A look at the 2012 Championships' top returnees and challengers
Returning All-Americans: Matt McDonough (Iowa), Zach Sanders (Minnesota), Nicholas Bedelyon (Kent State), Jarrod Patterson (Oklahoma), Ryan Mango (Stanford).
The Favorites: Iowa’s Matt McDonough, a junior, is the clear favorite here. The top seed is 31-1 and coming off an NCAA runner-up showing in 2011. In 2010 as a freshman, he was the champion at this weight class. Minnesota’s Zach Sanders (25-3) is a three-time All-American. Illinois freshman Jesse Delgado (30-6) is the fourth seed and may have to get through 2010 All-American Nicholas Bedelyon of Kent State in the quarterfinals to get another shot at McDonough. Stanford’s Ryan Mango (25-5) was an All-American in 2011 and is seeded eighth in St. Louis. Another All-American, Oklahoma’s Jarrod Patterson (26-6), is seeded seventh. The Big 12 also provides sophomore Alan Waters, the third seed who is a salty 25-2.
Unseeded wrestlers to watch: North Carolina State’s Coltin Fought and Pittsburgh’s Anthony Zanetta meet in the first round. The winner should face Waters.
Returning All-Americans: Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State), Bernard Futrell (Illinois), Cashe Quiroga (Purdue, 125 in 2010).
The Favorites: 2011 champion Jordan Oliver (24-1) lost a January match to Iowa’s Tony Ramos. Since then, only Ohio State’s Logan Stieber has managed to avoid giving up bonus points to Oliver. The top-seeded Oliver manhandled fourth-seeded Bernard Futrell of Illinois at the National Duals, and then came right back to beat Stieber, who is 28-2 and seeded No. 2 in St. Louis. Ramos (28-3) is the third seed and could run into Virginia Tech’s Devin Carter (30-3) in Friday morning’s quarterfinals. Fifth-seeded Joe Colon (25-2) of Northern Iowa hammered Carter in the National Duals regional round and could seed Futrell in the quarters. Edinboro freshman AJ Schopp (36-4), the seventh seed, is certainly someone to keep an eye on.
Unseeded wrestlers to watch: Chattanooga’s Nick Soto, a freshman, is 25-6. He meets Futrell in the first round. Arizona State’s Shane McGough is a deceiving 17-14. He gets ninth-seeded Cashe Quiroga on Thursday morning.
Returning All-Americans: Kellen Russell (Michigan), Montell Marion (Iowa), Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly), Zach Kemmerer (Penn).
The Favorites: Blair Academy product Kellen Russell won the title here as a junior, beating Cal Poly’s Boris Novachkov 3-2 in the final. Both are back with Russell (28-1) the top seed and Novachkov (27-3) seeded sixth. Russell’s only loss this season came last December in Las Vegas to Ohio State rookie Hunter Stieber (25-4), seeded fifth in St. Louis. Oklahoma’s Kendric Maple (28-1) has stormed onto the scene, winning a title at the Midlands Championships and a Big 12 title. Iowa’s Montell Marion (27-3) is a two-time All-American and finalist in 2010. He lost a marathon semifinal to Russell in 2011 and came back to finish fourth. The fourth seed is Oregon State’s Michael Mangrum (33-3). Penn’s Zach Kemmerer (24-5) was eighth in 2011. With a pigtail win, Kemmerer would face Novachkov in the first round.
Unseeded wrestlers to watch: Oklahoma State’s Josh Kindig (15-8) faces Mangrum in the first round. Mike Nevinger (28-10) could give Cornell a Thursday boost. A first-round win would most likely set up a meeting with Maple.
Returning All-Americans: Frank Molinaro (Penn State), Jamal Parks (Oklahoma State), Tyler Nauman (Pittsburgh).
The Favorites: Penn State senior Frank Molinaro (28-0), a runner-up last season, and Jamal Parks (30-0), a senior for Oklahoma State, have separated themselves from the pack. Molinaro is a three-time All-American while Parks finished fifth as a junior. The third seed is Air Force Academy’s Cole VonOhlen (36-2) with Binghamton’s Donald Vinson (33-4) seeded fourth. Veteran Tyler Nauman (27-5) of Pittsburgh is also an All-American and seeded a deceiving sixth in St. Louis.
Unseeded wrestlers to watch: Rutgers’ Mario Mason (19-3), Harvard’s Corey Jantzen (9-2) and Cornell’s Chris Villalonga (25-10) are all capable of surprising somebody. Villalonga meets Molinaro and Mason could see Parks in the second round.
Returning All-Americans: Kyle Dake (Cornell, at 141 and 149), Derek St. John (Iowa), Jason Welch (Northwestern), Walter Peppelman (Harvard), Ganbayar Sanjaa (American, 149), Justin Lister (Binghamton).
The Favorites: Cornell’s Kyle Dake (30-0), a two-time champion, leads a weight with six All-Americans. No wrestler has won an NCAA title at three different weight classes, an accomplishment Dake is looking to achieve in St. Louis. Iowa’s Derek St. John (17-2) brings the momentum of a Big Ten title. He beat Northwestern’s Jason Welch in the final, giving Welch (23-1) his first loss of 2011-12. St. John and Welch are seeded 2-3. Harvard’s Walter Peppelman (26-4) is the fourth seed in the same quarter as American’s Ganbayar Sanjaa (22-3), an All-American at 149 last March. Clarion’s James Fleming (27-2) is always a threat with his ability to turn people.
Unseeded wrestler to watch: Oklahoma State’s Albert White, a four-time Illinois state champion, has been racked with injuries throughout his career. He faces 10th-seeded Anthony Jones of Michigan State in the first round of his final collegiate tournament.
Returning All-Americans: David Taylor (Penn State, 157), Shane Onufer (Wyoming), Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh), Josh Asper (Maryland).
The Favorites: Penn State sophomore David Taylor (27-0) has been sensational, his only career loss coming in the 157-pound NCAA final last March. The Ohio product is a solid favorite here. Wyoming’s Shane Onufer (31-1) is the second seed, finishing fifth in 2011. He beat Maryland’s Josh Asper (24-1) in the fifth-place match last season. Asper is seeded seventh. Despite a loss in the Big 12 final, Iowa State’s Andrew Sorenson (26-2) is seeded third with Clarion’s Bekzod Abdurakhmanov (31-4) seeded fourth. Lehigh’s Brandon Hatchett (18-3), seventh in 2011, is seeded 11th. Keep an eye on 10th-seeded Cody Yohn of Minnesota.
Unseeded wrestlers to watch: Rutgers’ Scott Winston and Buffalo’s Mark Lewandowski have plenty of upset potential with Winston facing a No. 12 seed and Lewandowski opening against Asper.
Returning All-Americans: Nick Amuchastegui (Stanford), Ed Ruth (Penn State), Jordan Blanton (Illinois, 184 in 2010).
The Favorites: Stanford’s Nick Amuchastegui (20-0) beat Penn State’s Ed Ruth (26-0) in the 2011 NCAA quarterfinals and eventually advanced to the final where he lost to Iowa State’s Jon Reader. Ruth is the No. 1 seed this season with Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry (26-0) getting the No. 2 seed in front of Amuchastegui. The fourth seed is Minnesota freshman Logan Storley (23-6) but this may be a three-horse race. Seventh-seeded Jordan Blanton of Illinois was an All-American two seasons ago at 184. He could meet Perry in a Friday morning quarterfinal. Iowa’s Ethan Lofthouse (24-7) and Cal Poly’s Ryan DesRoches (24-3) are worth watching.
Unseeded wrestler to watch: The Citadel’s Turtogtokh Luvsandorj (30-9) meets Blanton in the first round.
Returning All-Americans: Quentin Wright (Penn State), Robert Hamlin (Lehigh), Grant Gambrall (Iowa), Steve Bosak (Cornell), Joe LeBlanc (Wyoming), Ben Bennett (Central Michigan, 174), Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota).
The Favorites: One of the deeper weights as far as returning All-Americans, six of the top eight from 2011 are back. Penn State’s Quentin Wright (26-3) is the defending champion but seeded sixth. Wright beat Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin (29-1) in the final last March. Central Michigan’s Ben Bennett (30-3) was an All-American at 174 last season. He’s seeded third here. Cornell’s Steve Bosak (28-4) is the No. 4 seed with another All-American, Minnesota’s Kevin Steinhaus (27-4), seeded fifth. The top seed is three-time All-American Joe LeBlanc (30-1), whose only loss came to Oklahoma State’s Perry, the second seed at 174. Iowa’s Grant Grambrall (10-10) surprised everyone last year, rolling to the semifinals and eventually third place. Nebraska’s Josh Ihnen (23-5) is tough as is Northern Iowa’s Ryan Loder (32-4), who meets Gambrall in the first round.
Unseeded wrestler to watch: Missouri’s Mike Larson, the Big 12 champion, is 20-4 and meets LeBlanc in the opening session.
Returning All-Americans: Cam Simaz (Cornell), Chris Honeycutt (Edinboro, 184), Sonny Yohn (Minnesota), Matt Powless (Indiana), Brent Chriswell (Boise State, 2009).
The Favorites: Last year’s champion, Dustin Kilgore of Kent State took an Olympic redshirt season. Cornell’s Cam Simaz (26-1), third last March, is the top seed. Edinboro’s Chris Honeycutt (36-1) had a disastrous tournament at 184 in 2011 but is back as the No. 2 seed. His only loss came to Pittsburgh’s Matthew Wilps (30-3) in the EWL finals. Maryland’s Christian Boley (30-1) is the fourth seed with Oklahoma State’s Cayle Byers (23-3) seeded No. 5. Byers, a two-time NCAA qualifier, faces 2009 All-American Brent Chriswell (14-2) in the first round. Indiana’s Matt Powless (33-4), an All-American in 2011, is seeded eighth. Minnesota’s Sonny Yohn (26-5) is a two-time All-American who is seeded 10th.
Unseeded wrestlers to watch: Chriswell, American’s Daniel Mitchell (20-11), and Purdue’s AJ Kissel (6-5). 197 could easily be that weight where the seeds don’t hold up.
Returning All-Americans: Zach Rey (Lehigh), Ryan Flores (American), Spencer Myers (Maryland), Anthony Nelson (Minnesota), Levi Cooper (Arizona State).
The Favorites: Both finalists are back with Lehigh’s Zach Rey (22-2), the champion, and American’s Ryan Flores (17-0), the runner-up. They are seeded Nos. 4 and 1, respectively. Rey suffered an early season loss to 2011 eighth-place finisher Levi Cooper (25-10) of Arizona State. Four of the five returning All-Americans are in the same half of the bracket with Maryland’s Spencer Myers (22-5), the eighth seed, joining Flores and Rey. 2011 seventh place finisher Anthony Nelson (27-2) of Minnesota and Oregon State’s Clayton Jack (35-1) earned the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds. Iowa rookie Bobby Telford (25-7) is the fifth seed and Penn State veteran Cameron Wade (25-4) checking in at No. 6.
Unseeded wrestler to watch: Michigan’s Ben Apland (21-9) challenges Jack on Thursday morning.