With Boise State's men's basketball out for their chances for March Madness that leaves only two men left for competition in March for our men’s sports. Jake Swartz and JT Felix are two highly ranked wrestlers, 6th and 8th respectively, that often times go over looked in the grand scheme of sports. With the NCAA tournament at the end of this week the two Broncos have a great shot at achieving every wrestler's dream of being an NCAA national champion.
Each of our wrestlers have been set into a bracket of 33 other wrestlers from around the country and will fight for what they have been working for their entire life. Wrestling at two of the most diverse weight classes this year our shot at bringing home a national champion is going to be interesting. Over 3 days of wrestling our wrestlers will fight tooth and nail to upset returning champions and all-americans. Starting with our wrestler at 184 pounds we can look at Jake Swartz's road to victory.
Sitting at a 6th seed, with a 13-1 record, in his bracket Swartz has two major opponents standing in his way to the finals. Gabe Dean of Cornell is a tough opponent who is a true freshmen that Swartz competed against earlier this year in Las Vegas losing at a 3-2 decision after a 14 minute match ending in double-overtime. If all goes according to plan, Swartz should see Dean in the quarter-finals. This match will be a true testament of Swartz’s fortitude, mentally, to fight and become the 184 pound national champion. In wrestling it is tough to beat a top 10 wrestler twice in a row which is why Swartz has great potential to see Ed Ruth in the Semi-finals.
Swartz has a style that is all about slowing down his opponent and wearing down his opponent to capitalize while his opponents are tired. This style is something that Swartz will need if he wants to stop returning 2x NCAA champion Ed Ruth. Ed Ruth has one loss on the season, coming to Gabe Dean of Cornell. Ed Ruth is one of the most dominate wrestlers over the past 4 years racking up a career record of 102-2. Ruth has dominated his opponents since his freshman year and many believed he couldn't be stopped until Dean was able to shut him down this year. However, Dean is known for wrestling the same style as Swartz which is why it will be a safe pick to see Swartz heading his way into the finals if he wrestles to his potential.
Moving up to our Heavyweight wrestler, JT Felix. Felix is a California native who has shown a tremendous amount of success during his career at Boise State; racking up a 23-3 record this season. Our bronco heads into one of the biggest messes of a weight class this year. Having zero wrestlers heading into the tournament with an undefeated record along with having the top 7 wrestlers ranked on intermat.com sit at #1 at some point of the year 285 is a weight class that no one believes they can predict. Felix has a great shot to stir up some adversity at the NCAAs. Known for his speed on his feet, Felix has all the talent to become an All-American and national champion. However, being in a weight class that has been turned upside down more than a few times this year every wrestler is dangerous. This is both good and bad for our bronco. This will be good, because even though he sees returning two time national champion this year in the quarter-finals. Felix has shown promise that he can take matches with top ranked wrestlers into overtime. On a big stage such as the NCAA tournament the slightest feeling of pressure can throw a wrestler into a spin that causes them to lose some of their biggest matches of their lives. If Felix keeps his composure and wrestles his style he can make it out of this tough bracket, where anyone can win against anyone.
Between Swartz's methodical wrestling and Felix's lightweight-like speed the last two broncos standing in march, in men’s athletics, can be the last two broncos standing in on Saturday. Boise State hasn't crowned a Wrestling National Champion since 2006 in Ben Cherrington at 157lbs and with our potential this year we could set a feat of being the first class to have two national champions. They will need all the support they can get to keep them reminded that they are ready and have been training for this their entire lives and deserve it. Blood, sweat and tears have built up to this moment. Come support our wrestlers by watching on ESPN 3 starting on March 20th-21st with the finals being on ESPN on March 22nd at 6:00 pm. Go orange, Go big blue!