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There are three NCAA Division I weight classes this year that feature two former national champions. While 165 pounds is drawing the most interest with a possible postseason match-up of Penn State’s Hodge Trophy winner David Taylor and Cornell’s three-time champ Kyle Dake, one should not forget about 184 pounds.
(There is also the 197-pound weight class where 2011 NCAA champ Dustin Kilgore of Kent State returns from an Olympic redshirt to face the likes of Penn State’s Quentin Wright, who won the 184-pound title in 2011 and has moved up to 197. More on this weight in next week’s WIN E News.)
That’s because Penn State’s Ed Ruth. the 2012 national champion at 174 pounds, is moving up to 184 this season. But to earn a second NCAA title, he will have to get past the likes of Steve Bosak of Cornell, the 184-pound titlist from last March.
Click here for the preview of the remaining nine weight classes.
The following is a breakdown of the Top 20 wrestlers at this weight class, according to WIN’s preseason rankings.
1. Ed Ruth, Penn State, Junior
The 2012 national champion at 174 pounds is moving up a weight this season for the Nittany Lions. And not only did this native of Harrisburg win his first national championship last winter, he posted a perfect 31-0 mark and was dominant. He also pinned ten of his victims. That included two opponents — Rider’s Jim Resnick and Missouri’s Dorian Henderson — before Ruth outscored his final three foes by a combined 31-7 at Nationals. That included a 13-2 major decision over Stanford’s Nick Amuchastegui in the championship tilt.
Before coming to State College, he wrestled at Susquehanna Township in Harrisburg, Pa. — placing twice in the state tournament — before spending a year at Blair Academy and earning prep All-American honors.
2. Steve Bosak, Cornell, Senior
Not all NCAA champions from State College, Pa., — the hometown of Penn State University — represented the Nittany Lions last March in St. Louis. Cornell’s Bosak knocked off 2011 NCAA champion Quentin Wright of Penn State in overtime of the 184-pound final. Bosak also won in overtime of the NCAA semifinals en route to enjoying a 33-4 mark for the Big Red last winter.
In 2011, Bosak finished 34-5 overall and earned his first All-American honor (fourth place) by winning his first three matches before losing in overtime to Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin in the semifinals.
3. Robert Hamlin, Lehigh, Senior
The first came in 2011, when he qualified for the Nationals and finished second after he defeated Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry and Wyoming’s No. 1 seed Joe LeBlanc to reach the finals; losing to Penn State’s Quentin Wright, 5-2.
Another loss to Wright in the 2012 NCAAs kept the Mountain Hawk out of a second straight final. Once in the wrestlebacks, Hamlin defeated Minnesota’s Kevin Steinhaus, but lost to Appalachian State’s Austin Trotman.
Overall, Hamlin’s career record is 81-18.
4. Kevin Steinhaus, Minnesota, Junior
Among his biggest victories of last season came in the early-season dual at Penn State where Steinhaus defeated 2011 NCAA champion Quentin Wright in the Gophers’ dual win over the Lions. He went on to win 21 straight matches, including the conference title over Nebraska’s Josh Ihnen in sudden victory.
Victories over Clarion’s Steven Cressley and Virginia’s Jon Fausey put Steinhaus in the NCAA quarterfinals, where he lost 1-0 to eventual champion Steve Bosak. In the wrestlebacks, the Gopher won three of four bouts, including a win over No. 1 seed Joe LeBlanc of Wyoming and Central Michigan’s Ben Bennett in the fifth-place match.
5. Ben Bennett, Central Michigan, Senior
After redshirting, Bennett became a starter at 174 pounds in 2010, when the MAC’s Freshman of the Year was 26-8, finished sixth and became just the fourth freshman to capture AA honors by winning four consolation bouts. One year later, Bennett settled for eighth at the NCAAs with a 30-8 mark.
Last year, Bennett moved up to 184 pounds and responded with a 34-6 record, captured his third MAC title and earned another sixth-place finish after he reached the quarterfinals for the second time in his career.
6. Josh Ihnen, Nebraska, Senior
Overall, Ihnen’s career record is 73-32, including 26-7 last winter when he finished second at the Big Tens before he won four of seven NCAA bouts, including a win over Northern Iowa’s Ryan Loder in the Round of 12. An injury forced him to medically forfeit his final two bouts in St. Louis.
In the two previous NCAAs, Ihnen won three matches in each tournament before being eliminated in the Round of 12 to No. 1 seed Chris Honeycutt of Edinboro in 2011 and No. 3 seed Dustin Kilgore of Kent State in 2010.
7. Ryan Loder, Northern Iowa, Jr.
In 2011, Loder was named the Western Wrestling Conference Freshman of the Year after he defeated Wyoming’s Joe LeBlanc for the West Region crown. At the Nationals, he won three of five bouts before losing to Wisconsin’s Travis Rutt in the Round of 12.
Last year, Loder finished second to LeBlanc in the West Regional finals. Once he got to the NCAAs as the No. 8 seed, the Panther was upset in the second round by Appalachian State’s Austin Trotman. In the wrestlebacks, he won two bouts before being eliminated by Nebraska’s Josh Ihnen.
8. Tony Dallago, Illinois, Junior
After defeating Navy’s Luke Rebertus in his first NCAA match last March, the Illini lost to Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin. In consolation, Dallago recorded wins over Ian Hinton of Michigan State and Boise State’s Jacob Swartz before losing in the Round of 12 to Wyoming’s Joe LeBlanc.
One year earlier, Dallago — a 2009 Pennsylvania state champion for Central Dauphin — finished 17-17 but a fourth-place Big Ten finish sent him to the NCAAs in Philadelphia, where the Illini freshman finished 0-2.
9. Mike Larson, Missouri, Senior
Unfortunately, both years Larson was drawn into a first-round match with the No. 2 seed (Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin) in 2011 and No. 1 seed (Joe LeBlanc of Wyoming) in 2012. And while Larson was 0-2 at the Nationals in Philadelphia, the Tiger came back to win three straight wrestlebacks (including pins against Ben Clymer of Hofstra and Iowa’s Grant Gambrall). But his chance at an All-American run ended in a Round of 12 loss to Minnesota’s Kevin Steinhaus.
Larson’s overall college record is 69-37 and 45-21 at Missouri.
10. Grant Gambrall, Iowa, Senior
One year earlier, Gambrall posted a 25-8 record for a fifth-place conference mark. But once the Hawkeye got to Philadelphia, he was impressive; winning three matches, including an overtime win over Wisconsin’s Travis Rutt. A semifinal loss to eventual champion Quentin Wright of Penn State sent him to the wrestlebacks, where he defeated Wyoming’s Joe LeBlanc and Cornell’s Steve Bosak.
Gambrall’s career mark of 59-26 includes a 22-6 record as a redshirt freshman in 2010.
11. Jacob Swartz, Boise State
The Bronco once again split four bouts in St. Louis, defeating Ryan Garringer of Ohio and Branden Atwood of Purdue. His losses came to Josh Ihnen of Nebraska and Tony Dallago of Illinois.
12. Nathan Schiedel, Binghamton, Senior
Overall, Schiedel’s record is 91-28. That included a 29-9 start as a freshman when he won his only CAA championship. The Bearcat followed that performance with a 32-9 record as a sophomore and was 30-10 last season.
At the national tournament, Schiedel was 0-4 as a freshman and sophomore, but came back to win two of four bouts last March. He defeated Brad Dieckhaus of Northern Illinois before losing to eventual champion Steve Bosak of Cornell. In consolation, the Bearcat defeated Ryan Garringer of Ohio before Virginia’s Jon Fausey eliminated him.
13. Braden Atwood, Purdue, Sophomore
14. Casey Newburg, Kent State, Senior
Newburg’s career record is 72-38, including 54-26 since becoming a starter as a sophomore in 2011.
15. Max Thomusseit, Pittsburgh, Sophomore
The former two-time Ohio state champ from St. Paris Graham High School finished 27-13 his true freshman year. He defeated Oklahoma’s Erich Schmidtke in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Philly, where his season ended with close losses to Wisconsin’s Travis Rutt and West Virginia’s Matt Ryan.
16. Boaz Beard, Iowa State, Junior
Beard, a four-time state champion from Goddard High School, also took the 2010-11 season off to play college baseball with Emporia State in Kansas before returning to ISU.
17. Dan Rinaldi, Rutgers, Senior
18. Victor Avery, Edinboro, Sophomore
19. Mac Stoll, North Dakota State, Senior
20. Ryan Garringer, Ohio, Junior