We’re breaking down every weight class at the 2017 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship set for next week in St. Louis. We usually start our previews at 125, but this time around we thought we’d give the big fellas the first look and work our way down. We’ll start with some facts for reference, break down who can win the weight, who will contend for All-American honors, how this weight will effect the team race, and end with a little analysis for those of you participating in fantasy wrestling contests. If you missed 285, 197 or 184, check them out as well. Enjoy and check back later for much more!
ACC – Zach Epperly (Virginia Tech)
Big 10 - Bo Jordan (Ohio State)
Big 12 – Kyle Crutchmer (Oklahoma State)
EIWA – Brian Realbuto (Cornell)
EWL – Ty Schoffstall (Edinboro)
MAC – Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa)
Pac-12 – Zahid Valencia (Arizona State)
SoCon – Jake Residori (SIU-Edwardsville)
Performance by Seed, Last 10 Years (13-16 seed started in 2014)
1: 10 AAs, 9 finalists, 7 champions
2: 9 AAs, 6 finalists, 2 champions
3: 9 AAs, 1 finalist
4: 6 AAs
5: 6 AAs
6: 7 AAs
7: 10 AAs, 1 finalist
8: 6 AAs
9: 2 AAs
10: 1 AA
11: 3 AAs, 1 finalist, 1 champion
12: 2 AAs
13: 1 AA
14: 0 AAs
15: 0 AAs
16: 0 AAs
US: 8 AAs
Zach Epperly (Virginia Tech) - 3rd in 2016, 7th in 2015
Casey Kent (Penn) - 4th in 2016
Lelund Weatherspoon (Iowa State) - 6th in 2016
Alex Meyer (Iowa) - 8th in 2016
Bo Jordan (Ohio State) - 3rd in 2016 at 165, 3rd in 2015 at 165
Kyle Crutchmer (Oklahoma State) - 5th in 2015
Ethan Ramos (North Carolina) - 6th in 2015 at 165
Brian Realbuto (Cornell) - 2nd in 2015 at 157, 6th in 2014 at 157
Who can win?
This weight is wide open with as many as eight wrestlers who could win it without being too much of a surprise. Top-seeded Zahid Valencia (Arizona State) is 33-0 but faces a potential third match with eight seed Ethan Ramos (North Carolina) in the quarters. Ramos has given Valencia two difficult matches, falling 11-10 and 2-1. It is entirely possible that Valencia completes his perfect season, but it won't be easy. Assuming he gets past Ramos, a battle with either five seed Mark Hall (Penn State) or four seed Zach Epperly (Virginia Tech) will await in the semi-finals. Epperly finished third a season ago, but expect everyone to have Hall advancing. The true freshman is incredible, but he will have to be at his best to beat the Hokie junior. On the bottom side, Bo Jordan (Ohio State) will likely see 2016 All-American Lelund Weatherspoon (Iowa State), Ryan Preisch (Lehigh), and then have a chance to avenge his only loss of the season against Brian Realbuto (Cornell). Preisch will have to avenge a loss of his own in his opener against Jordan Pagano (Rutgers), while Realbuto will have to get past seven seed Kyle Crutchmer (Oklahoma State) who owns a win over the Cornell senior from last season.
While any of the top eight seeds could come through, expect Valencia to reign supreme up top, whether we get to see a showdown with Hall or not. The bottom is a mess with all sorts of possibilities, but too many people will pick against Realbuto given what he has done this season and in his career. He beat Jordan and owns the last win against Crutchmer. He is also outstanding at the NCAA tournament when he is healthy. Still, if this weight is wrestled 10 times I don't think any wrestler from the bottom half makes the finals more than five times. It is that close.
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