Cal Poly's Legend Lamer (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
All start times Pacific Standard Time. InterMat Individual/Tournament/Dual Rankings (December 22) are used where appropriate.
Despite the precautionary cancellation of this year's Midlands Championships, the conclusion of 2021 is still expected to ignite the kind of fireworks wrestling fans have grown accustomed to in non-pandemic years. With the emergence of the ILMatMen Open and the (since canceled) Hawkeye Open in the wake of the Midlands, the entire Pac-12 conference is expected on a wrestling mat sometime during the week ahead, with a neutral-site, powderkeg dual-meet pitting #6 Arizona State against #4 Michigan on January 3rd headlining the upcoming span of days.
Wednesday, December 29th - Thursday, December 30th
ILMatMen Open - Day 1 & 2 (8am, Live on Rokfin) Preseeds
Pac-12 Teams Expected: #4 Arizona State (partial), #16 Cal Poly (partial), Oregon State (partial)
With teams like Rutgers, Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh bringing their studs to compete, heated contests are predicted in the Prairie State. Partial teams and select entrants are the norm for the Pac-12 at the ILMatMen Open, with Cal Poly expected to field the largest contingent of around half a line-up. The anticipated return of #6 Bernie Truax (184), whom we haven't seen since the Michigan State Open, highlights the Pac-12 entrants, alongside fellow Mustangs, #30 Antonio Lorenzo (125) and #18 Legend Lamer (149), among others. Also expected in the field are bubble-range/back-up wrestlers in Arizona State's Julian Chlebove (133) and Oregon State's Ryan Reyes (197), as well as #16 Trey Munoz (184) - who is fresh off a Reno TOC title.
Truax may find himself immediately in the thick of things, with 184lbs expecting four other All-Americans, including graduate and past NCAA Champion Mark Hall (formerly of Penn State, now on staff at Penn), and super senior and 2021 Olympic Bronze, #2 Myles Amine (Michigan). If he intends to truly vie for a national title, Truax will need the challenge brought by the likes of Hall and Amine. Another All-American in the bracket is #7 Brit Wilson (Northern Illinois). Fellow conference competitor Trey Munoz will also stake his claim at the weight, and there is the chance that Truax and Munoz wrestle head-to-head.
At 125lbs, seven wrestlers ranked between #25 and #33 - including Lorenzo - are expected. At 149lbs, Legend Lamer will chase #10 Josh Heil (Campbell) and #11 Austin Gomez (Wisconsin) as he aims to propel himself into the national top ten. Chlebove is in a deep-weight at 133lbs, as several national qualifiers chase the top-two seeded wrestlers in All-American, #7 Lucas Byrd and NCAA Top 12, #6 Micky Phillippi. Finally, at 197lbs, Ryan Reyes aims to solidify his place as the starter for the Beavers as well as reintroduce himself in the national conversation, as he has returning NCAA Runner-up, #2 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt), #12 Greg Bulsak (Rutgers), and age-group phenom, #26 Braxton Amos (Wisconsin) at the top of his bracket.
Saturday, January 1st - Sunday, January 2nd
Southern Scuffle - Day 1 & 2 (7am, Live on FloWrestling)
Pac-12 Teams Expected: #21 Stanford, Little Rock, CSU Bakersfield
Entry lists indicate the majority of the No. 1's from #21 Stanford, Little Rock, and CSU Bakersfield will be scuffling in Tennessee when the new year logs its first hours. With ranked wrestlers, All-Americans and national qualifiers aplenty at each weight class, this edition of the Southern Scuffle is set to host a quality of competition we've grown to expect from the event.
The 133lbs weight-class intends to feature a strong Pac-12 contingent, with #17 Chance Rich (CSU Bakersfield) and #29 Jackson DiSario entered. Ranked opponents may include All-American, #11 Rayvon Foley (Michigan State), #25 Jake Gliva (Minnesota), and #26 Kellyn March (North Dakota State). Unranked Jaylen Carson (133) has wrestled well in the first semester and may be set to breakout onto the national scene with a noteworthy performance at the Scuffle. A weight above, 141lbs is also shaping into a densely-packed bracket, with the Pac-12's #7 Real Woods (Stanford) and #22 Angelo Martinoni (CSU Bakersfield) slated to pursue the likes of #6 Clay Carlson (South Dakota State), #8 Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado), and #9 Kizhan Clarke (North Carolina). Other ranked wrestlers in the field include #13 Matt Kazimir (Columbia), #15 Allan Hart (Missouri), and #28 Collin Gerardi (Virginia Tech).
The 174lbs weight-class appears to be anybody's bracket to win, with #8 Matt Finesilver, a 2x NCAA Qualifier, leading the entrants in credentials. #28 Tyler Eischens (Stanford), #31 Triston Wills (Little Rock), and UR Albert Urias (CSU Bakersfield) will have the opportunities to further their claims as serious contenders on the national scene as they look to knock off ranked opponents in #11 Chris Foca (Cornell), #12 Cade DeVos (South Dakota State), #13 Peyton Mocco (Missouri), #15 Michael O'Malley (Drexel), #17 Clay Lautt (North Carolina), and #33 Thomas Flitz (Appalachian State).
Monday, January 3rd
#6 Arizona State vs. #4 Michigan (5pm, Live on FloWrestling)
Fresh off a Collegiate Duals performance that saw Arizona State top Hofstra and then-#9 Virginia Tech, before dropping a 29-10 dual-meet to #2 Penn State, Coach Zeke Jones will field his #6 Sun Devils against Coach Sean Bormet's #4 Michigan Men. The gossip among the community suggests the dual will mark the return of one Nick Suriano, NCAA Champion and Runner-up, to the collegiate landscape. We shall see if he takes the mat against NCAA Runner-up Brandon Courtney at 125lbs. Of note, Michigan may put out a line-up that features ten ranked (or rankable) wrestlers with two Olympians among them.
125: #4 Brandon Courtney vs. #19 Jack Medley / UR Nick Suriano
133: #4 Michael McGee vs. #8 Dylan Ragusin
141: #17 Jesse Vasquez vs. #3 Stevan Micic
149: #9 Kyle Parco vs. #17 Kanen Storr
157: #3 Jacori Teemer vs. #15 Will Lewan
165: #6 Anthony Valencia vs. #10 Cameron Amine
174: UR Zane Coleman vs. #6 Logan Massa
184: UR Josh Nummer vs. #2 Myles Amine
197: #9 Kordell Norfleet vs. #8 Patrick Brucki
285: #3 Cohlton Schultz vs. #2 Mason Parris