Logan Stieber vs. Jordan Oliver match-up Headlines Ohio State and Kent State trip to National Duals

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Ohio State and Kent State are at National Duals this weekend. For those who don’t know, National Duals have a great new format- they take the nation’s 24 best teams, and break them down into four six-team regionals.  There winners of those four regionals then advance to the “Final Four” next weekend.  Here’s a link to the team brackets:

http://intermatwrestle.com/Files/pdf/11-12/matmayhem.pdf

While the team races are going to be extremely interesting to follow, nothing will be more interesting than the titanic Logan Stieber vs. Jordan Oliver match-up which should take place (assuming Ohio State beats Nebraska as I believe they will). This match has become the most highly-anticipated match in the nation this year, and it should take place this weekend.  I’ve wondered who would win this match since Stieber and Oliver dominated Fargo one weight class apart (105 an 112) when Logan was going into his freshman year in high school, and since then, all they have done is continue to make a name for themselves.

Stieber needs no introduction to Ohio fans- in addition to winning four state titles and dominating all comers at Fargo, he proved himself at the Senior Level while still in high school (placing 3rd at Senior Nationals and beating wrestlers such as Sam Hazewinkel while still in high school) but he really hit an entirely new level last spring and summer in the freestyle season- when he “double teched” two former NCAA Champions and beat former World Silver Medalist Mike Zadick all in the same day.  Stieber followed that up with a Junior World Silver Medal, dominating all comers in this extremely tough tournament until he lost in the finals to the 2010 Senior World Silver Medalist in a very competitive bout. All in all, save for one bad match against Chris Dardanes, Logan has made the transition back to folkstyle seamlessly, pinning nationally ranked wrestlers in the first period like they were JV High School wrestlers. He’s a freshman, but he’s as dominant as anyone in the nation (along with David Taylor, Ed Ruth, and Jordan Oliver, he is part of a “fab four” that completely dominates virtually all opposition).

Meanwhile, Jordan Oliver is the defending NCAA Champion after a 4th place finish as a freshman. Other than one overtime loss to Tony Ramos, he’s basically been untouchable for the past two years. Oliver is lightning fast and incredibly slick, with a style of low singles and ankle picks that resembles that of his coach, John Smith, so much that it’s uncanny. This year, he’s become much more of a pinner as well. In his 16 wins, Oliver has 14 pins (nine of them first period) and two technical falls, meaning that nobody that he’s beaten has gone the full seven minutes- simply mind-blowing.

So the question remains, will the relentlessly attacking, power, and arm bar series of Logan Stieber carry the day, or will Oliver’s slick leg attacks and/or cradle be too much for Stieber? For what it’s worth, I’ve almost never seen anyone get to Logan’s legs, but then he’s never faced anyone like Oliver.  Oliver has never been turned that I am aware of, but then again, he’s never faced a series as devastating as Logan’s bar and half series- which is akin to being put through some sort of medieval torture device.  One period of Stieber on top punishing Oliver, and that could change the entire complexion of the match from a momentum/energy standpoint, even if he doesn’t turn.  If the match is decided entirely on takedowns, on the other hand, I am not sure even Stieber can win that match with Oliver. At the end of the day, when you have two great competitors like this, there is something to be said for being the challenger as opposed to the guy who is defending the crown, and on that (admittedly thin) basis I am taking Logan Stieber (without even an attempt to it’s a biased pick). At the end of the day, this match will be a warm up for that match in March, but a damn interesting warm-up nonetheless.
Back to the team duals, for this match to even happen, Ohio State has to beat Nebraska, by no means a sure thing, but highly likely in my view.  Nebraska upset OSU last time they wrestled in early January, but OSU’s young team has come far since then- notably, Derek Garcia, Josh Demas, and Andrew Campolattano are wrestling much better, and Ohio State also has Magrum back at 184, which is very helpful. Here’s the results from last time:

HWT – Tucker Lane DEC  Peter Capone, 4-1
125 –Johnni Dijulius MAJ DEC Shawn Nagel, 11-3
133 –Logan Stieber DEC Ridge Kiley, 8-2
141 –Jake Sueflohn MAJ DEC Hunter Stieber, 10-2
149 –Cam Tessari DEC Brandon Wilbourn, 3-1ot
157 –James Green DEC Josh Demas, 7-4
165 –Robert Kokesh MAJ DEC Derek Garcia, 9-1
174 – Nick Heflin DEC Tyler Koehn, 6-2
184 – Josh Ihnen MAJ DEC Craig Thomas, 12-0
197 – Andrew Campolattano DEC James Nakashima, 5-3

Compared to last time, Ohio State seems likely to reverse the loss at 141 –currently, #5 ranked Hunter Stieber has beaten three wrestlers head-to-head that beat fellow true frosh (currently #9 ranked) Jake Sueflohn (Kellen Russell, Montell Marion, and Nick Dardanes). I think Hunter wrestles his match this time and wins a controlled bout something like 5-3. At the minimum, it’s very difficult to see Stieber losing by major decision again, so that’s a point that goes to Ohio State.

At 184, #11 ranked Cody Magrum has a chance to reverse the loss by his backup against #8 ranked Ihnen.  Having watched Ihnen wrestle and looking at his results, I think he’s the most likely winner, but at the minimum, he’s not getting majored like Thomas did.  Throw in the fact that a vastly improved Derek Garcia is unlikely to get majored this time, and that Logan Stieber is likely to get a major or pin based on the way he’s been wrestling lately- and I think that the “battle of the bonus points” goes to Ohio State this time if the teams split 5-5 in bouts as they did last time, even without Hunter Stieber or Magrum reversing losses. Other Buckeyes with a chance to reverse their previous loss are Josh Demas (looking much improved in his last few duals and definitely underrated right now) and Pete Capone (not wrestling well now, but perhaps he can return to the form he showed in Vegas in December).  The flipside is that the results at 149 and 197 could possibly go Nebraska’s way this time- although it’s “iffy” whether Nakashima will be wrestling for Nebraska at 197, and if he does not that’s likely bonus points for Ohio State.
Assuming then that Ohio State wins this dual, it’s on to the #1 seeded Oklahoma State Cowboys in the finals, a dual which I break down as follows:

125  #13 Jonathon Morrison  (Oklahoma State)  vs. #16 Johnni DiJulius (Ohio State)
Seeing Morrison ranked #13 comes as a surprise- a year ago he posted wins over #2 Zach Sanders, #3 Alan Waters (twice), and All-American Ben Kjar, but this season he hasn’t been quite as sharp thus far. My feeling is that his best wrestling is ahead of him and he’s significantly better than ranked. Johnni DiJulius has posted an outstanding true frosh season, and has been an automatic “W” against anyone not ranked in the top ten or so. I think Morrison must be a slight favorite here, but he better bring his A-Game.
OWS Pick: Morrison Decision 3-0 Oklahoma State

133  Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State)  vs. Logan Stieber (Ohio State) 
This is the most highly-anticipate college match of the season, not just for Ohio fans, but throughout the nation.
OWS Pick: Stieber decision: 3-3

141  Josh Kindig (Oklahoma State) vs. #5 Hunter Stieber (Ohio State)
On paper, Hunter Stieber should win easily here.  Josh Kindig had an excellent season as a freshman but has struggled in his sophomore campaign and is currently unranked. However, he remains an  elite talent who is likely to turn the corner at some point this season- one just hopes it is not against the Buckeyes.
OWS Pick: Stieber decision 6-3 Ohio State

149 #2  Jamal Parks  (Oklahoma State)  vs.#14 Cam Tessari (Ohio State)
I remain very much unconvinced that Parks is as good as his #2 ranking.  At this weight, I think there is very little difference between the wrestlers ranked #2-10, and even though Parks is unbeaten, he hasn’t wrestled the top ten very much so far, and I suspect that several at this weight will end up ahead of him.  Call it a hunch.  Though Tessari has been hampered by injury lately, he remains so dangerous that he absolutely has a chance for an upset in my opinion- though the choice must be the highly-consistent Parks.
OWS Pick: Parks decision 6-6

157  #11 Albert White (Oklahoma State) vs. #20 Josh Demas (Ohio State)
I am calling for the upset here.  Josh Demas started out red-hot, opening 8-0, only to slowly come back to earth starting with the Virginia Tech Dual.  However, I think in the second half of the season he has shown a new toughness to go with his incredible quickness, and I think he’s hungrier than 5th year Senior White- one of the nation’s top recruits out of high school that has never quite panned out.  I think Demas will get it done in a match that will be decided entirely on takedowns.
OWS Pick: Demas by decision.  9-6 Ohio State

165  Dallas Bailey (Oklahoma State) vs. Derek Garcia (Ohio State)
Derek Garcia has really turned it up the second half of the year, beating #9 Evans and nearly beating #13 Dan Yates (he lead the match until a last second takedown by Yates sent the bout to overtime).  I think Garcia may be a top 20 wrestler right now, the rankings just don’t reflect the improvement he’s made over the course of the season.  Dallas Bailey is emblematic of an Oklahoma State team that seems to be uninspired.  A year ago as a freshman, he opened his first 20 matches 17-3, with about a half dozen big-time wins .  Today, at the 20-match mark he’s 12-8, with only a single really noteworthy win (by fall over Kyle Blevins).  I think that Garcia keeps the momentum set by Demas going and wins a close one.
OWS Pick: Garcia Decision, 12-6 Ohio State. 

174 #3 Chris Perry (Oklahoma State) vs. #7 Nick Heflin (Ohio State)
Chris Perry comes in undefeated, and owns a win over the #1 ranked 184 (LeBlanc) before he dropped to 174.  He is a heavy favorite here, but Heflin of course has the style to slow down a good leg attack man like Perry, and if he can keep it to a 1-1 bout, there’s always a chance in the tiebreakers.  Perry much be favored, however.
OWS Pick: Perry Decision 12-9 Ohio State. 

184  Christopher McNeil (Oklahoma State)  vs. #11 Cody Magrum (Ohio State)  
Christopher McNeil has been a career backup, albeit a very good one (49-23 career record), until Perry dropped to 174. Although he’s unranked, I think the gap between him and Magrum may be much smaller than some realize and this is a weight were a potential upset could be lost, but I’ll take Magrum.
OWS Pick: Magrum decision.  15-9 Ohio State

197  #8 Blake Rosholt/Cayle Byers (Oklahoma State)  vs.#20  Andrew Campolattano (Ohio State)
This is one of those weights where an upset is absolutely possible, although Rosholt or Byers must be the pick.  In order for Campolattano to pull the upset- we must see the constantly attack version of “Camp” that we saw against Iowa and Michigan State, not the cautious Camp we saw against Morgan McIntosh of Penn State. He’s got the artillery, now he just has to use it.  Once again, you have to pick Oklahoma State, however.
OWS Pick:  Rosholt/Byers decision. 15-12 Ohio State. 

285  #3 Alan Gelogaev  Oklahoma State  vs. Pete Capone
Alan Gelogaev is one Oklahoma State Cowboy who is definitely NOT underperforming.  In my opinion, this is the nation’s best heavyweight this year bar none, and he’s hammered guys who were much better than Capone this year by pin or major decision.  I think the only question is not whether the Russian Born heavyweight gets bonus points, but how many.
OWS Pick:  Gelogaev major decision 16-15 Oklahoma State

Final Ohio State Thoughts
What makes this Buckeye team interesting is that they are not as much of a “known commodity” as a veteran team is.  Guys like Josh Demas, Johnni DiJulius, Derek Garcia, Cam Tessari, and Andrew Campolattano have the “upside” to put forth performances much better than they are ranked (as we saw against Iowa). Combine that with a freak of nature like Logan Stieber, his dynamite brother Hunter, veteran All-American contenders in Heflin and Magrum, and a solid if unspectacular heavyweight in Capone, and there is real upset potential.

Two other things that I like about this team in a dual meet setting are that they feed off of each other’s successes, and the balance of the lineup is such that almost nobody is likely to give up bonus points in any match.  Incredibly, the only two wrestlers to give up bonus points more than once this year are Hunter Stieber (who has two odd performances where he was pinned by Evam Henderson and majored by Sueflohn in his otherwise exceptional season) and Derek Garcia, and Garcia has improved markedly since the start of the season. That means that in a dual setting, with Logan likely good for bonus points against almost anyone, typically you will have to win six of ten matches to defeat the Buckeyes.

Of course, this is a young team, and if this team is “off” they could also lose to Nebraska.  On the negative side- a fact that cannot be overlooked is that Ohio State is wrestling in Stillwater, Oklahoma- Oklahoma State’s home gym.  Not exactly an easy place to beat the Cowboys, to put it mildly.

Kent State Outlook
Kent State enters as the number #4 seed in their regional, and is paired up with #5 seed Rutgers in the first round. Here is a recent dual with gives a good indication of the Rutgers lineup:

Name

School

Opponent Name

Opponent School

Result

WinType

Score

Tourney Place

In Progress

View

125

Vincent Dellafave

Rutgers

Virginia

W

For

No

View

133

Joseph Langel

Rutgers

Martinez, Joe

Virginia

L

DEC

5 – 7

No

View

141

William Ashnault

Rutgers

Nelson, Nick

Virginia

L

DEC

3 – 6

No

View

149

Mario Mason

Rutgers

Sako, Augustus

Virginia

L

DEC

3 – 5

No

View

157

Anthony Volpe

Rutgers

Moore, Jedd

Virginia

L

TF5

0 – 15 (5:14)

No

View

165

Scott Winston

Rutgers

Sulzer, Nicholas

Virginia

L

DEC

2 – 5

No

View

174

Greg Zannetti

Rutgers

Waldhauser, Vinny

Virginia

W

DEC

9 – 8

No

View

184

Dan Seidenberg

Rutgers

Fausey, Jonathan

Virginia

L

MD

5 – 13

No

View

197

Daniel Rinaldi

Rutgers

Malo, Ryan

Virginia

W

DEC

7 – 3

No

View

285

Daniel Hopkins

Rutgers

Papagianopoulos, Derek

Virginia

L

DEC

0 – 4

No

Rutgers has three nationally ranked wrestlers in #8 Mario Mason, #17 Scott Winston, and #17 Greg Zanetti.  Joseph Langel, William Ashnault, and Daniel Rinaldi are three other National Qualfiers who cannot be taken lightly.

Kent State is clearly favored at 125, 141, 157, 184, and HWT.  Rutgers is clearly favored at 133, 165,174, or 197- although I believe all these wins will come via decision and that upsets are possible at 165 and 174. The key bout that could decide the dual could be 149- where super-frosh Ian Miller meets Mario Mason.  Mason of course is a wrestler who is very familiar to Ohio fans- once the “face” of Blair Academy’s vaunted wrestling program, he’s been solid but unspectacular in his first 2.5 college seasons, and is currently ranked #8 in the nation.  Ian Miller, on the other hand, has become the “human highlight film” with a high-flying style that involves numerous throws, inside trips, and pancakes. In my view, he’s not only the most dangerous, but also the most entertaining wrestler in the nation.  Wrestling the very technically-solid and controlled #8-ranked Mason will be quite a test for #9 ranked Miller, but I believe he’s up to the task.

The electrifying Ian Miller of Kent State may be the nation’s best true freshman.

If they win there, the road gets much tougher when Kent State faces top-seeded Minnesota. With Penn State skipping National Duals, Minnesota is highly likely to win the entire thing in my view.

Here’s a breakdown of Kent State vs. Minnesota:

125- #4 Nic Bedelyon (KSU) vs.#2 Zach Sanders
The match of the dual without a doubt.  Oddly enough, despite both being 5th-year seniors these two have only wrestled one time, with Sanders winning back in 2009 by a score of 9-0.  Look for a much closer bout this time.   This will be a classic match-up of a mat wrestler (Bedelyon) vs. a takedown artist- if Bedelyon can keep it close on his feet he has a chance.
OWS Pick: Sanders by Decision.

133- Steve Mitcheff/Troy Opfer (KSU) vs. #5 Chris Dardanes (Minnesota)
Chris Dardanes started the year as a backup behind highly-ranked David Thorn- but really started 2012 off right- in a two week span he won the Southern Scuffle, took the starting spot from Thorn, and oh yeah, handed Logan Stieber his only loss of the season.  He’s too much for Kent’s undersized 133’s- who have a bright future next year at 125 but will be overrun in this bout.
OWS Pick: Dardanes by major decision.  

141- #10 Tyler Small (KSU) vs. #8 Nick Dardanes
Yet again, we have the Pennsylvania-native mat wrestler in Small against takedown artist Dardanes of Minnesota.   Dardanes can run hot and cold, and I’ll take Small in this one, but really, when you have two guys ranked this closely, it’s anyone’s guess.
OWS Pick:  Small by Decision. 

149-#9 Ian Miller (KSU) vs. #10 Dylan Ness-
This is a battle of two great freshman with go-for-broke styles, and I could easily see a pin going one way or the other.  I could also see this being an NCAA Final one day. Ness is not unbeatable- as Cam Tessari proved by pinning him, but Ness also put Tessari on his back for five before that.  I’ll take Miller, by my only real prediction is that somebody’s going to their back for five at some point in this match.
OWS Pick: Miller by decision. 

157- Mallie Schuster (KSU) vs. Alec Ortiz-
Ortiz was a stud coming out of high school but has never panned out. Minnesota hoped to have 2008 Olympian Jake Deitchler here but his career has been ended by concussions, sadly.   Shuster gets two or three solid takedowns here and controls the bout.
OWS Pick: Shuster by decision. 

165- Ross Tice (KSU) vs. #14 Cody Yohn-
2x NCAA Qualifier Ross Tice has not really hit his stride this year, but the talent to get the job done is there so hopefully this is a breakout weekend for him. I’ve always thought Yohn was a tad overrated so maybe Tice gets back on track with a win over Scott Winston or Yohn this weekend, but the smart money is on Yohn.
OWS Pick:  Yohn by decision

174- Brandonn Johnson (KSU) vs. #5 Logan Storley
6x South Dakota State Champ Logan Storley has lived up to his billing and then some as a true freshman. Johnsonn had a nice season as a true frosh but has been only so-so as a sophomore, but has shown signs of turning things around lately, notably with win over then-ranked Patrick Wright at Virginia Duals
OWS Pick: Storley by major decision

184: Casey Newburg (KSU) vs. #7 Kevin Steinhaus
Newburg has always been a bright spot in the Kent State lineup- a wrestler who never placed at state in high school who is likely to qualify for nationals this year as a junior.  However, he’s outgunned against returning All-American Steinhaus.
OWS Pick: Steinhaus by decision

197: Keith Witt (KSU) vs. #2 Sonny Yohn
Yohn is too big, too fast, and too good for Keith Witt, who has performed admirably as an undersized 197.
 OWS Pick: Yohn by major decision

285- #16 Brendan Barlow (KSU) vs. #4 Tony Nelson 
On paper, Nelson should be a shoe-in, but I’m not so sure.  Barlow has finished in the Top 12 twice, and while many of the close bouts have not gone his way this year, he can wrestle a one point or overtime match with almost anyone in the nation, and some of these bouts are going to start going his way. Basically, when it comes to Barlow you can throw the rankings out. That said, Nelson did beat him 2-1 last year as a freshman and is considerably better this year and must be the pick.
OWS Pick: Nelson by decision. 

That comes out to a final score of 24-9  in favor of Minnesota- but no shame in that as Minnesota is my pick to win the entire thing. It’s unfortunate that Kent State did not land the #3 seed, as I believe they would have stood a very good chance to knock off #2 Michigan and make the finals against Minnesota, but with the seeds as they are look for them to finish a very respectable 3rd in their regionals.

All in all, it will be a great weekend of wrestling, be sure to stay tuned on Sunday for updates as we get them!

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