Prestigious is the first word that comes to mind when thinking of the Midlands Wrestling
Championships. The 59 th Annual Tournament starts on Friday with workout facilities opening on
Thursday at 1pm for teams to declare weights and get their final workout in until 5pm. Weigh ins start
at 7:30AM bright and early.
On our previous podcast Coach Bono mentioned that Midlands will carry weight in terms of deciding a
final starting lineup. Will we see Hamiti stay at 174? With the Badgers ranked 24 th in the Intermat
rankings they’ll be facing a deep field of highly ranked tournament teams listed below:
– Missouri #2
– Michigan #7
– Virginia Tech #8
– Arizona State #10
– Ohio State #12
– Rutgers #14
– Air Force #17
– Oregon State #18
All these top 20 teams have been entered since 12/8 and we’d cry tears of joy to see them all send their
starting lineups sadly shouldn’t count on it. Missouri typically sends some backups, ASU and Michigan
typically send some of their starters. Although, ASU, Ohio State, Oregon State, Michigan, Air Force and
Virginia Tech starters wrestled at the CKLV so those teams are unlikely to send most of their starters.
It seems fitting to start off with Eric Barnett at 125, the reigning champion from 2022 after taking out
Brandon Courtney from ASU. The 125-pound bracket could be absolutely loaded, I’m talking 50 caliber
sniper firepower potential.
This year ASU has Richard Figueroa ranked #8, one spot above Barnett at 125. Virginia Tech also pulled
the Olympic redshirt from Cooper Flynn at 125 who’s ranked #10 after All-American Eddie Ventresca has
struggled this season. Vantresca beat Barnett in the blood round last year at NCAA’s. A familiar foe,
Michael Deagustino ranked #6 could be in action if Michigan sends their starting lineup. Potentially
could see #5 Matt Ramos for Purdue and #3 Dean Peterson from Rutgers as well. Basically, the winner
of 125 has some serious momentum moving towards the post-season. This weight extremely up for
grabs for the NCAA tournament, Midlands is a good opportunity to help solidify a solid seed.
At 133 we’ve seen Nicolar Rivera wrestling well and more consistently but could see Zan Fuggit tossed
into the mix as teams are allotted extra entries for Midlands. Both are young, but we saw Rivera win
their last match up and this could be a chance to show he’s jumped levels again versus the field. We all
want to see Nicolar let it fly but also want to see better match strategy that the coaching staff has been
working with him to improve.
Assuming the Buckeyes don’t enter Jesse Mendez 141 looks to be a weaker weight at this years
midlands and a good opportunity for Lettini to get some quality mat time in this weekend.
Joe “Jet Fuel” Zargo #12 rolls into Midlands for the Badgers at 149 coming off a big win against Kinner
from Ryder. Former teammate and All American Austin Gomez #9 is certified to wrestle for Michigan at
149 but we’ll see if they enter him into the tournament or save him for the B1G dual season. Caleb
Henson #2 for VT and Kyle Parco #3 for ASU wrestled at the CKLV but would be great matches for Zargo.
We should expect Corbyn Munson #14 for Central Michigan to be in the mix who beat Zargo earlier this
year at the MSU open, so we could see a fresh platter of revenge served this weekend.
Luke Mechler at 157 could see a bracket full of top 25 opponents and a great opportunity to move up
the ladder a bit before the B1G dual season. Trevor Chumbley #14 for Northwestern is to be expected
along with Joey Blaze #18 for Purdue and former Gopher Brayton Lee #19 who’s looking to get back to a
165. DJ Hamiti? Gavin Model? Does DJ make the move up to 174 for good? There’s a reason this is just a
preview because we do not know. I’m taking +200 odds DJ goes up to 174 for the remainder of the
season if I were to bet and this tournament could be the decision. Regardless, 165 is going to be a solid
bracket at midlands including Derek Gilcher #9 for Indiana, Caleb Fish #10 for Michigan State, and
Garrett Thompson #11 for Ohio. 165 would be Hamiti’s to win assuming Missouri and Michigan don’t
send O’Toole or Amine who the fans would love to see match up at Midlands.
Max Maylor and DJ Hamiti could get a double entry at 174 or potentially could see Max and Shane both
enter at 184 to contend for that weight. 174 could be loaded as well, with Edmond Ruth #3 for Illinois
coming off a loss to O’Toole, Justin McCoy #7 for Virginia, and Donnell Washington #10 all expected to
enter in to the bracket. Only time will tell on this one, but should be an awesome weight for the
Shane Liegel would expect to be back down at 184 after a hiatus of wins at 197, which you just love to
see out of the River Valley WI native. I think he’s the real deal in D1, but they’re still sleeping on him in
the 184 rankings. Sam Wolf #7 for Air Force, Layne Malczewki #12 for Michigan State and Brian Soldano
#13 for Rutgers would be big upsets for Liegel. There are some lower ranked opponents such as Zayne
Lehman #24 of Ohio and Dylan Connell of Illinois who I’d be pumped to see Leigel beat and enter these
Intermat rankings. Midlands could be a big wake up call for the 184 field and chance to show that our
guy is a landmine come the B1G tournament and NCAA tournament.
A bit of question mark at 197 for the Badgers and not certain, could we see Josh Otto make the jump
back up or Michael Talshahar back in the lineup?
At heavyweight we could see Pete Christensen back as the starter or Gannon Rosenfeld or both if this is
a weight the coaching staff wants to test in the tournament. Air Force could send #2 Wyatt Hendrickson
who’s always looking to wrestle. Also could see Harvard transfer and now Rutgers heavyweight Yaraslau
Slavikouski #7, yeah you pronounced that wrong in your head most likely.
First session starts at 9:30 AM Friday December 29 th .
Second session starts at 7:00 PM Friday December 29 th .
Third sessions starts at 11:00 AM Saturday December 30 th .
Final Session for the Championship as well as 3 rd , 5 th starts at 6:05 PM.
It will be a packed weekend of high-quality wrestling at one of the most prestigious collegiate
tournaments. Be sure to set you clocks accordingly.