The story of this weight class is how top heavy this bracket is. The top half has a national champion, a two-time finalist and three other previous All-Americans. Previous All-Americans include Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello (1st and 3rd), Iowa’s Cory Clark (2nd, 2nd and 5th) Illinois’ Zane Richards (4th), Iowa State’s Earl Hall (7th and 8th) and Standford’s Connor Schram (8th).
The bottom half has just one previous All-American, Nebraska’s Eric Montoya (5th).
Who is the favorite to win it all at 133 lbs?
The clear-cut favorite for 133 lbs. is Ohio State's undefeated Big Ten Champion, Nathan Tomasello. In his last forty-seven matches, Tomasello has had his hand raised forty-six times. His only loss came in last year’s NCAA semi-finals to Thomas Gilman, the number one seed at 125lbs.
Potential top-side quarter-final match-ups:
If the seeds hold true, Tomasello would wrestle Zane Richards (Illinois) in the quarter-finals but I don't see that happening, as Zane Richards will wrestle Lehigh's Scotty Parker (16-2) in the second round.
Either match-up would favor Tomasello, as the last time he and Richards wrestled, Tomasello picked up a 12-4 major decision. The last time Parker and Tomasello met, Nato picked up a 10-7 decision.
Looking to the semi-finals:
Unless Josh Alber (UNI) or Earl Hall (ISU) ruins the party Thursday night, which I don’t expect either of them to do, Nathan Tomasello will face the winner of Stefan Micic (Michigan) vs. Cory Clark (Iowa) in Friday morning’s semi-finals. Either match would be a Big Ten Championships rematch where Tomasello came out on top by one point in each match.
For Nathan Tomasello, I think the best case scenario would be a Cory Clark semi-final. Cory Clark is, and has clearly has been injured the entire season. That left shoulder injury does not leave me too confident, especially after two full days of wrestling.
If Micic is able to knock off Clark, we've seen his left leg lead give Tomasello’s preferred opposite side high-crotch issues in the past. Yes, Tomasello can shoot that High-C to both sides, but we've seen Micic’s style slow NATO down in the past two matches and that’s not where he wants to be.
The safe bet is to take Nato, but after seeing the Big Ten Championships match (Tomasello was victorious, 6-5) don't be shocked if Micic makes it a Friday night thriller to secure his spot on Saturday night's big stage.
Gross vs. Montoya quarter-final:
Down from 141 lbs. and coming off a Big 12 title, Seth Gross (SDSU) commands the second seed. Gross will have an opportunity to avenge his only loss of the season in the quarter-finals, if Eric Montoya (NEB) is able to navigate the water for two matches.
After seeing Montoya’s Big Ten Championships performance, I have some questions regarding his weight control after the first day of competition. With this match (potentially) being on Friday morning, Montoya would still have to hold his weight for another twenty-four hours, which is why this match favors Gross.
Can Gross make it three times in one season?
One of the hardest things to do in wrestling is to beat someone three times a season. A possible semi-final on the bottom half is (3) Kaid Brock (Ok State) vs. (2) Seth Gross (SDSU). Brock has two losses on the season, both coming to the same wrestler. That wrestler, Seth Gross. The first loss came in the dual where Gross was victorious 6-4 and the second was in the Big 12 finals where Gross won 9-7.
A ten seed or above making a run:
Pay attention to (10) John Erneste (Mizz) on the bottom side of this bracket. Ernest wasn’t Missouri’s initial choice at 133 lb until the mid-season weight change of Jaydin Eierman.
Since being named the starter, Erneste has won a conference title and compiled an 11-2 record. During those thirteen matches, his only losses were to Kaid Brock (Ok State) and Josh Alber (UNI).
Erneste has shown that he has the ability to hang with some of the best guys in the country on the mat, which is why I think the Montoya round-two match will be closer than people expect. If he is able to pull the upset, he'll have Seth Gross in the quarter-finals. Even if he is not able to knock off Gross, he'll still put himself in the blood round with an opportunity to go from back-up to All-American.
First round upset
Joey Palmer (ORST) vs. (15) Jamal Morris (NCST)
It’s not a long shot, since it’s a fifteen seed going down in round one, but Joey Palmer is riding a seven match win streak and has won eighteen of his last nineteen matches.
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.