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  • Photo: Photo/Darren Miller

    Photo: Photo/Darren Miller

    WRTC Underground 1 Preview & Predictions

    Bryce Meredith defeated Austin DeSanto at the Hawkeye Showdown Open (Photo/Darren Miller)

    On Tuesday, the Wisconsin RTC will become the latest regional training center to launch its own in-house event series. The WRTC's first show features an interesting mix of former NCAA standouts, prospects set to hit the college scene and recent world medalists. The following is a match-by-match previous of the card, which airs live on Rokfin Tuesday at 5 p.m. CT.

    Drew Scharenbrock vs. Kevin Meicher

    After competing in mostly open tournaments throughout the first semester, Scharenbrock got the starting nod for a variety of Big Ten duals down the stretch for Wisconsin last year. He finished his redshirt freshman season with an 18-10 record. Along the way, he scored signature victories over the likes of Carson Brolsma, Paden Moore and Hunter Ladnier. As a high school senior in 2018, Scharenbrock finished fifth at Fargo with victories over Colton Yapoujian and Victor Voinovich.

    Meicher will join Scharenbrock on the Wisconsin team this year. He redshirted at Minnesota for his first year in college before transferring. During the redshirt season, he competed exclusively in open tournaments and went 8-8. His best finish came at the Don Parker Open where he finished fifth.

    Scharenbrock has faced better competition on the college level and produced better results. These two have likely seen each other often in the training room already, so that might introduce some odd factors, but in the end, Scharenbrock should be the one picking up the win.

    Prediction: Scharenbrock VPO over Meicher

    Jared Krattiger vs. Eddie Smith

    Krattiger was pressed into service at 174 pounds for the Badgers last year. He was the starter from the jump and went 9-17 on the season. At the Big Ten tournament, Krattiger went 2-2 with victories over Willie Scott (Rutgers) and Phil Spadafora (Maryland). He recently entered the Junior Nationals and had a strong showing. Krattiger finished third at 79 kilograms with a victory over Nick Incontrera in the third-place match.

    Smith was a two-time Division III All-American for Loras. He was set to be the fifth seed at 165 pounds at the NCAA tournament before cancellation. For his senior year, he went 15-6 with four falls. Smith will be a coach for Loras for the upcoming season.

    Even though Krattiger took some lumps as a starter last year, he showed at Junior Nationals that he is clearly making strides. Smith might be able to hang for a bit in this match, but Krattiger should be able to win easily.

    Prediction: Krattiger VSU1 over Smith

    Ginamarie Santiago-Ayala vs. Alexis Gomez

    Santiago-Ayala hails from Puerto Rico and will be wrestling for Indian Hills Community College next season. She first put her name on the map in 2016. She entered the 132-pound cadet bracket at Fargo and finished third. Her only defeat came against current McKendree wrestler Alara Boyd in the second round.

    The 68-kilogram tournament at Junior Nationals was a round robin, and Gomez made her mark. She won all four of her matches without surrendering a single point. All of the victories came via match termination, and she outscored her opponents by a combined 41-0. Gomez will be a sophomore for Grand View this season.

    Gomez went from finishing fifth at Junior Nationals in 2019 to winning it decisively this year. She is clearly making improvement in the Grand View room, and she be able to control this one from start to finish.

    Prediction: Gomez VSU over Santiago-Ayala

    Joe Zargo vs. Hunter Lewis

    Zargo signed with Wisconsin out of Bergen Catholic as a highly ranked recruit. Following the 2017-2018 season, he won FloNationals and placed at both Fargo and Cadet Nationals. Zargo recently entered Junior Nationals where he went 4-2 with victories over Pedro Lozano, Hunter Gilmore, Kyle Prewitt and Joey Bianchi.

    Lewis redshirted his first season at NC State as he recovered from a knee injury. The Wisconsin native was a two-time state champion in high school, and he also has plenty of international experience already as well. At the 2018 Cadet Pan American Championships, he took gold medals in both styles. He returned the following year at the junior level and won gold in Greco. Lewis also represented the U.S. at the 2018 Cadet World Championships, but he failed to place.

    This should be an interesting match between two wrestlers coming to the collegiate scene. Zargo. Lewis seemed to have the early success, but Zargo is clearly learning on the job. On top of that, Lewis will be returning to action after a lengthy layoff. Look for Zargo to have to edge at the WRTC.

    Prediction: Zargo VPO1 over Lewis

    Peter Christensen vs. Danny Chaid

    Christensen went 8-9 as a true freshman for Wisconsin last season. He represented the squad in three dual matches, but he is expected to start at 197 pounds this year. Christensen's last major freestyle action came when he made the finals of the 2018 Junior Nationals. He won six-straight matches before coming up short against Lucas Davison and finishing second.

    After stops at Oklahoma and Grand Canyon, Chaid ended up at North Carolina for his last three years of collegiate eligibility. He finished his college career in 2018 as a time-two NCAA qualifier. After spending his time at North Carolina at 197 pounds, he has recently moved up to heavyweight. He also entered the recent Senior Nationals and finished fifth with victories over Christian Lance and Youssif Hemida.

    This should be an interesting test for Christensen. If he really is going to hold down a 197-pound starting spot in the Big Ten, he will be facing competitors on Chaid's level on the regular. Look for Chaid to have the advantage here. The experience edge plus his size advantage will likely be more than enough to carry him to victory.

    Prediction: Chaid VPO1 over Christensen

    Fritz Schierl vs. Ben Provisor

    Schierl is a reserve wrestler for Ohio State with one season of eligibility remaining. Last season, he went 16-7 at 174 pounds. Towards the end of the season, Schierl received the opportunity to start in a dual against Northwestern and score a third period fall over Ankhaa Enkhmandakh. Schierl's best results have always come in Greco. He has place second at both the 2018 and 2019 U23 Nationals. This year, he placed seventh at Senior Nationals and fifth at U23s.

    Provisor is currently in the hunt for his third-straight trip to the Olympics after representing the U.S. at both the 2012 and 2016 Games. In 2019, he came in third at the U.S. Open before winning the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. However, Provisor came up short in his bid to make the world team at Final X as he dropped a pair of matches against Joe Rau. Back in August Provisor faced off against rival ReVaughn Perkins on the debut Wrestling Underground show. After a back-and-forth first period filled with throws, Provisor held on for the 10-9 victory.

    The Ohio State representative certainly has some Greco credentials, but he is facing off against a veteran who has seen it all. He deserves credit for taking this match on late notice, but Provisor should be able to dictate the pace of this match. If he ends up on top, it could be a short night for Schierl.

    Prediction: Provisor VSU1 over Schierl

    Alyssa Lampe vs. Sarah Hildebrandt

    Lampe is a two-time world bronze medalist after bringing back medals from the 2012 and 2013 World Championships. She returned for the 2019 Senior Nationals and won the tournament at 50 kilograms. Along the way she defeated the likes of Amy Fearnside and Victoria Anthony. In October, Lampe wrestled again at the 2020 Senior Nationals. This time she finished third after falling 6-5 against Fearnside in a rematch.

    Hildebrandt brought home a silver medal from the 2018 World Championships, and she is looking to add an Olympic medal to her collection this year. While Hildebrandt's medal came at 53 kilograms, she has been down at 50 kilograms since March. She qualified the weight through the Pan American Olympic Qualification tournament and then entered the 2020 Senior Nationals. At that event, she defeated her four opponents without surrendering a single point and outscored her opponents 38-0.

    Hildebrandt seems to have mastered the weight cut down to 50 kilograms. In terms of common opponents, she has a large edge. While Lampe has gone back and forth with Fernside, Hildebrandt dominated on the way to an 8-0 victory. She should be able to score early and often in this one.

    Prediction: Hildebrandt VSU over Lampe

    Seth Gross vs. Bryce Meredith

    Gross won an NCAA title at South Dakota State as a junior in 2018. After a medical redshirt and transfer to Wisconsin, he returned last year. He went 27-2 on the year with his losses coming against Sebastian Rivera and Austin DeSanto. Despite a loss to Rivera at the Big Ten tournament, Gross would have been one of the favorites for an NCAA title at 133 pounds. In his only action since the collegiate season, Gross faced off against Joe Colon at Beat the Streets. The match was a shootout, but Colon ended up taking it 21-15.

    Meredith was a two-time NCAA finalist and a three-time All-American at Wyoming. He finished his collegiate career in 2018 with a 33-2 record but came up short against Yianni Diakomihalis. In 2019, Meredith won a bronze medal at the Dave Schultz Memorial and finished sixth at the U.S. Open. Prior to shutdowns related to the pandemic, he added a bronze medal from the Cerro Pelado tournament. In recent action, Meredith has turned back challenges from both Beau Bartlett and Austin DeSanto.

    This should be a real treat for fans who love scrambling. Both wrestlers can score from a variety of positions and refuse to give up on an exchange. I would imagine Gross has the strong defensive ability, but Meredith will have a bit of a size advantage, and he has been more active recently. Look for the former Wyoming representative to have a slight edge, but this should be a close one.

    Prediction: Meredith VPO1 over Gross

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