NCAA Preseason Preview: 184 pounds also matches two former champions

Updated: October 18, 2012

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.


Penn State’s Ed Ruth pinned two foes en route to winning the 174-pound championship last March, including Rider’s Jim Resnick in the first round.

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.

Overall, Ruth is 69-2 in his two seasons in State College. That includes a 38-2 mark as a redshirt freshman when the Lion won the first of two Big Ten championships and finished third in the 2011 NCAAs. Ruth’s only losses at PSU came that redshirt freshman season to Maryland’s Mike Letts and to Amuchastegui at 174 in the NCAA quarters, when Ruth suffered an injury. But he battled back to win four consolation bouts, including a third-place victory over Cornell’s Mack Lewnes.

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

Cornell’s Steve Bosak, a native of State College, Pa., defeated Penn State’s Quentin Wright in last year’s NCAA final at 184 pounds.

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.

Bosak, who is 96-24 in his career, also qualified for the Nationals in his first two seasons as a starter in Ithaca. This included compiling a 29-15 record in 2010, including winning three straight wrestleback matches after losing the NCAA opener.

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

This Mountain Hawk became a starter in 2010 as a redshirt freshman when he finished 18-12 and qualified for the Nationals … at 174 pounds. One year later, he moved up to 184 and this native of Jonesville, Vermont, has made his home state proud by becoming the first wrestler from the Green Mountain state to earn Division I All-American honors.

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           

This Gopher is a two-year starter and has earned All-American honors in both seasons. In 2011 as a redshirt freshman, he compiled a 34-12 record and finished second in the Big Tens before claiming an eight-place NCAA finish in Philadelphia. Last winter, the native of Pencock, Minn., equaled his number of victories (34-6) but capped off the postseason with a Big Ten championship and a fifth-place finish in the NCAAs.

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

This native of Rockford, Mich., drove 75 miles when he arrived on the Mt. Pleasant, Mich., campus in 2008. And he has become only Central Michigan’s third three-time All-American and has a career record of 90-22. (The first two were Ryan Cunningham, 1998-2000, and Wynn Michalak, 2005-08.)

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  

The third national tournament was the charm for this native of Sheldon, Iowa, in terms of earning All-American honors (8th); considering Ihnen came up short by one victory of AA honors as both a freshman and sophomore in 2010 and ’11.

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.

The Panther has compiled a 65-17 career record and competed in two national tournaments since coming to Cedar Falls, Iowa, from Granite Bay, Calif. But he has yet to earn an All-American honor after reaching the Round of 12 each season.

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           

The native of Harrisburg, Pa., and graduate of Central Dauphin High School has been a starter for the Illini for the past two seasons, including last year when he was 25-13 and came within one win of All-American honors in St. Louis.

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

The Tiger is a native of McKinleyville, Calif., and began his college career at CSU Bakersfield. He finished second in the Pac 12 and qualified for the 2010 national tournament as a redshirt freshman. One year later, he transferred to Missouri and became an immediate starter at 184 pounds … and has qualified for two more NCAA tournaments.

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 after finishing third as a sophomore in 2011, nothing was easy for the Hawkeye last winter when he finished 12-12 and failed to medal. After a concussion limited his mat time earlier in the year, the native of Iowa City opened the year at 197 pounds before dropping down to 184 in mid February. A fifth-place Big Ten finish sent the native of Iowa City to his second straight NCAAs where he split four matches.

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           

Swartz opened his college career at 174 pounds as a redshirt freshman in 2011, when he finished 20-16 and split four matches at the NCAA tournament in Philadelphia. Last year the native of Auburn, Wash., moved up to 184 pounds and improved his season mark to 21-6 and more importantly won the Pac-12 championship to secure a second straight national berth.

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   

This native of Caledonia, N.Y. — 160 miles northwest of this college in upstate New York — has qualified for the NCAAs in all three seasons since becoming a starter as a redshirt freshman in 2010.

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  

As a redshirt freshman, the native of Delphi, Ind., enjoyed a successful first year with the Boilermakers. The three-time Indiana high school placewinner produced a 22-15 record, including a win over Binghamton’s Schiedel early in the year at the Northeast Duals. Later, he finished fourth at the Midlands and qualified for the NCAAs with a seventh-place finish at the Big Tens. Atwood failed to win a match in St. Louis, but his first loss was a 5-0 setback to eventual champion Steve Bosak of Cornell.



14. Casey Newburg, Kent State, Senior           

The Golden Flash finished fourth at the MAC tournament last year, but his 30-13 record earned the native of Union, Ohio, an at-large bid to his first national tournament. Newburg, who lost a first-round match to Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin, was 1-2 in St. Louis; the victory coming against Navy’s Luke Rebertus.

Newburg’s career record is 72-38, including 54-26 since becoming a starter as a sophomore in 2011.


15. Max Thomusseit,  Pittsburgh, Sophomore

A shoulder injury in December 2011 cut the Panther’s second season short and led to a medical hardship. That leaves the younger brother of Pitt heavyweight Zac Thomusseit with three years of eligibility and a hunger to duplicate his effort of 2011 when Max was named EWL Freshman of the Year and was an NCAA qualifier.

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

Knee, elbow and chest injuries have limited the native of Wichita, Kan., to one season in Ames and that came last year when the Cyclone competed in just 17 matches and won 10. But Beard did finish second at the Big 12 tournament and lost by just a 5-4 margin to Missouri’s Mike Larson.

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

The native of Lodi, N.J., has appeared in the national tournament all three seasons since becoming a starter as a redshirt freshman in 2010. But after competing at 197 pounds last season, going 26-8 overall and 1-2 at the Nationals, Rinaldi returns to 184 pounds this winter. The former three-time New Jersey state place-winner competed at 174 pounds as a redshirt freshman in 2010, when he finished 30-12 and defeated Cal Poly’s Ryan DesRoches in his first NCAA match in Omaha. In 2011, Rinaldi finished 24-10 at 184 pounds and defeated Oregon State’s Cody Mangrum in the first round of the NCAAs.



18. Victor Avery, Edinboro, Sophomore  

Avery was among four Edinboro freshmen who qualified for the Nationals last season when the native of Foxboro, Mass., finished 24-15. The Scot’s biggest victory came against West Virginia’s Matt Ryan in the regular-season finale. The Massachusetts state champion also defeated Iowa State’s Boaz Beard in the NCAAs, where he went 1-2.




19. Mac Stoll, North Dakota State, Senior

Entering his junior season with a 23-23 two-year record, the native of Dent, Minn., doubled his career wins last winter when the Bison finished 24-14. That included a second-place finish at the West Regional and a berth in his first NCAA tournament. Stoll went 1-2 in St. Louis with a win over West Virginia’s Matt Ryan.




20. Ryan Garringer, Ohio, Junior

The Bobcat compiled an 18-15 record in his first season in the Ohio varsity line-up. More importantly, native of Downers Grove, Ill., earned one of the highest pin percentages (.611) in the nation last winter when he flattened 11 of his victims. One of those opponents was Duke’s Diego Bencomo, a 2011 NCAA qualifier, and Kent State’s Casey Newburg during the MAC tournament. A third-place finish at the MAC also sent Garringer to the NCAAs where he pinned Brown’s Ophir Bernstein in his only victory in three bouts.