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133 lb. NCAA Championship Preview

By Eric Olanowski, 03/13/17, 12:45PM EDT


Photo: Sam Janicki (

Eric Olanowski

Eric Olanowski


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. 

Quick Hits: 

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.

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