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Lindenwood Open Preview

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photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com

2019 Lindenwood Open

Where: Robert F Hyland Arena, Lindenwood University-Lindenwood, MO

When: Saturday, November 23rd @ 9 AM

Follow: Trackwrestling

Watch: FloWrestling

Under Lindenwood head coach Jimmy Rollins, the Lindenwood Open has grown to one of the best Division II hosted opens in the country. It draws incredible local Division II talent as well as Division III, NAIA powerhouses, and elite Division I programs as well. It has been the site of Iowa Hawkeye coming-out parties, its seen Iowa State’s future shine bright, Mizzou young studs fighting for attention, and the Oklahoma State Cowboy backups taking their shots as well. And there, trying to take down them all are some of the toughest Division II athletes outside of the Midwest Classic. The two divisions are always chock full of talented athletes and this season is no different.

I visited Lindenwood early in October and spoke with coach Rollins about the growth of this tournament under his tenure. 

“This open has truly become a tremendous event for us to host on the campus of Lindenwood University. We really try to make sure we are putting together a great product with top-notch officials and programs from all over the country. There is a ton of behind the scenes work that goes on year-round to make this event what it is.”

It is truly a well-run tournament that features an excellent tournament staff. On top of that, coaches and athletes know the officials that cover the mats are going to be some of the best. No expense is spared to make sure that the Lindenwood Open is ready to go.

There will be nine Division II programs with athletes competing, including three teams in the top ten. Minnesota State-Mankato and Davenport are making the long trips south from Minnesota and Michigan, respectively. Fans will also be treated to more than a dozen teams from Division I sending an athlete or two. Both the Cowboys and Sooners are sending their backups. Iowa and Iowa State have the wrestlers not competing in the CyHawk dual-headed south. Gavin Teasdale was entered before just recently being withdrawn, but Abe Assad will be putting on a singlet. Mizzou always seems to make the trip with their backups and redshirts and even Northwestern is sending a former national qualifier. New program Arkansas-Little Rock and SIU Edwardsville will also send reps. And of course, the Big Ten will be well-represented with athletes from Purdue, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana, all joining the Hawkeyes. I mean seriously, how can you not want to be at this tournament? I know I would be there if I could.

Speaking of being there, if you are anywhere near there, make sure you bring a coat to donate for their community outreach. The Lindenwood Lions are hosting a coat drive at the tournament, let’s fill up that donation box. 

Division II teams

Central Oklahoma (OK)

Davenport (MI)

Drury (MO)

Kentucky Wesleyan (KY)

Lindenwood (MO)

Maryville (MO)

McKendree (IL)

Minnesota State Mankato (MN)

Newman (KS)

125

Top Division II Competitor(s)

Tanner Cole (Central Oklahoma)

Carlos Jacquez (Lindenwood)

Cody Karstetter (Central Oklahoma)

Tyler Kreith (Maryville)

Marcus Povlick (McKendree)

There are some very intelligent wrestlers at this weight class, including math whiz and returning Division II national champion Carlos Jacquez (Lindenwood), but they might lose in a game of Jeopardy to Boston RTC athlete Nolan Hellickson. Hellickson was a starter while at Harvard and he will carry the Ivy league banner this tournament. This will be the first action that Jacquez will see this season and he will be tested by not only the Division I athletes, but by All-Americans Tyler Kreith (Maryville) and Marcus Povlick (McKendree), who is back where he belongs at 125. There will also be Tanner Cole (Central Oklahoma), who is off to a great start this season and part of the best lightweight Super Regional in the country.

133

Top Division II Competitor(s)

Tanner Hitchcock (Lindenwood)

Charles McNeal (McKendree)

Tanner Hitchcock (Lindenwood) has looked like an absolute hammer this season. He won the MKBB Open defeating returning 125 All-American Marcus Povlick in the finals and he added another fall to his resume against Ouachita Baptist. Charles McNeal (McKendree) will be happy to have his spot back with the departure of Povlick back to 125. McNeal appeared poised to be a national qualifier a season ago before falling short at the Super Regional. I expect him to push to get back to that top form early in this season. The top Division II wrestlers will have to contend with 2018 Division I national qualifier Colin Valdiviez (Northwestern), who will be making the trip back home to Missouri to compete in the open. 

141

Top Division II Competitor(s)

Nate Keim (Central Oklahoma)

Nate Keim is the highest-ranked Division II athlete at this weight. Danny Swan is still not wrestling for Lindenwood and Drury wrestler Pete Kuster is not entered. This weight will probably belong to the bevy of Division I athletes headed to Lindenwood. Saul Ervin (SIUE) has already defended the pride of Division I this season, he defeated 2018 All-American and 2017 NWCA national champion Darius Bunch (West Liberty). Iowa has sent a couple of athletes as has Oklahoma and the newest Division I program, Arkansas-Little Rock. This could be a weight class dominated by the Division I attendees and serves to show just how tough of an early-season tournament the Lindenwood Open is. 

149

Top Division II Competitor(s)

Brik Filippo (Central Oklahoma)

Kyle Rathman (Mankato)

Tyler Stegall (Maryville)

Jack Tangen (Lindenwood)

This weight is going to be a battle with the top Division II athlete, almost certainly being 2019 All-American Kyle Rathman (Mankato). He will be joined by two other wrestlers who belong in the rankings, Brik Filippo (Central Oklahoma) and Tyler Stegall (Maryville). Iowa has entered three wrestlers at this weight, including a 2018 national qualifier, Vince Turk. It will be up to Filippo, Rathman, and Stegall to keep the Hawkeyes from sweeping the top of the podium. Questions still surround Lions head coach Jimmy Rollins lineup and all we know for sure is that for now, the starter at 149 is not returning All-American Gavin Londoff or Mizzou transfer Colby Smith, but is instead Jack Tangen.

157

Top Division II Competitor(s)

Kevin Kissane (Newman)

Ty Lucas (Central Oklahoma)

Kevin Kissane (Newman) is working back from an injury that saw him default out of the Super Regional tournament after entering it with just three losses on his record. He has jumped up from 141 to 157 and this will be his first real test at the weight. Ty Lucas (Central Oklahoma) is one of those wrestlers right on the cusp of the top 16 at the weight and a good run at the Lindenwood Open could see him jump into the next set of rankings. This weight has depth with the Division I athletes, but there are not quite the same level of former national qualifiers. That makes it a wide-open run to the finals.

165

Top Division II Competitor(s)

Tyler Harrington (Maryville)

Logan Saltou (Mankato)

Austin Stofer (Lindenwood)

Qian’te Wagner (McKendree)

Logan Saltou will be another of those well-coached Mankato wrestlers who will challenge for a spot on the podium. Lindenwood will counter with the talented Austin Stofer, who is back healthy and you can see the difference it is making. McKendree will be without Nick Foster but will have 2018 national qualifier Qian’te Wagner in the open. Wagner already owns a win over returning All-American Tyler Harrington this season after they met at the MKBB Open two weeks ago. 

174

Top Division II Competitor(s)

Zach Johnston (Mankato)

Matt Pratt (Maryville)

Maryville University’s Matt Pratt was a national qualifier last season and this year he already has notched a quality win over Fort Hays State’s Verhaeghe. 2018 Division II All-American Zach Johnston (Mankato) will be entered at this weight as well, he fell just short of returning to the national tournament in 2019. 

184

Top Division II Competitor(s)

Heath Gray (Central Oklahoma)

Bailey Kelly (Maryville)

Nate Panagakis (Newman)

This could rival 125 for the best weight class at the tournament. Heath Gray (Central Oklahoma) was a semifinalist at the national tournament last season and beat the eventual champion two times a year ago. Iowa Hawkeye fans will be following the results of freshman Abe Assad closely. The heir apparent to 184 next season has a lot of hype to live up to and Lindenwood is where Jacob Warner first made his Black & Gold legend. Bailey Kelly (Maryville) was a 2019 national qualifier as well for the Saints. He and Nate Panagakis (Newman) will have their hands full on Saturday with a talented field but could find their way into the placement matches.

197

Top Division II Competitor(s)

Ryan Vasbinder (McKendree)

Ryan Vasbinder is the only ranked Division II athlete in the tournament, which is surprising to me. The absence of Dalton Abney (Central Oklahoma) and Jared McKindley (Lindenwood) has him on an island surrounded by a sea of Division I studs. Purdue is sending an absolute monster in Christian Brunner, the senior is a three-time Division I national qualifier and is off to an 8-1 start this season. He has already won an MKBB Open title this year and he is going for the Missouri Division II tournament sweep it would appear.

Hwt

Top Division II Competitor(s)

Caleb Gossett (McKendree)

Logan Radik (Maryville)

Caleb Gossett (McKendree) is no stranger to Division I competition, having competed for Northern Illinois before transferring to McKendree. His former team will have athletes at the tournament, which should make for a nice reunion. Logan Radik (Maryville) was a national qualifier last season, but he has had some early-season struggles this year. This is an excellent chance to get back on track. He will have to do so against some very good athletes, though, Aaron Costello (Iowa) would be a starter at quite a few Division I programs. He has had to play backup throughout his career though because of All-American Sam Stoll and now redshirt freshman Anthony Cassioppi. He has an excellent chance to make the finals, but if Gossett or Radik can pull the upset, it could push their season in the right direction.

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