This Saturday, Super 32:
In wrestling, it's sometimes difficult to define a "sleeper." The wrestler has to give you some sort of indication of a level of ability -- a degree of success -- but also has to lurk in the shadows behind some of the more prominent "names."
Making matters more difficult, a tournament with the history of depth of Super 32, which has become a de facto preseason national championship, leaves little room for new talent to emerge. Yet, every year it does.
In recent years, guys like Nick Piccininni, Sean Russell, Brock Zacherl, Zack Zavatsky, and a litany of others made their first splash on the national scene by strong performances at Super 32.
Below are seven guys to watch who could either make their first national dent, go on a title run, or pull surprising upsets in Greensboro, North Carolina.
106 - Andrew Cerniglia - PennsylvaniaIt's almost an annual rite of passage: 106 at Super 32 produces future stars. A much-heralded incoming freshman for traditional power Nazareth, Cerniglia could be this year's JoJo Aragona. It's rumored that he's having trouble with the pull to 106, so it's possible he bumps to 113. Also keep an eye out for Jersey frosh Robert Howard, who could win the whole thing. He's coming off a fabulous performance at Journeymen. And like Cerniglia, will be attending a national power in Bergen Catholic.
113 - Esco Walker - North Carolina After losing by disqualification at his state tournament and placing third, Walker was on fire in the postseason. At FloNationals, he went 5-2 reaching the semifinals and ultimately taking fifth. He beat Michael MacAteer (MO) and Dom Lajoie (MI) along the way. A week later, he rolled to an NHSCA title. Back at 113 again, Walker not only serves as a serious medal threat in Greensboro, but also as an uncommitted senior, he's an intriguing career 125-pound college prospect.
Walker's NHSCA Junior Final
120 - Ryan Anderson - Pennsylvania Highly touted in junior high, Anderson crossed the Jersey border to go to Bethlehem Catholic last year. And though he didn't have a banner season, he showed glimpses of what's to come. He won't "wow" you, but he's a gritty wrestler built for a run at S32. He just had a tight one with Nick Raimo. Keep an eye on him as a medal contender.
132 - Moises Guillen - OhioHere's a guy who has "breakout" written all over him. Sometimes non-state champions in power states fly under the radar. Guillen has been third (at 132) and second (at 138) the last two years at Ohio's big school state tournament. If he makes a run, Ohioans might not be surprised, but people on a national level might say "where did he come from?" Another uncommitted senior, his stock could go through the roof this weekend.
152 - Jake Brindley - FloridaAs a "sleeper," Brindley is a bit of a stretch. He's been in the rankings for quite a while, is certainly expected to place, and is already committed to Cornell. But he's an interesting candidate to be a "surprise" finalist. Because of his Fargo performances, we hear a lot about Artalona, who Brindley was 2-0 against in the regular season last year. While we don't think of Brindley in the Verkleeren-O'Connor tier, he could certainly prove to be that this weekend.
170 - Ethan Smith - MarylandAfter FloNationals last year, I got a DM from Luke Pletcher. "What did you think of my boy Ethan Smith." Oh, that's THAT Ethan Smith?
A decent young prospect at Greater Latrobe, Smith kind of dropped off the map last year when he moved to Maryland and didn't wrestle in any high-profile tournaments during the regular season. So when he beat Layne Van Anrooy (OR) not once, but twice to take third at FloNationals (placing ahead of Bryce Rogers and Wyatt Sheets), I was like, "Who the heck is Ethan Smith from Maryland?"
And he's still uncommitted.
Smith Takes Out Van Anrooy in FloNationals Quarters
182 - Matt Waddell - GeorgiaA two-time state champion, Waddell made an impact on the national level went he double AA'd in Fargo, going third in GR and fifth in FS this summer. If you heard me gush about the depth of the upperweights at S32 this year, you know that it's going to be difficult to break through and medal at those weights. But this is a kid who teched Purdue commitment Max Lyon. Waddell is a true deep sleeper and an uncommitted one at that.
Stay tuned to FloWrestling for LIVE streaming of Super 32 on Saturday, October 15 and Sunday, October 16.