It might seem like a break when these two teams meet in an out of conference battle, but let me be clear, this will be as tough a dual for these teams as any they have left on their schedules. This is a match that features two teams ranked inside the top 16 and both have wrestlers rising up the rankings. As many as a baker’s dozen of ranked athletes could do battle when the Lions and Broncs meet head-on.
There is little reprieve for these teams after what is sure to be a grueling battle. Fort Hays State looms for Central Oklahoma while Lindenwood will face their GLVC rival McKendree. I guarantee neither team is overlooking this dual, though. Central Oklahoma has won the last four matches dating back to 2016 and took last year's dual 27-9. Wrestlestat has this as an even match, but I am not sure it goes quite that way. These are two lineups that have morphed throughout this season and they are just now starting to reach their postseason appearance.
Head coach Jimmy Rollins has added transfers Colby Smith and Abner Romero to a lineup that already featured returning national champion Carlos Jacquez and returning national qualifiers Tanner Hitchock and Vos Morrow. Add to it the return this semester of national qualifier Jared McKindley and All-American Danny Swan and the Lions are looking ready to roar into this half. Coach Todd Steidley has the Broncs on the rise, they continue to rocket up the rankings and are set to challenge for the Super Regional IV crown. These two teams are sure to fight with McKendree and Maryville to see who is the best team in the region.
Here’s a breakdown of the probable matchups and TOM’s predictions, along with projections from WrestleStat.
125 lbs – #3 Carlos Jacquez or Nick Lindley (LU) vs. #8 Tanner Cole (UCO)
It sounds like returning national champion Carlos Jacquez is ready to return to the lineup and it will be just in time for the top-ten matchup against eighth-ranked Tanner Cole. These two have met three times, including once this season at the Midwest Classic in Indianapolis. Jacquez has won all three meetings, including an absolute barnburner in last season’s Super Regional that saw Jacquez chargeback from an early deficit. Cole has a win over the current top-ranked lightweight Josh Portillo (Nebraska-Kearney) and this is a chance for him to score another win over a national finalist. Jacquez has made a living out of turning up the pace in his matches, but I wonder if the gas tank will be there if he needs it. If not, this could be the chance Cole needs to show that he is not just an All-American contender, but a national title favorite.
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