The Favorite: Logan Stieber is what I will consider the favorite at this weight. What’s amazing (to me at least) is that the only match of the year that Stieber hasn’t won by bonus, because he lost, is his match with Retherford. Stieber has been pretty dominant since bumping and Retherford needed sudden victory to get the win over Stieber, so I would still consider the 133 NCAA champion the favorite.
The Contender: Zain Retherford is a pretty damn good contender though. Considering he is undefeated to this point in his career is a remarkable feat. Curse you Cael Sanderson for teaching Retherford the secrets of an undefeated career. He already has a win over my favorite so he has a good shot at winnig his first conference title.
The Dark Horse: Chris Dardanes is the easy dark horse pick. No one is really expecting him to make the finals, but he is one of the strongest wrestlers at this weight in all of the NCAA so that will be his advantage. He got majored by Stieber, which by the way was an incredible feat by Stieber. These two have to be the two strongest at this weight class and Stieber just bullied him. Retherford was able to beat Dardanes 4-0 and I am not seeing it as a possible solution for him to upset him to reach the finals.
An Outside Shot: Josh Dziewa. I mention Dziewa as more of a courtesy than any actual threat to reach the finals. At this point I think Dziewa finishing fourth is a good tournament, but it could be out of reach if he isn’t going to get out from bottom. Since he only lost 2-4 to Retherford in the dual and he showed his ability to hold Dardanes to a close match, it’s conceivable if he ends up on the same side as Retherford, he could try and keep the match close, and then pull off a last second victory. Depending on where his seed placement is, but his loss to Dutton would appear to confirm he will be on that side of the bracket.
Conference Finals: Stieber over Retherford. This is not a Hawkeye fan picking against a PSU wrestler. This is my opinion that when Retherford beat Stieber his potential was still unknown. Is it possible Stieber just wasn’t prepared to wrestle someone of Retherford’s caliber? Possibly. Stieber dismantled Dardanes at national duals, and he was a little dinged up to start the season.
3rd place match: Dardanes over Dutton.
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