St. Louis, MO - Last year’s NCAA Champion, Dean Heil (Oklahoma States) was rewarded with the no.1 seed after completing the regular season with a 27-0 record.
141 lbs. has to be one of the deepest weight classes in the country. The way I see this playing out, the top-four seeds advance to the semi-finals!
First round match-up to watch:
(13) Javier Gasca III (Michigan State) vs. Jimmy Gulibon (Penn State)
These guys have wrestled three times in their career. The latest match came in the Big Ten semi-finals where Gasca was able to pick up his second win over Gulibon by hitting a knee-tap dump and picking up the fall.
Can we just skip to the second round?
Understanding #MarchMatness and all of the upsets that go on, there is no possible way that all of these match-ups stay true, but here are some that we might get to see!
(9) Colton McCrystal (Nebraska) vs. (8) Jaydin Eierman (Missouri)
(5) Anthony Ashnault (Rutgers) vs. Luke Pletcher (Ohio State)
(11) Randy Cruz (Lehigh) vs. (6) George DiCamillo (Virginia)
(10) Bryce Meredith (Wyoming) vs. (7) Joey Ward (North Carolina)
Looking to the quarters:
Ashnault (27-3) has been scratching to get a rematch with the two individuals who have knocked him off this season, Kevin Jack (2-0 and 4-3) and Matt Kolodzik (4-3). With Jack being the number-two seed, Ashnault will not have the opportunity to wrestle him until the finals, but he could potentially have the opportunity to wrestle Kolodzik (Princeton) in the quarter-finals if Matt is able to get through either Jimmy Gulibon (Penn State) or Javier Gasca (Michigan State) in round two.
Dating back to the 2015 NCAA Championships, Ashnault has yet to defeat someone who was seeded higher than him. In the past two NCAA Championships, Ashnault has had an opportunity to knock off four guys who were seeded higher than him, #1 Dean Heil (Oklahoma State), #2 Mitchell Port (Edinboro), #2 Joey McKenna (Stanford) and #3 Lavion Mayes (Missouri) but has failed in each attempt. With Kolodzik being the three seed and Ashnault being the five seed, I’m sticking with history and saying Matt Kolodzik df. Anthony Ashnault to make it to the 141 lb. semi-finals to take on 2016 NCAA Champion, Dean Heil (Oklahoma State)
Looking for a ten seed or greater to make a run?
A man that is familiar with March runs is Bryce Meredith. Last year’s NCAA finalist, Meredith came into New York with three losses and was disrespected with the No.14 seed. This season, Meredith comes in with six losses, four of which came to top-four guys and gets the 10 seed.
In round two, Meredith will have the opportunity to avenge one of his six losses when he’ll take on Joey Ward of (North Carolina). Ward was victorious in a 9-6 overtime bout.
The winner of that round of sixteen match-up will most likely meet the number-two seed from North Carolina State, Kevin Jack. Jack, who is coming off his second ACC title, is riding a twenty-seven match win streak.
Jack defeated Ward earlier this season, 10-4.
(1) Dean Heil (Okla State) vs. (4) Matt Kolodzik (Princeton)
(2) Kevin Jack (North Carolina State) vs. (3) Joey McKenna (Stanford)
157 lb. NCAA Championship Preview
285 lb. NCAA Championship Preview
The year was 1991. I was a sixth grader at Norvelt Elementary. Our school was named after Eleanor Roosevelt, who is widely regarded as one of the most esteemed women in our Nation’s history who pioneered the advancement of many controversial issues of her day including race, sexism and World War II refugees. While I would not experience these social injustices while attending the school named in her honor, I would find my own injustice just the same.
Once a year, during the spring our school district would compete in the “Olympiad” held to see which elementary school ruled overall athletic prowess within the district. It was held at the high school stadium and one of the featured events was the 6th grade 100 yard dash.
To win this event meant everything to a twelve year-old boy. Each day, as I stepped off the bus, I would run as fast as I could up the steep hill to our house with backpack in tow hoping to gain the extra strength and speed needed to win the upcoming race.
The night before the race, my mother took me to the mall and purchased me a pair of new running shoes, the infamous Nike “Air Pegasus”. With these shoes I could not lose.
During the day, our class would enter each event: the obstacle course, sack races, and tug-o-war but the finale would be the 6th grade 100 yard dash. Every student from every district elementary school watched from the stands. My mother and sisters were among them. I removed my Air Pegasus from their box and tied them on nice and tight. Now I was ready.
All of the fastest 6th graders stepped on to the track and took their place in the starting lanes. One of the physical education teachers would sound the starting gun while the other PE teachers waited at the finish line to declare the winner. I should now mention that one of the teachers at the finish line was my father.
BOOM! The starting gun fired and off we went. As we raced down the track, the pack began to separate and it soon became a two man race. I was in it. As my speedy sixth grade nemesis and I approached the finish line, we were neck and neck.
The finish line ribbon was in sight. As we closed in I leaned forward and touched the ribbon. Not only did I hit the ribbon first, I leaned forward so hard that I did a complete forward roll and came up with the ribbon around my chest. The evidence was clear. I had won the race.
I jumped up and looked back at the crowd of teachers to receive my glory. My father and the other teachers huddled together. My father turned toward the track, pointed and proclaimed in his loud scratchy voice, “WINNER!”
But he wasn’t pointing at me. Tears began to well up and I began to sob as I walked onto the infield where I sat dejected and alone. How could I have lost? I leaned first! I had the ribbon! I was his son! I was devastated. I removed my now not-so-surefire shoes and walked back to the school bus, still crying and in disbelief.
When I returned home, my father was not far behind. He didn’t say a word to me and I was in no mood to talk with him either. As the days passed, I soon forgot the my defeat and the injustice of the race as most twelve year-old boys would. Consumed by wrestling, soccer and swimming, it was on to the next race or game played.
But what I wouldn’t soon forget was the pain and feelings associated with losing something that I had worked so hard for. As I pursued my future goals, it would be a frequent reminder as to the deep and gut-wrenching feeling of failure. Over time, I found that by out-working and out-smarting my opponents, I could more definitively arrange a favorable outcome.
Years later, I would ask my father about the race. My father simply answered, “It’s no big deal. I knew it would make you work harder.”
Granted this was a gamble of a coaching technique. But it worked. I lost the race but would learn a valuable lesson of how to respond to defeat and setbacks. In the end, I would go on to win, and sometimes lose much greater competitions on much bigger stages.
No other experience resembles real life more than athletic competition. Especially in individual sports like wrestling. Sometimes as an athlete, you can get caught up in the wins and losses. And when things don’t go your way it can cause tension or resentment between you and those closest to you.
As an athlete, you must stay focused on what you can control. You have to trust the people who care about you and have your best interest in mind. That does not always mean you will agree with their decisions or actions.
As coaches and parents, we need to teach our athletes and children how to respond to winning as well as losing and adversity. I believe the key is to be truthful and upfront about their performance, work ethic and attitude. Just as in life, competition and the sporting arena are not always fair. That is reality. The earlier they learn this lesson, the better off they will be. Nothing mirrors the physical and emotional roller coaster of real life more than athletics.
I’ll never forget the sixth grade 100 yard dash. But I won’t ever forget my first Junior Olympic, PIAA, Junior National Freestyle or NCAA National Championship either.
I guess the lesson learned is sometimes you have to lose a battle to win a war. I think Eleanor Roosevelt would have agreed.