Martin: Big Ten will dominate 133 pounds (LOST STORY)


Todd Small prepares for a takedown against Franco Valdez during the Iowa State and Chattanooga dual on Dec. 14.

Zach Martin

This is going to be a series over the next five days where the Iowa State Daily previews and predicts all 10 weight classes for the 2020 NCAA Wrestling Championships.

Well, this weight got funky really fast and really quick.

A lot of movement happened at 133 pounds during the weekend of conference tournaments. The Big Ten proved its top-tier dominance; the Big 12 showed off its depth; three individuals flexed their dominance with winning their conference.

This is shaping up to be a very fun weight next weekend.

Small must wrestle large to get on podium

It was an odd site viewing Todd Small at there Big 12 Championships in Tulsa.

He was comfortably leading South Dakota State’s Zach Price in the final minute of the third period until Price put him on his back and racked up six points to triumph 11-10 in the first round.

Small followed up two losses to wrestlers he beat in the regular season. It was evident the loss in his first match didn’t help his confidence or his offense.

His draw wasn’t a favorable one.

Seeded 32nd, Small will face No.9 Noah Gonser of Campbell in the first round, a rematch from the Sun Devil Duals where Gonser got a takedown in sudden victory to win.

His best path to reaching the podium would have to be through the wrestle backs, which he went all the way to the third place match at Cliff Keen in December. He’ll need another run like that to become an All-American.

I don’t think it will happen. Small is very good at upper-body, he’s a Greco-Roman freak. His leg attacks are still a work in progress. Against top guys, he’ll need to hit on a couple of shots to move on.

My All-American selections

Boy, it would be stunning to see six Big Ten wrestlers become All-Americans. While the popular pick, I’m going to say four finish top-eight.

Those four being Northwestern’s Sebastian Rivera, Wisconsin’s Seth Gross, Iowa’s Austin DeSanto and Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young.

I said on the Sports Weekly podcast that whoever won Big 12s at this weight would be an All-American and I’m sticking to that.

North Dakota State’s Cam Sykora is wrestling at the top of his level right now and while he would face DeSanto in the second round, I think he can get to the blood round and win.

That leaves three spots left. I’m not completely sold on Cornell’s Chas Tucker. There’s no competition for him in the EIWA, so I think he falls short.

Nebraska’s Ridge Lovett has been sneaky good this year. I think he beats Tucker in the second round then loses in the quarters, but wins a blood round match to get an All-American.

I’ll take Pittsburgh’s Micky Phillippi and Gonser to round out the top-eight. Both have favorable draws to the quarterfinals.

Who wins?

I’ve been going back and forth on this pick since the end of Big 10s. However, I’m sticking with Gross.

Even though Rivera beat him in the semis in New Jersey, I think Gross is the better wrestler. He’s so silky smooth when it comes to his offense and he’s a stout defensive wrestler, too.

I do think it will be him and Rivera meeting in the finals and it wouldn’t stun me if it went past seven minutes.

Gross was my selection before the brackets came out and he’s still my pick after the brackets.