Please note: This preview was written using the preregistration list. Some wrestlers may be in different weight classes or not competing.
The USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals return to the UNI-Dome on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls for a fourth year on Saturday, Oct. 29. Four wrestlers will be defending championship titles earned last year in the high school division -- Colton Adams (Nebraska), Jack Hathaway (Iowa), Justin Koethe (Iowa), and Taylor McGiffen (Illinois).
The tournament features five divisions for wrestlers from the first through 12th grade, and sold out at 1,650 wrestlers across the divisions for a second consecutive year. The high school division has just over half the participants, with 831 registered wrestlers coming from approximately 30 states.
This year's field features some highly credentialed and proven wrestlers in all the weight classes, while other wrestlers are seeking that breakthrough opportunity to hit the radar screen of the wrestling community. The following is an analysis of wrestlers to watch within each of the weight classes.
Two-time state champion Paul Mascarenas (New Mexico) is arguably the leading figure in the over 80 wrestler field, as a two-time state champion that placed third at the Preseason Nationals last year. Others to watch include state finalists Jake Koethe (Iowa) and Junior National Greco-Roman runner-up Dante Rodriguez (Nebraska); Bobby Nachreiner (Wisconsin) placed third at state and was a Junior National Greco-Roman runner-up; Joseph Velliquette (Missouri) and Junior Naitonal freestyle runner-up Tommy Pawleski (Illinois) placed fourth at state; while additional Fargo All-Americans include Jacob Cottey (Indiana), Drew Romero (Colorado), Grant Boggs (Montana), Jay Fresh (Iowa), Darek Huff (Colorado), and Ty Pelot (Wisconsin).
State runners-up Jordan Northrup (Illinois) and Jared Oftedahl (Minnesota) lead the almost 90 wrestler field in this weight class. Northrup was fourth in Cadet freestyle this past summer, while Oftedahl was a double All-American at the Junior Nationals in Fargo. Others to watch include state champions and Cadet Greco-Roman All-Americans in Wyatt Scribner (Washington), Jordan Shearer (North Dakota), and Bryce Meredith (Wyoming); Cadet freestyle All-Americans Brandon James (Indiana) and Jaydin Clayton (Missouri), who are among the nation's top freshmen; along with a pair of wrestlers that placed fifth at state and have Cadet National All-American finishes on their resume in Mark Duda (Illinois) and Jordan Laster (Illinois).
Colton Adams (Nebraska) seeks back-to-back Preseason Nationals championships, coming off a year in which he won a state title and earned a seventh place finish in Cadet freestyle. However, the challengers will be many, as at least six other defending state champions are among the just over 80 registered in this weight class. Those wrestlers include Morgan Engbrecht (South Dakota), 2010 Junior National freestyle All-American Colby Knight (Iowa), Cadet National double All-American Andrew Crone (Wisconsin), Cadet Greco-Roman All-American Josh Alber (Illinois), Johnny Jimenez (Illinois), and Anthony Rees (Colorado). Three others come in off state runner-up finishes from last year - 2010 state champion and multiple-time Fargo All-American Kevon Powell (Illinois), Tyler Rice (Wisconsin), and Ryan Strope (Missouri). Others to watch include state third placer Zac Denny (Illinois), and Junior Greco-Roman All-American Jared Parvinmehr (Illinois).
Jack Hathaway (Iowa) is the second of four defending Preseason Nationals champions in the field, and he comes off a season in which he won a maiden state title and earned All-American honors in both styles at the FILA Cadet and Junior Nationals. Five notable challengers stand out in the field of just under 70 wrestlers: three-time National Prep placer Eric Friedman (Maryland), a 2010 Junior freestyle All-American; Junior freestyle All-American Zac Synon (Illinois); state champion Tate Robinson (Tennessee), who has finished fifth three times at the Cadet Nationals in Fargo; two-time state placer Eddie Greco (Illinois); and three-time state placer, former state champion Sawyer Ferris (Iowa). Others of note include two-time state placer Tyler McWilliams (Iowa), along with Cadet National All-Americans in Joseph Nelson (Wisconsin) and Nicholas Gil (Illinois).
Three-time state champion Cole Mendenhall (Montana) headlines a field of close to 90 wrestlers in this weight class. Others to watch include state runner-up and Cadet freestyle All-American Sam Crane (Missouri), state runner-up Joshua Morin (Montana), state third place finisher Derek Gill (Wisconsin), state champion JJ Whaley (Illinois), and state third place finisher Cameron Kleven (Wisconsin).
Two-time state champion and 2010 Cadet freestyle runner-up Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) anchors the field in one of the overall tougher weights of the tournament. Leading challengers include three-time state runner-up Connor Ryan (Iowa), Junior Greco-Roman All-American and multi-time state champion Austin Roper, state champion and 2010 Cadet freestyle All-American Kaleb Baker (Iowa), and three-time state champion Andrew Riedy (Nebraska). Others to watch include state runner-up, and 2010 state champion, Logan Mulnix (Iowa); two-time state champion Tyler Nation (Nebraska); state champions Colin Dolata (Wisconsin) and Adam Yde (Wisconsin; state champion and Cadet Greco-Roman All-American Phil Downing (Colorado); along with state placers in Mitch Friedman (Wisconsin) and Clayton Lutzow (Illinois). Additional Cadet Greco-Roman All-Americans in the field are Xavier Montalvo (Illinois) and Alex Mossing (Ohio).
Arguably the deepest weight class of the tournament, as it features four wrestlers from the InterMat class rankings - a pair of juniors in Grant Lamont (Utah) and Jake Marlin (Iowa), along with a pair of sophomores in Bo Nickal (Texas) and Ryan Blees (North Dakota). Both Lamont and Marlin won state titles this past year; Lamont earned third place finishes in both Junior Greco-Roman and Cadet freestyle this past summer in Fargo, while the 2011 state title marked repeat championships for Marlin. Nickal and Blees each earned All-American honors in both styles at the Cadet Nationals this past summer; state runner-up Nickal was third in Greco-Roman and seventh in freestyle, while state champion Blees was fourth in each style. Also in this weight class is Nick Becker (Wisconsin), a state place finisher who earned seventh place finishes in each style this summer at the Junior Nationals. Others to watch include a pair of state champions in Blake Fruchtl (Nebraska) and Lucas Lambrecht (Wisconsin); as well as state runners-up in Connor Bass (Illinois) and Jordan Henrickson (Colorado).
Four returning place-winners from last year's Preseason Nationals lead the way in this weight class. Peter Galli (Maryland) finished second at 140 pounds, and went on to finish as a National Prep runner-up at 140 pounds (placing at that season-ending tournament for a third consecutive year). TJ Fox (Ohio) was fifth in the same weight, and went on to finish second in his state, after finishing runner-up in both styles at the 2010 Cadet Nationals in Fargo. Colin Holler (Illinois) was sixth in that weight class as well, and then finished third in the state of Illinois for a second placement finish in as many years of high school; this summer, Holler was a Cadet freestyle national champion. Finally is Nick Babcock (Colorado), who finished fourth in a lower weight class, and finished third in his state tournament after placing second the prior two years. Others to watch include a pair of state champions in Robert Walker (Iowa) and Justice Bridgeford (Nebraska).
Two of the nation's top 100 seniors anchor this weight class in Justin Koethe (Iowa) and Dylan Reel (Illinois). Each wrestler finished third in their state this past year, third in Junior Greco-Roman, and eight in Junior freestyle. Koethe seeks a second consecutive Preseason Nationals title after competing in Fargo at 152 pounds, and was additionally a FILA Junior Greco-Roman champion at 154 pounds; while Reel competed at 160 pounds in Fargo, and additionally had two state titles along with a 2010 Junior Greco-Roman national title to his credit. Two other Junior Greco-Roman All-Americans are featured in this weight class as well in state runner-up Matthew Gray (Wisconsin), who also earned Junior freestyle All-American honors in 2010, and state champion Trace Engelkes (Illinois). Others to watch include state champion Tyler White (Missouri) and state third place finisher Zeb Wahle (Iowa).
Junior National double All-American Alex Meyer (Iowa), also a two-time state placer and top 100 wrestler in the Class of 2012, is the strong favorite in this weight class. However, there is going to be some formidable competition standing in his way, led by state champions Jacob Morrissey (Wisconisn), Marcos Peralta (Colorado), and Barrett Stanghill (Montana); state placers and Cadet All-Americans in Adam Drain (Iowa) and Jake Stilling (Wisconsin); along with state runner-up Nick Fuller (Iowa) and state third place finisher Austin Trujillo (Colorado).
Taylor McGiffen (Illinois) is the last of four wrestlers seeking repeat titles at the 2011 Preseason Nationals; and he also placed third at state this past year. Others to watch include state placer and Cadet freestyle All-American Matt McClimmens (Missouri), Cadet double fourth place finisher Aaron Rothwell (Wisconsin), and state runner-up Bradon Larson (North Dakota).
Two standout wrestlers in this weight are state champion Derek Geddings (Nebraska) and Jared Bartel (Iowa).
State champion, and FILA Cadet All-American, Alex Bambic (Arizona) is the lead figure in this weight class. Another wrestler to watch is Thomas Howell (Illinois), who was champion at the 2010 Dvorak Memorial Invitational at heavyweight despite being incredibly un