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NCAA Preseason Preview: Logan Stieber is now the man to beat at 133 pounds

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Updated: September 26, 2012

Previewing the 2012-13 NCAA Division I 133-pound Weight Class

The following is a look at the top wrestlers in the 133-pound weight class according to WIN’s 2012-13 Preseason Division I rankings. This is part of WIN’s on-going preseason look at all ten weight classes.

Click here to view WIN’s look at the 125-pound weight class.

Next week, WIN will examine the 141- and 149-pound weight classes.

Before Logan Stieber (top) won the Big Tens and NCAAs last year, the redshirt freshman captured his first Las Vegas Invitational title with a victory over Edinboro’s A.J. Schopp.

1. Logan Stieber, Ohio State, Sophomore

Dating back to his high school days, when this Buckeye put Monroeville, Ohio, on the national wrestling mat by winning four Ohio state high school championships, Cadet and Junior National championships and captured all but one of 185 prep matches — his only loss was against Penn State’s 165-pound champion David Taylor when they each wrestled at 112 pounds in high school — Stieber has enjoyed the spotlight. That included last March, when he edged 2011 national champion Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State, 4-3, in the NCAA finals.

As the older brother of two Stiebers wrestling for Ohio State — younger brother Hunter is a returning All-American at 141 pounds for the Buckeyes — Logan finished 33-2 with 16 pins last winter. That included a season-ending nine straight victories after losing to Oliver, 7-3, at the NWCA National Duals on Feb. 12. While Stieber’s only other loss last winter was to Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes, 5-3, on Jan. 8, Stieber avenged that loss at the Big Ten championship, where he also defeated Iowa’s Tony Ramos for a second of three times and his first conference title.

 

2. Tyler Graff, Wisconsin, Junior

One year after earning his second All-American honor (finishing fifth place in 2010 and 2011), this native of Loveland, Colo., was one of three Badgers to take an Olympic redshirt last winter. But unlike former Wisconsin wrestlers Andrew Howe and Travis Rutt, who transferred to Oklahoma, Graff returned to Madison, where he has won 62 of 76 matches. That includes two Midlands championships and a 9-4 mark in two NCAAs.

In 2010 as a No. 8 seed, Graff reached the quarters where he lost to eventual champ Jayson Ness of Minnesota before winning three of four wrestlebacks, including a fifth-place win over Kent State’s Dan Mitcheff. In 2011 as a No. 4 seed, Graff reached the semifinals before losing to eventual champ Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State. In the consolation bracket, the Badger was 1-1 with a fifth-place win over Mike Grey of Cornell.

On the international freestyle stage, Graff competed in two Junior Worlds (2007 and 2008) and reached the quarterfinals of last spring’s Olympic Trials, where he lost to (former Penn national champ) Matt Valenti, but came back to win three wrestlebacks, including over former World silver medalist Mike Zadick.

3. Tony Ramos, Iowa, Junior

Except for three meetings last winter with Ohio State’s Logan Stieber — who defeated the Hawkeye, 7-0, 5-2 (in the Big Ten final) and 4-2 (in the NCAA semifinals) — this native of Carol Stream, Ill., was nearly perfect in his second year as a starter last season when he finished 33-4 and claimed third place at the NCAAs. His only other loss came to Virginia Tech’s Devin Carter in last year’s Midlands final. But Ramos avenged that loss in the NWCA National Duals and also handed Oklahoma State’s Jordan Oliver his first loss of the season in a 4-3 tiebreaker. Ramos ended the year with a pin against Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes in the third-place match in St. Louis.

One year earlier, Ramos — a three-time state champion from Glenbard North —finished 25-6 and placed third at the Big Tens. At the NCAA tournament in Philadelphia, he earned a No. 6 seed but lost to Central Michigan’s Scott Sentes, 2-0, in the second round. In the wrestlebacks, Ramos won two matches before losing in the Round of 12 to Lou Ruggirello of Hofstra.

4. Scott Sentes, Central Michigan, Senior

Coming out of Riverdale High School in Ft. Myers, Fla., where he won four state championships as a prep, the lanky Sentes became an immediate starter for the Chippewas in 2009 and eventually earned two All-American honors before taking a redshirt last winter. He returns this winter with an 86-25 career mark at CMU.

Sentes competed at 125 pounds his first season. He finished with a 30-8 record and became the first true freshman in Chippewa history to earn All-American honors as he finished seventh at the NCAAs. In that tourney, he won five of seven matches, including a 7-2 win over MAC rival Nic Bedelyon of Kent State in the seventh-place match

One year later (2010), Sentes moved up to 133 pounds but struggled to a 21-9 record, a third-place MAC finish and was pinned by Lehigh’s Matt Fisk in a pigtail match and eventually was eliminated in a second wrestleback bout.

But in 2011, Sentes regained his All-American form with a 35-8 record, which included a second MAC championship and a third NCAA appearance, where he finished fourth in Philadelphia. Despite being seeded No. 11, Sentes upset Iowa’s Ramos in the second round before losing to Penn State’s Andrew Long. In the wrestlebacks, the Chippewa won three bouts, including a 5-0 win over Wisconsin’s Tyler Graff before losing a second time to Long in the third-place bout.

5. Chris Dardanes, Minnesota, Sophomore

This Gopher makes up one-half of a sibling 1-2 punch for the Gophers — his twin brother Nick competes at 141 pounds. This 2010 graduate of Oak Park (Ill.) River Forest High School moved into the starting line-up in last year’s Southern Scuffle where he defeated Chattanooga’s Nick Soto for the title. Shortly after that, Dardanes solidified his place in the line-up when he defeated Ohio State’s eventual NCAA champion Logan Stieber in a dual meet. By the end of the year, Dardanes finished with a 28-12 mark and used a sixth-place Big Ten tournament finish to qualify for his first NCAA tournament appearance.

As a No. 10 seed in St. Louis, Dardanes won his first two matches before losing 7-4 to Stieber. In the wrestlebacks, the Gopher won three bouts — including consecutive pins against Harvard’s Steven Keith and Illinois’ B.J. Futrell before losing the third-place bout to Iowa’s Ramos.

6. Joe Colon, Northern Iowa, Junior

The native of Clear Lake, Iowa, began his college career at Iowa Central in 2010, when he won an NJCAA championship. Colon eventually transferred to Northern Iowa last year, when he compiled a 27-4 mark — including an impressive win over Midlands champ Devin Carter of Virginia Tech during the NWCA National Duals — and was seeded No. 5 at the NCAAs. Unfortunately, after getting pinned by Illinois’ Futrell in the quarterfinals, the Panther lost a wild 13-10 match to Carter in the Round of 12.

Now with UNI joining the MAC, Colon — who hopes to become the Panthers’ first national champion since 149-pound Tony Davis in 2000 — will discover a new rival this season in Central Michigan’s Sentes.

7. A. J. Schopp, Edinboro, Sophomore

Aaron James Schopp, a native of Tyrone, Pa., was one of four redshirt freshmen, who made an immediate impact on the Fighting Scots line-up last season; joining similarly-young teammates Mitchell Port (141), David Habat (149) and Vic Avery (184) at the national tournament.

In compiling the most wins (39-6) of any Division I wrestler at this weight last winter, Schopp eventually won an Eastern Wrestling League championship and earned a No. 7 seed in St. Louis. After pinning Virginia’s Matt Nelson in the first round, he lost to Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes. In the wrestlebacks, the Scot won two matches before being eliminated in the Round of 12 by Michigan’s Zac Stevens.

8. Steven Keith, Harvard, Senior

The Crimson’s third NCAA appearance was a charm for Keith, who finished eighth in St. Louis. The native of Shoreham, N.Y. was seeded No. 11 and won two matches — including in the second round against Virginia Tech’s Carter — before losing to Iowa’s Ramos in the quarterfinals. In the consolation bracket, Keith defeated Central Michigan’s Zach Horan to earn All-American honors before losing two bouts to Minnesota’s Dardanes and to Michigan’s Stevens in the seventh-place bout.

Overall, Keith’s 34 wins (against 11 losses) ranked No. 6 on Harvard’s all-time single-season wins list. He enters his final season with a 77-40 career mark. That included a 23-17 record in 2011 when he wrestled at 125 pounds and won one of three bouts at the NCAAs. In his first year with the Crimson, Keith — a two-time New York state high school champ — was 20-12 and 0-2 in the Nationals.

9. Cashe Quiroga, Purdue, Junior

One year after earning his third Indiana high school state placement for Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, Quiroga earned a spot in Purdue’s starting line-up with a 28-15 record, a berth in the 2010 NCAA tournament … and eventually an All-American honor with a sixth-place finish at 125 pounds.

In 2011, Quiroga opted to redshirt and returned last season, when he moved up to 133 pounds and finished with a 22-8 mark despite missing a month early in the year because of an injury. But he eventually placed fifth at the Big Ten tournament to garner another NCAA berth. Unfortunately, there would not be a second All-American honor as the Boilermaker, seeded No. 9, finished 2-2 in St. Louis, where he beat Arizona State’s Shane McGough and Boise State’s Brian Owen, but lost to Michigan’s Stevens and Pitt’s Shelton Mack.

10. Shelton Mack, Pittsburgh, Junior

The native of Meadville, Pa., and three-time Pennsylvania state tournament qualifier for Meadville High School improved from 17-16 as a true freshman in 2011 to 23-10 last year when he defeated Edinboro’s Schopp, 5-2, in the regular season before losing to the EWL rival in the finals of their conference tournament. The Panther also earned a trip to his first NCAA tournament, where he won three of five matches before missing All-American honors by one match when he lost in the Round of 12 to Minnesota’s Dardanes.

 

11. Mason Beckman, Lehigh, Sophomore

This Mountain Hawk became an immediate starter as a true freshman last year — one season after he won two state titles and four state placements for Reynolds High School in Greenville, Pa. — and turned in an impressive first season. Not only did Beckman compile a 31-13 record — which included a nine-match winning streak and a first-period fall against Harvard’s Steven Keith — but he also finished fourth at the EIWAs to qualify for the national tournament.

Beckman went 1-2 at the NCAAs, losing in the first round to Ohio State’s eventual champ Stieber, majored Oregon State’s Garrett Drucker, and then was eliminated by Central Michigan’s Zach Horan, 4-2.

12. Nathan McCormick, Missouri, Senior

The native of Leawood, Kan., has compiled 57 wins as a three-year starter for the Tigers and has qualified for the nationals the past two years, That includes last year’s 16-7 season that saw him finish second in the Big 12s and win one of three bouts at the nationals; beat Big 12 rival Jordan Keller of Oklahoma for a fourth time in the season. One year earlier, McCormick also went 1-2 at the NCAAs en route to a 22-win season.

 

 

13. Zach Zehner, Wyoming, Sophomore

As a redshirt freshman in 2011-12, this two-time Wisconsin state champion of Tomahawk High School compiled a 29-13 record as a Cowboy, which included nine pins and a berth to his first NCAA tournament. He went 1-2; the victory being a first-round 21-6 technical fall over Scott Festejo of Old Dominion. Perhaps his biggest win last season was a 10-3 win over Stanford All-American Ryan Mango at the Las Vegas Invitational.

 

14. Nick Soto, Chattanooga, Sophomore

The two-time Florida state high school champion from Springfield-Springstead made almost an immediate impact as a true freshman for the Mocs last season. He finished second at Chattanooga’s Southern Scuffle and eventually earned a 26-8 record. Soto ended his year by winning his first Southern Conference championship and qualified for the NCAAs, where he was 1-2.

 

 

15. Brian Owen, Boise State, Senior

When this native of Spokane, Wash., came to Boise, he found himself in the starting line-up as a true freshman. He won 12 of 21 matches and actually qualified for the 2009 NCAA tournament, where he went 0-2. But the Bronco dealt with knee injuries and would not return to the Nationals for three more years after he redshirted in 2010 and 2011. And when Owen did return to the BSU varsity line-up, it was not until Feb. 12, when he lost to Ohio State’s eventual national champ Stieber at the NWCA National Duals. He followed that with a victory over Chattanooga’s Soto and then earned a second NCAA berth when he won the Pac-12 championship. In St. Louis, Owen earned his first NCAA victory over West Virginia’s Nathan Pennesi but lost to Iowa’s Ramos and Purdue’s Quiroga; finishing 9-3 on the year.

16. Nick Arujau, Cornell, Junior

The native of Syosset, N.Y., may have only earned a 6-7 record for the Big Red last season. But the transfer from American University who did not earn a starting spot until the spring semester, earned a spot in last year’s NCAAs when he finished fifth at the EIWAs. Once in St. Louis, Arujau sandwiched two national losses with an 11-2 major decision over Arizona State’s Shane McGough. In his year with American, the three-time New York high school state champion finished 24-10 overall.

 

17. Nathan Pennesi, West Virginia, Junior

This native of Latrobe, Pa., has earned two trips to the NCAAs, where the 2009 Pennsylvania state runner-up for Greater Latrobe High School is 0-4 in his career. Last winter, his 29 wins (against 10 losses) was a team high in 2011-12, when he opened the season at 141 pounds before dropping down to 133 on Jan. 6. In 2010-11, Pennesi finished 24-8 and second in the EWL.

 

 

18. Jordan Thome, Army, Senior

The two-time Ohio state placewinner from Troy Christian enters his final season with a 68-38 career mark, including a 28-13 record last winter when the Cadet pinned a team-high 13 opponents. One of those falls came in his second national tournament appearance last March when he pinned Oregon State’s Garrett Drucker in a first-round victory. While Thome did not medal in St. Louis, he did defeat another EIWA foe, Brian Ortenzio in a 2-1 tiebreaker.

 

19. Jamie Franco, Hofstra, Junior

The native of Monroe, N.Y., was a five-time placewinner in high school at Monroe-Woodbury before showing up in college as a 125 pounder. Franco moved up to 133 last year, when he finished 21-13, 0-2 in the national tournament and enters his third year with a 35-35 career mark.

 

 

 

20. Scott Festejo, Old Dominion, Junior

The Monarch wrestler, who is 32-31 in his ODU career, earned his first NCAA berth when he won the Colonial Athletic Association championship. He eventually ended his season with a 23-16 mark after going 0-2 in St. Louis. Festejo came to Norfolk after winning a New Jersey state championship for Long Branch High School.

 

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