Commentary: This is it, the big one. The weight where the potential combinations of quarterfinals and semifinals cannot possibly be anything but fantastic.
Coming in at the top is the man who has made two straight Final X appearances. Isaiah Martinez joined a select group of men to take a match from Jordan Burroughs and had separated himself from the pack a bit. It was at this tournament three years ago where I believed we started to see a shift in Imar's focus and the way he wrestled, leading to the formidable version we now see today.
Chasing right behind him is three-time NCAA finalist Jason Nolf. A folkstyle savant who also dabbles in jii-jitsu, the Nolf/Imar rivalry brings out the best in both men. A hail mary head pinch gave Nolf the win in the middle of their three-match series in Raleigh, and now he's had six months to get full-sized and should no longer be fighting the ankle injury that hampered him a bit at WTT.
Then there is the thorn in Imar's side from college, Vincenzo Joseph. He's still in his senior year at PSU and will likely miss the Black Knight Invitational on Sunday as a result of wrestling here. The last time he wrestled freestyle was the 2016 Junior Trials, where he lost to Nolf in the challenge tournament finals.
Of course, the final headliner is the man who Cenzo'd Cenzo, Junior world champ Mekhi Lewis. The Hokie is on an Olympic Redshirt from Virginia Tech and recently went over to Dagestan to compete in the Intercontinental Cup (Imar was second up at 79kg there). Based on his upside and how difficult he is to score on, my current lean is in favor of Lewis.
The depth doesn't end there, though. Tommy Gantt was in the U.S. Open finals at this weight and Chance Marsteller was in the Open finals at 79kg. Logan Massa beat Gantt and had WTT and has had excellent battles with Cenzo in both college and going back to their Junior freestyle days. Nazar Kulchytshkyy is a former national team member who missed last season with an injury.
After that we've got four-time AAs Jayson Ness, Tyler Berger, and Brandon Sorensen, as well as fellow NCAA finalists in Dan Vallimont and Joey Lavallee.
Finals Pick: Mekhi over Imar
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