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149 lb. NCAA Championship Preview

By Cullen Maksimowski, 03/14/17, 1:00PM EDT

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Photo: sjanickiphoto.com

Cullen Maksimowski

Cullen Maksimowski

Editor

ST. LOUIS, Mo.-- March Matness is in full-tilt with the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships slated for this weekend (March 16-18) in St. Louis.

The staff at Michigan Grappler is diving into each weight class with full analysis and predictions heading into this weekend’s action.

Here’s a look at 149:

The parity in the 149-pound weight class over the last few years has made for some very entertaining wrestling and it’s no different this season.

Aside from Penn State’s Zain Retherford sitting at the top, this is one weight were you could take #2-through-#10 and make a case on why they’re a legit finals contender.

Oklahoma State’s Anthony Collica enters as the No.2-seed after an impressive senior season with just two  losses to #3 Lavion Mayes (MIZZ) and #1 Retherford.

Sophomore Micah Jordan (OSU) comes in at No.4 with just three blemishes on his regular season which includes two tech-fall losses to Retherford and a 2-0 loss to 2016 runner-up and #5-seed Brandon Sorensen (Iowa).

The #6-through-#10 seeds are occupied by an extremely talented group of underclassman including Solomon Chishko (VT), Max Thomsen (UNI), Pat Lugo (EDIN), Justin Oliver (CMU) and Laike Gardner (LEH).

Oliver is a returning All-American placing 7th last year as a freshman and defeated #2 Anthony Collica last season at the southern scuffle. Thomsen is freshman stud with several big wins on the season.

Second Round Matchups:

#9 Justin Oliver (CMU) vs #8 Pat Lugo (EDIN)

These two have yet to face each other in their careers but have seen fairly similar results against common opponents.

Oliver has a few more wins over quality opponents in his career and is a returning All-American in the weight class giving him the edge in this matchup. Oliver wins 6-3.

#11 Davion Jeffries (OU) vs #6 Solomon Chishko (VT)

Chishko edged Jefferies, 5-3, in their only meeting back in January.

Jefferies is a talented sophomore who has some impressive wins this season but I still think Chishko takes this one, 4-2.

#7 Max Thomsen (UNI) vs #10 Laike Gardner (LEH)

These two met in the first round of the Southern Scuffle with Thomsen winning in sudden victory, 6-4.

Thomsen has improved more over the course of the season and established himself as a legit contender. Thomsen wins, 7-2.

Quarterfinal Matchups:

#1 Zain Retherford (PSU) vs #9 Justin Oliver (CMU)

Retherford made quick work of Oliver in the quarterfinals last year with first period fall.

Oliver has improved since his seventh place finish a year ago and has a legit shot at moving up the podium and closing the gap in this matchup.

Ultimately, the defending-champs near-flawless offense will be too much for Oliver as its been for everyone he’s faced this season. Retherford wins by 14-4 major decision.

#5 Brandon Sorenson (Iowa) vs #4 Micah Jordan (OSU)

This might actually be a more entertaining match then the finals to be completely honest. Each of their two regular have been close battles and the third shouldn’t be any different.

Sorensen took the first match back in January, 2-0, and Micah took a slim 2-1 victory in the BIG Ten semifinals.

I like Jordan to repeat in another one-point battle, 3-2.

#3 Lavion Mayes (MIZZ) vs #6 Chishko (VT)

Mayes took a 6-3 decision over Chishko in their only meeting.

Coming off a third-place finish a year ago, Mayes is much more polished wrestler overall and has hovered in the top five at 141 and 149 since he started his career with the Tigers

Chishko has racked up nice record but I don’t see Mayes taking a quarterfinal loss in his last hurrah. Mayes wins 8-4.

#7 Max Thomsen (UNI) vs #2 Anthony Collica (OKST)

This is where I stray from the beaten path a bit. Yes, I’m taking Thomsen over Collica in a 9-7 sudden victory.

Collica has been a stud all year for John Smith’s Cowboys but he hasn’t exactly blown everyone out of the water like Mr. Retherford. He’s not untouchable.

Collica split his two meetings with #3 Mayes this season. So did Thomsen.

It seems like every year there is a freshman that storms his way to on the national scene and establishes themselves as a force of the future. I pick Thomsen.

Semifinal Matchups

#1 Zain Retherford (PSU) vs #4 Micah Jordan (OSU)

No sugarcoating this one. This one will play out just like the first two meetings. A 20-5 tech-fall win and another march to the finals for Retherford.

#3 Mayes (MIZZ) vs #7 Max Thomsen (UNI)

Yes, I’m still backing Thomsen but this is another one that could go either way.

Neither of these two leave anything in the tank when they go at it should be entertaining not matter which way it goes.

Thomsen wins the takedown contest, 9-7, to send him to the finals.

Finals:

#1 Zain Retherford (PSU) vs Max Thomsen (UNI)

Unfortunately, Thomsen’s Impressive run to the reach the finals will be overshadowed by Retherford winning his second-straight title in dominate fashion.

I’m guessing an early third-period tech fall. Thomsen holds it to a major if things go right.

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