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2016 NCAA Preview: 184 pounds

Notable 184-Pounders to Watch

Editor’s Note: Due to press deadlines, the following profiles of WIN’s ranked wrestlers were written prior to the NCAA qualifying tournaments.

2015-16 Head-to-Head Matchups of Top 10 184

Updated 2016 NCAA Brackets

1. Gabe Dean, Cornell, Junior, Lowell, Mich.

cornell 184 Dean_Gabe_20132015-16 Notes: The defending national champion had a perfect season going — winning championships at the Las Vegas Invite (over Michigan’s Domenic Abounader) and Southern Scuffle (vs. EIWA rival Nathaniel Brown of Lehigh) — but showed that he is human when he lost 14-9 to Oklahoma State’s Nolan Boyd on Feb. 7. Going into this year’s EIWAs, Dean stood 26-1 with six pins.

NCAA Resume: 10-1 (3rd, 1st) in two tournaments — Seeded first last year, Dean won three straight one-point decisions over T.J. Dudley (Nebraska), Sam Brooks (Iowa) and Victor Avery (Edinboro) before he defeated EIWA rival Nathaniel Brown, 6-2, to claim his first NCAA title. Dean’s only NCAA loss came to Penn State’s Ed Ruth two years ago when Dean claimed third place with a victory over ODU’s Jack Dechow.

2. Victor Avery, Edinboro, Senior, Foxboro, Mass.

edinboro 184 Vic Avery2015-16 Notes: The All-American did not start competing this season until January and stood 10-1 prior to the EWL tournament. While his lone loss came against Virginia Tech’s Zach Zavatsky on Feb. 7, the Scot beat Arizona State’s Blake Stauffer.

NCAA Resume: 8-5 (3rd) in three tournaments — The Fighting Scot ignored his No. 13 seed last March when he beat No. 4 Jack Dechow (ODU) and Oregon State’s No. 5 Taylor Meeks before losing a tiebreaker to Gabe Dean. Avery then on both consolation bouts, including 3-2 decision vs. Arizona State’s Blake Stauffer. Avery also competed unseeded in the 2012 and ’14 NCAAs.

3. Nathaniel Brown, Lehigh, Senior, Lewisburg, Pa.

lehigh 184 Nathaniel Brown_02602015-16 Notes: The defending national runner-up had compiled an 18-2 record prior to the EIWAs, which included a pair of wins over Penn’s Lorenzo Thomas (including a victory over the Quaker in the semifinals of the Southern Scuffle).

NCAA Resume: 5-3 (2nd) in two tournaments — Seeded seventh a year ago, Brown upset Pitt’s Max Thomusseit, 7-4, in the quarterfinals before blanking Ohio State’s Kenny Courts, 4-0, to earn a spot in the finals. Brown, who redshirted in 2014, qualified for two other NCAAs but could not compete in 2012 because of an injury, then went 1-2 as the No. 9 seed at 174 in 2013.

4. Blake Stauffer, Arizona State, Senior, Neosho, Mo.

Photo Archive/2015/09-September/Wrestling-Poster

Photo Archive/2015/09-September/Wrestling-Poster

2015-16 Notes: In becoming ASU’s first two-time Pac-12 champion since Anthony Robles in 2011, the Sun Devil has compiled a 23-3 record heading to NYC. That included a pair of wins over West Virginia’s Bubba Scheffel.

NCAA Resume: 7-4 (4th) in three tournaments — The Sun Devil got off on a rough start as a No. 3 seed last March, when he was upset by Penn State’s Matt McCutcheon, but rallied to win five straight wrestlebacks, including a R12 win over Iowa’s Sam Brooks, before he eventually losing the third place bout. In his first two NCAAs, Stauffer went 0-2 at 174 in 2013 and 2-2 at 184 in 2014 when he won his first two bouts.

5. Domenic Abounader, Michigan, Junior, Gates Mills, Ohio

Athletics, Leah Howard2015-16 Notes: Coming off a second-place finish at the Las Vegas Invite, the Wolverine entered the Big Tens on a 12-match winning streak. Among his wins included a pair of victories over Virginia Tech’s Zach Zavatsky.

NCAA Resume: 2-4 in two tournaments — The nationals have been a tough place for this Wolverine, who went 1-2 in 2014 and ’15 as No. 9 and 8 seeds, respectively.

Other notable wrestlers in alphabetical order:

• Junior Nolan Boyd of Oklahoma State started the season fighting off a challenge from teammate Jordan Rogers and emerged as the only wrestler to beat 2015 NCAA champion Gabe Dean of Cornell. The native of Edmond, Okla., has appeared in two NCAAs, going 0-2 in 2014 and 1-2 last March as a No. 12 seed.

• Iowa’s Sammy Brooks opened the season in impressive form with a technical fall over Oklahoma State’s Jordan Rogers in the Grapple on the Gridiron and now the junior from Oak Park, Ill., hopes to earn his first AA honor after losing in the R12 last March.

T.J. Dudley of Nebraska earned his first All-American honor in two NCAAs last March when he finished eighth as a No. 16 seed after winning three straight wrestlebacks. The Cornhusker had earned five pins this winter, including a 1:40 flattening of Iowa’s Sammy Brooks.

• Pete Renda of NC State is looking to earn his first All-American honor after appearing in the last two NCAAs at 174 pounds, including last March when he won two wrestlebacks. Among the junior’s highlights this season was a 7-3 victory over Iowa’s Sammy Brooks that helped the Wolfpack beat the Hawkeyes in the NWCA National Duals.

• Virginia Tech’s redshirt freshman Zack Zavatsky is just two years removed from winning a Pennsylvania state championship at Greater Latrobe High School. In his first season as a starter, the Hokie showed his talents in Las Vegas in December when he defeated both Missouri’s Willie Miklus and Arizona State’s Blake Stauffer.

• Senior Hayden Zillmer of North Dakota State, a sixth-place finisher in 2015, hopes to become the Bison’s first two-time All-American since the school moved to Div. I in 2007. This season Zillmer finished third at the Midlands, where he beat Iowa’s Sammy Brooks, and entered the Big 12s on a 12-match winning streak and score bonus points in eight of those bouts. n

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