InterMat Staff Predictions: Andrew Hipps

125: Nico Megaludis (Penn State) over Jesse Delgado (Illinois)
Nico Megaludis has reached the finals each time he has wrestled in the NCAAs. He's the ultimate competitor who shines in the biggest events. This time I see him getting over the hump and winning his first NCAA title. He has struggled with Nahshon Garrett this season, losing twice, but it's very difficult to beat a wrestler like Megaludis three straight times. I see Megaludis edging Garrett in the semifinals on Friday night, and then beating his nemesis Jesse Delgado in the NCAA finals on Saturday night in this season's rubber match.

133: Tony Ramos (Iowa) over Joe Colon (Northern Iowa)
This is a difficult weight class to forecast because there are several wrestlers capable of winning the title. Initially I was totally set on picking A.J. Schopp to win the title because I love the way he's wrestling right now, and Edinboro coach Tim Flynn is a master at peaking his wrestlers at the NCAAs. However, my gut feeling now is that it's going to be Joe Colon and Tony Ramos wrestling for the championship. Both are seniors and extremely hungry. Colon has wrestled like a man on a mission this season after being kicked off the UNI wrestling team last season. Ramos is an emotional wrestler who thrives in the spotlight and feeds off the crowd. He's too good not to win a title. I'm taking Ramos to avenge his loss to Schopp in the NCAA semifinals, and then avenge his other loss to Colon in the NCAA finals.

141: Logan Stieber (Ohio State) over Mitchell Port (Edinboro)
The loss Logan Stieber took against Zain Retherford earlier in the season may have been the best thing to happen to him. Not only did it take some pressure off him, but seemed to make him hungrier and more focused. Logan Stieber is likely the next four-time NCAA champion and it's hard to envision anyone stopping him. This is a wrestler who defeated the No. 1 wrestler in the world (at the time), Opan Sat of Russia, less than a year ago. It will be interesting to see if there's a Stieber-Retherford III in the semifinals. Retherford has a very difficult road to get there, though, starting with his first-round match against Ugi. Mitchell Port, an NCAA runner-up last season, has been phenomenal this season. A potential Mitchell Port-Devin Carter semifinal matchup could be interesting.

149: Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern) over Jake Sueflohn (Nebraska)
This is one of the more wide-open weight classes. Drake Houdashelt has been the most consistent wrestler in the weight class, but can't be considered anything more than a slight favorite in this weight class. He took a loss to Tywan Claxton of Ohio earlier in the season, and less than two weeks ago needed sudden victory period to defeat ODU's Alexander (Lenny) Richardson in the MAC tournament finals. Jason Tsirtsis may be a freshman, but don't expect the bright lights and big stage to intimidate him. He has competed in major wrestling events his entire life. Tsirtsis has a brutal road to the finals. If the seeds hold, Tsirtsis will have to go through Bryce Busler, Dylan Cottrell, and Kendric Maple just to get to a semifinal match with top-seeded Houdashelt. I'm taking Tsirtsis to run the gauntlet on his side of the bracket, and then defeat Jake Sueflohn in the NCAA finals in a rematch of the Big Ten finals.

157: James Green (Nebraska) over Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State)
This will be an entertaining weight class to watch because there are so many dynamic wrestlers. The top three seeds, James Green, Derek St. John, and Alex Dieringer, have been the most consistent this season, but there are plenty of potential spoilers in this weight class ... wrestlers like Ian Miller, Isaac Jordan, Dylan Ness, R.J. Pena, and Dylan Alton have proven they can compete with the nation's best wrestlers. Very few will be surprised if any of those wrestlers makes a run to the finals. All five are on the top side of the bracket with Green. Green is just so quick and explosive on his feet, and has improved his gas tank, which makes him a nightmare matchup for just about everyone. I like Green to come through the top side and meet third-seeded Alex Dieringer in the finals. Dieringer, an NCAA third-place finisher last season as a freshman, will likely have to get past DSJ, who edged him earlier in the season. Green over Dieringer in the championship.

165: David Taylor (Penn State) over Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma State)
Taylor seems to be having the most fun he's had in college wrestling career. Last season he dealt with the emotional stress that came with his rivalry with Kyle Dake. This season he seems to be enjoying every moment and crushing everyone in the process. I'm not exactly going out on a limb here, but I see Taylor getting bonus points on everyone he faces en route to the finals. The bottom semifinal will likely pit Tyler Caldwell against Nick Sulzer in a rematch of the Southern Scuffle semifinals -- a match won by Caldwell, 2-1. I like Caldwell to edge Sulzer and reach the finals against Taylor. Taylor and Caldwell have wrestled twice this season, with Taylor winning the first match 9-1 and the second match 5-2. Taylor will be looking to put an exclamation point on an incredible collegiate career, while Caldwell will be looking to shock the college wrestling world. Caldwell will be game in the NCAA finals, but Taylor will be too much.

174: Andrew Howe (Oklahoma) over Chris Perry (Oklahoma State)
The top two seeds, both NCAA champions, Chris Perry and Andrew Howe, seem to have separated from the rest of the pack, but not by much. Robert Kokesh, an NCAA third-place finisher last season, has only a single blemish on his record, and that was a one-point loss to Howe at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. He's been training with Jordan Burroughs (someone who knows Howe very well) and cannot be counted out. All-Americans Mike Evans, Matt Brown, and Logan Storley will all be looking to play the role of spoiler. I like Perry and Howe to grind out some tough wins en route to the finals to set up the rubber match between the Big 12 rivals. This time it goes Howe's way and he caps off his career as a two-time NCAA champion, three-time NCAA finalist, and four-time All-American.

184: Ed Ruth (Penn State) over Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa)
It doesn't seem like that long ago when Ruth was the lanky freshman turning heads at the Southern Scuffle by knocking off returning All-Americans Chris Henrich and Mack Lewnes. Now he stands five matches away from closing the book on one of the most dominant collegiate careers of the past 10 years. A third NCAA title seems inevitable, even with Gabe Dean -- the only wrestler to defeat over the past three seasons -- standing in his way. I expect Ruth to get his revenge on Dean in the semifinals. The top half of the bracket is pretty wide open, but I'm taking the two-time All-American Lofthouse to come through as the No. 5 seed and reach the finals against Ruth. He will likely have to get past Jimmy Sheptock, who defeated him at the Midlands. Ruth wins dominantly in the finals against Lofthouse.

197: J'den Cox (Missouri) over Kyven Gadson (Iowa State)
There isn't a clear frontrunner in this weight class -- and it could be argued a number of different ways which wrestler should be considered the favorite. Gadson is currently ranked No. 1 by InterMat, but received the No. 5 seed. Top-seeded Nick Heflin has been on a roll, as has second-seeded J'den Cox. Big Ten wrestlers Morgan McIntosh and Scott Schiller have put together nice seasons and are seeded third and fourth respectively. Richard Perry and Travis Rutt could surprise coming from the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds. In other words, this weight class is a crapshoot and nothing will surprise me. I like Gadson to come out of the top half of the bracket, while I see Cox navigating his way to the finals from the bottom half. Gadson defeated Cox in overtime at the Southern Scuffle, scoring the takedown off an attack from the Missouri freshman. Cox already avenged his loss to Phil Wellington in the MAC finals. I see him avenging his loss to Gadson in the NCAA finals to become a true freshman NCAA champion.

285: Tony Nelson (Minnesota) over Mike McMullan (Northwestern)
Interestingly, two-time NCAA champion Nelson has more losses (four) this season than he had in the two previous seasons combined, yet he is the No. 1 seed at the NCAAs for the first time in his career. Nelson won the Big Ten title, which at heavyweight this season is like winning a mini-NCAA tournament because seven of the top eight heavyweights were in the conference tournament. The Gopher big man seems to be firing on all cylinders in the final month of his collegiate career. The heavyweight class is deep and talented, so Nelson is by no means a surefire finalist or champ. He has a tough road ahead of him, but I like him to prevail and become Minnesota's first three-time NCAA champion, beating Mike McMullan in the NCAA finals for the second straight season.

1. Penn State
2. Iowa
3. Oklahoma State
4. Minnesota
5. Oklahoma


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greff (1) about 4 years ago
You are crazy to think that Ramos has a chance to get pat Colon who manhandled him at the Midlands and is clearly stronger,quicker,and better! that if Ramos can get by Schoop who made him look pretty average earlier this year