WHAT: Midlands Championships
WHEN: December 29-30
Session I: 9:30 AM (12/29)
Session II: 7:00 PM (12/29) QUARTERFINALS
Session III: 12:00 PM (12/30) SEMIFINALS
Session IV: 7:00 PM (12/30) FINALS
WHERE: Hoffman Estates, IL
ONLINE: BTN+ ($) or Flowrestling ($)
RADIO: KXIC, Learfield Sports
This year's Midlands has had a rather disorganized feel -- the brackets weren't released until late last night and there hadn't been much other information about who was competing before that, either -- but it's finally upon us and it should feature some good action at several weights. From an Iowa standpoint, there are two key pieces of news, one good and one not-so-good. Good: Spencer Lee is scheduled to compete here. There were questions about whether he would or not, given his limited schedule this year and the fact that he just competed at U.S. Senior Nationals last weekend, but he's in the bracket and all signs are that he's competing. Not-so-good: Michael Kemerer isn't competing here. No idea why not, although hopefully it's just a minor problem like the flu or something.
NOTE: I won't be able to provide much in the way of live results or commentary during the action today, so if anyone wants to step up and do so in the comments -- feel free!
Onto a brief preview of the weights. The full brackets are available here.
|5||7||Drew Hildebrandt||Central Michigan||13-1|
The 125-lb field is surprisingly loaded this year. While it's missing two of its biggest guns -- 2019 NCAA runner-up Jack Mueller and 2019 All-American Nick Piccininni (who is the only wrestler currently at 125 lbs who has a win over Spencer Lee) -- it features six of the top eight wrestlers in the country. The big showdown should be the Lee-Glory match we didn't get at the Iowa-Princeton dual a few weeks ago. I think we know what to expect from Spencer Lee at this weight (domination), so the more interesting matches may come from Aaron Cashman, as we could get several chances to see how he fares against quality opposition. If he gets by Bucknell's Brandon Seidman (6-6), he should face 3-seed Schneider and 6-seed DeAugustino a few rounds after that. If Cashman really goes on a tear, he could even get a rematch with Glory in the semis.
133 is loaded at the top of the weight, but it doesn't have much depth, considering that the bottom half of the Top 8 seeds are scrounging for Top 20-ranked wrestlers. Still: those matches at the top of the heap are tantalizing. Rivera, who's best known for being the only guy to beat Spencer Lee in college TWICE (and is one of the main reasons Lee doesn't have a Midlands or Big Ten title to his name yet) has been cagey about whether he's going to stay at 133 all year or if he intends to get back down to 125 by the end of the year. I imagine his performance here may help him make a decision about what weight to go at for the rest of the year; if he gets ragdolled by Gross in the semis, a return to 125 will probably look a lot more appealing. But if he can do well against Gross and DeSanto, 133 could look like a viable weight for him.
For DeSanto, this is all about the final, almost certainly against either Gross or Rivera. He should rack up a lot of bonus points on opponents before that point. Iowa also has two other guys at this weight, Glynn as the #7 seed and Teasdale as an unseeded wrestler. If Glynn can win two matches, he should get Gross in the quarters. Teasdale gets Indiana redshirt Cayden Rooks in the first round and should get 6-seed Hayes if he wins that match. He could get Rivera a few matches after that. This is Teasdale's first big boy tournament, so seeing how he fares is one of the big storylines of the event from an Iowa perspective.
|6||27||Dresden Simon||Central Michigan||12-4|
|7||18||Zach Sherman||North Carolina||8-2|
141 is one of the weaker weights at Midlands; Murin and Moran are the only two Top 10-ranked wrestlers in attendance. In addition to Murin, Happel and Stickley are competing for Iowa.
|1||1||Austin O'Connor||North Carolina||6-0|
149 has some intrigue thanks to two Top-3 wrestlers (O'Connor and Lugo) 5 Top 10-ranked wrestlers. (And Storr would be ranked in the Top 10 if he wasn't using a RS this year.) Lugo could get a quarterfinal rematch with D'angelo, who he narrowly beat via 3-2 decision in tiebreakers at the Iowa-Princeton dual earlier in the month. If he wins that, he could see fringe All-America candidate Thomsen in the semis before facing the preseason favorite at this weight (O'Connor) in the finals. So it could be a pretty challenging tournament for Lugo. Turk and Glosser will also be in action for Iowa.
|6||25||Austin Headlee||North Carolina||6-2|
|8||28||Logan Parks||Central Michigan||8-4|
The main intrigue here is a potential rematch in the finals between Young and Monday; Monday bested him at the Iowa-Princeton dual a few weeks ago. Young could have a potentially tricky semifinals with Coleman as well. If Young wants to finish on the top half of the podium at NCAAs, though, these are the type of guys he must beat.
|3||7||David McFadden||Virginia Tech||8-1|
|8||20||Kennedy Monday||North Carolina||7-2|
Ready for Marinelli-Wick, Rd 80342? That seems like the most likely outcome here, although McFadden is an intriguing (and very capable) spoiler for Wick in the semis.
As noted, Michael Kemerer isn't slated to wrestle at this event. And, in fact, no Iowa wrestlers are scheduled to compete at this weight at Midlands.
This is arguably the most pivotal weight for Iowa at Midlands, given that Wilcke and Brands are duking it out for the starting job at 184. Which makes it a bummer that the quality of the field here is a bit... lacking. There shouldn't be much reason for Wilcke and Brands not to shine here, though; if they can't a bunch of fringe Top 15 guys, it doesn't bode well for Iowa's hopes at this weight. Wilcke has a fairly gnarly path through the bracket, as he could see Sebastian in the second round (he lost to Sebastian earlier this year) and Lujan in the quarters.
|4||8||Tom Lane||Cal Poly||7-1|
This weight is pretty much all about a possible Warner-Brucki rematch in the finals, but Warner should be wary about Lane if they meet in the semis, given that Lane beat him 4-2 in OT at NCAAs last year. This is also an opportunity to see how Glazier handles big boy competition. Connor Corbin is also competing for Iowa.
|3||11||Matt Stencel||Central Michigan||13-3|
|6||13||Josh Hokit||Fresno State||3-0|
The money match here is a rematch between Cassioppi and Hillger, but Cassioppi has a difficult path to get there. Elam is redshirting this year, but would likely be a Top 10-ranked foe if not, which makes him a big potential landmine in the quarters. Cassioppi could also see Heino in the semis; Heino beat him 11-3 at Midlands last year. Stencel also owns a win over Cassioppi from Midlands last year, though they won't wrestle here unless both guys fall into the consolation bracket or Stencel upsets Hillger. Regardless, this could be a tricky bracket for Cassioppi -- or it could show how much he's improved over the course of a year. Aaron Costello will also be in action for Iowa.
The usual rules apply.