The 2017 Walsh Jesuit Ironman will continue the long and storied tradition of what is undoubtedly the toughest in-season tournament in the country.
As usual, the field is loaded, and we'll get to determine some of the best teams and wrestlers in the country. Make sure you catch up with this week's pre-Ironman national rankings, because you know they are guaranteed to change when next Wednesday rolls around.
The tournament starts Friday at 1 PM Eastern time in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and continues Saturday beginning at 11 AM, so be sure to watch every match LIVE on Flo. Now, let's check out a little preview for the first seven weights, as well as predictions from the three of us who will be on-site covering the tournament.
- Isaac Salas - St. John Bosco, CA
- Jacob Decatur - Cuyahoga Valley Christian Acad., OH
- Richard Figueroa - Selma, CA
- Ryan Miller - Blair Academy, NJ
- Logan Agin - Lancaster, OH
- Brendon Garcia - Pueblo County, CO
- Cooper Flynn - McDonogh School, MD
- Colton Drousias - Mount Carmel, IL
- Jacob Moon - Clay (Oregon), OH
- Peyten Kellar - Warren, OH
- Dustin Norris - La Salle, OH
- Nain Vazquez - Montini Catholic, IL
- Wyatt Yapoujian - Pomona, CO
- Tim Levine - Wyoming Seminary, PA
- Carlos Negrete - Clovis North, CA
- Jake Wohltman - Lake Highland Prep, FL
Commentary: Top seed Isaac Salas is a really hard nut to crack here. He didn’t place at Fargo all the way up at 120, then won the Journeymen Fall Classic down at 106, then went back up to 113 and didn’t place at Super 32. The fact he didn't place at extremely tough tournaments is less concerning to me than the question of can he make the weight.
Although they are both freshmen from the same state, I have yet to find any results between Salas and Super 32 runner-up Richard Figueroa of Selma. Figueroa is very good on top, particularly when he starts on top, as evidenced in his S32 semifinal win over Jeremiah Reno. He also rode out returning Cali state champ Jonathan Prata.
The highest-returning placer at this weight is Jordan Decatur, last year’s D2 Ohio state champ. Decatur’s only losses were to Cadet world teamer Julian Tagg, who is now up at 120. Give me Figueroa’s top game over Decatur in the semis.
I wanted to talk about the quarterfinals, but then I saw Nain Vazquez seeded 12th. He beat No. 10 Jakason Burks to win the Conflict at Carver and split with eight-seed Colton Drousias at Preseason Nationals. But no matter what, Ryan Miller should make the semis.
If I wasn’t no so high on Figueroa, I’d take a flyer on Brendon Garcia but still consider him a great dark horse. That California/Colorado matchup will be your best quarterfinal.
Nomad’s Picks: 1. Figueroa 2. Salas 3. Miller 4. Garcia
Willie’s Picks: 1. Figueroa 2. Decatur 3. Miller 4. Garcia
Holmes’ Picks: 1. Figueroa 2. Decatur 3. Salas 4. Miller
- Lucas Byrd - La Salle, OH
- Antonio Lorenzo - St. John Bosco, CA
- Trevor Mastrogiovanni - Blair Academy, NJ
- Ryan Chauvin - Lake Highland Prep, FL
- Dylan Shawver - Elyria, OH
- Matt Ramos - Lockport Township, IL
- Dylan Ragusin - Montini Catholic, IL
- Cevion Severado - Christian Brothers College, MO
- Beau Bayless - Reynolds, PA
- Scott Richter - St. Edward, OH
- Giano Petrucelli - Clovis, CA
- Tanner Jordan - Graham, OH
- Oscar Sanchez - Genoa Area, OH
- Nic Botello - Wyoming Seminary, PA
- Tristan Lujan - Selma, CA
- Matt Mayer - Bethlehem Catholic, PA
Commentary: Just like last year, 113 is going to be in shambles after this weekend. The finals were the six seed over the eight seed, with the four seed beating the two seed for third. I kind of expect something similar to happen when you have Pennsylvania state champ Beau Bayless meeting Junior Greco world silver Cevion Severado in the round of 17! And both of those guys could potentially knock off top seed Lucas Byrd in the quarters.
I really like Dylan Shawver to come out of the top side, but there’s a Jordan from Graham involved, and we know they peak for this, so keep your eye on that one. Shawver should beat Ryan Chauvin in the quarters, provided Chauvin makes it past Ohio D3 champ Oscar Sanchez.
The bottom side is also fantastic, with 2016 Super 32 champ Antonio Lorenzo as the two seed. He’ll have a war in the quarterfinals with Fargo champ and Cadet world teamer Dylan Ragusin. He’ll have another Illinois war right after that with Matt Ramos, whom I see knocking off National Prep champ Trevor Mastrogiovanni.
Nomad’s Picks: 1. Lorenzo 2. Shawver 3. Ramos 4. Byrd
Willie’s Picks: 1. Lorenzo 2. Bayless 3. Byrd 4. Mastriogiovanni
Holmes’ Picks: 1. Lorenzo 2. Ragusin 3. Byrd 4. Severado
- Joey Melendez - Montini Catholic, IL
- Michael Colaiocco - Blair Academy, NJ
- Malik Heinselman - Castle View, CO
- Julian Tagg - Brecksville-Broadview Heights, OH
- Christian Nunez - St. John Bosco, CA
- Brendon Fenton - Elyria, OH
- Logan Heil - Brunswick, OH
- King Sandoval - St. Mary’s Ryken, MD
- Matthew Cardello - Cuyahoga Valley Christian Acad., OH
- Justin Pacheco - Pomona, CO
- Brandon Paulson - Clovis, CA
- Anthony Molton - Lockport Township, IL
- Zeke Escalera - Wyoming Seminary, PA
- Angelo Rini - St. Edward, OH
- Vincent Zerban - Christian Brothers College, MO
- Alek Martin - Graham, OH
Commentary: If I’m taking bets based on where someone is seeded, Julian Tagg is a GREAT value as the four seed. A champ last year at 106 and a Cadet world teamer this summer, Tagg knows how to win the close, low-scoring matches. Some could pivot that to mean he has offensive deficiencies, but I think that is more a function of being a freshman in a tough weight class who is still learning when to open it up.
I’m curious to see if how big he’s gotten, because his semi might be the rare match in which Joey Melendez has a size advantage. The Montini senior will be teammates with Tagg’s older brother in a few years at UNC.
Last weekend, Malik Heinselman was pinned in 1:01 by Andrew Lucero. I have no idea what to make of that, but I know Heinselman’s underhook is a bear to deal with and he has a very high floor. I’m not sure if he’ll win, but the absolute worst-case scenario for him is probably fifth.
It’s good to see Michael Colaiocco back doing folkstyle after being injured last year. He’s one I’ll have my eye on because of that but also because I want to know how good some of the guys are in his way. Vinny Zerban out of Illinois is now a freshman at Christian Brothers College in Missouri, and is a top 15 guy on the 2021 Big Board. Logan Heil is the younger brother of two-time NCAA champ Dean Heil. Colaiocco will see them in the round of 16 and quarterfinals, respectively.
Christian Nunez, the five seed, had an excellent Super 32. Right now, before the tournament starts, I’d say St. John Bosco will get more points from their first four weights than any other team competing in the Walsh Jesuit Gym this weekend. A Fargo champ at 106 this summer, freshman Zeke Escalera is the 13 seed for Wyoming Seminary. Alek Martin was a middle school Super 32 champ and is now in his first year at SPG, which as we all know is always peaked for Ironman.
Nomad’s Picks: 1. Tagg 2. Heinselman 3. Melendez 4. Colaiocco
Willie’s Picks: 1. Heinselman 2. Colaiocco 3. Melendez 4. Tagg
Holmes’ Picks: 1. Melendez 2. Heinselman 3. Colaiocco 4. Tagg
- Jordan Decatur - Cuyahoga Valley Christian Acad., OH
- Beau Bartlett - Wyoming Seminary, PA
- Malik Johnson - Christian Brothers College, MO
- Jordan Crace - Graham, OH
- Cleveland Belton - St. John Bosco, CA
- Austin Macias - (Burlington) Central, IL
- Peyton Hall - Oak Glen, WV
- Travis Mastrogiovanni - Blair Academy, NJ
- Mick Burnett - Elyria, OH
- Julian Sanchez - Genoa Area, OH
- Ryan Franco - Clovis North, CA
- Nate Keaton - Circleville, OH
- Mark Salvatore - Malvern Prep, PA
- Bryce Hepner - St. Edward, OH
- Kenny Herrmann - Bethlehem Catholic, PA
- Mario Ybarra - Scottsbluff, NE
Commentary: Though he is the top seed, Jordan Decatur has not had the greatest of performances at Ironman. That might sound a bit harsh, but you might be surprised to hear that the second-ranked kid in the country, the young man we used for the photo of this week’s high school rankings, has finished fourth and fifth in his two appearances.
Decatur’s likely quarterfinals opponent will be Mick Burnett, whom I absolutely love as a prospect; he took No. 7 Connor McGonagle to the brink at Super 32. I don’t know if he can beat Decatur just yet, but keep your eye on the sophomore from Elyria.
I keep talking about round of 16 matches and for good reason. One that I absolutely love is between five-seed Cleveland Belton and 12-seed Nate Keaton. Belton was sensational in winning Cali states last season but then did not place at Super 32. Meanwhile, Keaton won Ironman as a 14 seed his sophomore year and brought an Ohio state title back to Circleville last year. He could also beat Jordan Crace to make a run to the semis, where he’d meet Decatur.
Another low seed I like to make a deep run is Ryan Franco, a Fargo finalist. The freshman out of California wrestles for Clovis North, a program on the rise in what is already an extremely deep part of that state.
Give me Beau Bartlett to win it all. He's from a great program, wrestles a tremendous pace, and is tough on top, somewhere Decatur has shown vulnerability before. Bartlett should cruise to the semis, where he'll get by either Franco or Malik Johnson.
Nomad’s Picks: 1. Bartlett 2. Decatur 3. Burnett 4. Keaton
Willie’s Picks: 1. Decatur 2. Bartlett 3. Johnson 4. Crace
Holmes’ Picks: 1. Decatur 2. Bartlett 3. Mastrogiovanni 4. Johnson
- Joe Silva - Lake Highland Prep, FL
- Real Woods - Montini Catholic, IL
- Ryan Anderson - Bethlehem Catholic, PA
- Jesse Vasquez - Santiago, CA
- Carson Manville - Wyoming Seminary, PA
- Joshua Saunders - Christian Brothers College, MO
- Gabriel Tagg - Brecksville-Broadview Heights, OH
- Michael Madara - Blair Academy, NJ
- Matt Fields - Brunswick, OH
- Matt Kazimir - St. Edward, OH
- Trevor Chumbley - Marmion Academy, IL
- Josh Breeding - Elyria, OH
- Reece Witcraft - Broken Arrow, OK
- Luke Martin - Parkersburg South, WV
- Micah Visuwan - Malvern Prep, PA
- Caleb Rea – Weir, WV
Commentary: There are FIVE past Ironman finalists in this weight. This one is similar to the 2015 Akron weight that had four world teamers in it.
My man Ryan Holmes did a good job breaking this field down, so I'll try not to repeat him. Joey Silva is a force of nature halfway through one of the most absurd schedules we've ever seen: Who's #1, Super 32, Ironman, Beast, Powerade, and WNO Duals.
Although Silva has a win over Real Woods, he does not have an Ironman title like Woods does, when he rode out Drew Mattin to win the 113 title in 2015. I don't like Ryan Anderson down at 132, considering he won Super 32 up at 138 on a day before weigh-in. You want most guys cutting at least a little bit of weight, but Anderson seems his best on zero weight cut.
Color me completely fascinated by a Carson Manville/Jesse Vasquez quarter. Talk about a clash of styles, Manville with his forward-pressure, Halo-wearing, tire-'em-out style, and Vasquez with his West Coast, counter, scrambley, pounce-on-good-opportunities style. Not only that, but Manville and Vasquez are also just in their freshman and sophomore years, respectively.
I'm not sure what to make of Josh Saunders wrestling last week up at 145. Hopefully he has a good cut, because he can beat or at least frustrate anyone when he is hitting on all cylinders. It is very strange to see a defending champ seeded seventh, but he was seeded sixth last year and still won. Lock it in now, Mike Madara will beat someone 4-2 or 3-1 in sudden victory and hit a righty inside trip off the whistle.
Nomad’s Picks: 1. Silva 2. Anderson 3. Woods 4. Vasquez
Willie’s Picks: 1. Silva 2. Anderson 3. Vasquez 4. Manville
Holmes’ Picks: 1. Silva 2. Anderson 3. Manville 4. Vasquez
- Jaden Abas - Rancho Bernardo, CA
- Malcolm Robinson - Blair Academy, NJ
- Marshall Keller - Christiansburg, VA
- Jack Davis - Wyoming Seminary, PA
- Fidel Mayora - Montini Catholic, IL
- Saul Ervin - Union County, KY
- JD Stickley - Graham, OH
- Dalton Lakmann - Foothill (Palo Cedro), CA
- Bryce Andonian - St. Edward, OH
- We Rachel - George Washington, IL
- Marco Regalbuto - Brecksville-Broadview Heights, OH
- Noah Castillo - Lake Highland Prep, FL
- Luka Wick - San Marino, CA
- Luke Baughman - Wadsworth, OH
- E’lan Heard - La Salle, OH
- Colton Yapoujian – Pomona, CO
Commentary: Jaden Abas had a rather unspectacular showing in Fargo, going 2-2 and not coming close to placing. But he rebounded in a HUGE way at Super 32, beating Michael Blockhus (who beat two-seed Malcolm Robinson in October) in the quarters and then pinning Mitch Moore in the semis. Abas is a monster in folkstyle, but the guy who beat him 12-4 in Fargo is his likely semis opponent.
That would be Jack Davis of Wyoming Seminary, a Pitt commit who remains under the radar despite being ranked 10th, placing at Fargo, and making the National Prep finals two years in a row. Davis will be appointment viewing, as I really like his round of 16 opponent, freshman Luka Wick (brother of CKLV finalist Evan Wick and placer Zander Wick), as well as his quarterfinal foe Fidel Mayora. Montini could be an absolute monster this year, and Fargo finalist Mayora is a big part of that.
Every year we get a pretty straightforward weight that seems like it'll go chalk. This seems like that weight this time around, which means come Monday there will have been 10 upsets from just this bracket. Murphy's Law.
Nomad's Picks: 1. Abas 2. Keller 3. Mayora 4. Davis
Willie's Picks: 1. Davis 2. Robinson 3. Abas 4. Keller
Holmes' Picks: 1. Robinson 2. Abas 3. Davis 4. Mayora
- Mitch Moore - Graham, OH
- Brock Hardy - Box Elder, OH
- Cole Matthews - Reynolds, PA
- Quincy Monday - Carrboro, NC
- Kendall Coleman - Mount Carmel, IL
- Sam Dover - St. Edward, OH
- PJ Crane - Malvern Prep, PA
- Tony Mendoza - Selma, CA
- Kai Bele - Lake Highland Prep, FL
- Sandro Ramirez - Wauseon, OH
- Baylor Fernandes - Lockport Township, IL
- Ben Pasiuk - Carrollton, OH
- Michael North - Wadsworth, OH
- Victor Voinovich - Brecksville-Broadview Heights, OH
- Frankie Tal-Shahar – American Heritage (Delray Beach, FL)
- Dylan Martinez - Grand Junction, CO
Commentary: Mitch Moore has had a great track record at Ironman, finishing first, third, and second so far in his SPG career. I think this field will allow him to come full circle and display every tool in his arsenal, from the front head/short offense stuff to his acrobatic reversals and even see him scramble and win the 50/50 positions.
It will be great to see Brock Hardy do some folkstyle — we know he is excellent in freestyle. I believe he'll outwrestle Cole Matthews and overwhelm Frankie Tal-Shahar.
Kendall Coleman is extremely dangerous and looks like a top 10 guy when he's on. Then again, we learned his quarterfinal opponent, Quincy Monday, can make the Super 32 finals when he's clicking, so that one will likely be a matter of who shows up.
Sam Dover is about as rock solid of a six seed as I've ever seen in my life. Kai Bele could be a bracket buster. I'd like it better if he were the 10 seed or lower as opposed to ninth. Victor Voinovich is one of the nation's best freshmen and keeps outperforming what I expect of him. So this time, I'm picking him third. Show us what ya got youngin'!
Nomad's Picks: 1. Moore 2. Hardy 3. Voinovich 4. Dover
Willie's Picks: 1. Moore 2. Hardy 3. Matthews 4. Monday
Holmes' Picks: 1. Moore 2. Hardy 3. Monday 4. Matthews