Follow These Division I Grapplers in 2011-12

Nick Amuchastegui
Stanford | Sr.
174 pounds
2010-11: 31-4

Key Notes:
• 2011 national runner-up
• Placed third at 2010 Midlands
• 94 career victories

Kyle Dake
Cornell | Jr.
157 pounds
2010-11: 31-2

Key Notes:
• Two-time national champ 
• Aiming to be first champion at three weights (141 in 2010, 149 in 2011)

Matt McDonough
Iowa | Jr.
125 pounds
2010-11: 27-2

Key Notes:
• Two-time national finalist at 125 pounds, won 2010 title
• 64-3 career record

Jordan Oliver
Oklahoma St. | Jr.
133 pounds
2010-11: 29-0

Key Notes:
• Won national title as sophomore
• Ten first-period falls or tech falls in 2010-11 among 24 bonus-point wins

Kellen Russell
Michigan | Sr.
141 pounds
2010-11: 38-0

Key Notes:
• 2011 national champion
• Two-time Cliff Keen Invite champ
• 101-11 career mark

Keep an Eye on These Programs

Penn State

Noting the Nittany Lions: This is one easy team to watch out for. The defending national champion Nittany Lions -- winner of the title for the first time since 1953 -- have four All-Americans back including reigning 184-pound champion Quentin Wright. Also back are national finalists Frank Molinaro, David Taylor and Ed Ruth. Wright, Molinaro (149 pounds) and Taylor (165 pounds) open the season as the top-ranked wrestlers in their weight. Last year, the Nittany Lions blew through the field at the NCAA Championships after putting up a 17-1-1 dual-meet record. This season, the cast will be joined a number of impressive freshmen, including Nico Megaludis and Morgan McIntosh, among others.

Oklahoma State

Noting the Cowboys: OSU is looking for bigger and better this season. After posting its largest margin of victory in five years while winning the Big 12 title, the Cowboys finished "only" fourth at the NCAA meet. The sights are set higher in 2012 as 133-pounder Jordan Oliver, who finished as an undefeated champion a year ago, returns to lead the way. One of the most dominating wrestlers in the nation, Oliver obviously opens the year as the top choice in his weight while returnees Jamal Parks (149 pounds) and Cayle Byers (197) are in the top five, too. Also back after being sidelined much of last season with an injury, Alan Gelogaev is back and will move up to heavyweight after earning All-America honors at 197 pounds in 2010.  

Lehigh

Noting the Mountain Hawks: Lehigh opens the year tied for fifth in the preseason team rankings behind the strength of heavyweight Zach Rey and 184-pounder Robert Hamlin, who are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, at their weight classes. Rey won the national title last season and finished with a 34-1 record while Hamlin was a national runner-up, falling to Penn State's Quentin Wright 5-2. Brandon Hachette, ranked in the top five at 165 pounds in the preseason, will help the Mountain Hawks in the middle of the lineup.   

Others to Watch:  Boris Novachkov, Cal Poly (141); Ryan Flores, American (Hwt.); B.J. Futrell, Illinois (133); Grant Gambrall, Iowa (184); Shane Onufer, Wyoming (165); Tony Ramos, Iowa (133) Zach Sanders, Minnesota (125); Cam Simaz, Cornell (197); Derek St. John, Iowa (157); Sonny Yohn, Minnesota (197).

Top Meets and Invitationals
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Nov. 20 -- Minnesota at Penn State – University Park, Pa.

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Nov. 25 -- Oklahoma State at Iowa State – Ames, Iowa

Dec. 2-3 -- Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational with Michigan, Missouri and Ohio St.

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Dec. 4 -- Iowa at Iowa State – Ames, Iowa

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Dec. 9 -- Penn State at Lehigh – Bethlehem, Pa.

Dec. 29-30 -- Midlands Championship with American, Iowa and Lehigh

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Jan. 1 -- Oklahoma State at Wyoming – Laramie, Wyo.

Jan. 1-2 -- Southern Scuffle with Cornell, Minnesota and Penn State

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Jan. 8 -- Lehigh at Cornell – Ithaca, N.Y.

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Jan. 22 -- Iowa at Penn State – University Park, Pa.

Feb. 12 & 19 -- National Dual Meet Champ. with Iowa, Minnesota and Oklahoma St.

 

Follow These Division II Grapplers in 2011-12

Dillon Bera
UW-Parkside | Jr.
157 pounds
2010-11: 26-8

Key Notes:
• Two-time All-American
• Reached national championship match in 2011, falling 4-0

Dalton Jensen
Neb.-Kearney | Sr.
141 pounds
2010-11: 28-5

Key Notes:
• 2011 national runner-up
• Won semifinal by pin in 17 seconds
• Started career at Iowa State

Jason Jeremiason
Augustana (S.D.) | Sr.
133 pounds
2010-11: 23-5

Key Notes:
• 2011 All-American
• Placed third at national meet, losing to eventual national champ

Mitchell Means
Fort Hays St. | So.
149 pounds
2010-11: 34-10

Key Notes:
• 2011 All-American
• Only freshman to reach national quarterfinals at 149 last season

Matt Meuleners
Northern State | Jr.
Heavyweight
2010-11: 29-4

Key Notes:
• Won national title as sophomore
• Earned one-point wins in both semifinals and championship

Keep an Eye on These Programs

St. Cloud State

Noting the Huskies:  Nebraska-Omaha terminated its program after the 2010-11 season despite winning six of the previous eight national titles, and coach Mike Denney moved on to Maryville, which is ranked No. 15 to open the season. The landscape will look different without the Mavericks in the Division II picture, and St. Cloud State -- which is coming off its best finish (second) in program history a year ago -- may benefit the most. The Huskies have one wrestler atop his weight class in the preseason with Tad Merritt at 165 pounds while heavyweight Jacob Kahnke checks in at the No. 2 slot. The loaded Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference has four other wrestlers beside Merritt at the top of the preseason rankings, meaning it will not be an crystal clear path to the title with UNO gone.

Newberry

Noting the Indians: Newberry is a close No. 2 in the preseason, trailing St. Cloud State by just three points in the first ranking. The Indians' strength comes in numbers as seven grapplers are ranked, including the top 125-pounder in the nation Connor McDonald. Four others are rated in the top five, led by No. 2 B.J. Young at 141 pounds, and give the Indians reason to believe they can add more hardware in 2012 after finishing sixth at nationals a year ago. Also on the line this season is a streak of four consecutive Super Region I titles.

Nebraska-Kearney

Noting the Lopers: Nebraska-Kearney is fourth in the preseason behind a pair of top-ranked wrestlers and leads five Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference teams in the top 20. Dalton Jensen, a finalist a year ago at 141 pounds, is the No. 1 pick in the preseason while Ross Brunkhardt opens on top of the 184-pound weight class. Along with T.J. Hepburn, a 2011 national finalist at 149 pounds, they will try to lead the Lopers to a second national title to join the one they gained in 2008 when several of this year's seniors were redshirting.    

Others to Watch: Jack Bachman, Pittsburg-Johnstown (141); Carl Broghammer, Upper Iowa (197); Nate Herda, Augustana (S.D.) (149); Michael Lybarger, Findlay (174); Mike Williams, UNC-Pembroke (165); Matt Gille, Wisconsin-Parkside (184)

Top Meets and Invitationals

Dec. 31 -- Grand Canyon Duals with Grand Canyon, Newberry and St. Cloud State

Jan. 7-8 -- National Duals with Nebraska-Kearney, Upper Iowa and UW-Parkside

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Jan. 12 -- Nebraska-Kearney vs. Central Oklahoma – Oklahoma City, Okla.

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Jan. 20 -- Newberry at Pittsburgh-Johnstown – Johnstown, Pa.

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Feb. 12 -- Upper Iowa at St. Cloud State – St. Cloud, Minn.

 

Follow These Division III Grapplers in 2011-12

Seth Ecker
Ithaca | Sr.
133 pounds
2010-11: 32-3

Key Notes:
• 2011 national champion
• Two-time All-American including finishing sixth as freshman

Nick LeClere
Coe | Sr.
165 pounds
2010-11: 30-6

Key Notes:
• National runner up as a junior
• Reached national title match as No. 6 seed before losing 6-5

Byron Tate
Wartburg | Sr.
197 pounds
2010-11: 42-1

Key Notes:
• Two-time national champion
• Won 50 of last 51 matches including
second at Midlands

Tony Valek
Augsburg | Sr.
149 pounds
2010-11: 37-6

Key Notes:
• Two-time finalist and three-time All-American
• Recorded three pins at 2011 NCAA meet

Bebeto Yewah
UW-La Crosse | Sr.
141 pounds
2010-11: 27-2

Key Notes:
• Two-time national champ at 133 and 141
• Two major decisions at 2011 NCAAs

Keep an Eye on These Programs

Wartburg

Noting the Knights:  Wartburg will be aiming for its second consecutive title and fourth in five years in 2012. The Knights join Augsburg as the only two programs to win the national team title since 1995 (nine for Augsburg, eight for Wartburg), and to continue that roll, they will need another stellar campaign from their big guns. Byron Tate is the biggest fish in the pond as the 197-pounder is one of the most dominating wrestlers in college wrestling. He is a two-time defending national champion and proved he can wrestle at any level as he reached the final of the prestigious Midlands Championship last December before suffering his only loss in his last 51 matches. Along with Tate, the Knights have the top-ranked grappler at 174 pounds in Bradley Banks while Thomas Mirocha is third at 133 pounds.   

Wisconsin-La Crosse

Noting the Eagles: Wisconsin-La Crosse enters the season ranked second, a spot higher than its national finish a year ago. The Eagles will be aiming for the top position after finishing in the top three at nationals each of the past five seasons. To get there, two-time NCAA champion Bebeto Yewah, the top-ranked wrestler at 141 pounds this season, will lead the way. He won't be alone though as UWL has three others rated in the top four nationally, as all four were All-Americans last year. Joining Yewah among the Eagles' highest-ranked wrestlers is Mike Schmitz at 174 pounds after finishing third a year ago.

Ithaca

Noting the Bombers: It will be hard to top last year's fourth-place finish at the national meet, but Ithaca is ready to give it a shot. The Bombers sent eight wrestlers to the 2011 Championships -- their largest number of individuals in 19 years -- including eventual national titlist Seth Ecker at 133 pounds. This season, four of those wrestlers return with experience led by Ecker. Also back is 141-pounder Jeremy Stierly, ranked second in the preseason, and Derek Brenon, the nation's third-ranked 157-pounder who will be looking to make up for last season's free fall in the national meet when he went 1-2 after entering as the No. 1 seed.    

Others to Watch: Zak Andrews, Delaware Valley (149); Tom Bourressa, Concordia-Moorhead (Hwt.); Dustin Baxter, St. John's (Minn.) (184); Elias Larson, Trine (157); Riki Reynolds, Mount Union (125) 

Top Meets and Invitationals
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Nov. 25 – Cornell (Iowa) at Iowa – Iowa City, Iowa

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Dec. 9 – Coe vs. Wisconsin-La Crosse – Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

Jan. 7-8 -- National Duals with Ithaca, Wartburg and Wisconsin-La Crosse

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Feb. 2 -- Augsburg at Wartburg – Waverly, Iowa

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Feb. 10 -- Ithaca at Wilkes – Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

All photos courtesy of respective school athletic departments.