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
Seeing my breath in the bitter cold February mornings here in Pennsylvania brings back fond memories. The roads were lined with snow, ice and salt from months of plowing and shoveling. I grew up in a small PA town. My high school, Mount Pleasant was not generally known for it’s athletic teams but had produced some great individual athletes. But when I stepped into the school in 1994, Mount Pleasant had yet to have a PIAA State champion. Not in wrestling. Not in any sport. Many had fallen just short and silver was the unfortunate standard.
I would continue the silver standard by losing consecutive state final matches in both my sophomore and junior seasons. Wrestling clubs, which currently offer the opportunity for the best wrestlers in the area to congregate weekly in one mat room, did not exist in the mid-nineties. And as many teenagers I know, my father’s advice of running 3 miles everyday to be in great shape had gone unheeded for my high school years up unto this point.
But prior to my senior year I decided to take his advice and began the dreadful task of running the recommended daily regimen. With practice after school and schoolwork in the evenings, the only time to really get the extra workout in was pre-dawn. Each morning my mother would get up and drive me 3.2 miles from our home to the local Sunoco station also known as the ‘Open-Pantry’. She would pull into the lighted parking lot and I would climb out and mumble “See you in twenty,” before shutting the door.
I breezed through the first month of the season with a perfect record winning both the Beast of the East and PowerAde tournaments without much competition. An unfortunate car accident would sideline me in early January for the entire month. I was unable to do anything during this time, including working out of any kind. No running, no wrestling no lifting. I once again began to feel the fear of future failure creep in.
Once my doctor gave me the green light, I resumed my regular workout schedule that again included my early morning running routine. On one particular frozen February morning, my mother advised me that it was seven degrees out and implored me “not to run this morning.” “I gotta go ma,” I responded. We hopped in our blue Toyota Corolla and away we went.
My mom was right. It was brutally cold out that morning. As I stepped out of the car in the Sunoco parking lot, I could see my breath fog up the air around me like smoke from a cannon. Not a soul was seen as I made my way up and down the countryside roads, hugging the snow-banked sides.
My lungs were burning and my stomach was cramping. My face was frozen and the thought of stopping and walking was clearly at the forefront of my thoughts. I had just climbed the last large hill and was in the middle of a long straight away stretch just about a mile from home when I noticed headlights coming toward me in the distance. As the lights grew closer, I could tell it was a truck. Closer and slower it came. I tightly hugged the side of the road as the truck neared. It was slowing down. No, it was stopping. As the truck reached me, I could see the window rolling down. My heart was pounding and all thoughts of pain and my current suffering had subsided. Behind the wheel was a bearded man. We locked eyes. “Go get it Waller!” he yelled as he hit the gas and sped off. Stunned by this stranger’s comment, I nodded as I backpedalled and watched his taillights fade out of sight.
I turned and ran the last mile home as hard as I could. I felt no pain and no suffering. Lingering fear over my encounter with a stranger coupled with bewilderment and an awkward sense of appreciation for this stranger’s statement carried me the rest of the way home.
One month later I would win the PIAA State Championship and become my high school’s first-ever state champion.
Pennsylvania roads aren’t paved with gold during the winter months (or anytime for that matter). And along with the snow and salt, I can guarantee you there will be failure along them. But you can also find success somewhere along the way, if you’re willing to find the daily motivation to get up and continue on that same road toward a goal that many aren’t even willing to look down.
On that freezing February morning, a stranger had taken away my pain and doubt, and filled me with a sense of motivation (not to mention fear!). He didn’t know me, but he knew what road I was on. One filled with potholes full of failure, disappointment, and shortcomings. But he was kind (or crazy) enough to stop and let me know that my journey wasn’t going unnoticed and that he too wanted his town’s first state champion. I never found out whom that bearded man was but I’m glad he was there that morning.
Throughout my coaching career, I have been blessed to coach NCAA Champions, All-Americans, and U.S. World and Olympic Team members. All of them pulled motivation from different areas of their lives. Whether it was faith, family, past failures, or their community, they all found it. They found it everyday and for every workout.
The whereabouts of my PIAA State medals are unknown. I lost track of them. It doesn’t really matter. Medals and trophies don’t define your success. Experiences do. Everyone takes their own individual and unique path toward their goals. And whatever those goals are, it’s going to take a tremendous amount of motivation to get there. Don’t be afraid to look in stranger places to add more fuel to your fire. Because you never know where your next challenge will come from and who or what it might be.