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Ogden emerges as expert among journalists by picking 6 of 10 NCAA champions



Picking the winners in each weight class is a bit of a crapshoot most years at the NCAA Championships and this year was no exception. Just ask nine of the nation's top wrestling journalists, many of whom struggled to correctly predict the winners for the NCAA tournament earlier this month in Oklahoma City.

Long-time wrestling writer and Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette sports editor J.R. Ogden emerged as the expert this year by correctly picking 6 of the 10 champions at the 2006 NCAA meet. Ogden was the lone journalist to pick Indiana's Joe Dubuque to repeat at 125 pounds. Ogden chose Dubuque even though the IU senior placed third at the Big Ten tournament.

Ogden also was right on the mark with his champion picks of Iowa State's Nate Gallick (141), Minnesota's Dustin Schlatter (149), Missouri's Ben Askren (174), Oklahoma State's Jake Rosholt (197) and Minnesota's Cole Konrad (heavyweight). He also correctly chose Oklahoma State and Minnesota to finish 1-2 in the team race.

Ogden also was prophetic in pegging runner-up finishes for Oklahoma's Teyon Ware (141) and Oklahoma State's Steve Mocco (heavyweight), a pair of two-time NCAA champions.

Gary Blockus of the Morning Call (Pa.) and Tim Tushla of Wrestling International Newsmagazine tied for second behind Ogden. Andy Hamilton of the Iowa City Press-Citizen and John Helsley of the Daily Oklahoman were close behind and shared fourth place.

All nine journalists missed on the champions at 133, 157 and 184. Nobody picked Penn's Matt Valenti (133), Boise State's Ben Cherrington (157) or Oregon's Shane Webster (184) to strike gold in Oklahoma City. Valenti was a No. 6 seed while Cherrington and Webster were both seeded fifth.

Hamilton and Roger Moore of the Stillwater (Okla.) News Press were the only journalists who had any of those three unlikely champions making the finals. They both had Webster finishing second while Moore also had Valenti placing second.

Craig Sesker of USA Wrestling had a rough weekend. Askren was the only champion he managed to pick correctly.

Click here to see the picks of the journalists
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