5. Pat Downey III
PD3 was my guy early in the season. That was when I thought he was actually going to wrestle for the Hawkeyes. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition, so Downey has not competed in quite a while. Still, he has been training in Iowa City, and I don't expect to see a lot of rust from him. He has the ability to take out some of the top guys at this weight, but even if things break right, I have trouble seeing him making the Final X.
4. Gabe Dean
Gabe Dean was a very good folkstyle wrestler but can't seem to find his footing at the next level. He's dabbled in both freestyle and greco and neither one really seems to suit him. He's a great all-around athlete and a tremendous competitor, but I think he will likely end up being a great college wrestler who never does anything on the international level. I know that doesn't sound great, but being a great college wrestler is pretty freaking incredible, so let's celebrate that instead of worrying about an international career.
3. Richard Perry
Perry is the opposite of Dean where he has done much better at freestyle than he ever did at the NCAA level. He was never even an All-American, but he has been in the mix for the USA in past years. Still, he was never close to taking that top spot, and I don't see a major breakthrough coming this year. He's solid depth and a gatekeeper for some of the young guys coming up, but it's tough to envision any more.
2. Bo Nickal
Nickal is one of the most exciting guys in wrestling. He is willing to go big in order for a big payoff and truly wrestles with the philosophy of, "No risk it, no biscuit." Any match that he is in is must-watch, but even though he's entertaining, I don't see him having the tools to take out the top guy on this list.
1. David Taylor
Taylor has gone on a tear since moving up to 86 KG as he has looked great against international competition. Unfortunately, J'Den Cox gave him fits when it mattered most, and he was unable to represent the country last year. But now it's his time. I really don't see anybody challenging him from the United States, and I wouldn't be shocked if he took out everybody in the world as well, although that is still a far loftier goal in a very tough weight class.
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