TOM’s American Wrestler 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championship Preview – 157 and 165


Welcome back; hope you all enjoyed your weekend. Today we will look at the 157 and 165 brackets. One of them features a possible match between two defending champions and the other features one of the sports rising stars.

This years Hodge winner may just come from one of these two weights. We will know more this Saturday night. Also, what would this year’s tournament be with out a seeding head scratcher? We will address that once we get into the breakdown.


  • 2010 National Finals – J.P. O’Connor (HAR) Dec. Chase Pami CALPOLY), 6-4
  • 2006 National Finals – Ben Cherrington (BSU) Dec. Brian Stith (ASU), 7-3

Top 12 Seeds

  1. Adam Hall (BSU)
  2. Steve Fittery (AMER)
  3. David Taylor (PSU)
  4. Bubba Jenkins (ASU)
  5. Jesse Dong (VATECH)
  6. Derek St. John (IA)
  7. Bryce Saddoris (NAVY)
  8. Jason Welch (NW)
  9. James Fleming (Clarion)
  10. Daryl Cocozzo (RUT)
  11. Walter Peppelman (HAR)
  12. Paul Young (IN)

Well we alluded to the seeding earlier but in this case there is some logic to it all. Hall is the highest returning placer and is undefeated. Fittery is a returning AA and undefeated as well. So in the end we can see how they seeded it and it makes sense.

Hall will face Cornell’s Meagher in the opening round. This is not the easiest first round draw for a number one seed. Meagher has wrestled a tough schedule and has faced Hall earlier in the year. Hall came away with a 5-2 victory. Hall has had some close matches versus ranked opponents and we expect this one to be close with Hall moving on.

In the next round we see Hall getting past either Sulzer of Eastern Michigan or Salazar of Purdue. Of those two, we believe that Salazar would pose the larger threat. Either way we think Hall ends up in the first quarter final.

In the next group we see Clarion’s Fleming winning his first match of the tournament. Fleming only has two losses on the season and they both came at the hands of Sooners. He has not wrestled a ton of ranked wrestlers, but is very dangerous. Look for him to get past McMurray of Michigan State and advance to the second round.

The next match should be a good one. Oklahoma’s Chase Nelson has opened some eyes this year and does have a win over the above mentioned Fleming. He will face Jason Welch of Northwestern. Welch has had a solid season only dropping four matches so far. This should be a good one that we see Welch winning.

In the second round Welch should have his hands full with Fleming. At this point, we feel that if Welch is aggressive on his feet and creates a lot of action he will have the advantage. He can not allow Fleming to control the ties. Welch wins a close one and moves in the quarters against Hall.

Look for both Jesse Dong of Virginia Tech and Paul Young of Indiana to move past their first round matches and face one another in the second round. This is a great second round match up that we expect to be high scoring. Now we could be wrong on that, but both these guys get after it and we expect no less on the biggest stage. In the end we think Dong will get the win and move on to the quarters.

Arizona State’s Bubba Jenkins received a favorable draw. He should be able to work his way into the quarter finals. We do not see anyone in this group knocking him off. Upsets do happen so we can never say with certainty.

Top Half Quarters

  • Hall vs. Welch
  • Dong vs. Jenkins

We kick the bottom half off with freshman phenom David Taylor of Penn State. Nobody in this weight has put up the numbers he has. Fittery has come close, but Taylor has simply dominated all season long. His toughest match in this grouping will come in the first round against Oklahoma State’s Erisman. With that said look for Taylor in the quarters.

The next group is far more interesting. Harvard’s Walter Peppelman starts things off. He had been ranked in our top five most the year but a bad conference tournament dropped him some. He will face a very tough Salminen of North Dakota State. Salminen only has a handful of losses. One was to top seed hall in sudden victory and another is a 4-3 loss to Jenkins. In an upset we are going with Salminen.

Look for Iowa Hawkeye Derek St. John to get by his first match and face Salminen. We are somewhat disappointed that Taylor and St. John ended up where they did. Most people were hoping that they would be separated. Look for St. John to win and face Taylor in the quarters.

Next we see Saddoris of Navy getting past a young Morse from Illinois. The pigtail between Mock of North Carolina and Northern Illinois Deutsch should be a good match. Look for Mock to win and face Rutgers Cocozzo in the first round. We like the way Cocozzo has wrestled this year and his hard nosed style should carry him into a second round match up with Saddoris. Cocozzo has beaten Saddoris this season and we think he does again and moves into the quarters.
Second seed Fittery of American also gets a rather tough first round match when he faces Maryland’s Kyle John. John is no slouch and we expect this match to be competitive. Fittery should get past this early challenge and win his second round match to advance to the next round.

Bottom Half Quarters

  • Taylor vs. St. John
  • Cocozzo vs. Fittery

We are listing the Hall vs. Welch match as a possible upset alert. Hall has not dominated his higher ranked opponents. Welch has the talent to beat him and should push him. If Hall allows him to stay in the match he may have his hands full. We do think Hall wins here, but keep your eyes on this one. The same could be said for the Dong and Jenkins match. Dong is one tough customer and should come after Bubba. Remember that Bubba has missed significant time this year so we will see if he is at the top of his game in a grueling tournament. We expect to see Bubba win this one though.

Now we get a re-match of the Big 10 Championship match. Many stated that they thought St. John closed the gap after their last match and that may be true. But if you watched the match you will see that St. John had no real offensive attack against Taylor. His one takedown came as a result of a scramble where Taylor initiated the action. St. John is very talented but he will need to find a way to attack Taylor. We are not so sure that will happen just yet. Look for Taylor to advance to the semi-final.

Rounding things out will be Fittery and Cocozzo. We favor Fittery here. He has wrestled well all season long and should be able to continue that here. We do expect Cocozzo to put up a good fight though.


  • Hall vs. Jenkins
  • Taylor vs. Fittery

Well technically Hall owns the only win here, if you are not counting the All-Star match. But in reality they have split on the season and this will serve as the rubber match. This is a tough one to call as they are so evenly matched. We are going with Jenkins in a minor upset and setting up a possible final with Taylor.

Then we have what many thought would be the finals match this year. Fittery and Taylor has been talked about for sometime and we should finally get to see it in the second semi-final. We expect this one to be very exciting with a ton of scoring. Expect Fittery to really come after Taylor and look for Taylor counter with low level attacks. When the dust settles we see Taylor coming out on top.


  • Jenkins vs. Taylor

Ok, ok we know this is a bit story book considering the history, but it is totally plausible. Both guys have the respect of one another as ex-teammates and we all know the history of Bubba. All this sets up what may be the most intriguing finals of the day. This could also be another high scoring affair, but we would not be surprised if it stayed low either. They are familiar with each other and that may be a factor in this bout. We are going with Taylor until someone proves us otherwise.

TOM’s Prediction for All-Americans (Note this may not be the exact order)

David Taylor
Bubba Jenkins
Steve Fittery
Adam Hall
Derek St. John
Jesse Dong
Walter Peppelman
Bryce Saddoris


  • 2010 National Finals – Andrew Howe (WI) Dec. Dan Vallimont (PSU), 9-3
  • 2006 National Finals – Johny Hendricks (OSU) Dec. Ryan Churella (MI), 9-8

Top 12 Seeds

  1. Jordan Burroughs (NEB)
  2. Andrew Howe (WI)
  3. Tyler Caldwell (OK)
  4. Josh Asper (MD)
  5. Colt Sponseller (tOSU)
  6. Dallas Bailey (OKST)
  7. Shane Onufer (WYO)
  8. Scott Winston (RUTG)
  9. Justin Kerber (CORN)
  10. Zach Toal (MIZZ)
  11. Aaron Janssen
  12. Cody Yohn (MN)

At 165 it is wide open after the top two seeds. This may be the toughest weight to pick possible All-Americans at. No real surprises here when it came to the seeding. There is just a large number of guys that could doe well and that will make getting in the top eight a challenge.

We kick things off with Hodge contender Jordan Burroughs of Nebraska. Burroughs has had an excellent year bouncing back from knee surgery last season. He should be able to cruise to the quarter finals with his biggest test coming in the second round against Lister of Binghamton.

In the second group we expect to see Cornell’s Justin Kerber and Scott Winston advance to the second round. There has been some talk about Kerber not being 100% so we will see, but Winston earned an impressive win over him at the conference championships. Look for Winston to do it again and move on to face Burroughs in the quarters.

Ohio State Buckeye Colt Sponseller has been impressive since moving up in weight. Sponseller should win his opening match and move into the second round. There he will most likely face Big 10 rival Cody Yohn of Minnesota. Yohn better not look past his first round match against Columbia’s Civan. Civan opened some eyes at the conference tournament. We do think Yohn gets past him, but he better on his game. As we already said Sponseller seems to be wrestling very well and we expect that to continue against Yohn. Sponseller wins by decision.

Maryland’s Josh Asper should be able to navigate the next group and earn a place in the quarters. He will most likely face Stephen Burak of Penn in his second round match. Of course Burak will have to beat the winner of Booth and Scotton first, but currently we think Burak is wrestling the best of that group. We do see Asper winning and sliding into the quarters.

Top Half Quarters

  • Burroughs vs. Winston
  • Sponseller vs. Asper

Now let’s look at the first group in the bottom bracket. Oklahoma’s Tyler Caldwell received a very good draw from our perspective. He will face Graham from American in the first round and we suspect he will win that one and move on to face the winner of West Virginia’s Donnie Jones and Ross Tice of Kent State. Jones only has four losses on a light year and should be ready for this match. We see Caldwell controlling a match with Jones and moving on.

Look for Iowa’s Aaron Janssen to earn a first round win and move to the next round where he most likely will face Bailey of Oklahoma State. We were somewhat puzzled by Bailey getting the sixth seed here. He is 4-4 in his last 8 matches with one of those losses coming to an unranked opponent. On the flip side Janssen seems to be getting his feet under him as does the rest of the Iowa team. Look for Janssen to knock Bailey off here.

We find the next four matches all very interesting. Starting it off we have Shane Onufer from Wyoming. He gets a very tough draw against Luvsandorj of the Citidal. He will be trying to upset the apple cart here, but we think Onufer squeaks out a close one. Then we have Resnick of Rider and Missouri’s Zach Toal. Toal has hovered around the top ten all season and done pretty well. Resnick has also appeared in the rankings throughout the season. We are going with Toal to move on, but not by much.

Rounding this one out we see Howe of Wisconsin making the quarter finals on the bottom. He may get a test early from DesRoches from Cal Poly but we anticipate Howe winning that one. In the second round we think he will see Lehigh’s Hatchett. We expect him to win that match up as well.

Bottom Half Quarters

  • Caldwell vs. Janssen
  • Onufer vs. Howe

Kicking the quarters off we have Burroughs and Winston. Can Winston slow Burroughs down? That is the questions here. We think he will have a hard time keeping pace. Burroughs has been lights out all year and we do not see any reason that changes. Burroughs moves into the semi-final.

The next match should be very interesting. Asper has really impressed us this season. He has wrestled very well. Sponseller has had a stellar second half to his year as well. This should be a real battle. It’s a tough one to call but we are leaning towards Asper winning a close one.

Moving into the bottom half we start with what should be another close match between Caldwell and Janssen. Caldwell impressed us at the Big 12 and we think he will be able to hold off Janssen. Do not be surprised it this is pretty close though. We wrap the round up with Onufer and Howe. This will be a good test for Howe. Onufer also played with the idea of wrestling at a lower weight and decided to move up. Since then he has wrestled well. Howe wins and moves on.


  • Burroughs vs. Asper
  • Caldwell vs. Howe

As we stated Asper has wrestled very well. But we just are not sure it will be enough to knock of Burroughs. This may be close but we expect Burroughs to control the match from his feet. Burroughs wins a relatively close match. In the bottom we are wondering if Caldwell can push Howe like he did Burroughs at the Big 12. Caldwell’s ability to close the gap with Burroughs could be the result of familiarity. He has not really seen Howe so we suspect that works to Howe’s advantage. That should set up a Howe vs. Burroughs final.


  • Burroughs vs. Howe

Another match that wrestling fans across the country have been waiting for. Although, these two have wrestled once already this year with Burroughs winning by a score of 10-7 the re-match should be a good one. The first match was much higher scoring then most of us expected and we are wondering if this match will take the same path. We are thinking it ends up being a much lower scoring bout. In the end we see Burroughs grinding out the win.

TOM’s Prediction for All-Americans (Note this may not be the exact order)

Jordan Burroughs
Andrew Howe
Josh Asper
Tyler Caldwell
Colt Sponseller
Shane Onufer
Aaron Janssen
Cody Yohn