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Few weight classes return as much talent next season as 165-pounds. The lone graduate to make the 2019 podium is Lock Haven's Chance Marsteller. Who will emerge champion of this awe-inspiring collection of worthies? We produce our list of contenders below.
Before the NCAA Championship in Minneapolis begins, it's possible we see the migration of several elite 165-pounders to either 174 or 157-pounds. Additionally, we may see wrestlers take redshirts, deferring their title run for a year. It's still June, so the coaches and competitors have plenty of time to make those decisions, which makes it way-too-early to be making predictions about next March. But that's exactly what we're going to do anyway. We are reckless that way!
Mekhi Lewis, Virginia Tech
Few expected Mekhi Lewis to go on his insane championship run last year. Others, like us, picked him in the early round of their fantasy draft that was held in October of 2018 (thank you, it was an inspired draft pick, we know). This year, no one will bat an eye of Mekhi Lewis gets taken in the first round.
Vincenzo Joseph, Penn State
Two titles and a runner-up finish. Those are pretty good results for three NCAA tournaments. Cenzo will try to avoid the fate he inflicted on Isaiah Martinez, by winning a third title at his fourth NCAA tournament.
Alex Marinelli, Iowa
The Bull has defeated just about every contender in the weight class at one point in time, yet has "only" finished sixth and seventh in his two trips to the NCAA tournament. However, that impressive track record suggests Marinelli is due for a big improvement next season.
Evan Wick, Wisconsin
Wick was a revelation at the 2018 NCAAs, finishing third from the #10 seed. The following tournament he was more of a known quantity, finishing fourth from the same seed. This year, expect California native to contend for a title for the third consecutive year.
Isaiah White, Nebraska
ZayZay shook off a rocky November last season and quickly got into title contention shape by the time the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational rolled round in December. The Husker eventually finished fifth last season, and should be in the mix for a title in his final season of eligibility.
Logan Massa, Michigan
Massa finished an impressive third as a redshirt freshman, but was derailed by injuries during his sophomore season. The Michigan native then struggled to regain his earlier form last season as a junior. If he's fully healthy and firing on all cylinders, however, Massa is as dangerous as anyone in the division.
Josh Shields, Arizona State
Anthony Valencia, Arizona State
Both of these Sun Devils have national championship caliber talent. The most likely permutation of weight classes that would see both Shields and Valencia make it into the lineup is Sheilds at 165 and Valencia at 174. But we're hedging our bets and putting both wrestlers here, at least for now.
This weight is going to be a lot of fun, isn't it? It's tough to know where to draw the line, and someone will necessarily be on the other side of it, be it an All-Americans like Bryce Steiert or Joseph Smith, or a promising redshirt freshman like Shane Griffith. But that line had to be drawn somewhere. So our apologies to those left off the list. The extra motivation is all yours, as a courtesy, free of charge.