Wrestling Thoughts: Previewing Day 1 of the NCAA Wrestling Championships

Daily Iowan wrestling beat writers Cody Goodwin and Jordan Hansen preview the first day of the 2015 NCAA Wrestling Championships.

ST. LOUIS — Today is the day, you guys. Today is the day.

I wrote out my general predictions and previewed the tournament in the primer we posted yesterday. So I’ll keep it relatively brief here.

There are a lot of intriguing first-round matchups today for Iowa that could play a role in how the team race shakes out, as well as how that wrestler will finish individually. The two I’m keeping a closer eye on this morning are, of course, the two at-large qualifiers.

At 157, Michael Kelly has Ohio State’s Josh Demas right out of the chute. Demas beat Kelly, 5-2, in the dual in January. But this is a match I believe Kelly can win. It’ll take some solid technique and stout defense, but this is a match that, if close in the third, Kelly could steal. Should he do that, his road to being an All-American becomes a bit more favorable.

At 165, Nick Moore has Northwestern’s Pierce Harger, a guy he’s routinely beaten before this season. Harger beat Moore at the Midlands, but Moore returned the favor in the dual in January. I wrote in the primer that Moore could sneak into the quarters, but to do that, he has to take care of Harger first.

As for the rest of the team, all are heavily favored in their first-round bouts, and I don’t see any upsets during this morning’s session. As for the second session this evening — well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

In all, today will be the longest day of the three, but it will be a huge with respect to the team race. It would not shock me if all 10 Hawkeyes won this morning, but 8-2 wouldn’t surprise me, either. We’ll see.

Be sure to follow along all day for updates and news. And, as always, thanks so much for reading.

— Cody Goodwin

For the Iowa wrestling team, this event — the NCAA Tournament — is what matters the most. With how successful the team has been in the past, anything short of a national title is not deemed a success.

This year, Iowa has a chance to win this tournament. Will it? I have no idea, but the fact of the matter is that it possesses the ability.

All 10 Hawkeyes qualified, which is more favorable than if only eight or nine got through, and while they might not have a wrestler seeded higher than third, Iowa’s ability to use the wrestlebacks to its advantage will be huge for its national title hopes.

Today, all 10 will get a chance to wrestle. Only two Iowa wrestlers aren’t seeded — Nick Moore and Michael Kelly — and predictably, they will have the toughest draws this morning.

Once again, Iowa’s heavier weights will pull a good portion of the weight. Mike Evans and Bobby Telford are both seniors who will try to finish their careers with NCAA championships. Sammy Brooks and Nathan Burak will also likely play huge parts in deciding how well the Hawkeyes finish.

The bottom line is this: the Hawkeyes have put themselves in good position to win this thing, but can they avoid the collapse that they have had the last couple years?

Buckle up, because we’re about to find out.

— Jordan Hansen

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