrison, who wouldn't face a ranked wrestler until he meets up with Devault. The Crider boys always bring it so expect him to give Devault everything he can handle. Cartwright will likely get the winner of a rematch between Merrillville senior #19/#4 Anthony Atria and Lowell senior and SS #8 Chandler Austgen. Atria won the first match 7-3...and i have him moving on to battle it out with Cartwright. I like Cartwright to rep the small schools and take it down. I have Cartwright, Devault, Crider, and Atria.
Thank you for slogging through my write-up, I feel i am especially ready for Saturday now after all this research. Good luck to all participants.