The most prestigious wrestling tournament in college kicks off tomorrow from Des Moines, Iowa: the NCAA Division I national wrestling championships. While it's not clear precisely who from this crop will move onto coaching, freestyle wrestling or even MMA, these are undoubtedly the candidates who will have the best chances of success whichever athletic endeavor they pursue.
To help break it all down, Intermat.com and BloodyElbow.com wrestling writer (and former Division I wrestler himself) Mike Riordan gives his assessment of each weight class, who are likeliest to earn a national title, which team will emerge as the overall winner, why Kyle Dake could become the greatest college athlete of all-time and much more.
In addition, I briefly caught up with two-time Olympian and former Oklahoma State University Cowboy Daniel Cormier. The UFC heavyweight explained to me three people to be on the lookout for at the 2013 national championships.
1. Jesse Delgado of Illinois. "He's the no. 2 seed [at 125 pounds]. He beat Iowa's Matt McDonough two or three times this year, an All-American. He's from right up the road here in California, so I was able to watch him wrestle when he was in high school. It's pretty good to see him doing so well."
2. Kyven Gadson of Iowa State. "He's a sophomore, 197 pounds. Big 12 champion, explosive, athletic and wrestles for [UFC veteran] Kevin Jackson at Iowa State. He has a great style for the tournament and just lost his father, who was a very accomplished wrestler, too. He has some motivation. You never know what happens to a guy when they suffer a loss like that just before a big competition. Sometimes it actually puts them over the top."
3. Alan Gelogaev of Oklahoma State. "For the first time since Steve Mocco, Tommy Rowlands, Cain Velasquez, Cole Konrad; those guys were all in the heavyweight division of the NCAA tournament. We've got that again. With Tony Nelson [of Minnesota], Dom Bradley [of Missouri], Jared Trice [of Central Michigan], all those guys. But my guy to watch at heavyweight is Gelogaev. He's a Russian kid. I'm telling you, man. He's explosive, has good throws. If he can get these guys to wrestle him, he's going to be very dangerous."