The prestigious Midlands Championship is finally returning to end 2022, and after a two-year absence the tournament will return to Illinois on December 29-30. The Midland Championship is known for bringing together some of the best wrestlers in the country, and will be a big test for a number of wrestlers who are looking to make a big name for themselves.
Here are a few things to look forward to before wrestling goes down on Thursday morning.
Another big tournament, another stacked 149-pound bracket. That’s just how it is going to be all year long, as the weight class has had some wild results and numerous changes inside the top-10 rankings. This week, four wrestlers in the top-10 will battle for the gold at the Midlands Championship. Out of the four top-10 ranked wrestlers, Wisconsin’s #2 Austin Gomez will sit on top of the #1 seed, yet will have a challenge working his way to the finals. Arizona State’s #5 Kyle Parco, Northwestern’s #6 Yahya Thomas, and Penn’s #10 Doug Zapf are all set to compete Thursday morning, and should create some awesome quarter-finals and semifinals matchups.
Not to forget, West Virginia’s #22 Sam Hillegas also has a good chance to make some noise, and will surely have a really tough opponent in the quarters. Hillegas is coming off a 40 second fall over Fairmont State’s Addison Courtney, and will look to continue that momentum into the Midlands.
Eyes on 125
125-pounds is a weight to keep a close eye on, especially in the quarter and semi finals. Currently, five wrestlers ranked in the top-10 at 125-pounds are set to compete at the Midlands, along with Arizona State’s returning NCAA Finalist Brandon Courtney who has yet to debut this season. One of the main reasons Courtney hasn’t been rushed back to the Sun Devil’s lineup, is due to the performance of teammate #7 Richard Figueroa who has been more than impressive to start the season. Figueroa was regarded as the #1 pound-for-pound recruit in the country in 2021, and after a redshirt season he is taking full advantage of being in the starting lineup. If Courtney and Figueroa match up, be sure to tune in for that Sun Devil matchup.
Princeton’s #2 Pat Glory comes into the tournament as the consensus favorite to win the Midlands Championship at 125-pounds, however he will have his work cut out for him as Northwestern’s #4 Michael DeAugustino, Wisconsin’s #5 Eric Barnett, and West Virginia’s #6 Killian Cardinale will be in the way of his title. Both Barnett and Cardinale are returning All-Americans, and Cardinale is set to make his season debut at the Midlands. A lot of questions will be answered regarding the 125-pound weight class, and is definitely a weight that fans need to watch going into Thursday morning.
Can Ruth Do It?
Illinois’ #7 Edmond Ruth should come in as the top seed at 174-pounds, yet will have a challenge to the top of the podium as four other wrestlers ranked in the top-25 are set to compete at the Midlands. Ruth has looked really good to start the season, and looks to have found a good home in the Illinois wrestling room after transferring from Lehigh. Along with Edmond, he brought his 2x National Champion big brother with him, as this is Ed’s first year as an assistant coach for Illinois. Edmond is 13-1 coming into the Midlands, with recent victories over Chattanooga’s #18 Rocky Jordan and Pitt’s Luca Augustine.
However, Ruth will have some tough tests finding a gold medal. Harvard’s #14 Philip Coniglario should be the second seed going into Thursday. Coniglario last competed at the Cliff Keen Invitational, where he had to medically forfeit out of. Coniglario is set to make his return at the Midlands this weekend, and has a good chance to work his way to the finals.
Possible Revenge at 133
To start the 2022-2023 season, Illinois’ #4 Lucas Byrd was victorious over Arizona State’s #5 Michael McGee at the NWCA All Star Classic. They are both expected to match up once again in the Midlands finals, however there are a couple of other returning All-Americans who could prevent that from happening. Northwestern’s #10 Chris Cannon and Wisconsin’s #21 Taylor Lamont are the other two All-Americans who will compete. Byrd has a good bit of mat time with Cannon, however he has beaten him in all four times they wrestled. For McGee, he was pinned by Cannon back at the 2021 NCAA Championships, and will look to get that back if a possible matchup with Cannon occurs again.
Pitt’s #8 Micky Philippi will also be in the bracket at 133-pounds, and comes into the Midlands with a 5-1 record. Philippi is known to have the ability to knock off elite-level wrestlers, and could possibly do that again in a stacked 133-pound bracket.
- *Pat Glory is up at 133 via Track Wrestling and has been seeded 3rd