125 pound Scouting Report
If there was a prohibitive favorite to win this year’s 125-pound weight class, it had to be Iowa’s Matt McDonough, the senior who had not only won two NCAA championships — beating Iowa State’s Andrew Long in 2010 when the Hawkeye was a freshman and Penn State’s Nico Megaludis a year ago — but had appeared in every NCAA final since the Marion, Iowa, native arrived in Iowa City.
McDonough had not previously shown many chinks in his armor. He did lose to Arizona State’s Anthony Robles in the 2011 NCAA final and lost at home to Illinois’ Jesse Delgado during the Hawkeye’s championship run last winter.
But the Iowa senior has looked a bit more vulnerable lately. Delgado not only defeated the Iowan in a regular-season dual, but most recently in the Big Ten championship match, 10-4.
What that result did — as well as McDonough’s loss to Missouri’s Alan Waters at the National Duals — was turn the lightest weight class into a wide-open race among these top-four wrestlers.
Following the NCAA qualifiers, the Tiger is the No. 1 seed. He recently won the Mid-American Conference championship and is undefeated on the year. The only problem for the junior is that he has yet to earn All-American honors, including last March when he was a No. 3 seed but lost in the second round and failed to medal. Waters also has not faced any of these top contenders other than McDonough.
Delgado, who also defeated NCAA runner-up Megaludis in the Big Ten semifinals has been on a roll since he was pinned by the Nittany Lion in early February. The Illini sophomore also earned an All-American honor last March in St. Louis, where he finished seventh.
Megaludis has yet to beat McDonough in three career meetings, including in their February dual when the Hawkeye used a last-second escape in overtime for the victory.
There are two other wrestlers — with similar-sounding last names — to also keep an eye on when we’re speaking about probable All-Americans. One is a senior from Virginia Tech — Jarrod Garnett, who took an Olympic redshirt last winter and has yet to medal in his career. The other is a freshman from Cornell — Nahshon Garrett, who has reached the finals of both the Las Vegas Invite and the Southern Scuffle. The Big Red wrestler also leads all 125 pounders with 38 wins this winter.
These wrestlers, who will receive lower seeds or be unseeded, could provide some upsets:
• North Dakota State’s Trent Sprenkle was unseeded last March when the Bison went 3-2 in St. Louis and barely missed All-American status when he lost to Minnesota’s Zach Sanders in the Round of 12. The current sophomore also just recently emerged from a very tough West Regional battle, which he won over two other upstarts, Air Force freshman Josh Martinez and Wyoming sophomore Tyler Cox.
• Hofstra senior Steve Bonanno will be competing in his fourth national tournament and finished eighth last March when he won three consolation matches.
• North Carolina freshman Nathan Kraisser, a native of Maryland, had won 13 straight matches before losing to Tech’s Garnett in the ACC final. One of those victories was against the Hokie during the winning streak.
• Senior Mark Rappo of Penn redshirted last winter after qualifying for his first national tournament in 2011, when he upset Oklahoma State’s No. 9-seed Jon Morrison in the first round. This season, the Quaker is 23-5 after finishing second at the EIWA tourney.
• Central Michigan’s Christian Cullinan, who beat out an NCAA qualifier in Joe Roth, was on a roll and ranked seventh by WIN before the senior lost twice at the MAC.