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Midlands Wrestling Championships Preview

After finishing 1-1 in a tri-meet at Clarion University 10 days ago, John Stutzman's Bulls take to the mat for the final time before the New Year at the 53rd Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships hosted by Northwestern University. Last season Stutzman's squad competed in the Southern Scuffle, largely considered to be the toughest tournament in the nation outside of the NCAA Championships in March; however the Midlands is consistently one of the tougher tournaments in the nation and features a dearth of quality wrestlers from all corners of the nation.

This year's tournament will be the largest in event history with over 400 grapplers from 42 teams competing; including multiple former national champions, a slew of top 20 ranked wrestlers, and 10 top 25 teams. Iowa has won six of the last eight tournaments including taking home gold the past two seasons.

Basic Tournament Information

Where: Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

When: December 29th - 30th

Media Coverage: (Live Stats), BTN2GO (TV)

Schedule of Events:

December 29th: First Session - 9:30 Am - 7 PM. Second Session - 7 PM - 11PM.

December 30th: Third Session (Semifinals, Consolation, 7th Place Matches) - Noon - 7:30. Final Session (1st, 3rd, 5th Place Matches: Finals will air live on BTN) 8 PM - 10:15 PM.

Competing Teams: #3 Iowa, #13 Nebraska, #14 Lehigh, #11 Illinois, #18 Wisconsin, #10 Old Dominion, #20 Northern Iowa, #16 Oklahoma, #19 Northwestern, Iowa State, Adams State, American, Arizona State, Bloomsburg, Brown, Buffalo, Cal Baptist, Columbia, CSU-Bakersfield, Eastern Michigan, Franklin & Marshall, George Mason, Grand Canyon, Grand View, Harvard, Indiana, #16 Kent State, Lock Haven, Maryland, Messiah College, North Carolina State, North Dakota State, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, Princeton, Purdue, Rider, #12 Rutgers, SIU-Edwardsville and South Dakota State.

Projected Buffalo Participants and Outlook

125: Kyle Akins (10-4)

133: Bryan Lantry (10-5)

141: Brandon Lapi (9-7)

149: None

157: Tim Schaefer (3-5)

165: Tyler Rill (6-4)

174: Austin Weigel (13-8)

184: Joe Ariola (6-4)

197: James Benjamin (10-7)

285: Jake Gunning (9-5)

It looks like UB will more or less have the same lineup heading into the tournament as they did their last time out against Appalachian State and Clarion barring any injury setbacks or new injuries that I am unaware of. The biggest question mark is at 149 pounds where Coach Stutzman burned Sean Peacock's redshirt to wrestle in place of Colt Cotten who has been in and out of the lineup this season. It'll be interesting to see who wrestles at this spot as Stutzman could give Cotten a break to heal up from whatever injury he may have - but a reduction in mat time can also mean a buildup of rust that you don't want in the middle of the season.

A few other names to keep an eye to make some noise: Kyle Akins, Bryan Lantry and Brandon Lapi. Akins and Lantry are coming off of 2-0 performances against Clarion and App State where both posted bonus point victories against Clarion. Akins was an All-American in high school and a former Illinois state Champion - performing in front of a hometown crowd could be the extra boost that Akins needs to upset a ranked guy over the next two days. Lantry has mostly flown under the radar this season but has put together a solid 10-5 record and is tied with Akins and James Benjamin for the most wins among the non-redshirting guys. Finally, Brandon Lapi  is a name to always watch in tournament settings because he knows how to win in high pressure situations in big time tournaments.

Curiously, Colt Cotten is still not in the lineup dealing with injuries and filling in the extra spot will be Derek Holcomb at 165 pounds.

Getting any guys to place will mean having to upset at least 1 ranked wrestler in each weight class and given the depth of the tournament it will be a very difficult task to place top 8 in fields of over 40 grapplers per weight class. The next two days are about progress and pulling off upsets against ranked opponents to see where the young team stands relative to the best in the nation; even one man placing will be a resounding success for Coach Stutzman and his team.

First Round Matches:

125: Kyle Akins vs. #17 Sean McCabe (Rutgers)

133: Bryan Lantry vs. Jacob Colon (Grand View)

141: Brandon Lapi vs. Jordan Laster (Princeton)

157: Tim Schaefer vs. Bryce Steiert (Northern Iowa)

165: Tyler Rill receives a bye will face winner of Moore vs. Norland

165: Derek Holcomb receives a bye, will face winner of Glass vs. Kistler

174: Austin Weigel vs.Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa)

184: Joe Ariola vs. Regis Derbin (Northwestern)

197: James Benjamin vs. #14 Brett Harner (Princeton)

HWT: Jake Gunning vs. Youssif Hemida (Maryland)

Ranked Wrestlers by Weight Class

#2 Thomas Gilman (Iowa)
#6 Ronnie Bresser (Oregon State)
#7 Dylan Peters (Northern Iowa)
#10 Tim Lambert (Nebraska)
#9 David Terao (American)
#15 Ryan Millhof (Oklahoma)
#14 Josh Rodriguez (North Dakota State)
#17 Sean McCabe (Rutgers)

#2 Cory Clark (Iowa)
#3 Cody Brewer (Oklahoma)
#9 Zane Richards (Illinois)
#7 Ryan Taylor (Wisconsin)
#5 Earl Hall (Iowa State)
#14 Eric Montoya (Nebraska)
#13 Geoffrey Alexander (Maryland)
#18 Josh Alber (Northern Iowa)
#16 Dom Forys (Pittsburgh)
#20 Anthony Giraldo (Rutgers)

#2 Kevin Jack (North Carolina State)
#5 Chris Mecate (Old Dominion)
#3 Anthony Ashnault (Rutgers)
#8 Mike Racciato (Pittsburgh)
#10 Todd Preston (Harvard)
#17 Anthony Abidin (Nebraska)
#19 Rick Durso (Franklin & Marshall)
#20 Steve Bleise (Northern Illinois)

#2 Brandon Sorensen (Iowa)
#3 Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern)
#4 Alex Richardson (Old Dominion)
#7 Jake Sueflohn (Nebraska)
#13 Michael DePalma (Kent State)
#15 Matt Kraus (Arizona State)
#14 B.J. Clagon (Rider)
#20 Chris Perez (Princeton)
#17 Davion Jeffries (Oklahoma)
#19 Alex Griffin (Purdue)

#1 Isaiah Martinez (Illinois)
#2 Ian Miller (Kent State)
#7 Thomas Gantt (North Carolina State)
#6 Cody Pack (South Dakota State)
#11 John Boyle (American)
#20 Chad Walsh (Rider)
#15 Lou Mascola (Maryland)
#16 Edwin Cooper (Iowa)
#19 Doug Welch (Purdue)
#17 Richie Lewis (Rutgers)
#18 Tyler Berger (Nebraska)

#3 Isaac Jordan (Wisconsin)
#10 Anthony Perrotti (Rutgers)
#11 Austin Wilson (Nebraska)
#6 Max Rohskopf (North Carolina State)
#17 Steven Rodrigues (Illinois)
#7 Chad Welch (Purdue)
#14 Tanner Weatherman (Iowa State)
#9 Clark Glass (Oklahoma)
#12 Cooper Moore (Northern Iowa)
#20 Devon Gobbo (Harvard)
#15 Connor Brennan (Rider)

#6 Zac Brunson (Illinois)
#3 Alex Meyer (Iowa)
#9 Cody Walters (Ohio)
#7 Bryce Hammond (Bakersfield)
#12 Micah Barnes (Nebraska)
#11 Nate Jackson (Indiana)
#15 Lelund Weatherspoon (Iowa State)
#17 Matt Reed (Oklahoma)
#13 Jonathan Schleifar (Princeton)

#8 T.J. Dudley (Nebraska)
#3 Jack Dechow (Old Dominion)
#7 Sammy Brooks (Iowa)
#9 Blake Stauffer (Arizona State)
#12 Hayden Zillmer (North Dakota State)
#16 Abram Ayala (Princeton)
#17 Pete Renda (North Carolina State)
#20 Nicholas Gravina (Rutgers)

#4 Nathan Burak (Iowa)
#12 Phil Wellington (Ohio)
#16 Aaron Studebaker (Nebraska)
#6 Reuben Franklin (Bakersfield)
#11 Anthony Abro (Eastern Michigan)
#13 Nathan Rotert (South Dakota State)
#17 Michael Boykin (North Carolina State)
#14 Brett Harner (Princeton)
#19 Jeric Kasunic (American)

#1 Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State)
#5 Amarveer Dhesi (Oregon State)
#6 Ross Larson (Oklahoma)
#10 Sam Stoll (Iowa)
#11 Billy Smith (Rutgers)
#14 Collin Jensen (Nebraska)
#15 Brooks Black (Illinois)
#16 Tanner Hall (Arizona State)
#9 Blaize Cabell (Northern Iowa)
#20 Ryan Solomon (Pittsburgh)