2019 Midlands Championships

Midlands Middleweight Preview: 149, 157, & 165

Midlands Middleweight Preview: 149, 157, & 165

The 2019 Midlands will be one of the deepest tournaments of the year. Check out some of the top action that could go down at 149, 157, and 165.

Dec 24, 2019 by David Bray
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The middleweights in this year's Midlands field will be deep once again. 149, 157, and 165 should all include four of the top eight wrestlers in the weight class. Here's a breakdown of some of the action we could see in Evanston.

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The middleweights in this year's Midlands field will be deep once again. 149, 157, and 165 should all include four of the top eight wrestlers in the weight class. Here's a breakdown of some of the action we could see in Evanston.

Watch the 2019 Midlands Championships LIVE on FloWrestling

Sunday, December 29 | 9:30 AM ET

Brackets for this year's tournament, the 57th in the storied history of the event, will be on FloArena. So be sure to set your FloArena alerts as soon as brackets come out.

Lightweight Preview | Upperweight Preview

149: 9 Ranked

#1 Austin O'Connor (North Carolina)

#3 Pat Lugo (Iowa)

#7 Max Thomsen (UNI)

#8 Yahya Thomas (Northwestern)

#9 Griffin Parriott (Purdue)

#13 Mike D'Angelo (Princeton)

#14 Cole Martin (Wisconsin)

#16 Kizhan Clarke (American)

#22 Alec Hagan (Ohio)

Commentary: Austin O'Connor is the top-ranked wrestler in the country at this weight, but up until two weeks ago, he hadn't wrestled a match this season due to injury. He made his return at the Cleveland State Open and has done nothing but impress so far. O'Connor is 6-0 and has a 100-percent bonus rate with three pins and three major decisions. Midlands will be his first big opportunity to defend his #1 ranking against a number of top-ranked opponents.

The 2-5 seeds at this weight are a jumbled mess. #7 Max Thomsen has a 2017 win over #3 Pat Lugo and two wins this year over #8 Yahya Thomas, but he also dropped a match to #9 Griffin Parriott. To make matters more complicated, Thomas has a win over Parriott, so this bracket could be drawn up in a number of ways.

Pat Lugo is ranked #3 in the country and is undefeated in his first four matches this year. What Lugo lacks in volume of matches, he makes up for in quality wins. His four wins have been against #7 Jarrett Degen, #13 Mike D'Angelo, #14 Cole Martin, and #21 Tanner Smith. Lugo is putting together a solid season and will be a title threat here.

The seventh-ranked wrestler at this weight, Max Thomsen, has had incredible wins throughout his career and was an All-American in 2017. This season, he has the two wins over Thomas mentioned above as well as a win over #11 Jarrett Degen, but he also has losses to #12 Collin Purinton, #5 Brayton Lee, and #9 Griffin Parriott. Thomsen's seed and finish here are hard to predict, but he'll be a threat to win no matter where he ends up in the bracket.

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Yahya Thomas only has two losses on the year, and both are to Max Thomsen. Other than that, he has looked outstanding with wins over Parriott and #10 Brock Zacherl. Thomas, whose previous seasons have been at 141, has been one of the most improved wrestlers in the NCAA this year. He made a Junior World Team this summer and continues to register impressive results.

The fifth contender at this weight is #9 Griffin Parriott. Like Thomas, he's new to 149, but unlike Thomas, he was a 157-pounder in the past. 149 seems to suit him well. His two losses this year came to Thomas and #6 Sammy Sasso, but he also has wins over Thomsen, #12 Collin Purinton, and #10 Brock Zacherl.

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Four more ranked wrestlers round out this weight in #13 Mike D'Angelo, #14 Cole Martin, #16 Kizhan Clarke, and #22 Alec Hagan. Of that group, keep your eyes on the much improved Clarke, who is entering this tournament 18-0 with wins over a pair of Stanford wrestlers, true freshman Jaden Abas and #18 Requir van der Merwe. Clarke's previous seasons have been at 141 and 157 where he has had mixed results. So far, he looks solid this season and could make things interesting at Midlands.

David Bray's Prediction: 1) O'Connor, UNC 2) Thomsen, UNI 3) Thomas, Northwestern 4) Lugo, Iowa


157: 11 Ranked

#1 Ryan Deakin (Northwestern)

#5 Kendall Coleman (Purdue)

#6 Quincy Monday (Princeton)

#8 Kaleb Young (Iowa)

#9 Anthony Artalona (Penn)

#13 Justin Ruffin (SIUE)

#16 AC Headlee (North Carolina)

#18 Justin Thomas (Oklahoma)

#21 Mason Kauffman (Northern Illinois)

#22 Eric Barone (Illinois)

#25 Logan Parks (Central Michigan)

Commentary: The top seed here is convincingly the best 157-pounder in the country right now. Ryan Deakin ran though an absolutely loaded bracket at CKLV. He controlled #3 David Carr 9-3 before soundly beating #2 Hayden Hidlay 6-2 in the finals. Between Deakin's run to Final X this offseason and his dominant CKLV performance, he'll be the favorite here.

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As untouchable as Deakin has looked this year, he could have a semifinal against #8 Kaleb Young of Iowa who was a thorn in his side during NCAA's last year. Deakin beat Young at Midlands last season but fell twice in overtime to the Iowa All-American. Young was the preseason #2 at 157 and has proven that he can win this weight.

The probable #2 seed here, Kendall Coleman is ranked fifth in the country. Coleman's freshman year for Purdue is off to a solid start. He has strung together an impressive series of ranked wins and only has losses to #2 Hayden Hidlay and #3 David Carr. Potential matches against #6 Quincy Monday and #8 Kaleb Young could offer a clearer picture of where Coleman might fit at this weight in March.

Princeton's #6 Quincy Monday's win over Kaleb Young earlier this year will probably be enough to earn him the #3 seed here. That sets up a possible semifinal with Kendall Coleman. Monday also has two wins this season over #11 Josh Humphreys of Lehigh and has looked like a true All-American contender.

These four front runners will be pushed by six more ranked wrestlers. #9 Anthony Artalona, #13 Justin Ruffin, #16 AC Headlee, #18 Justin Thomas, #21 Justin Thomas, #22 Eric Barone, and #25 Logan Parks round out the field. Any one of these guys could create big problems for the top four making this one of the best weight classes to watch in Evanston.

David Bray's Prediction: 1) Ryan Deakin, Northwestern 2) Kendall Coleman, Purdue 3) Kaleb Young, Iowa 4) Quincy Monday, Princeton


165: 10 Ranked

#2 Alex Marinelli (Iowa)

#3 Evan Wick (Wisconsin)

#6 David McFadden (Virginia Tech)

#8 Cael McCormick (Army)

#15 Shayne Oster (Northwestern)

#16 Philip Conigliaro (Harvard)

#18 Zach Hartman (Bucknell)

#19 Quentin Perez (Campbell)

#20 Kennedy Monday (North Carolina)

#23 Emil Soehnlen (Purdue)

This weight class has a clear top three in #2 Alex Marinelli, #3 Evan Wick, and #6 David McFadden. Marinelli remains undefeated and already has a win over Wick this season, so he'll be the top seed. Wick's lone loss on the year is to Marinelli while McFadden's loss against #13 Ethan Smith of Ohio State meaning Wick will probably get the #2 seed and McFadden the #3. This sets up a potential Wick vs McFadden semifinal.

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Iowa's Marinelli has looked like the best 165-pounder in the country during the regular season the past two years. Last season he entered the NCAA tournament as the top seed after registering an undefeated season that included a win over two-time NCAA champ Vincenzo Joseph. He already has a win over Wick this year and seems poised to win this bracket.

Evan Wick has proven himself as one of the most consistent 165-pounders in the country the last two years having finished third and fourth at one of the deepest weights in the NCAA. Wick is coming off an impressive fourth-place performance at Senior Nationals where he beat the top seed Nazar Kulchytskyy.

David McFadden may be the most dangerous #3 seed we'll see in this tournament. The three-time All-American wrestled up at 174 last season, but he is a combined 3-0 over Wick and Marinelli. 165 seems to be McFadden's ideal weight class. After the bump in the road he encountered against Ohio State's Ethan Smith, he'll look to get back on the title track at Midlands.

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Seven more ranked wrestlers could make this bracket interesting. That group includes #8 Cael McCormick, #15 Shayne Oster, #16 Philip Conigliaro, #18 Zach Hartman, #19 Quentin Perez, #20 Kennedy Monday, and #23 Emil Soehnlen. Monday and Perez gave us one of the wildest finishes to a match of the season on the opening weekend of the year. The depth of ranked wrestlers at 165 will give us a lot more context for March.

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David Bray's Prediction: 1) David McFadden, Virginia Tech 2) Alex Marinelli, Iowa 3) Evan Wick, Wisconsin 4) Cael McCormick, Army