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By Willie Saylor, WIN STAFF
Once the season gets rolling, usually in the form of Walsh’s Ironman Tournament, the hits just keep on coming.
Nearly every weekend there is an event that pits nationally-ranked squads in competitions that jostle the overall rankings and confirm or deny our assessment of their talent.
No. 1-ranked Blair Academy (N.J.) won three majors: the Ironman, the Beast of the East, and POWERade.
No. 2 St. Edward (Ohio) were runner-ups at the Ironman and won the mega duals event, The Clash.
Powered by the only defending champ, Micah Barnes (170), Simley placed third in the team standings. They were followed by Southeast Polk (Iowa), Allen (Texas), and Montini Catholic (Ill.), all ranked in WIN’s Top 25.
Concluding its 14th consecutive year, The Cheesehead is one of high school wrestling’s crown jewels, showcasing some of the best teams and individuals in the country.
Tournament founder and director, Scott Kleuver, is happy with the Cheesehead’s status and development.
“I really liked that we were able to have some of the top teams and individuals from the Midwest,” he said. “It was a chance to showcase the talent we have in our area. We were also able to have one of the top up and coming programs in Allen, Texas.
“We will once again look for the best the Midwest has for 2013, as well as some national flair. We always want the top teams in the nation to come compete against the best we have to offer.”
Among the six Top-25 teams were the top two teams from Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa, the No. 1 team from Texas, and the first- and third-ranked teams from Wisconsin.
And individual wrestlers who weren’t on national juggernauts were able to make noise on their own; 14 different schools were represented in the finals.
Showdown on Neutral Ground
With all the major events playing out the way they have, Blair Academy and St. Edward check in at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
They’ll meet this weekend in an epic showdown that will likely determine the national title. St. Edward will travel east from Ohio, and Blair heads west from New Jersey as the two teams will meet at the NHSCA Wrestling Festival in Pleasant Valley, Pa.
Blair, which edged St. Edward at the Ironman, is full of phenomenal talent from top to bottom, including nine Fargo All-Americans.
St. Edward has what is perhaps the best collection of upper-weights ever assembled on one team. The five wrestlers at the top of their line-up are all nationally ranked.
Here are their prospective line-ups, including WIN rankings, and results from their previous meetings at the Ironman, head-to-head where applicable:
106: Fr. Jordan Kutler or Fr. Chaz Tucker (BA) vs. Fr. LJ Bentley (STE)
At Ironman: Did not meet. Kutler was 2-2. Bentley was 0-2. Tucker, who was a round from placing in Fargo, hasn’t been in the line-up yet this year, but could be here.
113: #4-So. Joey McKenna (BA) vs. Sr. Alex Moore (STE)
At Ironman: McKenna was a runner-Up. Moore lost in the first round and battled all the way back for fourth place.
120: So. PJ Klee (BA) vs. Collin Heffernan (STE)
At Ironman: Klee lost first round and wrestled back for sixth. Heffernan didn’t compete at Ironman and made 120 pounds last weekend for the first time this year. He was 6-0 at Cadet Duals this summer at 130 pounds.
126: #16-Sr. Max Hvolbeck (BA) vs. #1-Jr. Dean Heil (STE)
At Ironman: Hvolbeck lost to Cox’s Brandon Jeske in the quarters, 6-3. Heil then beat Jeske in the semifinals, 4-2. Heil won the title; Hvolbeck was seventh.
132: #4-Sr. Mark Grey (BA) vs. #2-Jr. Edgar Bright (STE)
At Ironman: Both wrestlers were knocked off by Randy Cruz (Bethlehem Catholic); Grey in the semis, Bright in the finals. Grey finished fourth, Bright second. Should be a barnburner between two Fargo Champions.
138: #6-Sr. Todd Preston (BA) vs. #13-Sr. Nick Barber (STE)
At Ironman: Preston beat Barber, 1-0, in consolations semis. Preston would place third, Barber fifth.
145: #4-So. Dylan Milonas (BA) vs. #19-Jr. Markus Scheidel (STE)
At Ironman: Milonas won the title and now has Fargo, Ironman and Beast of the East titles on his mantle. Scheidel placed sixth at both Ironman and Fargo.
152: Jr. Russ Parsons (BA) vs. Sr. Martin Van Curen (STE)
At Ironman: Parsons upended Van Curen, 7-4, in a wild quarterfinal bout. Parsons ultimately took fourth, Van Curen was a bout from placing.
160: So. Patrick Coover (BA) vs. #14-Sr. Jacob Davis (STE)
At Ironman: Both guys were on the top half of the bracket. Coover was beaten 6-2 by Geordan Speiller (Pine Castle, FL) in quarters. Davis lost to Speiller, 9-2, in semis. Final placings: Davis sixth, Coover seventh.
170: So. Addison Knepshield (BA) vs. #4-Sr. Mark Martin (STE)
At Ironman: Martin beat Knepshield in the semifinals, 10-2, before going on to take the title. Knepshield finished fifth.
182: Sr. Michael Mocco (BA) vs. #12-Jr. Domenic Abounader (STE)
At Ironman: The second consecutive Blair-Eds semi saw Abounader beat Mocco, 7-1. Abounader lost a close final, Mocco finished fourth.
195: #12-Jr. Frank Mattiace (BA) vs. #14-Sr. James Suvak (STE)
At Ironman: As the No. 2 and 4 seeds, Mattiace and Suvak were on opposite sides of the bracket. Suvak was beaten by Broken Arrow’s Seth Calvert, 4-0 in semis. Mattiace beat Calvert in the finals, 6-1.
220: #17-Sr. David Farr (BA) vs. #8-Sr. Ty Walz (STE)
At Ironman: Walz has two recent wins over Farr. He won 10-5 in the fifth-place bout at Ironman and also beat Farr in the first round at Fargo, 2-0, 6-0.
HWT: #1-Jr. Brooks Black (BA) vs. #3-Sr. Greg Kuhar (STE)
At Ironman: Black has a perfect 3-0 record vs. Kuhar. The latest was a 3-1 win in Ironman finals.