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March Matness: 2019 NCAA Wrestling Day 1 Preview

Let’s take a look at the first day of the NCAA Championships.

NCAA Wrestling: Division I-Championship Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Cyclones kicked off the post season with a bang a week and a half ago with a 2nd place finish at the Big 12 championships. That included an individual championship performance from Chase Straw at 157, the Cyclones first Big 12 champ since 2016. With that strong performance they were able to qualify 9 of 10 weight classes to this weekend’s NCAA tournament in Pittsburgh.

This is going to be a very interesting NCAAs for the Cyclones. Of the nine wrestlers qualified five have legitimate hopes of reaching the podium and earning All American honors. But the margin between going 2-2 or making it to the top 8 is razor thin. And the difference in team score between those two finishes is massive. A Cyclone team that overperforms in Pittsburgh could walk away with multiple All Americans and a top ten ten finish. But one that underperforms could quickly fade away on Friday and barely crack the top 30. Coming out of the gate strong on Thursday is important not just for those first two matches, but for the team to set a winning tone for the whole weekend.

Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA

When: See Schedule Below

Brackets & Live Results: Trackwrestling

If you’re reading this before Session 1 kicks off on Thursday morning please join our WRNL bracket challenge on Wrestlestat at this link. It only takes a few minutes to make your picks and there is no cost to play.


In addition to the TV channels listed below, every mat, every match, will be streamed live on WatchESPN

  • Session 1 (Pigtails & Championship Round 1): Thursday, March 21st, 11:00AM CDT; ESPNU
  • Session 2 (Consolation Pigtails & Round 1, Championship Round 2): Thursday, March 21st, 6:00 PM CDT; ESPN
  • Session 3 (Consolations Round 2 & 3, Quarterfinals): Friday, March 22nd, 10:00 AM CDT; ESPNU
  • Session 4 (Round of 12 & Consolation Round 5, Semifinals): Friday, March 22nd, 7:00 PM CDT; ESPN
  • Session 5 (Consolation Semifinals, 3rd, 5th, & 7th Place Matches): Saturday, March 23rd, 10:00 AM; ESPNU
  • Session 6 (Finals): Saturday, March 23rd, 6:00 PM; ESPN

Iowa State Lineup


Weight ISU Wrestler Record Seed
Weight ISU Wrestler Record Seed
125 #20 Alex Mackall 22-10 19
133 #12 Austin Gomez 19-5 13
141 #12 Ian Parker 22-6 17
149 #10 Jarrett Degen 25-6 8
157 #23 Chase Straw 21-10 23
174 #22 Marcus Coleman 24-11 21
184 #11 Sam Colbray 26-5 10
197 #6 Willie Miklus 20-2 6
HWT #26 Gannon Gremmel 25-11 26

Weight By Weight Breakdown


Mackall will open up his tournament against #14 seeded (#11 ranked) Sean Fausz of NC State. As the seeds indicate, he’s the underdog in this one. However, Fausz is known to be a guy who makes a big weight cut so getting him in the first round before he’s able to fully recover gives Mackall a real shot at pulling off a win. If he gets the upset the going would get a lot tougher in the second round though as he’d have #3 seed (#3 ranked) Spencer Lee of Iowa, on Friday night. Lee beat Mackall pretty handily back near the start of the season. However, a loss there would drop him in to a spot in the bracket where he’d very likely be able to pick up at least one win on Friday morning.

If Mackall loses to Fausz on Thursday morning he’ll drop in to a Thursday night consolation match against the winner of a match between the pigtail loser and the wrestler that Lee faces in round 1. That means it could be against any of the following three wrestlers: #32 ranked Trey Chalifoux of Army, #33 ranked Willy Girard of Bloomsberg, or unranked Bryce West of Northern Illinois. Mackall has not wrestled any of these three, but he has a pretty good track record against guys outside of the top-33, so he would be considered the favorite to win and advance whichever of the three makes it to that match.

What Would Be A Good Day 1 For Mackall

Going 1-1 with a loss to Lee in the second session would be a good day for Mackall. But really as long as he doesn't go 0-2 it isn't a terrible day. Especially if he was able to pick up bonus points against his consolations opponent.


Gomez will open up his tournament against the #20 seed, Brandon Paetzell of Lehigh. Paetzell is a bit overseeded compared to his coaches ranking of 24th so there’s no reason for this one to be particularly close. A win there would give him a second round match against #4 seeded (and #4 ranked) Mickey Phillipi of Pitt. Phillipi isn’t a big scorer - his matches against top 20 guys have had scores along the lines of 2-1, 4-1, 5-3, 2-0, etc. So if Gomez can go out and get a throw early on anything could happen in this one.

If Gomez does lose to Paetzell on Thursday morning he’ll drop in to a Thursday night consolation match with (likely) #29 seeded Gary Joint of Fresno State, who he has beaten handily twice this season, including an 8-1 win last weekend at Big 12s.

What Would Be A Good Day 1 For Gomez

Obviously 2-0 and a trip to the quarterfinals would be the ideal outcome of Day 1, but going 1-1 with a win over Paetzell and a loss to Phillipi would still keep him alive in to day 2 with a tough but realistic path in front of him to the AA round. A loss to Paetzell on Thursday morning wouldn't be the end of the world - his path in the consolations in that part of the bracket would actually be a little easier. But it would be a bad sign for his mindset and preparation for the rest of the tournament.


Parker will open up his tournament against #16 seeded (#13 ranked) Chad Red of Nebraska. Red is a tough matchup for Parker. He’s a returning AA who was a finalist at the Big Ten tournament last weekend. In fact, a lot of outlets have tagged this match as one of the best of round one across all weights since it features two guys who both have a legitimate shot at reaching the podium. This is a pure tossup. If Parker wins he’ll be rewarded with a match against the #1 seed, returning national champion Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell. He’d be a pretty big underdog in that one but anything can happen at NCAAs.

If Parker loses to Red he’ll drop in to a Thursday night consolation match against (likely) #32 seeded Christopher Sandoval of Northern Colorado. Parker would be the big favorite in this one but it’s worth noting that Sandoval stole a ticket to Pittsburgh via a 5-3 win over #8 ranked Josh Alber of UNI in the first round of Big 12s last weekend. So he definitely has the capability to knock Parker out of the bracket if Ian doesn't come ready to wrestle.

What Would Be A Good Day 1 For Parker

1-1, no matter which way he gets there. Obviously a win over Red would be the ideal option but either way Parker is likely to end the day on the backside with a long weekend ahead of him. One thing to watch for as well is that a win over Red and then a Loss to Yianni could put Parker on a path to face former teammate Kanen Storr in the third round of consolations on Friday.


Degen will open up his tournament against #25 Russel Rohlfing of Cal State Bakersfield. As you’d expect from the seeding difference Degen has had a much better overall season than Rohlfing, but these two split head to head matches at the Southern Scuffle, with Rohlfing coming out ahead 7-5 in overtime the first time they met and Degen wining by pin in the second. Degen is the favorite and should advance but this will be one we’ll be watching with our fingers crossed. A win there would likely give Degen a shot against the #9 seed, Justin Oliver of NC State. As you’d expect from an 8/9 match, this one is a tossup.

If Degen loses the rubber match to Rohlfing he’d likely get the #24 seed (#25 ranked) Cortlandt Schuyler, of Lehigh. These two met during Degen’s true freshman year at Virginia Tech with Degen earning an 18-6 win. He’d be the heavy favorite to pick up another win in that one to survive in to Day 2.

What Would Be A Good Day 1 For Degen

2-0 and a trip to the quarterfinals would be a good day for Degen. Going 1-1 with a close loss to Oliver wouldn't be the end of the world but it would drop him in to a part of the bracket where he’d likely have to beat Davion Jeffries, who is a tough stylistic matchup for him, in order to stay alive in to the Friday evening session. A 2-0 Degen is much more likely to reach the AA rounds than a 1-1 Degen.


Straw will open up his tournament against #10 Steve Bleise of Minnesota. These two have never met but as you’d expect from the seeding difference Bleise will be the heavy favorite. Barring a big upset, Straw is probably going to get sent to the backside right away. However, he’ll have a very winnable match there against #26 seed (#25 ranked) Quincy Monday of Princeton. As long as Straw wrestles on Thursday like he did at Big 12s he should be able to get a win there and stay alive in to Friday.

What Would Be A Good Day 1 For Straw

1-1 and surviving. He’ll have a super tough first match and then a tossup in his second. If he can keep his season going one more day then it’s a good day for Chase.


Coleman will open up his tournament against the #12 seed (#13 ranked), Matt Finesilver of Duke. These two met at the Southern Scuffle with Finesilver coming away with a 10-2 major decision. So Coleman is the underdog and doesn’t have anything to lose. If he’s able to pull of the win he’d get the #5 seed (#5 ranked) Jordan Kutler of Lehigh on Friday night.

With a loss Coleman would likely face the #28 seed (#28 ranked) Jacob Oliver of Edinburgh in the first round of consolations on Thursday evening. These two have not met but Oliver was also at the Southern Scuffle back in January where Coleman took 6th place but Oliver did not place. Coleman will be favored if this is his second match.

What Would Be A Good Day 1 For Coleman

Like Mackall and Straw, 1-1 and staying alive for another day would be a good first day showing for Coleman.


Colbray will open up his tournament against #22 seeded (#19 ranked) Jackson Hemauer of Fresno State, who he beat 8-7 when Fresno came to Ames in January. Since that dual, Colbray has really turned things up a notch so even though the score was so close the first time I think it is fair to say that Colbray should be the heavy favorite in the rematch. A win would likely move him in to a second round match against 7 seed (ranked #10) Nick Reenan of NC State, who he has not met and only has one common opponent with. They both beat that single common opponent convincingly so there isn’t much to go on other than their rankings of 10 for Reenan and 11 for Colbray. Given how tight that is, I think you have to call this one a tossup.

If Colbray were to take a loss to Hemauer, or if he won the first match and Reenan got upset in round one, he’d face #26 seeded (#27 ranked) Dakota Geer of Oklahoma State. Geer was part of Oklahoma State’s late season weight shift so these two did not meet during the regular season. At the Big 12 championships Colbray took 2nd and Geer took 3rd with both of their only losses being by three points to UNI’s Drew Foster. Despite his low ranking, Geer is dangerous and this one could easily be considered a tossup.

What Would Be A Good Day 1 For Colbray

Colbray has a tough draw but he is also wrestling well. I think he has a legitimate chance to go 2-0. Looking at the brackets I think that’s what he needs to do to in order to AA, as a loss in either of the first two rounds drops him in to much tougher parts of the consolations than a loss in the quarterfinals would. Going 1-1 and staying alive wouldn’t be the end of the world for Colbray, but he really needs to go 2-0 both for his sake and for ISU’s team finish.


Miklus is ISU’s highest seed and will open up his tournament against the #27 seed (#26 ranked) Joshua Roetman of Navy. These two have never met but that is a match that he should be able to win without too much trouble. That’ll set up a much tougher Thursday evening against #11 seeded (#10 ranked) Christian Brunner of Purdue. These two have never met. Looking over Brunner’s record he is pretty consistent and doesn’t have many bad losses. However, he also doesn’t have many great wins, with a 14-4 win over #13 seeded Malik McDonald back in December being by far his best. Given that, I think that Miklus should be considered the favorite to win and advance to Friday morning’s quarterfinals.

If Miklus were to take a loss in the first round he’d likely start his consolation run against #22 seeded (#20 ranked) Sawyer Root of The Citadel. As with Roetman, these two have not met but Miklus would be the heavy favorite.

What Would Be A Good Day 1 For Miklus

As you’d expect from the highest seed on the team, Miklus has the clearest path to the quarterfinals. Anything less than 2-0 would be a bad day for Willie.


Remember how Degen got kind of a tough draw at 149 because he’s facing guy who is a much lower seed but owns a win over him? Well, Gremmel is on the other side of that at HWT. He wrestled #7 Trent Hillger of Wisconsin twice last season, winning 4-2 the first time and losing by fall the second. As with the situation at 149, the higher seed has a better overall resume and is the favorite. But when it comes to a rubber match you never know what might happen. If Gremmel picks up a win he’d be playing with house money in a Thursday evening match against #10 Youssif Hemida of Maryland.

With a round one loss Gremmel would likely have a Thursday evening consolation match against another opponent that he’s seen before, #23 Jake Gunning of Buffalo. These two met at Midlands during Gremmel’s redshirt season with Gunning winning 6-2.

What Would Be A Good Day 1 For Gremmel

Gremmel is the only ISU wrestler who is assured of being the lower seed in both of his matches. So anything other than going 0-2 is a good day for Gannon Gremmel.


I think at the end of the day Thursday at least 8 of the 9 Cyclones in attendance will still be alive in the bracket, with Gremmel being the most likely wrestler to be hitting the buffet line. But I think only Miklus and one of Parker, Gomez, Degen, and Colbray will be headed to Friday morning’s quarterfinals. Everyone else will be looking to make some noise in the consolations.

Next Up

We’ll have a Day 2 preview up by the time the first whistle blows on Friday morning.


After Miklus, which Cyclone do you think is most likely to go 2-0 on Thursday and reach the Quarterfinals?

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