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TysonNisley

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TysonNisley last won the day on September 9 2023

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  1. I wish I could say that it’s almost time to go back to the Bank (I’m still not digging this “Gainbridge Fieldhouse” very much), but unfortunate scheduling with an inferior sport means that this year’s state finals will not be in Indianapolis, which definitely feels weird, but I’m sure the atmosphere will still be electric, as all Indiana state tournaments tend to be. I will not be present at the venue this year, not because it is too far away, but because Wabash College has a tournament scheduled for this weekend. So, instead of watching wrestling, I will be doing wrestling. Which sucks and doesn’t suck, for various different reasons that aren’t important to get into, because… …WE’VE GOT SOME PREDICTIONS TO MAKE!!! And like the many years prior, I intend of delivering the best, most accurate, most unbiased (Brady Ison is going to lose Friday night), and most informative predictions and analyses of the brackets going down in Evansville this weekend. The state finals write-ups are among the most difficult to write, with every single match crucial to the outcome of the tournament. No match is irrelevant when you have top eight matchups going down in the first round, title contenders clashing Saturday morning, and returning state champions meeting in the semifinals (c’mon, IHSAA, do better). Additionally, there are statistics everywhere on this site with all of the fun stuff that you numbers nerds like to look at, so I won’t sit here and crank out percentages and things like that. Instead, I’m going to give a brief preface of how I’m going about each weight class, and then I’ll get right into it. Placing the top eight wrestlers in order would take far too long, and I have to get work done for college and cut weight for a college competition, so I won’t be bothering for any placements from 5th through 8th. Instead of placing my predictions at the start of each weight class, I think it would make more sense if I did those at the end of each section, so I’m going to begin with every Friday night death draw that I see. A death draw for the Friday night round will be classified as any two top eight wrestlers wrestling against each other. There are some gross matches happening Friday night that aren’t necessarily “death draws” by this measure, and I will still talk about those matches, but I am going to stay firm with this definition to keep things consistent. I am going to talk about things round by round, giving my thoughts on most matches happening in the winner’s side, and after I am done talking about those matches, I will end the segment with my top 4 predictions. To make things a little fun, I will give a dark horse pick for every weight class too. These aren’t going to be wrestlers that are necessarily going to make it far, but I want to highlight a lower ranked wrestler in each wrestler that could potentially make it far, or at the very least give a higher ranked wrestler a run for their money. I will choose some of these guys to place top 4, and others I will still predict to lose Friday night, but not without a fight. With everything out of the way, let the most accurate predictions in the state commence: 106: This weight class has nothing too ugly in terms of draws, but there are several notable Friday night matches to take a look at. #9 Rex Moore and #13 Teigan Newell should be a lot more competitive, though. Moore took his lone loss of the season this past weekend against #7 Julianna O’Campo, and in a pretty convincing 7-1 loss. On the contrary, Newell is off of an upset win over #11 Alonzo Chantea, and I think the momentum is on Newell’s side to pick off another upset win here. Alonzo Chantea will be looking to stop a historic run from Julianna O’Campo, who is still looking to become the first female state placer in the men’s IHSAA State Finals, and after a beatdown against Moore, I think that history can be made. That being said, Chantea is a senior at 106 and should not be taken lightly. On the bottom half of the bracket, #10 Heather Crull is another female wrestler looking to make history, but to do so she will have to get through #14 Mason Goelz. Despite being the lower ranked wrestler here, I think Goelz is an underrated competitor that can pull an upset here, and I’m going to pick him to do so. I know I’m rooting against history here, but Goelz has been competitive against the top wrestlers in the state, while Crull has been relatively untested this year, and got beaten quite convincingly against Schoettle in their semi-state rematch. The last Friday night match at this weight is #8 Talon Jessup and #15 John Bissmeyer. Bissmeyer has put together a pretty solid season this year, and has results that indicate that he could put up a fight here, but Jessup won their sole meeting up the year 12-1, and I think it will be hard to overturn such a wide margin. Saturday morning will see Schoettle against Newell at the top of the bracket. Schoettle has been nothing short of dominant this post season, and I think he will overcome the rapidly improving Crown Point Bulldog. Next, we will see Malone vs. O’Campo. I think we learned at semi-state that Malone is grossly underrated, and could even contend for a title this year, so I am going to take Malone in a pretty dominant win here. The bottom half of the bracket contains Boyd vs. Goelz, which I think Boyd should win easily, and then Jones and Jessup, which Jones should also win with little trouble, evidenced by his 10-4 decision over him earlier in the year. The semifinals is where things get ugly. Schoettle and Malone will meet in the semis, which in my opinion are two question mark wrestlers that may or may not be on the level of Boyd and Jones. Malone lost 5-1 earlier this year, but did pick up a big win at semi-state over #4 Brady Byrd, and is fully capable of beating the top guys. It seems like Monrovia’s lightweights in general are showing great momentum during the post season, and I think I’m going to pick Malone to pull the upset here. On the bottom half, we have the first of many terrible semifinal matches, with the #1 and #2 in the state toeing the line. There are a lot of interesting statistics to note leading up to this match. Both wrestlers are undefeated. Both have seemingly not struggled yet this season, even against quality opponents. One is a freshman. One is a senior and returning state placer. That being said, Boyd is a super experienced freshman, with a Pan Am gold to his name, as well as a solid Fargo run this summer. I think the freshman will get it done in the semis over Jones, but it should be close and fiercely competitive. The winner of this match will likely take home gold at this weight class, while the loser should cruise to a 3rd place finish. Dark Horse: Royce Malone I’ve already picked Malone making the finals, but I think there’s a world where he wins gold this weekend. He got placed in a tough spot at semi-state drawing #4 Brady Byrd, but he pulled through and got the win 6-2, before taking home a semi-state title at the toughest semi-state in Indiana. Additionally, Malone has given Boyd his only tough match of the year, losing 10-6. If anybody in this bracket, in my opinion, is going to beat Boyd, it’s going to be Malone. Predictions: Jensen Boyd Royce Malone Mason Jones Peyton Schoettle 113: DEATH DRAW: #4 Jalen May vs. #8 Caleb Schaefer We have a freshman vs. senior death draw for our first bad pull of the tournament. #4 Jalen May is a two-time state placer looking to improve on his fourth place finish in 2022, but he will first have to overcome #8 Caleb Schaefer, who has consistently risen through the rankings this year, and has some close matches with the top guys at 113, including 2 point losses to both #1 Revin Dickman and #2 Nate Rioux. May was undefeated until the semi-state finals, where he lost 4-1 to #3 Ayden Bollinger, and he is looking to avenge an underperformance from last year, where he placed 7th. Schaefer has wrestled a much tougher schedule than May, and in my opinion, will be much more prepared for the challenge at this point in the season. I don’t like to pick too many upsets when making predictions, because picking too many upsets is a great way to screw your predictions up, but I’m going with the freshman over the senior in this match. More notable Friday night matchups include #14 Mario Orueta vs. unranked Bradyn Volz, who is criminally underappreciated and will make a deep run this weekend. Yep, that means taking out Orueta along the way, which I believe he will do. Volz had a fantastic semi-state win over #12 Nathan Reyes, dominating 9-3, demonstrating that he is at a new level at this point in the season, and will look to place high. Speaking of Nathan Reyes, he will take on #13 Brady Harper Friday night. Harper is really good, much better than his #13 ranking indicates, and I think he will emerge victorious over Reyes. To conclude the Friday night round, #16 Kaleb Salazar gets an unfortunate draw against Nate Rioux. Salazar is a senior that qualified at 106 last year, and it is a tough pull for him that he will be the heavy underdog against the multiple time Fargo All-American. Saturday morning actually looks pretty fair for this weight class. Bollinger will meet up against the red-hot Volz, and despite Volz’s momentum, I think Bollinger is too experienced and too talented at the moment to fall victim to an upset. Next, Dickman will face Harper, and the returning champ should put that match away quite dominantly. Schaefer will face #11 Blake Getz Saturday morning, where I believe Schaefer will continue to perform well and take out the New Castle semi-state champ. In their last meeting this season, Schaefer walked away with a 4-2 victory, so I think that this match will competitive, but Schaefer favored. Lastly, we have a pretty fireworks match with Rioux and #5 Gavin Lewis toeing the line. Lewis was one of the hottest freshman coming into the season this year, but there have been a couple opponents this year that have made Lewis look more human. That being said, he will not be an easy out for Rioux, but Rioux is a highly credentialed athlete in this field, and I believe that he is adamant on another chance against Dickman, so give me Rioux in a very, very close match. In the semis, I see both Dickman and Rioux getting things done against Bollinger and Schaefer, respectively. The rematch is inevitable, and while I believe that Rioux is doing everything he can to finally get one against Dickman, it’s extremely hard to pick against a guy that is ELEVEN and zero against his opponent in the past two seasons. Give me Dickman as the repeating champ, while Bollinger takes 3rd for the second year in a row. Dark Horse: Gavin Lewis Lewis is already ranked 5th in the state, so considering him a dark horse is maybe unfair, especially with an unranked freshman in Volz looking to have a podium run of his own. However, Lewis is the only wrestler in this bracket I see with potential to spoil a sixth Dickman vs. Rioux match this season. You should seriously think about Lewis when making your own predictions this weekend, because Rioux is going to have to bring his A-game to avoid an upset here. Don’t sleep on Crown Point at this weight class. Predictions: Revin Dickman Nate Rioux Ayden Bollinger Caleb Schaefer 120: DEATH DRAW: #2 Seth Aubin vs. #7 Isaac Ash What a tough pull for both competitors. #2 Seth Aubin made himself known as a title contender at the Al Smith tournament this year with a shocking upset victory over returning state champion #5 Charlie Larocca. That being said, he has also shown some weakness this season, taking an upset loss to unranked Cameron Woods from Portage at sectionals, and losing in dominating fashion to #1 Gavin Jendreas in both of their meetings this year. #7 Isaac Ash, on the other hand, looks to be on a mission, avoiding a death draw at semi-state by upsetting #4 Preston Haines at regionals. Not that it would have mattered, though, since he went and beat #3 Ty Henderson anyways in the semifinals of semi-state. For two upsets over top four opponents in the past couple of weekends, he gets rewarded with another one to determine if he places again or not. I think Ash is the heavy favorite in this match given the momentum that lies on his side, but Aubin is capable of winning against the best guys in this bracket, and should not be overlooked. The next intriguing bout at this weight is #21 Tommy Frazier vs. unranked Henry Faurote of Bellmont. Frazier was a qualifier last year, but struggled at the beginning of the year. Now in the post season, Frazier seems to be picking up steam, but he will be tested Friday night by a freshman who is picking up some steam of his own, making the Fort Wayne semi-state finals in his very first season. I think Frazier will end up winning, but Bellmont may have a star on their hands that will perform very well in seasons to come. #14 Jett McGuire and #15 Kaid Jackson get fortunate draws, giving them what seems to be a 50/50 chance to come home with a medal, indicated by their proximity in rankings, at least. However, Jackson has lost twice to McGuire this season, and has struggled this post season with two losses to the previously mentioned Faurote. With this in mind, I’ll take McGuire to win this Friday night matchup. Ty Henderson finds himself against Cameron Woods, who is unranked and the heavy underdog, but both of these wrestlers are finding themselves at the state tournament for the first time after improving massively on their previous seasons. It’s unfortunate that two of the hottest wrestlers in the bracket have to meet Friday night, but I would not consider Woods an easy out for Henderson. I’m picking Henderson, for sure, but I don’t think it will be as convincing of a win as many others might think. Saturday morning has some fun matchups at this weight. Jendreas will dominate Frazier, although they’ve had a competitive meeting in the past, with Jendreas winning in 2022 7-3 at the Al Smith. I can’t see how anybody but Jendreas is the man to beat in this weight class, with his impressive performances over almost everybody at this weight. The next Saturday morning bout is Larocca and McGuire, which Larocca should win pretty easily. Below that is #6 Tanner Tishner and Henderson. Tishner has been extremely competitive against the best guys every year, but it always seems that the state tournament doesn’t bring out the best in him. If the best version of Tishner shows up, expect this match to be razor-close. If not, Henderson will definitely win. I’m going to pick Henderson to win anyways, but this should be a great way to start the second round of the state tournament. The last match happening in the second round at this weight is Ash and #10 Chayce Yant. Yant looked great en route to a semi-state title in New Castle, but I think Ash has looked great-er, and I believe that Ash will make it to the semifinals for the second year in a row. In the semis, we have a really disgusting semifinals meetup with Jendreas and Larocca butting heads for a chance under the lights, despite the fact that both of them have been under the lights before. Larocca is of course the returning champ, but it seems impossible at the moment to root against Jendreas. He has been lights out this season, and I think he will definitely win, although Larocca looks to be picking up momentum at the right time with two dominant wins over Ash the past two weekends. On the bottom of the bracket, we have Henderson and Ash going for a rematch. I think that despite Henderson’s loss to Ash, his resume of wins this year, and the closeness of Ash’s win over him at semi-state makes him a slight favorite here, and I’m going to take Henderson in the rematch to put him under the lights. For gold, it should be Jendreas, but Henderson has shown that he is dangerous, and if Henderson does win this match, I would imagine it would be by fall. For third, I think Larocca beats Ash in their third rematch of the post season. Dark Horse: Cameron Woods I think that Henderson will probably beat Cameron Woods. Still, I think that it’s worth mentioning that Woods has beaten #2 Seth Aubin, #8 Aiden Dallinger, #11 Maximus Quiroz, and #18 Adiran Origel all in the past couple of weekends. There might not be a single wrestler in any bracket this weekend that has overperformed his expectations than Woods, and for this reason, I think he is a dark horse with potential to make a deep run through this tournament if he can stun Henderson in the Friday night match. 126: DEATH DRAW: #2 Landon Hawkins vs. #5 Neal Mosier In his first trip to the state tournament, #2 Landon Hawkins gets a tough test Friday night against returning state placer #5 Neal Mosier. That being said, Mosier is coming off of an uncharacteristic 4th place finish at semi-state, losing to Union City’s Bradin Daniel’s and #16 Drew Waldon, both in overtime bouts. He still shouldn’t be considered done for in this Friday night death draw, but Hawkins has been pretty dominant this year, and will be the heavy favorite. DEATH DRAW: #4 Braylon Reynolds vs. #8 Gavin Bragg In a classic senior vs. freshman death draw, #4 Braylon Reynolds pulls #8 Gavin Bragg. Bragg is a returning state qualifier looking to find his way into the placement rounds on Saturday, but Reynolds has been beating state placers well before his high school debut, and should be considered a favorite going into this match. Both wrestlers have several losses this year to some of the best guys in the state, and for Reynolds, some of the best guys in the country as well, so both have had their fair share of battles, and will be ready for a hard scrap come Friday. I’m taking Reynolds in a closer than expected match. Don’t let two death draws distract you all from some of the other Friday night matches going down at this weight class. Bradin Daniels went on a tear at the Fort Wayne semi-state, taking out Neal Mosier and #18 Cody Rowles along the way. He’ll see #12 Dylan Bennett in his Friday night match, a two-time qualifier that doesn’t want to walk away empty handed for a third time. I actually think that Bennett can win this match, and despite Daniels’ impressive semi-state run, I’m picking the Penn senior to finally earn himself a medal. #3 Luke Rioux and #9 Elijah Broady pull each other for an almost death draw. Broady took a minor upset loss to #13 Gunner Butt at semi-state, and he now finds himself against a 2022 state medalist who is hungry to avenge himself after a tough semi-state pull against eventual runner-up Jackson Heaston last year. I’ll take Rioux winning by a decent margin here. In a similar situation is Jay County senior Cody Rowles, who has qualified three times now, but pulls #7 Layne Horn in his Friday night match. Horn suffered an upset loss last year in this round, and I’m sure he will be looking to make a statement run this weekend, after coming into the state tournament ranked first in the state. The last relevant Friday night match is #10 Matthew Maldonado and #16 Drew Waldon. Waldon is the underdog here, but did pick up a big win over Mosier in the 3rd place match at semi-state, proving that he is much more capable than his ranking indicates. Still, Maldonado has put together a solid season that I think shows he is capable of making it on the podium this weekend, so I’m choosing him to do so in a very competitive Friday night bout. Saturday morning starts off with a bang, as Hawkins and Reynolds meet each other in the first round. Hawkins is 2-0 on the year against Reynolds with 2-0 and 5-2 wins, and I don’t believe that Reynolds has shown enough improvement since then for me to pick an upset here. Below these two is a much less brutal match, with Rioux and Bennett taking each other on. I expect Rioux to dominate to the semifinals. New Castle semi-state champ Gunner Butt takes on Layne Horn, where I think Horn will be wrestling with something to prove, and should win this match by a decent margin. Butt is a returning state placer, however, and is coming off of an upset with over Elijah Broady at semi-state, so there’s a chance that Butt doesn’t make it so easy on Horn. The last quarterfinal matchup of the bracket is Maldonado and #1 Isaiah Schaefer. Schaefer is undefeated against Indiana opponents this season, and I don’t suspect that he will be dropping any matches en route to the finals. The semifinals will see Hawkins and Rioux wrestle each other, for the first time this season. I think Rioux definitely has upset potential here, but I don’t think he’s ready to beat Hawkins here. Similarly on the bottom, Horn looked competitive at semi-state, losing only 2-0 to Hawkins, but Schaefer will likely be too much for him. Now, let’s talk about Schaefer vs. Hawkins. Both have yet to drop a match against an Indiana opponent and have very similar results against common opponents. Who wins? Schaefer has placed 7th in two attempts at the state tournament, but those results are a little deceptive. Schaefer pushed two-time state champion Ashton Jackson to a double overtime bout last year, and has demonstrated competitiveness against the elite guys in the bracket. Additionally, he carries a #13 ranking in the nation (FloWrestling), showing that he has had success on the nation level as well as the state level. Hawkins has not shown the same success at the nation level, but he has been beating the top guys in Indiana well before his high school debut, showing that he is ready to contend with Schaefer. I think this match is going to come down to the wire, and with a lack of further insight to make a prediction here, I think I am going to play it safe and go with Schaefer. Hawkins is a phenomenal top wrestler, and top wrestling skills are definitely valuable in matches that are expected to be incredibly close, but remember that Schaefer earned himself a reversal and three nearfall against Jackson last year, who is a phenomenal top wrestler himself. If Hawkins can maintain his dominance on top, I think he can walk away as the champion here. However, if Schaefer can get away and push his neutral wrestling, I think he can steal a takedown or two against Hawkins. For the 3rd place match, I think that Rioux has been impressive enough to pick him over Horn, who has been impressive himself, but I think Rioux has been very consistent this year, and should put that match away. Dark Horse: Gunner Butt I think that despite wrestling a very game Layne Horn in the quarterfinals, Butt has both the results from last year, where he placed 6th at 106, and the more recent results, including his semi-state championship that included an upset win over Broady, to make a deep run in this bracket. Even if he doesn’t win his quarterfinal match, I can see him contending for a 5th place finish, and at the very least, he should greatly out-place his #13 ranking. Predictions: Isaiah Schaefer Landon Hawkins Luke Rioux Layne Horn 132: DEATH DRAW: #7 Carter Fielden vs. #8 Sonny Sessa #8 Sonny Sessa pulled off a big upset win in the ticket round when he eliminated #6 Guillermo Rivera from the state series. Rivera had beaten him twice this season before that match. Now, he finds himself as a victim of yet another death draw, this time against #7 Carter Fielden. If this match sounds familiar to you, then it would be because this very Friday night match went down last year at 120 lbs, with Fielden winning the match. Sessa is on a revenge tour, and I think that he has a slight edge going into this match, so despite being slightly outranked here, I think Sessa can get it done and find himself on the podium. I know that many people might lean on Fielden winning, owning a 5-2 decision on him earlier in the season, but Fielden also lost 11-4 to Rivera in the very same tournament. It seems that Sessa has improved greatly since Al Smith, and I expect it to show Friday night. There aren’t a ton other Friday night matches in this weight class that seem competitive, with most bouts having a massive favorite. One match to note is #13 Keith Parker vs. #20 Cole Vandygriff. Vandygriff found himself against #14 Cameron Volz in the ticket round, but he found a way to pull the upset and wrestle all the way to second place at the New Castle semi-state. Parker has had some solid results this season, but doesn’t have any wins to indicate that he should be considered a favorite. I’m going to give the edge here to Parker, but this match should be fiercely competitive. I also think that #2 Tylin Thrine and #10 Quinten Schoeff has the makings of a match that is far closer than many people might expect. Thrine is still on an undefeated streak beginning his freshman year, and Schoeff is coming off of a lower than expected performance at semi-state, taking 4th. However, Schoeff has wrestled tough against some of the best guys at this weight, and Thrine has let several opponents this season keep it close with him. I think Thrine wins, of course, but I’m not sure it will be a blowout. The quarterfinals at this weight are pretty predictable in my opinion. #3 Hayden Demarco and #4 Eddie Goss will meet in the quarters for an Al Smith rematch. Demarco manhandled Goss for a major decision win in that match, and while I don’t think the result will be as one-sided, I can’t imagine Demarco losing this match. #5 Jackson Bradley will likely continue his undefeated streak this season with a win over Parker. Lastly, both Hockaday and Thrine should win their quarterfinal bouts to set up for one of the most disgusting semifinal matchups of the tournament. Hockaday is currently ranked #18 in the country, while Thrine spent much of this season ranked at 126 before it was confirmed that he would be competing at 132. There’s a lot on the line in this match. Hockaday is a two-time state champion looking to make it three titles in three tries, setting him up to win an elusive fourth state title. Thrine has one state title to his name, taking out Logan Frazier in the process in one of the biggest upsets of the tournament. As of now, Thrine has yet to drop an official high school match, giving him a chance to become a very rare undefeated four time state champion. That being said, Hockaday has demonstrated significant talent on the greatest stages in high school wrestling, and I actually think that Hockaday will win this match by a significant margin. Thrine is clearly capable of pushing Hockaday, but he will need to be his very best to stand a chance against who is likely the best P4P high schooler in Indiana right now. On the other side of the bracket, we have another match with quite high of stakes. Demarco and Bradley are both undefeated on the season, and one of them will have to relinquish that zero at the end of their record. That being said, I really don’t see Demarco settling for anything less than a state finals appearance in his senior campaign, and he should win this match. The finals and 3rd place match should be pretty determined, with Hockaday and Thrine taking 1st and 3rd respectively, and Demarco and Bradley taking 2nd and 4th. Dark Horse: Keith Parker Parker put together a great semi-state that included a win over #10 Quinten Schoeff. He has been competitive all year, and now finds himself in a great spot to claim his first medal. I also think that there’s a world where he goes the extra mile and pushes Bradley for a chance to compete in the semis. I think that Parker is for sure a potential 4th placer. Predictions: Jake Hockaday Hayden Demarco Tylin Thrine Jackson Bradley 138: We don’t have any death draws for this weight class, but that doesn’t mean that Friday night won’t deliver some fire matchups at 138. #10 Luke Reid and #11 Chase Stephens has the potential to be an excellent match. Reid is slightly higher ranked, but Stephens has some fantastic wins on his resume, and notably upset Parker Reynolds at semi-state last year to make himself a state qualifier for the first time. I’m picking Stephens here to get a state medal in his second try. Another match that I think has upset potential is #5 Wesley Smith vs. #13 Justice Thorton. Thornton was the runner-up at the Evansville semi-state, surviving a death draw against #16 Seth Syra, and following it up with a win over #14 William Vander Luitgaren. Smith is a state placer at 145 the year before, but has yet to face a difficult state ranked opponent not named Clinton Shepherd, so he is a little bit of a question mark in this bracket in my opinion. I really think that Thornton has the potential to pull an upset here, and I think I’m going to lock in my upset pick here: Thornton over Smith in the Friday night match. Now, there’s another match in this bracket that I will be invested in praying for an upset. LaPorte junior Josh England pulled off an upset over #19 Drake Fritz in the ticket round match to find himself at the state finals for the first time, and he will see state veteran #3 Brady Ison in the first round. Ison is of course much more accomplished, but you already know that I will be rooting for the man in orange and black. The quarterfinals have the top four wrestlers in the weight class fairly dispersed, with #2 Kyrel Leavell seeing Stephens in the quarterfinals, #4 Tony Wood seeing Thornton in his quarterfinal bout, Ison matching up against #12 Linkin Carter, and #1 Clinton Shepherd getting the toughest of it against #6 Gavyn Whitehead. Despite all four wrestlers taking on competitors with previous state experience, I don’t think an upset is likely for any of them. The semifinals will be more interesting, though. Shepherd and Ison find themselves on the same side for a freshman vs. senior match to decide who wrestles under the lights. Ison is an underdog here, losing twice to Shepherd this season, but both bouts were very close, and I’m sure Ison is eager to end his senior campaign on top of the podium. I still think the freshman gets it done, but this semifinal match will be fantastic. Leavell and Wood fight for the other spot under the lights, and I don’t think you can count out Wood in this match. Although freestyle, Wood actually owns the latest victory between the two, meaning that he is certainly capable of replicating this result. I’m going to play it safe and choose Leavell to return to the finals match for the second time in his career, but don’t be shocked if Jay County finds themselves a finalist this year. In the finals, I think that I will once again choose Shepherd as the winner, although this prediction is much more of a safe prediction, given that Shepherd won their last match up at Al Smith, but Leavell is an incredibly dangerous opponent with some seriously impressive wins during the course of his high school career, both in the state of Indiana and on the national scene. For third, I think that Ison beats Wood in a tight match. Dark Horse: Justice Thornton I won’t say much about this dark horse pick, because I already have him exceeding his ranking with an upset win in the Friday night match, but I think that Thornton can make a run for 5th in this bracket. Predictions: Clinton Shepherd Kyrel Leavell Brady Ison Tony Wood 144: There is not a single unranked wrestler at this weight class. Every wrestler is dangerous and looking to compete for a medal, and there are several matches in the Friday night round that are going to be interesting for this wildly unpredictable and wide open weight class. #8 Branson Weaver and #10 Brody Hagewood are two returning qualifiers looking to claim their first medal, and I think that it could be an incredibly close bout. Both wrestlers could reasonably win this match, but I think I’m going to opt for the lower ranked Hagewood, who has wrestled some of the better guys at this weight tough and has a number of solid wins himself on the year. #16 Bryce Doss is a returning medalist that will have to get through #3 Jeffrey Huyvaert to claim a second medal. Huyvaert shed blood in the semi-state finals last weekend against #4 Zar Walker, and we will see in this Friday night match if Huyvaert is ready to get his first title, or if the rest of the field might be too much for him. The last notable Friday night match is #12 Marlone Kirksey and #7 Dillon Graham. Kirksey has been impressive this year, improving greatly since last season to find himself at the state tournament, but Graham has successfully medaled in every trip he has made to the state finals. It’s hard to root against that, so I’ll go with Graham in this match. The quarterfinals at this weight are downright disgusting. Part of that is due to a minor upset at semi-state, where Walker solidified himself as a title threat with a win over the record breaking Huyvaert of New Prairie. Walker is rewarded with a matchup against #2 Parker Reynolds, who has dominated every Indiana opponent he has faced not named Reese Courtney. I think that Walker looked incredible in his finals match against Huyvaert, as well as every match before that, so I’m going to say that Walker continues his hot streak against Reynolds and makes it into the semis. #4 Christian Arberry has improved a lot since his 8th place finish last year, and he should cruise to the semis with a win over Hagewood. Next, we have an absolutely evil Saturday morning bout with #1 Reese Courtney and Jeffrey Huyvaert. Huyvaert looked like the man to beat throughout the entirety of this season, breaking the Indiana record for the most takedowns in the single season, but Courtney has managed to remain undefeated in the chaos that is 144 this season, and I suspect that he will put the rising sophomores dreams to a halt in this match, squeaking by with a one point decision. Lastly, Dillon Graham will find himself in a quarterfinal bout against #5 Easton Doster. Doster is undefeated on the year, but hasn’t wrestled someone of Graham’s caliber yet this season, so this should be a good indicator of whether Doster is yet another title contender at this weight class. Graham is a quality wrestler at this weight, but he has taken several close losses against the tougher wrestlers at the weight, and has yet to find a win against someone in the top five this season. With that in mind, I’m picking Doster to make the semifinal round. The unpredictability continues as Walker and Arberry meet on the top half of the bracket. Arberry is definitely a title contender, taking Reese Courtney to overtime twice this season, but Walker seems on a mission, and I’m slightly biased towards picking an East Chicago semi-state wrestler to go all the way, so I’m taking Walker in an electric semifinal bout. On the bottom half, I think that Courtney gets it done quite comfortably against Doster to make the finals. Walker and Courtney is then the finals match that I have arrived at. There are honestly five different potential finals matches that could happen at this weight, but I think that these two will ultimately end up under the lights. I’ve already picked Walker to make two upsets at this weight, so I’m not going to think too hardly about this match: ZAR WALKER GOES ALL THE WAY AND WINS A STATE TITLE. As for 3rd place, I think that Arberry puts away Doster and takes bronze. Dark Horse: Marlone Kirksey Kirksey has had some close matches with some really good guys in this bracket, and I think that his Friday night bout against Dillon Graham is doable. Additionally, if he is able to make an upset against Graham, Doster is one of the better quarterfinal matches that he could ask for. Look for Kirksey to turn some heads this weekend with at the very least, a highly competitive Friday night match against one of the veterans of the field. Predictions: Zar Walker Reese Courtney Christian Arberry Easton Doster 150: There are several competitive Friday night matches to get this bracket started. New Castle semi-state champ #8 Braden Getz pulls #11 Alex Smith, and despite the proximity in ranking, I think that Getz should get this match quite handily. That being said, Getz has had a weird post season run, taking 2nd and 4th at sectionals and regionals, respectively, due to a pair of injury defaults and a bizarre 8-2 loss to #20 Moses Stevenson. I still don’t think that Smith has had impressive enough of a season to pull the upset here. #5 Wesley Harper pulls #12 Brock Hagewood, and I think while Harper had a pair of close matches at semi-state, he should be solid enough to get past Hagewood, evidenced by a 5-3 win over Hagewood earlier in the year. #6 Tyler Vanover and #16 Cooper Fettig is a pretty sneaky Friday night match, with Fettig having a great semi-state tournament that ended in a close 5-4 loss to Getz. I think Vanover wins, but it should be close. Lastly, New Haven’s Aidan Elkins enters the bracket as an unranked semi-state champ, picking up a notable win over Hagewood in the process. For #13 Chase Kasprzak, however, you have to imagine that he picks up a great draw here, being the favorite per the rankings. Kasprzak isn’t coming in with the momentum, however, losing both of his matches after the ticket round by fall. I’m going to pick the breakout star from the Fort Wayne semi-state to claim a medal this weekend. There is a clear favorite in this weight class, and it is #1 Wyatt Krejsa. He will see #10 Christopher Bohn in the first round of the second day, and while Bohn has grown tremendous growth since last year, I find Krejsa too formidable of an opponent for him to overcome. The next quarterbracket will feature Getz and #9 Kaptur Nowaczyk. Nowaczyk survived a death draw at semi-state, taking out #7 Caydn Smith to punch his ticket for the very first time. I actually think that Nowaczyk will make a run here and beat Getz to make the semis. On the bottom half of the bracket, Harper and Vanover will contend for a semifinal spot. I imagine this match will be as close as they get, but I think Vanover will have the slight edge here and pull the minor upset to make the semis. In the last quarterbracket, I think that #2 Hunter May will end Elkin’s dream run with a convincing win. The semis are pretty easy to figure out, with Krejsa beating Nowaczyk, and May beating Vanover, both matches by a decent margin, to set up for a semi-state finals rematch. If you saw the result of the semi-state finals, however, you’d know that May is the huge underdog in this match, and will have to wrestle terrifically to have a chance. For 3rd, I think Vanover will get it done over Nowaczyk, who’s been slightly less consistent than Vanover. Dark Horse: Kaptur Nowaczyk Coming into this tournament, I think that Nowaczyk will clearly outplace his ranking, but I see him getting as high as 3rd place this weekend. I’m going with Vanover to win the 3rd place match, but it should be incredibly close, and will likely be decided by less than two points. If not 3rd, I’m obviously still picking Nowaczyk as a surprise semifinalist. Predictions: Wyatt Krejsa Hunter May Tyler Vanover Kaptur Nowaczyk 157: DEATH DRAW: #1 Beau Brabender vs. #7 Mason Day What happens when you blunder a perfect season with a single loss to the #2 guy in the state? You get placed in a death draw– and that’s exactly what #1 Beau Brabender will face, when he wrestles #7 Mason Day in the Friday night match. Day is very good, and shouldn’t be considered a heavy underdog in this match. He took his sole Indiana loss in an upset against #9 Asher Ratliff, although he did pick up an upset of his own against #6 Silas Stits in the regional finals. I think Brabender will hold firm and survive for the win, but Day is a very strong #7 in the state. There are lots of ranked matchups happening in the Friday night round. Many of them have pretty convincing favorites, but there are a couple that could potentially go either way. Silas Stits pulls #10 Griffin Van Tichelt for his tournament life, and I think he will win in an extremely close bout. #8 Gavin Davis wrestles #12 Aidan Kincaide, who picked up a big win over #4 Silas Foster at semi-state. Both wrestlers have had great results this season, and I think that this match could seriously go either way. I’m going to pick the senior with previous state experience to win a tight one against the stud freshman. The second day of state is where this bracket starts to fall apart. Brabender and Betz meet at the top of the bracket in the quarterfinals for an absolutely disgusting early matchup. Despite Betz’s loss over Pellot earlier in the year, I’ve been confident in his wrestling ability for a while now, and I still believe that he has what it takes to be the champ at this weight class. His resume of wins is overall stronger than Brabender’s too, so I’m going to pick Betz to win the first quarterfinal of the bracket. Next, we have Cashman and Stits. They are 1-1 against each other, both in 5-4 decisions, so you know that this match is going to be incredibly down to the wire. Cashman certainly has the momentum going into this weekend, with a quite dominant post season run thus far, while Stits has taken a couple of losses, including an upset loss to Ratliff. Thus, I’ll pick Cashman to make it to the semis. Pellot and Foster is another gross matchup going down too early. Pellot has been fantastic this season, making a case to be the guy to beat this weekend, while Foster has taken a couple of losses in the past couple of weeks to lower ranked wrestlers. I’m going with Pellot to make the semis. Lastly, Davis and Ratliff square off to sneak into the last remaining spot. Davis has been competitive against every tough opponent he has wrestled this year, and despite Ratliff’s exceptional semi-state run, I’m going with Davis to take the match. For the semis, I think that Betz will take out Cashman in a highly competitive match. Cashman, as mentioned, has been wrestling like a title contender, so Betz will have to be on his A-game. As for the other semifinal match, I think that Pellot is the strong favorite to make the finals. As for the finals, I think that many fingers might point to Pellot as the winner. However, I think that Betz’s best form can pull the upset and find himself on top of the podium, and as much as a disservice I might be doing to those from the Region, I’m choosing Betz to stand on top of the podium. For 3rd, Cashman should beat Davis in a pretty convincing match. Dark Horse: Aidan Kincaide Kincaide is in a Friday night match that he could reasonably win, which is especially big for him, because I have Davis making the semis. With this in mind, if Kincaide can win Friday night, I have him making a pretty deep run through the bracket, likely ending in 4th place. Predictions: Mitchell Betz Adrian Pellot Anthony Cashman Gavin Davis 165: DEATH DRAW: #2 Waylon Cressell vs. #8 Oliver Hallett The Indian Creek sophomore has a tall task ahead of him, facing #2 Waylon Cressell Friday night. #8 Oliver Hallett suffered an upset loss to #14 Coy Bender at semi-state, and unfortunately for Hallett, I think that Cressell is a tier above most of the field in this weight class. DEATH DRAW: #4 Kaeb Stebbins vs. #7 Isaac Sinks #4 Kaeb Stebbins lost the rematch against #5 Duke Myers in the finals of semi-state, and for that, he is punished with a death draw against #7 Isaac Sinks. Sinks took third at the East Chicago semi-state, getting pushed in his ticket round match before getting pinned quickly by #1 Anthony Rinehart. I think that Stebbins has been great this year outside of his loss to Myers (which really isn’t even an underperformance by Stebbins given Myers’ resume), and he should take out Sinks to make the medal round. There are a couple of other Friday night matches worth highlighting. #15 Xavier Smith and #16 Jesse Derringer find themselves in a great spot to claim a spot on the podium, but I think the slight favorite to win here is Derringer. Derringer had an impressive semi-state run in which he tech falled Coy Bender and lost only 7-6 to #3 Evan Roudebush. That being said, Smith does own a major decision win over Derringer this season, giving this match a layer of unpredictability. I don’t really ever pick wrestlers to avenge such tough losses, but I think that Derringer is wrestling like one of the best wrestlers in the state, and I believe that he will prove it Friday night. There’s a pretty interesting Friday night match on the bottom half of the bracket with #6 Brant Beck and #10 Levi Abbott challenging each other for a medal. These two actually wrestled each other at semi-state last year, with Abbott winning 7-3, but with Rochester now going through the East Chicago semi-state, these two will meet in the first round. Beck has since avenged his loss against Abbott, winning 4-3 earlier this year, and I think he will repeat this result to claim his first state medal of his career. The story of this weight class is Anthony Rinehart and Waylon Cressell, and I don’t think anybody will be able to stop that match from happening. Duke Myers will wrestle Derringer to get to the semis, and I think despite Derringer’s momentum at this point in the year, Myers is wrestling solid enough to calm down the Brownsburg senior. Rinehart will see #17 Zack Huckaby, who he should beat quite easily. Similarly, Cressell will face off against Stebbins, who is much higher ranked than Huckaby, but should still be no match for Cressell. In the last quarterfinal match, Evan Roudebush will meet with Brant Beck. Roudebush has improved rapidly since last season, solidifying himself as the best wrestler at the weight that isn’t in the tier of Rinehart and Cressell, so I’m giving him the win here. Rinehart will beat Myers, and Cressell will beat Roudebush, giving us a rematch of the Al Smith finals under the lights, where I can only assume that Rinehart will repeat his Al Smith result. The match was incredibly close, and I think Cressell is talented enough to push Rinehart in this match, but I will err on the side of caution and pick the safer choice. For third, I think that Roudebush will win the rematch against Myers, but I don’t expect it to be a 5-0 shutout like it was last time. Expect a fun 3rd place match at this weight. Dark Horse: Jesse Derringer I’m starting to realize that I’ve been saying a lot of the same things in these dark horse picks that I’ve been saying in the write up itself, so I’ll keep it simple with this: Derringer can potentially make the semis and get his rematch with Roudebush, where we are looking at a potential 3rd place for Derringer, a massive overplacement for his #16 ranking. Predictions: Anthony Rinehart Waylon Cressell Evan Roudebush Duke Myers 175: DEATH DRAW: #4 Noah Clouser vs. #7 Ethan Popp Senior vs. senior. Both previous state qualifiers. Both ranked top eight in the state. And only one of them gets to end their career with a medal around their neck. These are the type of matches that make our state tournament exciting. #4 Noah Clouser opens as the favorite here, owning a stronger resume of wins than #7 Ethan Popp, and spending some time this season ranked #1, but Popp is no slouch himself, and with Clouser coming off of a slight upset loss to #5 Bray Emerine, I think that this match could be close. I’ll go with Clouser, but I don’t think Popp should be counted out. This weight class is possibly the most wide open in the state, rivaling 144 with a large amount of title contenders. The Friday night round contains many important matches that could dictate how the rest of the weight class goes. #11 Kyle Harden is leaps and bounds better than his ranking when he is wrestling to the highest of his potential, but he will be challenged immediately by #6 Braxton Russell. He opens this tournament as a question mark wrestler, having not wrestled most of the season, while Russell has been busy, putting together a solid season only brought down by an odd upset loss to #18 Cooper McCloy. Harden found himself on the bad side of a hot streak when #16 Michael White blew through the New Castle semi-state, losing only to #3 Brenton Russell. I’m going to retain my belief in Harden and pick him to win against Russell. Speaking of Michael White, he is rewarded for his efforts at semi-state with a top eight opponent and returning medalist in #8 Laish Detwiler. White has a great body of work to support him his season, including a win over #2 Chase Leech, and I think that he will pull the upset against Detwiler, who is a strong wrestler himself, but does not have momentum on his side. There are a couple of Friday night matches that could be worth mentioning here, but there is so much chaos that will be going down on the second day that I need to get right into it. Firstly, the top of the bracket starts out with Emerine and Harden. Emerine, aside from a loss to Waylon Cressell earlier in the year, has been nothing short of dominance, and if Harden can’t manage to bring the best version of himself to the state finals, I think Emerine will win. The next quarterfinal match is #1 Aidan Costello and Michael White. Despite White’s performances during the post season, I think Costello is talented enough to shut him down and advance to the semis. Russell has a slightly easier path per the rankings, seeing #13 Zymarion Hollyfield in the quarters. Hollyfield did take out #10 Cameron Crisp in the ticket round, who managed to challenge Costello in the regional finals, so Hollyfield won’t make it easy for Russell. Still, I see Russell advancing to the semifinal round. The last quarterfinal match isn’t pretty: Chase Leech and Noah Clouser, both title contenders and both ranked top four in the state. Leech is a scarily underrated wrestler with the potential to take out some of the best Indiana has to offer, and I think he will win against Clouser to set him up with a rematch against Brenton Russell. If you click on Leech’s Trackwrestling profile and scroll through his significant wins, you will probably see that Leech is going to win this semifinal match, with an astounding amount of wins over the senior from Warren Central. On the top half of the weight class, Costello will square off against Emerine, in what I think will be an incredibly close match. However, Costello is a highly dangerous wrestler and can end the match at any moment, and I think that ability will bring him far against Emerine. Thus, the finals is yet another rematch of the Al Smith finals (jeez, this Al Smith tournament sounds hard). Costello and Leech ended their bout in overtime, where Costello emerged victorious. However, I suspect that Leech will be better prepared for the rematch, and given his consistency and overall body of work, I think that he can overcome Costello and take home a title for Garrett. For 3rd place, catch Emerine pulling an upset of his own over Russell. Seriously, I think Emerine is a sneaky title contender in this weight class, and while I believe he is too highly ranked for me to consider him a dark horse, I want to say it right here before anything happens this weekend. Dark Horse: Kyle Harden As I said before, the talent is there. He’s been there, done that with a 6th place medal to conclude his freshman campaign. If he’s healthy, he can make a legitimate title run this weekend. If not, he will still likely put together a solid performance that will contradict his #11 ranking. Predictions: Chase Leech Aidan Costello Bray Emerine Brenton Russell 190: DEATH DRAW: #3 Luke Penola vs. #4 Vinny Freeman There has to be one of these every year. #3 Luke Penola placed 3rd last year at 182, while #4 Vinny Freeman placed 6th at 182. Only one of these grapplers will walk away this weekend with a second medal. It’s not a complete heartbreaker, as Freeman is only a sophomore, but the pressure is on for Penola, who is a senior looking to cap with career with a state title. Penola is coming off of two consecutive losses to #5 Noah Weaver, while Freeman is coming off of a loss at semi-state to #7 Kenneth Bisping. With this in mind, I think Penola will win this Friday night match and advance to the next day. Bisping beat Freeman 14-8, and Penola defeated Bisping in the Al Smith finals 8-4, so I think there might be a little bit of a gap between these two wrestlers, despite their proximity in rankings. There are plenty of interesting Friday night match to get this sneakily competitive weight class started. #11 Colin Casad looked great last weekend at semi-state, punching his ticket for the first time and losing only 1-0 to #2 Kaden McConnell. He’ll see #20 Elias Cressell for the first round, a senior who blew through his semi-state bracket with a finals win over #14 Eli Coolman. I think that both wrestlers have turned a corner this post season, and both can reasonably find themselves winning a medal this weekend. I’m taking Casad to make the 4-over-1 upset over Cressell. Next, #16 Aleksandr Tatum and #25 Colin Whetsel find themselves in a favorable Friday night matchup, with both newcomers to the state tournament and both very young. Despite being the higher ranked wrestler, Tatum lost earlier in the season to Whetsel by fall, and it seems likely that this result could repeat itself. The Hobart freshman has improved a lot this season, but I’ll stick with Whetsel to sneak into the medal rounds. Lastly, while not likely to be a toss-up match, #23 Donovan Blair is now a two-time state qualifier and has never medaled, but he sees McConnell in the Friday night match, likely putting an end to the Wawasee senior’s career. Let’s just get into it. #1 Gunner Henry. #3 Luke Penola. Saturday morning. This matchup is potentially the toughest quarterfinal match of the entire tournament, with both wrestlers having outstanding careers up to this point. Both wrestlers have placed 3rd at the state tournament, and only one of them will be in a position to place as high this year. Henry has been nothing short of impressive this past year, putting together an outstanding off season that included a top eight finish at Super 32, a Central Regional championship— and a loss at Freestyle state to Luke Penola. I don’t like to talk too much about freestyle results when talking about the state tournament, but it should definitely be noted that Penola is capable of winning this match still. Henry has been the man to beat in this weight class, and I think he will overcome Penola and remain the man to beat, but there are several names in this weight class that will be after his #1 ranking. The next quarterfinal is a surprising one with two opponents outside of the top eight. I think Casad will make a surprise run at this weight class and take out Whetsel to find himself in the semifinals. The third Saturday morning bout will be #6 Noah Terry vs. Kenneth Bisping. Bisping has been on it this post season, while Terry was beaten quite convincingly by Henry at semi-state, a tough result after pushing Henry to an 8-7 decision earlier in the season. I like picking Bisping here to make the semifinals. Lastly, we have another pretty tough quarterfinal match, with McConnell and Weaver challenging for the last semifinal spot. McConnell is very good; he is a returning runner-up and has been extremely competitive with Henry this post season, dropping two one point decisions. However, Noah Weaver has proven himself to be the real deal, and I really think that he can go the distance in this weight class. This really feels like a match that would be easy to go with McConnell, but I’m going to lock in Weaver to pull the upset here and advance in the tournament. It wouldn’t be the first upset he’s made this post season. For the semis, I see Henry dominating Casad to make his first finals appearance, while Weaver beats Bisping in a much closer than expected match. Then, we’ll see Henry and Weaver in the finals. This is such an intriguing matchup to me. Both wrestlers have spent time in the national rankings this season, demonstrating that this finals matchup in another tier above some of the rest. I want to pick Weaver to go all the way, and we know that Henry is not invincible to Indiana opponents, but I’m going to remain firm on Henry. The third place match will be a rematch between Casad and Bisping, where I think Bisping caps off his career with a win over Casad. Dark Horse: Colin Whetsel This is a #25 ranked wrestler that I believe has a legitimate shot of breaking through to the semifinal round. As mentioned before, he has a win via first period fall over Aleksandr Tatum, his first round match, and Colin Casad, while in the midst of the best he’s ever wrestled, is a very feasible match for Whetsel, compared to many of the other monsters at this weight. They don’t share any common opponents this season besides Noah Weaver, who put both wrestlers away in the first period, so this dark horse pick isn’t much more right now than a hunch. Predictions: Gunner Henry Noah Weaver Kenneth Bisping Colin Casad 215: DEATH DRAW: #5 Alex Deming vs. #8 Jackson Weingart This is a pretty ugly draw for two seniors with state medals to their name. #5 Alex Deming found himself on the bad end of an upset loss against #12 Jayden Bartozek, which was an especially brutal loss, with #2 Cole Chicoine meeting him in the third place match. On the other hand, #8 Jackson Weingart won a tough, tough 215 bracket at the New Castle semi-state, dominating #6 Brandon Johnson and #13 Wyatt Woodall. Weingart has had a very unusual year, taking shocking losses this year by fall to #7 Kameron Kauffman and unranked Andrew Troy of Indianapolis Bishop Chatard. However, Weingart also has some fantastic wins this season, and gave #1 Will Clark his toughest match of the year, losing 8-7 at Al Smith. I’m picking Weingart to make a deep run at this tournament, and for Deming, that means the #5 ranked senior will be ending his tournament run early. There’s only one death draw in this bracket, but there is another one that seems especially brutal as well. Will Clark sees #9 Devin Kendrex in the Friday night round. Kendrex placed 5th last year, and has had a very up and down season, winning an electric regional finals match against Johnson, but lost to him in the 3rd place match at semi-state to set himself up with the toughest pull he could ask for. Clark has looked more beatable this year than last year, and Kendrex is an incredibly dangerous athlete with explosive potential, but I don’t believe that the upset will happen here. Wyatt Woodall, who took Kendrex out in the semi-state semifinals, is rewarded with a meeting with returning state runner-up Cole Chicoine. Chicoine looks to be closing in on Clark, and I believe that he will put Woodall away en route to a finals appearance. #18 Travis Henke and #19 Parker Hart find themselves in a great spot to earn the first medal of their career. Henke is coming off of an especially great performance at semi-state, taking the Fort Wayne semi-state title with wins over Manchester’s Preston Duffy and a huge upset over #3 Keegan Martin. I’m picking Henke to earn his spot on the podium this weekend. The last notable Friday night match is Brandon Johnson vs. Jayden Bartozek. As mentioned before, Bartozek is coming off of a big upset over Alex Deming, and I think he has shown potential to pull another upset, and additionally, an upset that would not even be as great as his upset over Deming, given the rankings of both Deming and Johnson, at #5 and #6 respectively. I think Johnson will pull through here, but I’m not going to count Bartozek out yet. The second day opens up with a meeting between #11 Caden Brewer and Cole Chicoine. Brewer is coming off of a semi-state championship, although his weight class included less ranked wrestlers than you’d typically expect from the Evansville semi-state. Despite this, Brewer has shown glimpses of performances far past his ranking, and I think he will be a tough match for Chicoine. Still, I don’t imagine Chicoine loses this early in the tournament. The next quarterfinal features Johnson and Henke, where I think Johnson will overwhelm Henke and find himself in the semifinals for the final run through the state tournament. The third Saturday morning match will be Will Clark vs. Keegan Martin, which is an incredibly unfortunate matchup so early in the tournament. I think Clark is a clear favorite to win this matchup, with a 9-2 win over Martin earlier in the year, but it is still tough to see Martin fighting a losing battle so early in the tournament after a great season thus far. The last match of the second round will be #4 Julante Hinton and Jackson Weingart. Hinton is a great athlete with loads of state experience, making his fourth trip in four years to the state tournament, and coming home with a state medal last year for the first time. I think that Hinton will challenge Weingart, but Weingart has demonstrated a level of talent at this weight that makes me think he can go far, so I’m choosing Weingart to pull the upset against Hinton. In the semis, we have two very interesting matches will be deceptively competitive. Johnson has an exciting style that can challenge Chicoine on his way for a second appearance under the lights. I’m still set on Chicoine making it through, but Johnson will be a tough challenge. The other semifinal bout is Clark and Weingart, which was as close as it gets when they met earlier this year. I’m sticking with Clark, because his resume has been too good over the years to think that he’ll drop a match like this in the final moments of his career, but it is certainly possible. Holding onto the same logic, I think Clark will figure things out and remain the champion of this weight class with another win over Chicoine. For 3rd, I expect another repeat of the result between Weingart and Johnson, with Weingart taking 3rd in his final year. Dark Horse: Jackson Weingart Not much to say. Title contender. Could end his career on top of the podium. Watch out. Predictions: Will Clark Cole Chicoine Jackson Weingart Brandon Johnson 285: There are surprisingly no death draws in this bracket, even after an absolutely loaded East Chicago semi-state that featured the #1, #2, #3, #5, and #6 ranked wrestlers in the state. #3 Aramis McNutt got a favorable draw as the 4th placer out of semi-state with a first round match against #10 Juan Cruz, who won the Fort Wayne semi-state. I think that Cruz is good, for sure, but McNutt is a returning placer that has the potential to go deep in this tournament, and I’m picking him to get the 4-over-1 victory. #1 Paul Clark sees #22 James Hartleroad in the Friday night match, a tough pull for the 16U Fargo champion that has struggled to replicate the same level of success in folkstyle. Clark is a heavy favorite, but Hartleroad’s Greco abilities make this matchup a little scary for the Crown Point senior. #8 Hosia Smith has had a rollercoaster of a career, losing in the ticket round last year after taking 5th the year before. Smith has perhaps some of the best wins in this entire bracket, stealing a win last year over eventual champion Leighton Jones, and I think that he will win over #11 Justin Brown, a senior from Floyd Central that lost 8-6 to Smith earlier in the season. The best version of Smith is a dangerous wrestler in this bracket, but if he doesn’t wrestle his best, I could also see Brown stealing this match back and getting a medal in his sole trip to the state finals. Finally, in a match that should be much closer than the rankings indicate, #5 Anthony Popi sees #23 Ethan Dodson in the Friday night match. I’ve heard from a certain user on this website not to underestimate this heavyweight, and despite an inconsistency in results this year, Dodson has a win this season over Hosia Smith, and lost only 5-3 earlier this season to Popi. Popi himself is coming into this tournament with a big win over McNutt, so I think that Popi gets it done and medals this year, but I’ve been warned not to overlook the Fort Wayne Snider heavyweight. The first round of day two features a match between Clark and #16 Oluwagbenga Orisadare. Orisadare has shown time and time again that he is much better than his ranking, upsetting #9 Maximus Forrester at sectionals and challenging #4 Nate Johnson this post season with two close decision losses. Despite this, Clark is a national threat at heavyweight, and I think he will shut down the Avon senior from going further than the quarterfinals. Next, McNutt and Smith will clash Saturday morning, where I truly think this match can go either way. I’m not going to think too much about it, and choose the Region rat to represent the 219 and find himself in the semis for the first time. The third quarterfinal features Popi and #7 Austin Hastings, where I think Popi should ride his momentum from semi-state and get the job done to reach the semifinals. Lastly, #2 Brady Beck and #4 Nate Johnson is a brutal Saturday morning bout with two wrestlers with great potential. I think that Johnson has been outstanding this year, but Beck was able to really challenge Clark at semi-state, making me think that if anyone is going to dethrone Clark, it will be Beck, so I’ll unhappily say Beck (I only say unhappily because I an extremely close to picking Nate Johnson to make the finals). The semifinals should be simple enough, with Clark getting it done over McNutt, and Beck winning against Popi. The finals should definitely be Clark, but I know that the finals between Clark and Beck at semi-state was controversially close, so I’ll remain firm with Clark with the knowledge that an upset can certainly happen here. For third, I think McNutt reverses his 4th place result at semi-state and gets Popi back. Dark Horse: Hosia Smith This wrestler truly can win against anybody in this bracket. He is a returning medalist and has beaten the best in this weight class for years. We’ll just have to see who shows up this weekend. Predictions: Paul Clark Brady Beck Aramis McNutt Anthony Popi At 22 pages, this concludes my state finals write-up. I’m a senior in college, and I’m not really sure what my next move is going to be. I have aspirations to continue pursuing writing in graduate school, but I could also veer in the direction of getting out into the world and integrating myself into the work world. I don’t know what the future means for these write-ups. I love doing these write-ups, and I think this work has partially informed what I might pursue as a career in the future. That being said, I might not be able to return next year with these previews, so I want to say thank you for the users of this website that have stopped and read my work over the years. It’s been fun, and I really hope that I can return next year with more stuff to read, but we’ll just have to see. Thanks Indianamat.
  2. Felt a little ambitious at the time of posting but Chicoine kept it close, Clark is looking beatable this year.
  3. You call it LaPorte bias. I call it godlike foresight. JOSH FREAKING ENGLAND keeps the state qualifier streak alive with a win over #19 and returning state qualifier Drake Fritz.
  4. Did this in kind of a rush, so I apologize for any mistakes or misinformation.
  5. The state series seems so far away after it happens, but in the blink of an eye, it’s here again. Time flies when you start to get older I guess (yes I know I’m still a college kid, I don’t need the “wait til you get to my age” stuff). But truthfully, coming to the end of my senior year, it seems like everything is moving so quickly. I’ll get my degree soon, start my career in the working world, and my life will change dramatically. I can only continue to work hard and enjoy the moments I have left with my teammates and friends I’ve made along the way. BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT WE’RE HERE FOR!!! The East Chicago Semi-State is proving to be a very tough semi-state this year, losing Wawasee, but gaining an incredibly tough group of wrestlers in Rochester. As of right now, the East Chicago Semi-State contains NINE of the top twenty teams in the most recent Team Power Poll Rankings. This semi-state is certainly tougher than it has been in years prior, and while I cannot say yet with confidence that it is tougher than the Evansville Semi-State, it is an easy number two. Before I begin, I want to highlight some stats, as I typically do in these previews, in order to showcase the depth of this semi-state and compare it to the other semi-states in the state of Indiana: State-Ranked Wrestlers: East Chicago: 84/350 = 24% Evansville: 98/350 = 28% Fort Wayne: 75/350 = 21.4% New Castle: 78/350 = 22.2% Top 8 Ranked Wrestlers: East Chicago: 34/112 = 30.4% Evansville: 33/112 = 29.5% Fort Wayne: 20/112 = 17.9% New Castle: 24/112 = 21.4% #1 Ranked Wrestlers: East Chicago: 7/14 = 50% Evansville: 6/14 = 42.9% Fort Wayne: 1/14 = 7% New Castle: 0/14 = 0% These numbers show a pretty clear competitiveness with the Evansville and East Chicago Semi-States. Evansville has a larger depth of ranked competitors, while East Chicago hosts a slightly stronger field of medal contenders, per the rankings, although Evansville is missing #3 (at 106) Isaac Campbell to make it an even 34 vs. 34 in the Top 8 Ranked Wrestlers in the state. East Chicago contains HALF of all the #1 ranked wrestlers in the state, while Evansville is just one shy of that with six. The final #1 ranked wrestler belongs to Fort Wayne, while New Castle is missing a #1 ranked wrestler from their semi-state, although there are two state champions in that field. I think Evansville still gets the edge for best semi-state in Indiana, but East Chicago is getting close. Fort Wayne and New Castle also seem tied for third place, but Fort Wayne does suffer a little bit from the loss of Rochester from their semi-state. The last set of statistics I want to present is a #1 ranked wrestlers in the state NOT INCLUDING Crown Point, Brownsburg, or Center Grove. I know this omission hurts the Evansville semi-state here, but I want to see how things change without the powerhouse schools of Indiana: East Chicago: 6/14 Evansville: 3/14 Fort Wayne: 2/14 New Castle: 3/14 Once again, don’t take these too seriously, as I understand this benefits East Chicago a lot more than Evansville, who I am omitting two teams from, but it’s interesting to see how things look without the nationally ranked teams of Indiana. With all of that being said, I am going to quickly highlight how I am going to do these predictions, and then get started. I am going to begin by giving my top 4, in order, and I will then highlight any death draws in the bracket, which will be defined by any top 16 wrestler that is wrestling another top 16 wrestler. I will also highlight any notable first round matchups, which will be any top 25 wrestler wrestling another top 25 wrestler. Of course, that first round matchup will get extra emphasis if it is a death draw in the first round. After that, I will talk about each quarterbracket and give my analysis on how each one will go, before talking about the semifinals and finals matchups. 106: Mason Jones Alonzo Chantea Teigan Newell Grant Holloway FIRST ROUND DEATH DRAW: #13 Teigan Newell vs. #16 Aidan Diaz It only took two quarterbrackets before coming across the first of many bad matchups that we’ll see in this semi-state. Despite being #16 in the state, Aidan Diaz has wrestled very few matches this season, and is only 3-3 on the season, taking 4th at his regional. Thus, while this is a death draw per the rankings, I think Newell will win handily here. #2 Mason Jones should cruise to a finals appearance, seeing no ranked opponents until the semifinals, where he will likely meet #25 Grant Holloway, the first of many invaders from the Fort Wayne semi-state. Holloway is the only ranked opponent in his quarterbracket, and made an upset over Aidan Diaz to put himself in a position to qualify in his first high school season. In the third quarterbracket, we have the previously mentioned death draw, as well as #21 Nash Burke. I think Newell still wins in the ticket round, to wrestle #11 Alonzo Chantea in the semifinals. Chantea has not struggled yet in a post season match, and owns a commanding 11-4 win over Newell this season, so there’s no reason to think that Chantea won’t make a finals appearance here. I expect Chantea to actually contend quite well with Jones, but Jones should pull through and win this weight class. 113: Gavin Lewis Brady Harper Caleb Halfacre Bryce McNees While there are no death draws by technicality here, I think that #5 Gavin Lewis is a really tough pull for Portage senior #17 Owen Bunton, who has proven to be much better than his rankings in previous weeks of the season, such as his wins over higher ranked wrestlers #14 Mario Orueta and #13 Brady Harper. That being said, Bunton will probably not win this ticket round matchup, as Gavin Lewis has been too good this season to expect any different result. For the next quarterbracket, we will likely see another #25 in the state punch his ticket, with Bryce McNees as the only state ranked wrestler in this quarterbracket. I don’t believe that any of the wrestlers will contend with McNees to punch their ticket, so McNees is a comfortable 4th placer here. #13 Brady Harper is wildly better than his ranking, and should easily punch his ticket. The last interesting match in the quarterbracket phase of this weight class is the showdown between Mario Orueta and #18 Caleb Halfacre. I want to justify my pick of the lower ranked wrestler here, starting with Halfacre’s match with Harper that ended in an injury default. It did appear, despite the ending, that Halfacre was in a position to win that match. Whether or not he would have won the match or not is irrelevant; Brady Harper is an extremely talented freshman that has podium talent without a doubt, and Halfacre has proven himself to be ready for those caliber of wrestlers. Orueta, despite a big win over Bunton at regionals, is still 1-2 against him on the season, maybe indicating that Bunton is still the better wrestler. Of course, this is all just prediction logic, but I think that Halfacre’s best version is better than Orueta’s best version, so we will have to see come Saturday. That being said, I think that Harper will get Halfacre back in the rematch, but I will assume that the match will be close. That leaves Lewis and Harper in the finals for a super freshman showdown. Their match earlier this season was a 3-1 decision for Lewis, but I think that Lewis has the potential to widen that gap. If not, expect a firm decision for Lewis. 120: Gavin Jendreas Aidan Dallinger Seth Aubin Adrian Origel DEATH DRAW: #8 Aidan Dallinger vs. #11 Maximus Quiroz Maximus Quiroz made himself known at the Al Smith this year, claiming important wins over #16 Porter Temples and Josh Kite, along with a 9-5 loss to Western stud #6 Tanner Tishner. A regional loss to #18 Adrian Origel, however, means that he will be put to the test against #8 Aidan Dallinger, a returning state placer and semi-state runner up. Dallinger’s only losses on the season came to #2 Seth Aubin in a tight 2-1 match, and a 4-0 loss to #7 Isaac Ash, who just posted a big win against #4 Preston Haines. The most interesting part about this death draw, in my opinion, is that I don’t really believe that it will happen. Quiroz has to get through Portage’s Cameron Woods in the first round, who pulled off one of the biggest post season upsets yet with a decision win over #2 Seth Aubin. He lost the rematch 8-4 at regionals, but I think that Woods has proven himself as a threat to anyone in this field. In fact, his results outside of the post season are pretty good themselves, with wins over #16 Porter Temples and Bellmont’s Henry Faurote, and competitive matches with Dallinger and Quiroz, with 5-2 and 7-5 losses respectively. So, if anybody wants to pick an upset here, I think that Woods is the man to do it. Luckily, the rest of the quarterbrackets are much less complicated. Seth Aubin and #1 Gavin Jendreas should breeze into the semifinal round, where they will be set to meet, in an instance of horrible semi-state bracketing. I expect nothing less than a tech fall from the Crown Point Bulldog that has solidified himself as the heavy favorite to win a title in Evansville. A ticket round match that does intrigue me is Penn’s Ryann Schmidtendorff and Adrian Origel. Origel has proven himself as a legitimate threat to the field with an upset over Quiroz at regionals, while Schmidtendorff has had a bit of a lackluster regular season after being state ranked in season’s prior. I think Schmidtendorff has the tools to pull the upset, as evidenced by his regional title, but Origel is a senior and too safe of a pick for me to make the prediction. Origel and Dallinger should meet in the semis, but with the #1 and #2 on the other side, this is a fight for 2nd and 4th, which I think Dallinger will come on top of. 126: Landon Hawkins Matthew Maldonado Layne Horn Dylan Bennett No death draws present in this weight class; in fact, I don’t think there are any ticket round matches that are really worth talking about. #12 Dylan Bennett is the only ranked competitor in his weight class; the same follows for #10 Matthew Maldonado and #7 Layne Horn. #2 Landon Hawkins does have a state ranked ticket round matchup with #23 Daniel Mata on the other side, but Hawkins should have no trouble winning this match. The real intrigue at this weight class are the two semifinal matchups. I’ll start with Maldonado and Bennett. Maldonado is slightly higher ranked, but Bennett has been there, done that, with two appearances at the state finals with three tries. However, Bennett has taken several losses this season that are a little questionable, compared to Maldonado, who has improved greatly since last season. This matchup is a question of if Maldonado has improved enough to overtake a veteran of the post season, or if Bennett can hold on and make his first semi-state finals appearance in three tries. I think that the younger talent will be enough to win, but this should be remarkably close. Perhaps the even more interesting matchup is Hawkins and Horn. Both of these wrestlers, despite having no state medals to their name, have been state title contender material for well over a year, with Horn being ranked #1 for much of last season at 106, and Hawkins beating several state medalists before even reaching the high school scene. Horn has not been as much of a presence now up three weights, and Hawkins has shown a little bit of vulnerability against some of the tougher wrestlers in the state, but I think Hawkins is the clear favorite to win this matchup. Horn is a little bit of a question mark right now, with a lack of experience against the field, so I can’t say with certainty that Hawkins will win, especially given Horn’s pedigree, but I’m going to lock in Hawkins. This really should be a finals match though, with the winner of this match getting 1st and the loser likely taking 3rd. 132: Hayden Demarco Guillermo Rivera Dalton Robson Walter Drews DEATH DRAW: #6 Guillermo Rivera vs. #8 Sonny Sessa Yikes. Two top eight competitors and returning state qualifiers will have to battle it out for a trip to Evansville. #6 Guillermo Rivera has really seemed to jump levels this season, posting several impressive wins this season against other state ranked opponents, and losing only 5-3 to #4 Eddie Goss, and a 13-5 major decision to Luke Reid, who is #10 at 138. #8 Sonny Sessa has been battle tested this season, having several losses through Crown Point’s brutally difficult schedule, but also having some shining moments, such as his win over #9 Angelo Vargo, who was a higher ranked opponent at the time. Unfortunately for Sessa, Rivera has won both of their meetings this season, and given Rivera’s track record of winning the matches he is supposed to win, I think there’s no reason to believe he will do it again. #3 Hayden Demarco seems back on track after a sectional finals scare, where John Glenn’s Walter Drews pushed him to an 8-7 decision. He should breeze through to the finals quite easily if he is wrestling his best. The next quarterbracket contains a very intriguing first round matchup with the just mentioned Walter Drews and returning state qualifier Hayden Fritz. Fritz has struggled a little bit this season with a loss in the regular season to Sol Siburcrist, but he has since avenged that match and has put himself in a position to qualify for the state tournament once again. However, Drews is looking to spoil his second trip, and despite his 4th place finish at regionals, has proven that he can contend with state ranked opponents. In fact, most of Drews’ matches against state ranked opponents have been quite competitive, such as his 5-3 loss last week to Sessa. Drews will not have to defeat as high caliber of an opponent to qualify, so I think that he can breakthrough and get it done. The third quarterbracket will likely go to #25 Dalton Robson, setting him up for a semifinal bout with Rivera, who I think will win handily. Rivera and Demarco have not wrestled yet this season, but I suspect that Demarco will win, although he has shown to be a little inconsistent at times, while Rivera has consistently performed quite well. If the best versions of both wrestlers show up, Demarco will come away with the victory, but if not, Rivera will threaten to steal the semi-state title. For 3rd place, I think Robson can replicate his win over Drews, but it will be a razor-thin bout. 138: Clinton Shepherd Luke Reid Wesley Smith Josh England Now, before I talk about any of the quarterbrackets, I need to address the bottom one first: a ticket round match between #19 Drake Fritz and LaPorte’s Josh England. I’ve addressed my LaPorte bias in the past, and it’s been easier to get away with it with Ashton Jackson, who is the best wrestler to come through that program and wrestles in the Big Ten now. However, despite a tendency to favor my guys in matches like these, I think England is a pretty legitimate state qualifier contender with this draw. Fritz is a returning state qualifier, and is undefeated in a relatively untested year. However, Fritz’s regional finals match made him look much more defeatable, squeaking by against Harrison West Lafayette’s Tiernan Tuttle in a 13-12 decision. England is ranked 8th in the semi-state, while Fritz and Tuttle are ranked 5th and 7th respectively, but England pick up a big win in the regional bloodround against #17 Quinton Buckmaster, who is ranked 4th in the semi-state. Therefore, with Fritz looking vulnerable at semi-state, and England wrestling a pretty great regional that only saw him lose to #1 Clinton Shepherd, I think he can get it done against Fritz. The rest of the quarterbrackets are much easier to predict, with Shepherd, #5 Wesley Smith, and #10 Luke Reid having favorable draws. Shepherd is likely going to steamroll his way through this bracket, so even though he faces a top five opponent in the semifinals, I doubt it will be close. Reid beat England 6-1 in the sectional finals, so I think that match should end similarly, but you know I’ll be rooting for a different outcome. The finals and 3rd place match at this point will be pretty determined, with Shepherd beating Reid, and Smith beating England. 145: Jeffrey Huyvaert Zar Walker Marlone Kirksey Avery Stanley DEATH DRAW: #3 Jeffrey Huyvaert vs. #11 Michael Ortega While this is definitely a tough match for the junior from Portage, #3 Jeffrey Huyvaert has been incredible this season, breaking the record for the most takedowns in a single season by an Indiana wrestler, and has broken it with flying colors. I find it hard for #11 Michael Ortega to defeat someone who is quite literally making IHSAA history. The rest of the quarterbrackets seem quite determined too. #17 Avery Stanley picks up a nice draw, likely seeing Lake Central’s CJ Briner in the ticket round, who’s results show that he can be competitive here, but I don’t think it will be enough. #12 Marlone Kirksey should also breeze through the first two rounds, seeing no ranked opponents before the semifinals. #6 Zar Walker will see Crown Point’s Oscar Baca, who is a game opponent that can possibly test Walker, but I don’t foresee an upset happening. In the semifinals, I think that Huyvaery will beat Stanley handily, but I think that Kirksey and Walker could be much closer. Walker has shown that he can contend with anybody in the state, but Kirksey has also started to move into that category as well, with his only two losses on the season being Ortega, in which he avenged it at regionals, and a 5-4 loss to #4 Christian Arberry, who is a definite title contender this year. Expect this match to be close. As for the finals, I still think Huyvaert will win quite easily, but this will be his hardest opponent of the season, and we will see in this match if Huyvaert is vulnerable, or if he is the man to beat come the state finals. I think Kirksey will defeat Stanley for 3rd, as evidenced by his 4-2 decision over him earlier in the season. 150: Christopher Bohn Wesley Harper Kaptur Nowaczyk Chase Kasprzak DEATH DRAW: #10 Christopher Bohn vs. #15 Wyatt Davis This weight class is ugly. For the first of TWO death draws (and a debatable third), we have #10 Christopher Bohn and #15 Wyatt Davis. Both of these wrestlers are similar in the sense that their last trip to the state tournament was at several weight classes lower. Last year, Bohn seemed to struggle with his weight jump, and missed out on the state tournament after receiving an unfortunate draw against now #5 Wesley Harper. This year, however, he has not only recorded an undefeated season, but has also taken out his competition with incredible dominance, as evidenced by two first period falls over #13 Chase Kasprzak, who has battled many other wrestlers in this bracket much, much closer. Wyatt davis has not shown that level of improvement yet, and for that reason, I think Bohn will win a pretty convincing match. DEATH DRAW: #7 Caydn Smith vs. #9 Kaptur Nowaczyk This draw is especially ugly, with #7 Caydn Smith and #9 Kaptur Nowaczyk approaching this tournament with a top ten ranking, and no ticket yet punched in their careers to the state tournament. Both wrestlers have shown great fight against the top guys in the state, and I think that this bout will be incredibly close. However, I feel that Nowaczyk will have the edge here, purely due to his pedigree as a state ranked threat for much of his career, while Smith has only recently cemented himself as a top guy in the state. These two don’t have many common opponents on the year, so there’s not much more I can say than that I feel for the individual that misses out on the state tournament this year, because there are several other quarterbrackets that they would have won otherwise. And while this isn’t necessarily a death draw per my definition, I think that #5 Wesley Harper and #18 Jayden Lewis is a super unfortunate pull for the junior from New Prairie, who has made it to the state tournament two times in two tries, and will have to fight hard to make it three. Harper has been good this year, but has also shown a little bit of weakness in certain matches, going into overtime earlier this year with Kasprzak, who is a good wrestler, but perhaps not on the same caliber. That being said, I’m still picking Harper to make it out of this quarterbracket. Speaking of Kasprzak, he has a little bit of an interesting quarterbracket as well. Attica’s Boden Rice is 30-0 on the year, and as the champ of his bracket, he won’t be thinking about blemishes on his record this weekend. He’ll take on #23 Danny Moon in the very first round, who was the lowest of four state ranked wrestlers in his regional bracket. Kasprzak will wrestle the winner of these two, and I think that the match could be closer than rankings might indicate. Still, I’m picking Kasprzak to punch his ticket. The toss ups don’t end there, though. Nowaczyk and Bohn will meet in the semifinals, a #9 and #10 matchup that has all the pieces to be a back and forth battle. I shouldn’t take Bohn’s record into consideration when comparing it to Nowaczyk, who has endured the brutal Crown Point schedule, but I think that Bohn’s dominance should not be overlooked, and against some of the tougher opponents in the state, Bohn has still maintained his dominance, so I’m going to pick the slight upset here with Bohn. As for Harper and Kasprzak, I think that Harper will win a little more convincingly than last time, as Harper is riding off of a solid 11-5 win over Smith, while Kasprzak has been stuck twice in two matches against Bohn. Bohn and Harper is an incredibly interesting match, and I really think that Bohn can go two-for-two with upsets at this bracket. Harper is dangerous, and won’t be dominated like many of Bohn’s past opponents, but I predict that Bohn will win here. As for third, I think Nowaczyk will repeat his regional result against Kasprzak and take third. 157: Beau Brabender Adrian Pellot Griffin Van Tichelt Javon Frost We will be rewarded with another #1 vs. #2 matchup at this semi-state, with #1 Beau Brabender and #2 Adrian Pellot set to meet in the finals. Brabender should breeze into the finals, but Pellot will be tasked with defeating #10 Griffin Van Tichelt. Van Tichelt has had a shortened season due to football, but I would expect that he is in his prime state, and he won’t be an easy out for Pellot. However, Pellot has seemingly jumped levels this year, claiming a very impressive win over #3 Mitchell Betz at Al Smith this year, and for this reason, I don’t think Van Tichelt is ready to win this type of match just yet. The last quarterbracket will likely go to #19 Javon Frost; however, Warsaw’s Aaron Ross is the brother of a guy I go to school with in college, so I will be rooting for Ross to claim the 4-over-1 upset. I think that Kankakee Valley’s Noah Sessions should not be overlooked either. Sessions showed improvement at regionals this year with a major decision win over Andrew Shaffer, who is ranked two spots above Sessions, and two spots below Frost in the semi-state rankings. I’m still picking Frost, but it won’t be easy for him. Brabender should beat Frost convincingly, before an Al Smith rematch takes place in the finals. Brabender won their Al Smith finals match 6-4, and I think the score will be similar. I think there’s upset potential here, but I really just don’t know enough about how each wrestler has been performing. To clarify, I think both wrestlers have been wrestling great, winning every single match they’ve wrestled since their last meeting, but there’s just not enough evidence one way or the other for me to say confidently that Pellot can or cannot get it done. We’ll just have to see. 165: Anthony Rinehart Brant Beck Michael Mavros Isaac Sinks DEATH DRAW: #1 Anthony Rinehart vs. #11 Will Kennedy What an unfortunate pull for the senior from Mishiwaka, who faces #1 Anthony Rinehart, who is one of the most credentialed athletes in the field this weekend. It really sucks for Kennedy, who was having a great senior year, and was looking to make his first state finals appearance, but something special is going to have to happen for Kennedy to pull the upset. #13 Michael Mavros gets a pretty good draw, seeing Lake Central’s Emilio Tirado in the ticket round. Their last matchup ended in a 14-4 major decision for Mavros, so I think that a similar result will repeat itself. #6 Brant Beck should also make it out with not much struggle, also North White’s Eli Quasebarth has qualified before, and in his senior season, won’t give up his ticket without a fight. The last quarterbracket should go to #7 Isaac Sinks, but #18 Marques Young has shown fight against really talented wrestlers this year, and should keep this match close, if not pull the upset. Watch out for this match. In the semifinals, I think that Rinehart and Beck make the finals quite easily, and furthermore, I think that Rinehart will win pretty convincingly. For 3rd, I actually want to predict a slight upset, with Mavros taking out Sinks. Sinks is an interesting question mark, as he has been on the podium before, but in a much weaker wrestling state, being Kansas. Also, Sinks, while undefeated, has yet to take on any top ranked threats in the state of Indiana, so he could potentially be a little overranked. I still think he is certainly state material, but once again, we won’t really know how good he is until he gets his first real taste of Indiana talent this weekend. 175: Aidan Costello Cameron Crisp Ethan Popp Aidan White DEATH DRAW: #10 Cameron Crisp vs. #13 Zymarion Hollyfield #13 Zymarion Hollyfield finds himself in another death draw situation as he takes on #10 Cameron Crisp. Furthermore, Crisp has been wrestling fantastically, pushing #1 Aidan Costello to a close, 3-1 decision at regionals. For this reason, I think that Crisp will win this ticket round bout, although it should be a very close match, as indicating by the rankings. There are a couple of interesting quarterbrackets that are worth looking closer at in this weight class. #7 Ethan Popp sees #24 Mason Kobelt in the ticket round, but as a two time state qualifier, I think Popp will make it three. The third quarterbracket is especially intriguing, with no top eight semi-state ranked wrestlers, with #9 SS Aidan White, #10 SS Orlando Castenada, #11 SS Jeirmi Scales, and #12 SS Latrail Lancaster. That being said, White did win his regional bracket, in which all three of the other placers were ranked ahead of him in the semi-state, and two of them were state ranked, at #23 and #24. That, with the addition of the Crown Point singlet that seems to boost the credibility of wrestlers during this point in the season, makes me think that White will punch his ticket to the state tournament. Aidan Costello should breeze into the finals, where he will face the winner of Popp and Crisp. With Crisp’s regional performance, I think that he will pull the slight upset to create a rematch of the regional finals, where Costello will probably win again. We’ll have to see if Crisp makes any changes to his game, though. 190: Kenneth Bisping Austin Reading Vinny Freeman Aleksandr Tatum #16 Aleksandr Tatum finds himself in an interesting quarterbracket for his first semi-state appearance. On the other side of his quarterbracket is New Prairie’s Aidan Ziegler and #22 Colin Weiand. Weiand should beat Ziegler, where I think he can also be competitive against Tatum, but Tatum should ultimately win the matchup. For the next quarterbracket, we have another state ranked matchup between #13 Austin Reading and #24 Brock Finney. Reading has shown great improvement during this season, and I think he is likely to punch his ticket. The last two quarterbrackets contain #7 Kenneth Bisping and #4 Vinny Freeman, who will easily punch their tickets and meet in the semis. I think that Bisping was especially impressive at the Al Smith tournament this year, testing #3 Luke Penola who has become very talented during this past year. Freeman is a returning state placer after a breakthrough post season run, but has not wrestled a whole lot this season, and additionally, has had two relatively close matches during the post season against much lower ranked wrestlers. For this reason, I’m picking Bisping to pull the upset, and then repeat his regionals performance against Reading, who I think will beat Tatum in the top half of the bracket. 215: Will Clark Alex Deming Cole Chicoine Jayden Bartozek DEATH DRAW: #1 Will Clark vs. #7 Kameron Kauffman This is another example of one of those matches that are most certainly a death draw, but not much of a tough out for both wrestlers. #1 Will Clark is pound-for-pound one of the best wrestlers in the state, and despite a strong season from #7 Kameron Kauffman, I think that Clark will win this match quite easily. DEATH DRAW: #12 Jayden Bartozek vs. #15 Everett McClelland #15 Everett McClelland wins his regional, and for his impressive run through the post season thus far, he is rewarded with returning state qualifier #12 Jayden Bartozek. I think Bartozek’s state experience and overall stronger resume will get him through this match. They met earlier this year, and it ended with a 3-1 decision win for Bartozek, so McClelland has shown that he can pull the upset. But first… FIRST ROUND DEATH DRAW: #15 Everett McClelland vs. #20 Jonathan Neese …he has to take on another state ranked opponent in the very first round. #20 Johnathan Neese is 29-3 on the season, and gets put in an unfortunate situation after losing a match against an opponent he had defeated the week prior. Especially at these upper weights, I think this match can get pretty close, but McClelland will probably win this matchup, to set himself up with another matchup against Bartozek. The top quarterbracket contains #2 Cole Chicoine, who should breeze to the semis, before wrestling Will Clark in the semis, which will probably go Clark’s way, although he did make himself look human at the Al Smith, surviving a 8-7 scare against #8 Jackson Weingart. Still, I think Clark will win in a convincing fashion. On the bottom half of the bracket, we have #5 Alex Deming, who should beat #25 Aidan Abad pretty convincingly himself, to set up a semifinals match with Bartozek. I think Deming has been solid enough this season to confidently pick him as the winner here, although I don’t foresee him challenging Clark. 285: Paul Clark Aramis McNutt Brady Beck Anthony Popi DEATH DRAW: #2 Brady Beck vs. #6 Collin Foy Yikes. Two seniors with aspirations of making it far this year hit in the ticket round for a top 8 death draw. #2 Brady Beck has two state medals to his name, while #6 Collin Foy will have to fight hard to make his first state finals appearance. Beck has been very good for a long time, but this is his first year up at heavyweight. He has adjusted well, and I don’t think that Foy’s results are good enough to indicate an upset. FIRST ROUND DEATH DRAW: #3 Aramis McNutt vs. #19 Brody Brown An upset loss against Culver Academy’s Job Mavrick means that we have a first round state ranked matchup with #3 Aramis McNutt and #19 Brody Brown toeing the line first thing Saturday morning. To be fair, Mavrick is in a quarterbracket with #1 Paul Clark, so maybe this was the better outcome. Despite this, I really doubt that McNutt will be tested too hard in this match. FIRST ROUND DEATH DRAW: #5 Anthony Popi vs. #24 Triston Meschede #24 Triston Meschede is a lot tougher than his ranking might indicate, with a win this season over #17 Luke Juris, and a competitive 5-2 loss to McNutt during the regular season. Despite this, I think that #5 Anthony Popi will hold strong and make it through the first round. At the very least though, this match should be more competitive than the other death draws. And for a match that is one ranking spot shy of being a death draw, #1 Paul Clark gets the previously mentioned Luke Juris in the ticket round. Clark is the man to beat, and I highly doubt that Juris is able to pull the upset. That wraps up all of the quarterbrackets though: #1 Clark, #2 Beck, #3 McNutt, and #5 Popi, all at the same weight at the same semi-state, setting up for some incredibly brutal Friday night draws. I think I’m going to predict a slight upset here, with McNutt looking especially impressive this year. Beck has been good this year as well, widening the gap against Popi with each match, going 3-2 in the regular season, and then posting a 5-1 win at sectionals, followed by a fall at regionals. I don’t have great logic for placing McNutt over Beck, so let’s just boil it down to Region bias. Clark should win against McNutt in the finals, while I think Beck gets it done for a 4th time in the 3rd place match. That’s all I have for this semi-state preview. I won’t say much, because I’m already posting this later than I wanted it to, and I’ve got a lot of other stuff on my plate. I hope you all enjoy this write-up, and I’ll be back in about 5-6 days with another.
  6. Midwest RTC baybee!! Congrats to both guys, hope to see em scrap hard for the next two weekends.
  7. First round matchup at Crown Point: UR Josh England of LaPorte takes out #17 Quinton Buckmaster of Lowell 6-1.
  8. It looks like the deepest conference in the state (DAC) didn't happen today.
  9. Underrated is right, 1-0 over Hosia Smith in the consi semis.
  10. Lots of semi final upsets at Al Smith this year! 120: Aubin over Larocca 7-4 144: Arberry over Walker (fall) 157: Pellot over Betz 2-1 175: Leech over Russell 8-4 Also not an upset but: 215: Clark over Winegart 8-7 (new title contender)
  11. Couple interesting things at the heavier weights: 190: Vinny Freeman out HWT: Hosia Smith vs Paul Clark happening in the semis.
  12. For fans that just can’t wait for the IHSAA State Tournament, the Al Smith Classic is a great preview of what’s to come, with several ranked wrestlers in every weight class, as well as more than half of the #1 ranked wrestlers in the state, and half of the top 10 ranked teams in Indiana. Let’s break down the numbers real quick: Ranked Wrestlers: 106- 8/20: 40% 113- 6/20: 30% 120- 5/20: 25% 126- 11/20: 55% 132- 8/20: 40% 138- 4/20: 20% 144- 8/20: 40% 150- 7/20: 35% 157- 7/20: 35% 165- 10/20: 50% 175- 7/20: 35% 190- 6/20: 30% 215- 6/20: 30% 285- 6/20: 30% Total Ranked Wrestlers: 35.36% Top 8 Ranked Wrestlers: 106- 2/8: 25% 113- 3/8: 37.5% 120- 4/8: 50% 126- 3/8: 37.5% 132- 5/8: 67.5% 138- 3/8: 37.5% 144- 4/8: 50% 150- 2/8: 25% 157- 6/8: 75% 165- 4/8: 50% 175- 5/8: 67.5% 190- 3/8: 37.5% 215: 4/8: 50% 285: 3/8: 37.5% Total Top 8 Ranked Wrestlers: 46.25% Total #1 Ranked Wrestlers: 9/14 Potential #1 vs. #2 matchups: 120: #1 Charlie Larocca vs. #2 Gavin Jendreas 157: #1 Mitchell Betz vs. #2 Beau Brabender 165: #1 Anthony Rinehart vs. #2 Waylon Cressell 175: #1 Noah Clouser vs. #2 Brenton Russell With all of these numbers out of the way, I want to preface these predictions with the usual stuff. I am making predictions without taking into consideration the seeds that some of these wrestlers may get. Trying to predict each wrestlers seed in addition to making my own predictions is not only an unreasonable amount of work, but I am very likely to get seeds perfectly correct, so I may have a 1st place and 2nd place prediction go down in the semis if the seeds make it happen. Additionally, since a lot of this work was done before the most recent set of rankings was released, I will be using the last set of rankings instead of the newest set of rankings, although relevant results that occurred after the last set of rankings will be considered when making predictions. Lastly, when listing ranked wrestlers for each weight class, I am not going to be including semi-state ranked wrestlers, although if I see a name that isn’t state ranked that I think could still make a major impact, I will include them. Those are really the only major things I have to say, so let’s start with 106: 106 Ranked Wrestlers: #2 Mason Jones #7 Teigan Newell #9 Talon Jessup #12 Tyler Tun #13 Justus Thrasher #14 John Bissmeyer #15 Alonzo Chantea #19 Brock McCartney Predictions: Mason Jones Talon Jessup Teigan Newell Justus Thrasher I think that #2 Mason Jones is the clear favorite of this weight class, being the only returning state medalist, as well as making the finals of Al Smith last year. #7 Teigan Newell and #9 Talon Jessup seem to be the favorites to meet him there, although I’m giving the edge here to Jessup, who has a pretty impressive win against Cash Mays of Brownsburg, who is #18 in the state right now, but has the potential to make a deep run this year, evidenced by a solid Ironman run that saw him go further than Newell. Newell seems like a solid 3rd place pick, although you can never count a Crown Point wrestler from making a deep run. Speaking of wrestlers from powerhouse programs, #13 Justus Thrasher seems like a solid 4th place pick, owning a win over #14 John Bissmeyer. Bissmeyer had a 5-2 match with Jones earlier this year, so his level is definitely high, and owning a win in this instance is enough for me to place Thrasher at 4th, even though I only foresee him placing higher. Newell and Thrasher should be a great third place match. Only notable names here includes #12 Tyler Tun, who has had some solid performances this year, but hasn’t yet gotten that big win to catapult him into state medal conversations, making his performance at the Al Smith even more important. #15 Alonzo Chantea has only been rising in the state rankings, most notably getting a tech fall over previously state ranked Joy Cantu. Lastly, #19 Brock McCartney is another wrestler with an impressive record thus far this season, but needs to perform well this weekend and pick up a notable win to increase his image. 113 Ranked Wrestlers: #4 Gavin Lewis #6 Owen Bunton #8 Brady Harper #12 Kaleb Salazar #13 Connor Bayliss #19 Nathan Reyes Predictions: Gavin Lewis Brady Harper Kaleb Salazar Owen Bunton I think that #4 Gavin Lewis is a pretty confident lock for me at this weight class. Lewis was a huge freshman incomer at this weight, and while he hasn’t made his case yet to be ranked higher than #4, he should win this tournament quite convincingly. I think that the wrestler to meet him in the finals could be any of the next three wrestlers, with #6 Owen Bunton being the next highly ranked wrestler, #8 Brady Harper being another talented incoming freshman, and #12 Kaleb Salazar having a good history at this tournament, taking 4th at 106 last year, which included an overtime loss to the eventual champ. I think Harper is my pick for second, despite his loss by fall earlier this season to Bunton. Harper has a lot of great middle school results, and has proven to be a threat at the high school level, and his potential here makes me think that Harper is a good upset to pick. Additionally, I think Salazar is really good as well, and is the only mentioned wrestler thus far with state experience, so I want to pick him over Bunton as well, although both of these matchups will be very close. #13 Connor Bayliss is another state qualifier in the field, although the depth of the top 4 will make it tough for him to push through. The last state ranked wrestler in this field is #19 Nathan Reyes, who is likely a solid 6th place finisher, but doesn’t have the resume quite yet to contend with the rest of the ranked field. 120 Ranked Wrestlers: #1 Charlie Larocca #2 Gavin Jendreas #5 Seth Aubin #8 Porter Temples #19 Dylan Wills UR Tommy Frazier Predictions: Gavin Jendreas Charlie Larocca Seth Aubin Tommy Frazier The finals at this weight class is clear, and this might be the premier match of the whole tournament. #1 Charlie Larocca went on a tear last year en route to his first state title, and has posted consistent results since. #2 Gavin Jendreas took a tough 5th place last year after drawing then #1 Preston Haines in the quarterfinals last year, but his off season has some very eye opening results, which included a bloodround performance at Fargo, losing to fellow Indiana stud Jake Hockaday. I think in terms of this matchup, I like Jendreas here to win. The easiest evidence to this pick is his history against Larocca, leading the series 3-0, with two of those wins coming from Al Smith finals matches. Last year was closer than 2021, so you can expect this match to be razor thin. As for third and fourth, I think that #5 Seth Aubin is the clear favorite behind Jendreas and Larocca, being a returning medalist, although #8 Porter Temples also has state experience and can challenge Aubin for that 3rd place spot. #19 Dylan Wills is the last state ranked wrestler in this weight class, but he has not posted a significant win yet that would make me think he could upset someone here. Of course, you never know though. The last wrestler I want to mention is Tommy Frazier, who is unranked but is a state qualifier. He’s taken a couple of losses this season, but he could certainly figure things out and become an immediate threat at this weight class. Last year, he wrestled a 7-3 match with Jendreas en route to a third place finish. With this history in mind, as well as three falls last year over Temples, I think he gets out of his slump and puts together a solid performance. 126 Ranked Wrestlers: #2 Landon Hawkins #5 Tanner Tishner #8 Elijah Broady #9 Gavin Bragg #10 Dominic Brown #11 Matthew Maldonado #14 Dylan Bennett #16 Ayden Campbell #18 Cameron Senter #19 Daniel Mata #20 Terry Easley Predictions: Landon Hawkins Tanner Tishner Elijah Broady Dominic Brown 11 out of the 20 ranked wrestlers at this weight class will be at this tournament, meaning that 3 wrestlers ranked in the state (and potentially more than 3) will not be wrestling on day two. That being said, I think that this is a pretty straightforward weight class to predict. #2 Landon Hawkins is the favorite at this weight class, but I think #5 Tanner Tishner has very high peaks and is very capable of winning against Hawkins. Expect fireworks for this finals match. As for 3rd and 4th, I like #8 Elijah Broady taking the 3rd place match, and 4th place will either go to #9 Gavin Bragg or #10 Dominic Brown. All three of these wrestlers were state qualifiers at 120 last year, where Brown beat Bragg 5-4 for 5th, even though Bragg has a 5-4 win over Brown this season to make this a razor close match if it happens. Interestingly enough, Broady didn’t place at Al Smith last season, losing to #14 Dylan Bennett, yet another state qualifier in this weight class, but I think his results since then have been impressive enough for me to cement him at third. Other wrestlers to pay attention to here is #11 Matthew Maldonado, who has been solid for Merriville and wears a notable last name that has performed for Merriville for several years; #16 Ayden Campbell, who was a very impressive freshman last year; and #18 Cameron Senter, who you can add to the list of state qualifiers that populate this weight class. 132 Ranked Wrestlers: #3 Eddie Goss #4 Hayden Demarco #5 Tye Linser #6 Guillermo Rivera #7 Angelo Vargo #12 Carter Fielden #13 Sonny Sessa #17 Dalton Robson Predictions: Eddie Goss Hayden Demarco Guillermo Rivera Tye Linser This is a super interesting weight class with a lot of tough wrestlers that can make some noise. As opposed to some other weight classes in Indiana, I think the gaps at 132 between the highest ranked wrestlers (besides Hockaday and Thrine) and the rest of the ranked field is quite small. I think this will be an upset heavy weight class, but to keep things simple for now, I think that #3 Eddie Goss beats #4 Hayden Demarco in a highly competitive, high scoring match. Demarco is a previous Al Smith champ, beating Zar Walker in the process to shake up the rankings last year, but Goss has been incredibly solid this past year into the current season, and his consistency makes me more confident in picking him, as opposed to Demarco, who has high peaks but has some lows last year that make him a less confident pick. #5 Tye Linser is the next highest ranked wrestler, but #6 Guillermo Rivera and #7 Angelo Vargo are right behind him, and I think that they could potential dethrone Linser from his #5 spot. Rivera in particular has been super impressive, getting a 7-1 victory over stud freshman Angelo Vargo. I think that Vargo’s middle school success puts him into a top 4 conversation, but Linser has already proven himself at the high school level, having wins like Jackson Heaston and Griffin Van Tichelt to name a few over the past year, so I’ll take him getting 4th. #12 Carter Fielden is another potential high placer, as well as a returning state placer, but has a couple of tough losses on the year. #13 Sonny Sessa is a state qualifier and has decent losses to Demarco and Rivera, meaning that he can definitely compete with some of the better guys in this bracket. Lastly, #17 Dalton Robson has been solid, but will need Al Smith to boost his resume and make himself a threat at 132. 138 Ranked Wrestlers: #1 Kyrel Leavell #4 Clinton Shepherd #5 Wesley Smith #17 Cam Dews UR Josh England Predictions: Kyrel Leavell Clinton Shepherd Wesley Smith Cam Dews Despite a lack of ranked wrestlers in this weight class, there is a super interesting matchup destined to happen in the finals between #1 Kyrel Leavell and #4 Clinton Shepherd (I want to note as well that the new rankings have Shepherd listed at #2 in the state, making this a 5th #1 vs. #2 matchup going down at the Al Smith). Leavell has proven himself as a national threat, having a state championship to his name and beating several nationally ranked wrestlers throughout his career. Shepherd is coming off of a nationally ranked win himself, however, winning the Crown Point vs. Brownsburg matchup between Brady Ison, who was ranked #20 in the nation (per FloWrestling) at the time. Shepherd will need all the momentum he can get to take out Leavell though. I personally think that Shepherd is super impressive, but Leavell is likely the most underrated Indiana wrestler that we have right now, and should absolutely be in the national rankings, so I am taking Leavell to win. As for 3rd and 4th, #5 Wesley Smith is a very confident 3rd, while #17 Cam Dews is the only remaining state ranked wrestler, meaning that he will fit in nicely into the 4th place spot. I do want to shout out unranked Josh England, as a LaPorte wrestler with tons of potential. Dews has established himself a little more than England, but England has the potential to make the upset here and put himself into the conversation of qualifying for state. 144 Ranked Wrestlers: #1 Reese Courtney #5 Zar Walker #6 Christian Arberry #7 Dillon Graham #9 Brody Hagewood #12 Marlone Kirksy #16 Michael Ortega #18 Sam Wolpert Predictions: Reese Courtney Zar Walker Christian Arberry Dillon Graham I think that despite #5 Zar Walker’s ranking, he will easily be contending for a title this year, and this matchup between him and #1 Reese Courtney should be viewed as such a caliber of match. I don’t see the finals being any other wrestler, so this will most likely be going down. Reese Courtney has really elevated levels this past year, which his Al Smith title from last year and his runner-up performance proves. Walker, on the other hand, while still having great results, has slightly underperformed at his last Al Smith tournament, as well as the state tournament. This match is a question of whether Walker brings his peak performance, because that version of Walker can definitely beat Courtney. I think Courtney is the safer and more probable pick here, but be ready for a great match. 3rd and 4th is #6 Christian Arberry and #7 Dillon Graham, in some order. Arberry beat Graham 3-2 earlier this season, and Graham has quite a few losses this year, although these losses are all to wrestlers ranked higher than him, and some of these losses are actually indicators that Graham can do some real damage in this bracket, for example, his 4-2 loss to Courtney and his 7-4 loss to Walker. That being said, I think that Arberry wins another razor close match, but if Graham can finally breakthrough and pick up a higher ranked win, it will set him up nicely for the post season. I predict the rest of the field to be a tier below the wrestlers ranked above, but #9 Brody Hagewood is a returning state qualifier, giving him some credibility to pull an upset if he has improved since last season. 150 Ranked Wrestlers: #1 Wyatt Krejsa #5 Wesley Harper #10 Evan Cruz #12 Brock Hagewood #14 Chase Kasprzak #16 Caydn Smith #19 Aaron Durham Predictions: Wyatt Krejsa Wesley Harper Evan Cruz Brock Hagewood #1 Wyatt Krejsa is another wrestler at this tournament that I would consider a lock. He had a super impressive Ironman run that saw him upset the #5 ranked wrestler in the country, and has picked up some other impressive wins since his runner-up performance at state last year, including Kyrel Leavell and Brady Ison. The question at this weight class is who will be 2nd, and I was really close to placing #10 Evan Cruz here, taking a very good Tommy Gibbs to a 1-0 loss at the Carnahan this year, and having good history at this tournament in prior years. However, last year, I overlooked #5 Wesley Harper at this tournament, leaving him out of the top 4, and he proved my predictions wrong with an upset over state placer Josh Johnson in the quarterfinals and a competitive match with Zar Walker before injury defaulting out of the tournament. I should also mention that he beat Reese Courtney the weekend after, which is an extremely impressive win, and one that Cruz does not own a similar caliber of, so I think Harper will beat Cruz in a close match. #12 Brock Hagewood is a solid 4th place pick for me. There are a couple of other state ranked wrestlers in the field, including #14 Chase Kasprzak and #16 Cadyn Smith, who have previous history at this tournament, but Hagewood is a state qualifier and placed 6th at last year’s Al Smith, so I am comfortable with placing him at 4th. 157 Ranked Wrestlers: #1 Mitchell Betz #2 Beau Brabender #4 Silas Stits #5 Anthony Cashman #6 Adrian Pellot #7 Gavin Davis #11 Kevon Russell UR Griffin Van Tichelt Predictions: Mitchell Betz Silas Stits Beau Brabender Anthony Cashman This weight class is pretty insane, with 6 of the top 8 battling it out for an Al Smith title. The favorite here is #1 Mitchell Betz, who placed second last year at Al Smith, and has a win this off-season to #2 Beau Brabender. I actually think that #4 Silas Stits has what it takes to beat Brabender for the finals spot, and actually beat Brabender last year at Al Smith. It is worth noting that Al Smith was an underperformance last year for Brabender, and he went on to take 4th at state, while Stits lost Friday night. There are a lot of variables that could go into this match, but I think that Stits takes it if they meet in the semis. #5 Anthony Cashman has been solid in his descent to 157, aside from a hiccup to Silas Foster, who is a wild dark horse in Indiana right now. I think that this matchup between 4th placers will be extremely close, and I don’t really have a great reason to put Brabender over Cashman. It’s a 50/50 match to me, but I’ll take Brabender as the higher ranked wrestler. #6 Adrian Pellot is a returning state placer as well, but I think that this weight class is a bit too deep for me to confidently predict an upset here. #7 Gavin Davis lost Friday night last year, but I think it should be interesting to note that he beat Brabender at Al Smith last year. As said previously, this performance from Brabender seemed to be a low point last season, and the better version of Brabender will compete better in this match. An unranked wrestler I want to mention is Griffin Van Tichelt, who will obviously be ranked once the rankings are updated. He is up from 132, and has two close losses on the season to Mason Day, but he is a solid wrestler that can do some damage, and will do some damage once he adjusts to this new weight class. 165 Ranked Wrestlers: #1 Anthony Rinehart #2 Waylon Cressell #3 Duke Myers #6 Evan Roudebush #11 Michael Mavros #14 Deaglan Pleak #15 Sean Breedlove #17 Ethan Smith #18 Blake Wahl #20 Marques Young Predictions: Anthony Rinehart Waylon Cressell Duke Myers Evan Roudebush 165 is yet another loaded weight class, with the top 3 in attendance, along with 7 other state ranked wrestlers to leave at least two state ranked wrestlers off of the podium. The finals here is a big one, and a really big question mark match. #2 Waylon Cressell is a transfer from North Dakota, and has been relatively untested this season, although he did beat #5 (at 175) Bray Emerine, proving that he is a legitimate title contender. Cressell also placed 3rd at IHPO, losing only to Fargo champ Tristin Greene, although Rinehart has a win over this same wrestler, so it seems at this moment that Rinehart has the advantage. This win isn’t Rinehart’s only claim to be the better wrestler, spending time in the national rankings and placing at Ironman in 2022. That being said, this match should be very intriguing, and a great preview for the state finals. #3 Duke Myers is capable of spoiling this match, especially given that we don’t know exactly how good Cressell is yet. I don’t think the upset happens, but it is definitely possible. #6 Evan Roudebush is in a tier below the top 3, but is still a pretty confident lock for 4th. Two wrestlers that could challenge Roudebush is #11 Michael Mavros, who has improved rapidly this past season, and #14 Deaglan Pleak, who placed 8th at last year’s Al Smith, highlighted by a bloodround win over eventual 8th placer Conner Watts. 175 Ranked Wrestlers: #1 Brenton Russell #2 Aidan Costello #3 Kyle Harden #3 (at 190) Noah Clouser #8 Chase Leech #9 Cameron Crisp #11 Zymarion Hollyfield Predictions: Noah Clouser Brenton Russell Aidan Costello Kyle Harden This weight class is very strong at the top, and it becomes even stronger with the addition of #3 Noah Clouser, who makes his descent from 190 (and enters as the #1 ranked wrestler at 175 in the newest set of rankings). Clouser had a great showing at Al Smith last year, taking 2nd and winning against #2 Aidan Costello and #3 Kyle Harden along the way. I think that Clouser can repeat this performance and win against both of these opponents again, but these matches last year were close, and both of them will be ready to pull of the upset. I think that #1 Brenton Russell is the one that makes it to the finals over both Costello and Harden. Costello beat Harden last year in the 5th place match at state, and Russell, although the highest returning placer in the field, is up from 160, while the rest of the top 4 wrestled this weight class last year, meaning that his experience against the field is limited. What shouldn’t be discounted, however, is the strength of his off season wins last year, picking up very notable wins over Mitchell Betz, Anthony Rinehart, and current #16 in the country Carson Thomas. Neither Costello or Harden have such a strong lost of wins, so I think Russell makes the finals. Somebody that I think could spoil any of these potential match is #8 Chase Leech, who is much better than his ranking might indicate, with not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE wins in the past year against Russell, as well as a win over last year’s 160 state runner-up Luke Kemper. While five wins over one of my predicted finalists might indicate that Leech should be in the top 4, but he has a loss to Costello last off season, and took a weird loss earlier in the year that dropped him in the rankings. I think a game Leech can potentially win this tournament, but for consistency’s sake, I’ll keep him out. 190 Ranked Wrestlers: #2 Luke Penola #4 Vinny Freeman #7 Kenneth Bisping #13 Donovan Blair #14 Austin Reading #16 Aleksandar Tatum Predictions: Luke Penola Vinny Freeman Kenneth Bisping Donovan Blair I think that this weight class could be another lock, with #2 Luke Penola elevating levels this past year, taking 3rd at state, and picking up some impressive off season wins such as Gunner Henry and Reid Schroeder. #4 Vinny Freeman has proven himself as a dark horse though, placing 6th last year after being relatively unknown, but we will have to see if he can take it to Penola as the only returning placer in the field. #7 Kenneth Bisping is also a potential finals candidate, but has not yet made the podium. We will have to see if Bisping has grown levels since last year and can compete with the rapidly improving sophomore from Penn. The 4th place spot here goes to either #13 Donovan Blair, a state qualifier from Wawasee, #14 Austin Reading, a sophomore from Crown Point who has found his way in a very tough Crown Point lineup, and #16 Aleksandr Tatum, a freshman from Hobart who has posted solid results so far this season. I think that Tatum has been good this year, but has taken tough losses to both Freeman and Bisping this season. Reading, while a part of one of the best programs in the state, has yet to cement himself as one of Crown Point’s top threats, and I don’t feel confident yet picking him over Blair, who has already proven himself as a state quality wrestler. 215 Ranked Wrestlers: #1 Will Clark #3 Kaden McConnell #4 Keegan Martin #6 Devin Kendrex #10 Jackson Weingart #14 Everett Mcclelland Predictions: Will Clark Kaden McConnell Jackson Weingart Keegan Martin Can anybody stop #1 Will Clark? He has been one of the most dominant wrestlers in Indiana right now, and it doesn’t seem like anybody will stop him this year from claiming a second state title. #3 Kaden McConnell is the biggest threat to Clark here, taking 2nd last year at state, and posting solid results since then, including a 3-2 performance at Ironman. I don’t think he’s quite ready to pull the upset, but he is certainly the favorite to meet him in the finals. The 3rd and 4th place spots go to either #4 Keegan Martin, #6 Devin Kendrex, and #10 Jackson Weingart. Kendrex and Weingart have been on the podium before, but Martin had a 3rd place finish at the Al Smith last year that included wins over both Kendrex and Weingart. Kendrex did beat Martin Friday night, so he has the most recent win. However, Kendrex lost the last two matches to Weingart, so making a solid prediction here will be tough. I’m going to go with Weingart as the third place finisher. His match with Martin for 3rd at last year’s Al Smith was highly competitive, and he has been wrestling great otherwise. Additionally, he has a 5-4 loss with McConnell this season, showing that he has great potential to contend with even McConnell and Clark. Keegan Martin, despite having the loss at state to Kendrex, has picked up wins over much of the field, and has been more consistent than Kendrex, who has taken a couple tougher losses than Martin. 285 Ranked Wrestlers: #1 Paul Clark #5 Hosia Smith #7 Anthony Popi #15 Luke Juris #16 Ethan Dodson #19 Triston Meschede UR Nate Johnson Predictions: Paul Clark Hosia Smith Anthony Popi Nate Johnson I want to say that #1 Paul Clark is a lock here, and I still definitely think he’s the favorite, but #5 Hosia Smith is a dangerous heavyweight that is most certainly a state title contender. His state run last year ended early with a semi-state upset loss, but he did take a win over eventual state champ Leighton Jones, showing that he can pick up wins of that level, which he will most certainly need to beat Clark. For 3rd, I’m going with #7 Anthony Popi, who I think is a pretty solid lock for 3rd, as a state qualifier that has shown real promise for a podium run this year with a 3-2 loss to #2 Brady Beck. There are several state ranked wrestlers in the field that could contend for 4th, but one wrestler in particular that is interesting here is Nate Johnson, who has been behind #4 Tyler Schott in Center Grove’s lineup, but is a two time state qualifier that will be wrestling with a fire under himself, hoping to eventually win the roster battle and claim a spot on the podium. Challenging Johnson will be #15 Luke Juris, who had a close 3-2 with Popi earlier this year, #16 Ethan Dodson, a senior from Fort Wayne Snider who will have his first big test of the season at Al Smith, and #19 Triston Meschede, who’s had some competitive matches with tough wrestlers at this weight, including a 3-2 loss to Juris and a 5-2 loss to #3 Aramis McNutt. I don’t think any of these wrestlers quite have the pedigree yet to beat Johnson, so I will lock in Johnson for 4th.
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