Top seeded 157 lber Josh Humphreys (photos courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
125 - 4 Allocations
Outlook: The 4 allocations went to Glory (#2), Arujau (#3), Miller (#23) and Lane (#26). Manchio started the year off hot, but took some losses at the end of the year to take him out of the allocation criteria. Manchio did beat Lane in a dual this season, so expect that matchup to possibly be a great 4/5 seed quarterfinal. When you add returning NCAA qualifiers like Allen from Navy, and Mininno from Drexel, plus Seidman of Bucknell into the mix - the fight for the third and fourth place will be fun to watch. American's Leete earned the eighth seed in this weight. Expect to see him battle it out as well.
Prediction: This will be tough, but I'll venture to say Glory over Vito in the finals.
Dark Horse Watch: I already mentioned my dark horse above - Jacob Allen of Navy. A returning NCAA Qualifier at 133lb a year ago - you can potentially not even consider him for this category. He is in a lot of tight matches - win or lose. I would not be shocked to see him pull and upset or two.
133- 2 Allocations
Outlook: The 2 allocations went to Colaiocco (#14) and Koderhandt (#22). With two other ranked wrestlers at this class, this weight only receiving two is a tough break for the conference. Hines of Lehigh (#17) did not meet the match requirement, so he will need to steal one from Colaiocco of Penn or Koderhandt of Navy. I would expect a Hines/Koderhandt semifinal matchup. Hines won the dual first time around, but his recent injury may be of concern this time around. More wrestlers who will be in the mix are Sobotker of Binghamton (who has been a pinning machine this year), Phipps of Bucknell (who has a win over Colaiocco), LaJoie of Cornell (returning NCAA qualifier at 125 in 2020), and Rini of Columbia (7th place at EIWAs in 2020). This conference has had seven nationally ranked wrestlers at one time or another at this weight. It will be a shame; so many of them will need a wild card to qualify.
Prediction: I think Koderhandt makes a finals appearance due to Hines's injury that has had him sidelined for weeks. Colaiocco is my champion pick. He's been red-hot lately.
Dark Horse Watch: A name I have not mentioned yet is Jaxon Maroney of Drexel. He has a win over LaJoie this season already. Being injured most of the season, we have not seen a ton from him. These two reasons make him a dark horse, in my opinion.
141 - 4 Allocations
Outlook: The four allocations were earned by Composto (#14), Anderson (#19), Kazimir (#27), and Miller (#28). This seems about right in my mind. McGonagle of Lehigh was in the rankings a bunch this season also but has been injured for some time. We will see him in the mix to steal one of those four automatic bids. Other contenders to battle it out for an automatic bid would include Deck of Army, Danny Coles of Princeton, Wilson of Cornell and Jaffe of Harvard.
Prediction: Composto has been impressive this year. I expect him to win over Kazimir. I think we will see Kazimir turn it on at conferences.
Dark Horse Watch: From the beginning of the year, I've stuck with my guy from F&M. Wil Gil should find himself in the mix. He's a funky, unorthodox wrestler who can make others struggle. He has already been an alternate to the NCAA Tournament.
149 - 4 Allocations
Outlook: The four allocations were earned by Diakomihalis (#1), Artalona (#24), Brignola (#26), and Fongaro of Columbia. There were a few ranked wrestlers here who missed the match minimum to earn allocation status, like Ogunsanya (#20) of Army and Nichter (#28) of Drexel. Ogunsanya may be the second-best wrestler in the weight class - but looks like he will have a match with Yianni in the semi's, as PJ will be the fourth seed. We have not seen him in quite some time. Hopefully, he is back to 100% and ready to go. If he is, he will steal one of the four allocations. Nichter is dangerous as anyone in this bracket. He likes to go out and let it fly - putting up points in the process. Keep an eye on him. Other names to watch are Keller of Princeton, Lombard of Binghamton, and DePron of Bucknell.
Prediction: This will be a race for 2nd place. I do not see Yianni losing to anyone here. We may see him score bonus in all of his matches. The runner-up at this weight will most likely be the winner of the Artalona/Brignola semifinal. I will pick Artalona to meet Yianni in the finals.
Dark Horse Watch: My dark horse pick at this weight is Stricker of Harvard. He's been quiet this year, with no big wins, but has had a bunch of close losses. He is one who can pull out an upset and bust the bracket.
157 - 5 Allocations
Outlook: The five allocations were by Humphreys (#6), Monday (#8), Zapf (#19), Cerniglia (#23), and Hartman (#25). Richard of Cornell is ranked 26th, but did not have the winning percentage to earn the allocation. Doing the math at this weight class, we have six ranked wrestlers fighting for five spots. This does not include two of last season's NCAA Qualifiers in Kropman of Drexel and Palumbo of Sacred Heart. This is a talented weight class that will have a few NCAA-tournament-worthy wrestlers not making the trip this year.
Prediction: I think we will have a Humphreys and Monday rematch from the EIWA Championships in 2019. I believe Humphreys will repeat as champ. Do not be surprised if these guys wrestle again in Detroit on day two or three.
Dark Horse Watch: At the beginning of the season, I loved Doug Zapf as a dark horse. He's done his job during the year, and I no longer consider him a dark horse. For the conference tournament, look out for Nick Delp of Bucknell. He has a win over Wyatt Sheets (returning AA from Oklahoma State, ranked #20) and Kropman of Drexel in early February. During the second half of this semester, he has been improving every week. He has losses to both Cerniglia and Hartman, but will most likely need to avenge one of those to get an automatic bid.
165 - 7 Allocations
Outlook: This is the deepest weight in the conference. The seven wrestlers earning allocations were Hartman (#10), Ramirez (#12), Conigliaro (#13), Ogunsanya (#18), Revano (#24), Meyer (#25), and Barczak (#26). Harkins of Army is ranked #29 and just missed the allocation. This weight also includes returning NCAA Qualifier Stamm of Hofstra, among other highly talented wrestlers. Hartman is a returning 2X All-American. Ramirez beat the defending national champion at the beginning of the year. Some of the unseeded wrestlers will be a tough first-round matchup for anyone listed above. These names include Cassella of Binghamton, Bergey of Princeton, and Park from Navy. Expect an upset or two in the first round. Then the quarterfinals will be incredibly exciting.
Prediction: This weight will have huge seeding implications. This is the hardest prediction to make. With Ramirez getting the top seed, we will likely see Conigliaro and Hartman go to battle in the semis. Flip a coin to see who wins that one. I think it's THAT close. I think Conigliaro gets it done in a very close match. Again, we can flip a coin for the finals bout. If I have to take someone, Ramirez is my pick. I would not bet on this weight class - it's too close to call!
Dark Horse Watch: Keep an eye for Meyer of Lehigh. He has already beaten Wentzel (returning NCAA runner-up) and Valencia (returning AA) this season. He has the track record he can compete with some of the best. His style is perfect for March, with many low-scoring matches where he controls the pace. An unranked guy I like is Cassella of Binghamton; he has a major over Ogunsanya of Columbia and numerous close losses to Ramirez, Barczak, and others.
174 - 4 Allocations
Outlook: The four wrestlers to earn allocations are O'Malley (#9), Foca (#14), Incontrera (#22), and Pasiuk (#23). There are a few other quality wrestlers who can steal a spot here. Within this list includes Logan of Lehigh, Fine of Columbia, Kim of Harvard, Nolan of Binghamton, Crebs of Navy, and Dugan of Princeton. I would even include Ferro of LIU in this list. The secondary list of contenders seems to have all beaten one another somewhere down the line this season - which will make for an exciting bracket. Foca has been injured with a concussion the entire month. We will see how much the time missed will affect him.
Prediction: Based on this year's results, O'Malley should be the favorite to win this one. I would love to see him and Foca go at it in the finals with an all-New Jersey final. O'Malley has wrestled Foca numerous times growing up, and never lost to him. Could this outcome change? I am going to go with O'Malley on this one. I think it will be a close match.
Dark Horse Watch: I'm torn between a few here, but I think Logan has the best chance to upset someone and earn an automatic bid. He's already beaten Foca this year. With a 10-11 record, almost all of his losses are very respectable in terms of quality of opponent and score. Plus, every year, Lehigh has a bracket buster at EIWA's. I think this will be Logan's time.
184 - 3 Allocations
Outlook: The three wrestlers to earn an allocation at this weight are Loew (#13), Stefanik (#24), and Small (#31). Two ranked opponents did not qualify for the allocations - Antrassian (#29) of Penn and Key (#30) of Navy. This weight will be a battle-tested bracket, with the potential to have at least two ranked wrestlers missing an automatic bid. Similar to 133lbs, this weight has a lot of talent with so few automatic qualifiers. Other wrestlers to watch include Laughlin of Army, Burkhart of Lehigh, Bonino of Columbia and McLaughlin of Drexel (who was an NCAA qualifier last season). I have a feeling that this weight may steal a wild card or two after conferences.
Prediction: I will assume we see a Loew vs. Stefanik final. Stefanik had a close bout with Loew in February this season, but I do not see him closing the gap again. Loew will win another low-scoring match.
Dark Horse Watch: Very rarely is a returning NCAA Qualifier a dark horse, but the way things shook out here only earning three automatic allocations, Bryan McLaughlin in the dark horse at this weight. Coming down from 197lbs, he has a one-point loss to Small and a three-point loss to Antrassian this season. Early in November, he was on the brink of upsetting Max Lyon (#28) of Purdue. McLaughlin is a fun guy to watch wrestle, always in some sort of scramble position. Do not be surprised to see him get enough wins to find a way to Detroit.
197 - 5 Allocations
Outlook: The five allocations were earned by Deprez (#14), Cardenas (#18), Stout (#19), Koser (#25) and Brown (#26). This is a fun weight. I feel any of these guys can win the bracket. But, when you throw in guys like Urbas of Penn, Rogers of Hofstra, and Crowley of LIU, the quarterfinals will be very competitive. 197 is not super top-heavy, but the depth is there for sure. Deprez is a returning All-American down at 184lb last season, so expect him to be the top seed. The winner of the Koser/Brown quarter will give Deprez a good match in the semis. Last meeting, Deprez beat Koser in overtime. Rogers and Urbas have been in and out of the rankings all season, while Crowley has been very consistent with his results. Expect some fireworks here.
Prediction: Interestingly, we have not seen Deprez since January, due to injury. Cardenas and Stout are both making EIWA debuts and should be in the mix to make a finals appearance. My prediction will be Deprez over Cardenas in a tight match to win another EIWA title.
Dark Horse Watch: My dark horse for this weight is Cole Urbas of Penn. He can make a run at this weight due to his skills on the mat. He is like a leech in the top position and uses his lengthy frame to his advantage. This style of wrestling late in the year can cause havoc on some of the 197lb wrestlers. If he finds himself in a low-scoring match, he can ride opponents out (or even turn) for the win.
285 - 4 Allocations
Outlook: The four allocations were earned by Wood (#7), Fernandes (#16), Knighton-Ward (#18), and Goldin (#28). With Doyle (#20) of Binghamton missing the total win percentage by one win, he's in the mix to steal an automatic bid. I would expect a wild card to be awarded to one of the five listed above if the weekend plays out as seeded. Some other names to keep an eye out for are Cover of Princeton and Catka of Navy. Wood seems to have separated himself from the rest of the crowd, even though his closest victory was 3-2 over Doyle during the start of the second semester. Potentially, we could see this rematch in the semifinals. This weight is very deep, even after Harvard's Slavikouski is out for the year with a knee injury. He was ranked 12th at the time. This may be the smallest heavyweight class we've seen in a while - in terms of overall weight. But this goes with a trend we've been seeing nationwide as of late, where many heavyweights are smaller and quicker, compared to the past.
Prediction: I think Wood will win this weight for his unprecedented FIFTH conference title. His opponent would most likely be Fernandes. I think he is just a little more fine-tuned on the mat compared to the rest of his half of the bracket, which will help him in the long run. I think Wood wins by a score of 5-2, maybe 5-3.
Dark Horse Watch: I've seen Catka of Navy this year. He is a smaller heavyweight who seems to struggle with opponents pushing close to that 285lb limit. With the size of the weight this year, he is a perfect dark horse candidate. He seems to have gradually gotten better as the year went on. I expect him to be ready this weekend and limit mistakes that may have cost him earlier in the season. The true freshman has a great opportunity in front of him.
Outlook: This will be a tight one. I've mentioned it before, but the EIWA is getting insanely deep in comparison to previous years. This team race will be a perfect example of that. With Penn making its way towards the top of the conference, we may see a four-way team race between Cornell (#9), Lehigh (#25), Princeton, and Penn. Cornell earned the Ivy League title this season, but this was in dual meet format. Do they have the firepower to win the tournament? Maybe the better question is, does anyone else have the depth to keep up with Cornell? Lehigh looks to be the annual threat, but they have been injured as of late. We may see Princeton and Penn go on a run and challenge Cornell.
Prediction: I think Cornell pulls out the team title. They would need a few guys to underperform in order to not win, in my opinion. I'm very high on Penn and think they will compete to a runner-up finish. This leaves Lehigh and Princeton to battle for 3rd. Lehigh's injuries have me slightly worried - maybe I'm thinking too muchâ€¦ Regardless, this will be fun!
Dark Horse Watch: Basically, a race for 5th place would include Columbia, Binghamton, Drexel, Army, and Navy. If I had to pick just one team that has the best chance to obtain the fifth spot, my money would be on Binghamton. I just have a feeling we will see Sobotker pin some dudes as usual; Anderson could win his weight class. Deprez is the favorite to win 197lb, while Doyle has not been a stranger to earning bonus points. They have a few wrestlers who may not be dark horses, but could certainly wrestle above their seed, like Lombard, Cassella, Nolan, and Day. This team has been very good this year. In my opinion, any of these teams could find themselves in the 5th place battle. This will be just as exciting to watch as the team race for first.
NOTE: All rankings shown are InterMat national rankings