The college season officially kicks off this weekend and for the state of Michigan no better way to start things out that with the MSU Open, going down Saturday in Jenison Fieldhouse.
All 3 Michigan Division 1 schools are slated to bring full squads, giving us our first look at many of their top guns as well as some crucial performances to determine some starting spots.
In addition to Michigan, MSU, and CMU, top out-of-state squads in attendance include Oklahoma, Northwestern, Purdue, Ohio, Ohio State, Penn, Northern Illinois, and Edinboro wrestlers competing.
In addition, #2 ranked team in NCAA Division II Notre Dame College is bringing a full squad to compete.
Michigan sub D1 teams Grand Valley and Davenport have wrestlers entered as well.
Read below for our weight-by-weight preview and click here to see the full list of entries (Gold)
Ranked Wrestlers: #11 Rayvon Foley (MSU), #13 Shakur Laney (Ohio), #14 Drew Mattin (Michigan)
Three NCAA Qualifiers is a good start to the open division. Foley and Mattin qualified in 2018 as true freshmen, while Laney qualified in '16 and '17 for the Bobcats. Also of note is Michigan's Austin Assad who will continue to battle with Mattin for the Wolverines starting job, though Mattin won the wrestle-off in two matches. CMU's Drew Hildebrandt was very good a year ago for the the Chips, as he nearly qualified for NCAA's, finishing 3rd at the MAC tournament. Also watch for NIU freshman Bryce West, who went 17-6 as a redshirt for the Huskies a year ago.
Ranked Wrestlers: #2 (DII) Kelan McKenna (Notre Dame)
MSU's Anthony Tutolo, a senior transfer and 2x NCAA qualifier from Kent State, is the favorite at 33. For him it'll be a familiar sight as a bout half of the wrestlers in the weight hail from MAC schools. CMU will have Deven Perez and Brock Bergelin entered to continue to vy for the Chippewas starting slot; Perez won the wrestle-off Monday. Mario Guillen of Ohio U is down from 141 a year ago where he started for the Bobcats. Alijah Jeffrey of NIU is another who will compete; he was 5th in the MAC in 2018 and lost 3-2 to Tutolo during the season.
Ranked Wrestlers: #8 (D2) David Bavery (Notre Dame)
The biggest weight of the Open division (25 total), this will probably be one of the more intriguing weight of the tournament as well. NCAA Qualifiers Ausin Eicher (MSU) and Sal Profaci (Mich) are entered. Eicher is a former MAC champ from his time at NIU at 133 pounds, and, after spending time at 149 and behind Gasca at 141 a year ago, looks ready to man the weight for the Spartans. Michigan has four quality guys battling for a spot in Profaci, Kanen Storr, Ben Freeman, and Joey Silva (likely redshirt). Storr is the early clubhouse leader after the wrestle-off series. Dom Demas of Oklahoma always makes for an entertaining match to watch as well. CMU freshman Drew Marten will be guy for the Chippewas at 141 after going 25-7 as a redshirt at 133 last year.
Ranked Wrestlers: #3 (D2) Taylor Misuna (Notre Dame), #5 (D2) Josh Wimer (Findlay)
Another weight with two NCAA qualifiers in Michigan's Malik Amine and Oklahoma's Davion Jeffries. Jaden Enriquez of MSU is another to watch as he looks primed to be the guy for the Spartans after a solid redshirt year. CMU's Dresden Simon is up two weights to a more comfortable 149 and it should be interesting to see how he makes the adjustment. Also keep an eye on Michigan's Ben Lamantia, who took one of three matches from Amine in the wrestle-off series. This weight has a number of others who will be in the mix, including, but not limited to, Breyden Bailey of Indiana, AJ Jaffe of Harvard, Anthony Artalona of Penn, and Kade Kowalski of Ohio.
Ranked Wrestlers: #3 Alec Pantaleo (Michigan)
Not surprisingly, Pantaleo is the top gun here. It was a surprise, however, when Michigan freshman Will Lewan took a match in the wrestle-off series from him. And while wrestle-offs aren't the greatest indicator, it's still an intriguing storyline to see where Lewan will match up with the rest of the field. Two displaced ex-EMU wrestlers are competing - NCAA qualifier Zac Carson, now at Ohio U and down from 165, and Mason Kauffman, currently wrestling for NIU. CMU's Logan Parks is down a weight as well after a solid sophomore campaign for the Chippewas. Jake Tucker of Michigan State is another to keep an eye on in his second year manning the weight for the Spartans.
With no ranked entrants or returning NCAA qualifiers, the main storylines at 165 will be the starting battles for CMU and MSU. MSU has a trio of quality guys all vying for the starting spot, and it's likely we'll see all three get time at some point. Nathan Atienza, Austin Hiles, and Logan Ritchie are the three in contention; Ritchie defeated both in the wrestle-off series a week ago, so he's the frontrunner. As for CMU, St. John's native and redshirt freshman won the wrestle-off over Bedford native Blake Montrie, 2-1.
Ranked Wrestlers: #1 (D3) Jairod James (Mount Union), #2 (D3) Darden Schurg (Wabash)
Right off the bat, a 1 vs 2 matchup is always something to watch for, so if the NCAA's top ranked DIII wrestlers meet, it will have major ranking implications obviously. There are only 12 entered in the weight total. Drew Hughes, who was a match from becoming an All-American as a true freshman in 2017, is the top guy here (no pun intended). He'll be followed by Anthony Mantanona of Oklahoma and Ethan Smith of Ohio State, both blue-chippers coming out of high school. Croswell-Lexington grad Collin Lieber, a redshirt freshman for Central Michigan, should be one to keep an eye on. Hearing good things coming out of Mt. Pleasant about him, as he comes off a 13-6 redshirt campaign.
Ranked Wrestlers: #14 Jelani Embree (Michigan), #2 (D2) Tony Vezzetti (Notre Dame)
184 is a sneaky loaded weight for this tournament. Jordan Atienza is down from 197 where he qualified for NCAA's last year and is at a weight that probably suits him better. Former EMU Eagle and 2018 MAC Champ Kayne MacCallum returns to the mitten as well, now donning an Oklahoma singlet. Two redshirt freshmen expected to have major impacts for the Wolverines and Spartans are slated to compete here also - Jelani Embree (Mich) and Cameron Caffey (MSU). In their redshirt years, Embree was 15-2, while Caffey was 22-5. Holly native Andrew Scott also is one for Michigan fans to watch, as he heads into his senior year as the starter for NIU.
Ranked Wrestlers: #16 Jake Woodley (Oklahoma), #17 Jackson Striggow (Michigan)
No national qualifiers in the weight, but it will be a weight to look back on in March because there is talent here. Striggow has been a solid force for the Wolverines when called upon in his first two years, and is primed for a big season at 197. Woodley of Oklahoma, one of the nation's top prospects two years ago, is coming off a redshirt year where he was 15-3. He defeated Striggow 7-3 at the CSU Open last December. CMU redshirt sophomore Landon Pelham will be the starter for the Chippewas and should do well here also. Another roster battle for MSU continues here as well with Nick May and Brad Wilton after May won the wrestle-off 3-2. Two more to watch for are on the Davison brothers - Andrew at Michigan, and Lucas at Northwestern.
Ranked Wrestlers: #17 Matt Stencel (CMU), #2 (D2) Kameron Teacher
Matt Stencel leads the way here for Central Michigan after an impressive freshman season in which he won a MAC title and qualified for NCAA's. Michigan has a pair of heavies in Luke Ready and true freshman Mason Parris. Parris defeated Ready in the wrestle-offs but is currently projected to redshirt. Christian Rebottaro returns for MSU after starting for the Spartans in 2018 and compiling a solid offseason. NIU's Caleb Gossett and Zack Parker of Ohio are veterans who split with each other last year.