Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry (top) defeated Illinois’ Jordan Blanton for third place in last year’s national tournament at 174 pounds. The two wrestlers have moved up to No. 1 and 2 in WIN’s preseason rankings.
This Cowboy had quite the All-American shadow to deal with when he chose to remain in his native Stillwater and wrestle for OSU. That’s because Perry is the nephew of Oklahoma State head coach John Smith and the younger brother of Mark Perry, who earned two national championships and four All-American honors at Iowa (2004-08).
But Chris has more than held his own with the Cowboys, especially last year when he dropped down from 184 to 174 in January and eventually finished with a 31-1 record and a third-place finish at the NCAAs. Perry’s only loss came in the semifinals to Stanford’s Nick Amuchastegui before coming back to beat Ohio State’s Nick Heflin and Illinois’ Jordan Blanton for his first NCAA medal.
One year earlier, Perry finished 25-7 at 184 pounds and reached the 2011 NCAA quarterfinals before losing to Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin and Minnesota’s Kevin Steinhaus.
2. Jordan Blanton, Illinois, Senior
The native of Richmond, Ill., earned his second All-American medal last winter when he finished 30-9 and claimed the fourth-place award in St. Louis. This happened after Blanton claimed a fifth-place finish at the 2010 NCAAs and after he was forced to take a medical hardship in 2010-11 when he suffered a back injury on Dec. 19. Blanton actually qualified for his first NCAA tournament in 2009 as a true freshman after he won three state championships for Richmond-Burton High School.
Overall, Blanton’s record is 88-32, including 27-11 in 2008-09 and 25-9 as a sophomore. His NCAA mark is 10-6, which includes a 0-2 finish as a freshman, and 5-2 in each of his last two national tournaments. As a sophomore, Blanton was seeded No. 10, but claimed fifth place with a pair of wins over Central Michigan’s Ben Bennett. Last year, the Illini defeated Minnesota’s Logan Storley and Cal Poly’s Ryan DesRoches en route to claiming a fourth-place finish.
3. Nick Heflin, Ohio State, Junior
The Buckeye capped off his second season with OSU last March with his first All-American honor, a fifth-place finish in St. Louis, where he defeated Big Ten-rival Logan Storley of Minnesota in his final bout. Oddly, Heflin — who finished sixth in the Big Ten tournament —faced seven foes at the NCAAs and four were from the Big Ten. The only conference foe Heflin lost to at the Nationals was Penn State’s Ed Ruth in the quarterfinals, while two of his victories were over Northwestern’s Lee Munster and Iowa’s Ethan Lofthouse.
One year earlier, Heflin — a native of Massillon, Ohio — nearly earned an All-American honor but lost in the Round of 12 to Maryland’s Mike Letts. Overall, Heflin’s career mark is 51-19, including 28-10 last winter.
4. Logan Storley, Minnesota, Sophomore
The 2011 Junior Hodge Trophy winner and six-time state champion from Webster High School in Roslyn, S.D., did not take long to make an impression on the Gophers last winter when he captured an All-American honor. Despite missing nearly a month because of an injury early in his true freshman season, Storley compiled a 26-9 record and ended the year with a Big Ten runner-up spot and a sixth-place finish in St. Louis. The Gopher defeated three foes — Chattanooga’s Levi Clemons, West Virginia’s Lance Bryson and Iowa’s Ethen Lofthouse — before falling to Penn State’s Ed Ruth in the semifinals. In consolation, the young Gopher lost a pair of one-point matches to Illinois’ Jordan Blanton, 1-0, and Ohio State’s Nick Heflin, 3-2.
During his prep career, Storley’s first state championship came as a seventh grader. He also captured an NHSCA Freshman national championship and 2010 Junior National title in freestyle. He also played four years of football.
5. Ethen Lofthouse, Junior
The native of Avon, Utah, earned his first All-American honor last winter as a redshirt sophomore when he finished 29-9 and left St. Louis with a seventh-place honor. The two-time third-place finisher in the Big Ten tournament also competed in the 2011 NCAAs but won just one of three bouts to finish 20-10 overall.
The nephew of Luke Lofthouse, who earned All-American honors at 184 pounds in 2011, came to Iowa from Mountain Crest High School, where he won four state championships at 140, 152, 160 and 171 pounds. He also added Cadet and Junior National titles in Greco and freestyle as well as NHSCA national championships as a sophomore and junior.
6. Jimmy Sheptock, Maryland, Junior
The Terp earned a starting spot last season when he finished 30-8 and captured his first ACC championship. That honor sent him to St. Louis, where he nearly earned All-American honors. Sheptock scored an 18-2 technical fall over Oklahoma’s Kyle Detmer in the first round. After losing to Iowa’s Lofthouse, the Terp won two matches — including an overtime win over The Citadel’s Turtogtokh Luvsandorg — before losing in the Round of 12 to Cal Poly’s Ryan DeRoches.
Before arriving in College Park, Sheptock was a three-time state placer for Northhampton (Pa.) High School and also earned an NHSCA national title as a sophomore and a 2008 Junior National championship in freestyle.
7. Matt Brown, Penn State, Sophomore
This native of West Valley City, Utah, may have been the most talented non-starter in NCAA Division I last winter, when he compiled a 27-2 record while competing primarily as a sub for 2012 national champion Ed Ruth at 174 pounds. In fact, Brown gave his Nittany Lion teammate perhaps his toughest match of the season when Brown lost 6-3 to Ruth in the championship of the Southern Scuffle, where he also defeated Minnesota’s Logan Storley.
Brown, who took a redshirt in 2008-09 during his two-year Mormon mission, proved very versatile for the Lions last winter, when he also moved up to 197 pounds in two dual meets and defeated Nebraska’s James Nakashima and Michigan’s Max Huntley.
Before coming to State College, Brown earned a 149-4 record for Cyprus High School, where he won three state championships.
8. Oscar Huntley, Navy, Senior
This Midshipman reports for his senior season with a career mark of 56-31, including 24-12 last year, when he qualified for his first national tournament. But considering this native of Stafford, Va., saw his freshman season erased because of a devastating knee injury at the Las Vegas Invitational in December 2009, it was remarkable that Huntley nearly earned All-American honors in St. Louis.
After losing to Stanford’s Nick Amuchastequi in the first round, Huntley came back to win three consecutive consolation matches over NC State’s Quinton Godley, Northwestern’s Lee Munster and Missouri’s Dorian Henderson. Unfortunately, Huntley lost his next bout in the Round of 12 to Illinois’ Jordan Blanton.
In 2011, Huntley finished 22-14, but the final eight matches came at 197 pounds, where he finished second in the All-Academy Championship.
9. Turtogtokh Luvsandorj, The Citadel, Senior
Born in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, this wrestler was raised on American wrestling soil at St. Benedict Prep in New Jersey, where he earned a Prep National Championship before heading to this Academy in South Carolina. In his three years at The Citadel, Luvsandorj has compiled a 96-33 career record and has appeared in three national tournaments; twice after winning SoCon championships (2010 and 2012).
Luvsandorj competed at 157 pounds his freshman season before moving up to 165 as a sophomore — when he became the first Citadel wrestler to crack the Top 10 — and 174 last season, when he split four matches in St. Louis.
10. Robert Kokesh, Nebraska, Sophomore
After splitting four matches at 157 pounds at his first national tournament last March, this native of Wagner, S.D., and three-time high school state champion is moving up a weight this winter. After redshirting in 2011, Kokesh became a starter last season and compiled a 30-7 record, including a third-place finish at the Las Vegas Invitational and the Big Ten tournament.
At the NCAAs, Kokesh defeated Missouri’s Zach Toal and Oklahoma’s Patrick Graham to reach the quarterfinals, where the Husker lost to Penn State’s David Taylor and Appalachian State’s Kyle Blevins in consecutive matches.
11. Jon Fausey, Virginia, Junior
This Cavalier drops down to 174 pounds after he qualified for the NCAAs the past two seasons at 184, but failed to earn All-American honors; going 2-2 in 2011 and 3-2 last March when the ACC champion lost 2-0 in the Round of 12 to Central Michigan’s Ben Bennett. Fausey’s career mark at Virginia is 53-15, including 29-10 as a redshirt freshman in 2010.
Fausey came to Charlottesville, Va., from Dalmatia, Pa., and Line Mountain High School, where he won a state championship in 2009. He also competed in the Dapper Dan Classic that spring, beating current Oklahoma State stand-out Chris Perry.
12. Ryan LeBlanc, Indiana, Junior
After going 10-11 as a redshirt freshman, the native of Morrisville, N.Y., exploded to a 31-16 mark last winter when he also qualified for his first national tournament. And while the Hoosier did not earn an All-American honor, he did win two matches: a first-round win over Turtogtokh Luvsandorj of The Citadel and Wyoming’s Patrick Martinez (scoring a takedown in the second overtime).
LeBlanc won two state championships for Morrisville High School, where he compiled a 200-18 career record.
13. Mike Dessino, Bloomsburg, Senior
In his three years at this college in east central Pennsylvania, Dessino has compiled a 75-33 career record and appeared in two NCAA tournaments. His first national appearance came in 2011 after he won the Eastern Wrestling League tournament before going 1-2 in Philadelphia. Last March in St. Louis, the EWL runner-up (30-14 overall) finished 1-2 again; beating Virginia Tech’s Chris Moon in a consolation bout.
Prior to college, Dessino, the native of Middlesex, N.J., was a three-time New Jersey state place-winner for Middlesex High School with a 145-22 record and 98 falls.
14. Lance Bryson, West Virginia, Junior
The native of Shoaf, Pa., wrestled varsity as a true freshman in 2009, when he finished 12-12 for the Mountaineers. Unfortunately, for Bryson, he did not represent West Virginia again until last season after he redshirted — as a medical redshirt in 2011 — for two seasons. His return to the line-up last season turned into a 25-16 mark and a fifth-place EWL finish. He also earned an at-large NCAA trip to St. Louis, where Bryson finished 1-2 (beating Wyoming’s Pat Martinez in overtime.)
15. Greg Zannetti, Rutgers, Senior
This Scarlett Knight nearly equaled his record (33-20) of two years (2009 and 2011) last season, when the native of Edison, N.J., — who redshirted in 2011 — exploded to a 31-6 mark and won 13 straight matches. He also earned an appearance in his first national tournament. Zannetti’s win in St. Louis came against Phillip Joseph of Eastern Michigan. His highest New Jersey state tournament finish for Stevens High School was second in 2008.
16. Lee Munster, Northwestern, Sophomore
The highlight of Munster’s first year on varsity came on the Wildcat’s home mat in late December last season when the native of Fox Lake, Ill., won a Midlands championship; beating Ethen Lofthouse of Iowa in the finals. Overall, Munster’s record last winter was 24-12. He finished fourth at the Big Tens to qualify for the Nationals. The three-time Illinois state champion from Grant High School went 1-2 at the NCAAs in St. Louis; defeating Pitt’s Ethan Headlee in the first round. Both NCAA losses were by one point to Ohio State’s Nick Heflin and Navy’s Oscar Huntley.
17. Dominic Kastl, Cal Poly, Sophomore
The native of Gilroy, Calif., is moving up one weight after going 14-5 last winter at 165 pounds, where Kastl won a Pac-12 championship. That victory sent the two-time California state placer to his first national tournament in St. Louis, where he upset Minnesota’s No. 10 seed Cody Yohn, 2-1, in the first round. After losing to Maryland’s John Asper, Kastl came back to defeat Northern Colorado’s Gabe Burak before losing to Appalachian State’s Kyle Blevins.
18. Dan Yates, Michigan, Junior
This Wolverine is moving up a weight after qualifying for the Nationals the past two seasons. Coming out of Hesperia, Mich., where he was named his state’s “Mr. Wrestler” award and won three state championships, Yates has compiled a 48-24 record the past two years.
In 2011 as a redshirt freshman, Yates finished fifth in the Big Tens before going 0-2 at the Nationals. Last year, the Wolverine finished 24-10 overall and 1-2 in the NCAAs, pinning James Brundage of Rider in 11 seconds last March.
19. Jim Resnick, Rider, Senior
This native of Media, Pa., has qualified for the Nationals in all three seasons he’s competed for the Broncos; going 0-2 at 174 pounds in 2010, 2-2 at 165 in 2011 and 1-2 last March when he returned to 174. Overall, Resnick is 59-32 in his career at this CAA college in Lawrenceville, N.J. His best season was last winter when Resnick won 19 of 25 matches. That record earned him an at-large invite to the NCAAs after an injury forced him to default his final two CAA tournament matches. Once he got to St. Louis, he lost in the first round to eventual champ Ed Ruth of Penn State, but came back to beat conference rival Kyle Czarnecki of Boston U. in consolation to avenge an earlier-season bout.
20. Chris Moon, Virginia Tech, Junior
This Hokie actually enjoyed a better won-loss record two years ago as a true freshman starter (23-10) than he did last year when he finished 19-15. But the native of Fauquier, Va., saw most of his action last winter when he finished second at the ACCs and qualified for the Nationals. He lost to Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry and Bloomsburg’s Mike Dessino in St. Louis. Prior to coming to Blacksburg, Moon actually left the Commonwealth — where he was a two-time state placer at Fauquier County — for Wyoming Seminary in Pennsylvania and won a 2010 Prep National championship.
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