The NCAA Division 1 wrestling championships begin today at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. The event is being held far away from wrestling's mid-western strongholds in an attempt to do some outreach to other areas of the country.
Only a few of the graduating seniors are openly talking about moving on to MMA careers after college, but BE readers know we'll be hearing from many of these guys in years to come. Top fighters like UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez, ex-champ Brock Lesnar, welterweight contender Josh Koscheck, and Bellator champs Ben Askren and Cole Konrad have all left their mark on the NCAA tourny.
Cam Simaz - the 197lbs beast, although his field is incredibly tough. This Cornell wrestler leads a strong squad, but has his work cut out for him as the other top four seeds in his division are all All-Americans and individual conference champs.
Anthony Robles - an inspiring story, he's the one-legged wrestler who can't be told no. Robles was born with one leg, but hasn't let physical impairment get in his way. His seeding at number one comes with some controversy, but he nevertheless had an unfefeated season at Arizona State University and is something akin to the people's champ.
Jordan Burroughs - just a monster out of Nebraska. He already won the 165lbs national championship in 2009, but had to sit out most of 2010 with a knee injury. He's undefeated this season and is the Big 12 champion. I expect a repeat from him.
Kellen Moore - he's the current Big Ten champion and went undefeated this season at 33-0. His only real threat is Mike Thorn of Minnesota, but he lost to Moore in the Big Ten championship. Moore is the prohibitive favorite here.
I'm also going to keep an eye out for Kyle Dake of Cornell, who had a breakout performance at the national tournament last year taking the 141lbs title as a freshman. He's since moved up to 149lbs and is only seeded fourth (something else that's caused some controversy), but has strong upset potential.
The entire 184lbs division is stacked and the partity at the top is crazy. I won't repeat what the experts I've linked before have stated, but it's worth checking out their analysis about how this entire division could be turned upside down.
Anthony Robles is the one who has the most notable story. The Tucson Citizen has more:
Arizona State senior Anthony Robles is seeded No. 1 in the 125-pound class at the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament. He aims to finish No. 1. He's never been daunted by the fact he was born with one leg.
"I plan on going all out. I'm going to be throwing the kitchen sink and everything else out there with it," Robles said Wednesday.
Robles, 22, who started wrestling as a high school freshman in Mesa, Ariz., and won two state titles, is well known to NCAA tournament fans. They gave him standing ovations after performances that earned him All-America status the past two seasons.
He will take a 31-0 record into the tournament Thursday through Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Some video of the amazing Robles in action in the full entry.
Robles vs Jarrod Garnett