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Five Things to Watch for at the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open

2017 Bearcat Open

An intriguing group of wrestlers is set to descend on Binghamton, New York this weekend for the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open. With the Journeymen Collegiate Classic just down I-88 near Schenectady, the Empire State will present a pair of excellent viewing options for college wrestling fans this weekend. Wrestling begins at 9 am eastern time this Sunday, November 12th, 2017. Here are five things we’ll be keeping an eye on based on the current entry list viewable on TrackWrestling.

1) Cornell gets to the party early

Though their published schedule has the Big Red making their season debut next Friday night on November 17th against Northern Iowa, a large group of wrestlers from the 11-time defending EIWA champions are entered here. Two-time Cadet world champion Yianni Daikomihalis (141) is set to compete in his first college competition which is worth the price of admission on its own. 16th ranked Max Dean (184) and Ben Darmstadt (197) will also be in action for the first time since coming to Cornell after both spent a year competing for Finger Lakes. Last year’s 125 pound starter Noah Baughman is up at 133 for this event. He could go back down at some point, but keep an eye on how he does at the heavier weight. Joe Galasso (157) and sixth-ranked All-American Brandon Womack (174) are also up a weight from where we’ve seen them previously, though those moves were expected. In all 31 athletes are entered for Cornell with 125 being the only class where they entered just one competitor (Michael Russo).

2) Cornell’s future will also be on display

Beyond Diakomihalis, Dean, and Darmstadt, several wrestlers from Finger Lakes Wrestling Club that are expected to move on to Cornell at some point will compete. True freshmen Vito Arujau (133), Jake Brindley (157), and Andrew Berreyesa (174) are all high-profile recruits expected to wear the C next season. Dominic LaJoie (125), Sammy Cokeley (157), and Seth Janney (285) should as well. Minnesota transfer Fredy Stroker (157) is also wrestling under the Finger Lakes banner this weekend. Adding these athletes to the contingent already in school should give us a good account of where the Cornell program is headed. It should also set up some intriguing battles between current starters and those who may challenge them in the future.

3) The champs are here…sort of

While Penn State has a dual on Sunday against Bucknell preventing them from sending their starters, the incredible depth of their roster means even a smattering of backups and redshirts makes a strong squad. Nick Lee (141) looked outstanding at the Clarion Open until 14th ranked Brock Zacherl (Clarion) over-powered him a bit in the finals. A clash with Diakomihalis would be a must-see. True freshman and past Cadet world champion Jarod Verkleeren (149) is set to compete for the first time as is Senior Greco world team member Mason Manville (165). Perhaps the most intriguing entrant, though, is senior Matt McCutcheon (197). McCutcheon is ranked fourth in the country, but is apparently locked in a battle for the starting job with oft-injured Anthony Cassar. With McCutcheon entered here, it seems to indicate Cassar will get the nod in Penn State’s dual against Bucknell. Shakur Rasheed (197) is also entered after moving up two weights.

4) The Roger Reina era begins…again

The legendary coach’s latest tenure as Penn’s head man begins at the Bearcat Open as the Quakers bring their best. All three of Penn’s returning 2017 NCAA qualifiers are set to begin their senior seasons with May Bethea, ranked 18th at 157, sliding up to 165 while number 20 Joe Heyob (184) and EIWA champion Frank Mattiace (197), sitting seventh nationally, reprise their roles from last season. With Bethea moving up, Joe Velliquette, who had several good wins at 165 last season makes the cut to 157. If he thrives at that weight, the team will be even stronger. National Prep champion Khamari Whimper (174) is yet another promising young grappler making his college debut here. This squad could terrorize some teams from 157-197, though they could use some additional weapons. We’ll see if anyone steps forward this weekend.

5) But wait, there’s more!

Many schools are sending partial crews and a few other full DI squads will be in attendance. That means we’ll see 20th ranked Kyle Akins (Buffalo) at 125, 20th ranked Cam Kelly (Ohio) at 133, number 18 Noah Forrider (Ohio) at 141, 20th ranked Hunter Ladnier (Harvard) at 149, 17th ranked Justin Staudenmayer (Brown) at 157, 14th ranked Steven Schneider (Binghamton) at 184, and 15th ranked Garrett Ryan (Columbia) at 285. In addition, true freshman Brandon Courtney (Virginia) is entered at 141 adding to the list of possible future stars in attendance. With ranked wrestlers at every weight and plenty of contenders looking to knock them off, it should be a highly entertaining day in Binghamton!

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