NEWTON, Iowa — The wrestling programs at Missouri and Illinois made the...
NCAA Preseason Preview: Former champions Penn State’s Quentin Wright and Kent State’s Dustin Kilgore lead the field at 197 pounds
In 2011, both Penn State’s Quentin Wright and Kent State’s Dustin Kilgore were among the ten wrestlers who won NCAA championships in Philadelphia in March of that year.
Two years later, with Wright moving up from 184 and Kilgore back from an Olympic redshirt, they are the top two-ranked wrestlers at 197 pounds … and mark the third weight class where two former champs will try to decide a winner next March in Des Moines.
The following is a breakdown of WIN’s Top 20 wrestlers at 197 pounds.
1. Dustin Kilgore, Kent State, Senior
The native of Berea, Ohio, made history two years ago when he became the first Golden Flash to win an NCAA title by pinning Oklahoma State’s Clayton Foster in the 197-pound final. Since then, Kilgore took an Olympic redshirt last winter before he finished third in the Olympic Trials at 211.5 pounds in freestyle.
On the college mat, Kilgore has qualified for every national tournament after winning three straight MAC championships … and has earned three All-American honors at either 184 or 197 pounds.
After going 2-2 in his first Nationals in 2009, when he was named MAC Freshman of the Year, Kilgore captured his first AA honor in Omaha where he claimed seventh place at 184 pounds in 2010.
2. Quentin Wright, Penn State, Senior
The 2011 NCAA champion, two-time finalist and three-time All-American is moving up to 197 after he finished sixth in the 2009 Nationals at 174 pounds before he won the 2011 championship and finished second last March, both at 184.
Wright, who is 13-4 in three NCAAs, began his All-American run in Omaha, where he upset the No. 2- and No. 6-seeded wrestlers (American’s Mike Cannon and Cornell’s Steve Anceravage) before settling for sixth place.
The Nittany Lion’s championship in Philadelphia was somewhat surprising considering the native of Wingate, Pa., was seeded No. 9 and was just 16-6 after winning the Big Ten title in an injury-marred season. But he upset Edinboro’s No. 1-seed Chris Honeycutt in the quarterfinals before pinning Iowa’s Grant Gambrall in the semis; setting up his 5-2 decision over Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin in the finals.
Last season, he finished 30-4 and was seeded No. 6, but still reached the finals with a 3-2 victory over Hamlin in the semifinals. But his NCAA tournament run of nine straight wins ended when he fell 4-2 in overtime to Bosak.
Overall, Wright’s career record is 84-33.
3. Matt Wilps, Pittsburgh, Senior
The Pennsylvania state placer competed immediately for Pitt in 2008-09, when he finished 17-17. One year later, he compiled a 33-10 mark, including an EWL championship to earn his first NCAA berth in Omaha where he won his first-round bout against Illinois’ Patrick Bond.
Wilps redshirted in 2010-11 and returned last season to claim a 34-5 mark, which included an EWL championship win over Edinboro’s top-ranked Chris Honeycutt. Honeycutt avenged that loss in the NCAA semifinals with a 6-3 overtime win. Once in the wrestlebacks, the Panther defeated Wyoming’s Alfonzo Hernandez before losing to Oklahoma State’s Cayle Byers, 3-2, in the third-place bout.
4. Alfonzo Hernandez, Wyoming, Senior
Finally after taking a redshirt in 2011, “Fonz” exploded for 40 wins (against just eight losses), including a West Regional championship which earned him a No. 9 seed in St. Louis. The Cowboy responded with a pair of victories over American’s Dan Mitchell and Indiana’s Matt Powless before losing to eventual champion Cam Simaz of Cornell in the quarterfinals.
In the wrestlebacks, Hernandez defeated Illinois’ Mario Gonzales in the Round of 12 to earn his first All-American honor. After beating Penn’s Micah Burak, he settled for sixth place when he lost to Pitt’s Wilps and Minnesota’s Sonny Yohn.
5. Micah Burak, Penn, Senior
For his career, Burak is 76-24, including a 29-8 record in 2011 and 23-10 in 2010 as a true freshman. His NCAA record is 8-6 — 1-2 in 2010; 2-2 in 2011 and 5-2 last March when he defeated EIWA-rival Joe Kennedy, 2-1 in overtime, to finish seventh nationally.
Before coming to the Ivy League school in Philadelphia, Burak — whose brother also competed at Penn from 2007-11 before completing his career at Northern Colorado last winter — won a state championship for Coronado High School in 2007.
6. Mario Gonzalez, Illinois, Junior
In compiling a 26-9 record last winter, the former state champ from West Aurora High School is 36-12 in two years in Champaign. As a redshirt freshman, he was 10-3 before suffering a season-ending injury on Jan. 14.
7. Brent Haynes, Missouri, Senior
Twice, Haynes came within one victory of finishing in the Top 8; losing in the Round of 12 his redshirt freshman year in 2010 (against Oklahoma’s Eric Lapotsky) when he was 28-15; and again last March (against Lehigh’s Joe Kennedy) to finish 24-8.
Seeded No. 6 in St. Louis, Haynes opened up with a pair of wins against Michigan’s Max Huntley and Penn’s Micah Burak, before he lost in overtime to Pitt’s Matt Wilps.
As a junior, he was 29-11 on the season, but lost to eventual champ Dustin Kilgore in the first round.
8. Blake Rosholt, Oklahoma State, Junior
But in the end, this Rosholt (19-3 on the season) would lose the spot to Byers, who eventually claimed third in St. Louis. One year earlier, Rosholt competed at heavyweight for OSU and finished with a 9-10 record. But he qualified for the Nationals, finishing 1-2.
Attending high school at nearby Ponca City, Okla., Blake was a two-time place-winner; reaching the 189-pound final in 2009, when he lost to current OSU teammate Chris Perry.
9. Andrew Campolattano, Ohio State, Sophomore
In St. Louis, the Buckeye lost his first-round bout in overtime to Penn’s Burak, but came back to win three consolation bouts, including victories over Big Ten rivals Max Huntley of Michigan, Morgan McIntosh of Penn State and Indiana’s Matt Powless. He then lost in the Round of 12 in overtime to Minnesota’s Sonny Yohn.
10. Christian Boley, Maryland, Junior
Seeded No. 4, Boley lost his first-round match to Binghamton’s unseeded Cody Reed, then was eliminated in his second wrestleback by Illinois’ Mario Gonzales.
One year earlier, the former NHSCA national champion finished 21-12 as a redshirt freshman.
11. Scott Schiller, Minnesota, Sophomore
The native of West Fargo, N.D., became the Gophers’ super sub last winter when he finished 26-4 as a redshirt freshman. That included an 8-2 mark at the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, where his only losses were to teammate Sonny Yohn and eventual national champ Cam Simaz of Cornell.
Schiller, a three-time North Dakota state champ, also defeated Penn State’s Morgan McIntosh at the Scuffle and got a chance to compete in the dual with Purdue; recording a technical fall.
12. Richard Perry, Bloomsburg, Junior
In his first year as a starter, Perry led all Huskies with 33 wins (against 12 losses) last winter and qualified for his first national tournament with a third-place finish at the Eastern Wrestling League tourney.
In St. Louis, Perry split four matches with his victories coming in the wrestlebacks against Boise State’s Brent Chriswell and Dan Rinaldi of Rutgers.
Before coming to Bloomsburg, the native of Meriden, Conn., won two state championships for Middletown High School.
13. Brent Chriswell, Boise State, Senior
It has been an odd college wrestling journey for this All-American from Port Orchard, Wash. Coming out of South Kitsap High School, where he won two state championships, Chriswell first signed with Purdue, before transferring a year later to Arizona State, claiming a 2008 Pac-10 title and his first NCAA appearance.
When ASU’s program was threatened to be dropped, Chriswell transferred again to Boise State and captured a second conference championship. In his second NCAA tournament, the Bronco reached the quarterfinals before losing to Missouri’s Max Askren. But he battled back to win two consolation bouts and settled for sixth place.
But Chriswell stepped out of wrestling for three years before he returned last season. He managed just a 14-4 record and defeated Oregon State’s Taylor Meeks for a third conference title. He qualified for a third national tournament, but failed to win a match.
14. Taylor Meeks, Oregon State, Sophomore
The Beaver compiled a 20-8 record and a Pac-12 runner-up spot to qualify for the Nationals, where he won one of three bouts; beating Drexel’s Brandon Palik.
Before coming to Corvallis, Meeks competed at the 145-, 160-, 171- and 189-pound classes and earned three state championships for Orting (Wash.) High School.
15. Dan Mitchell, American, Senior
Academically, this Eagle was second to none at the NCAAs and was presented with the NCAA’s Elite 89 Award given to the athlete competing in the national tournament with the highest GPA. On the mat, the native of Broomfield, Colo., has qualified for three NCAAs, but is looking for his first All-American honor.
In compiling a 60-28 career record, Mitchell’s best season came in 2011 when he went 33-9 and won three NCAA matches. Last year, he earned an at-large bid for his third Nationals after taking sixth in the EIWAs and finished 1-2 in St. Louis.
16. Max Huntley, Michigan, Sophomore
In his first year as a starter, this Wolverine compiled just a 15-14 record, but still qualified for the Nationals after he finished eighth at the Big Tens. While in St. Louis, Huntley went 0-2; losing to Missouri’s Brent Haynes and Ohio State’s Andrew Campolattano.
Before coming to Ann Arbor, Huntley, a native of Emerald Isle, N.C., won the 2009 National Prep title for Blair Academy … after first winning the 2008 Virginia state championship for Colonial Forge High School.
17. Cody Reed, Binghamton, Junior
The Bearcat has only qualified for one national tournament … and he earned that right with an at-large selection after claiming fourth at the CAA tournament last March. But once in St. Louis, Reed made the most of his opportunity when he stunned Maryland’s No. 4-seed Christian Boley in the first round. Eventually, he split four matches at the Nationals and finished with a 25-18 record.
One year earlier, he made the CAA All-Freshman team with a 22-17 record. Prior to college, Reed was a state place-winner for Walden (N.Y.) High School.
18. James Fox, Harvard, Sophomore
The Crimson was one of four true freshmen around the country to qualify for the 2012 Nationals, coming in with a 21-14 record. He lost both matches to Indiana’s Matt Powless and American’s Dan Mitchell in St. Louis. As a prep, he won a New Jersey state championship for St. Peters Prep.
19. Brandon Palik, Drexel, Junior
The Dragon earned his first NCAA appearance last March when he won 25 matches and finished second at the CAA tournament. Unfortunately, he went 0-2 in St. Louis; falling to eventual champ Cam Simaz in the first round and Taylor Meeks of Oregon State in consolation.
One year earlier, the native of Bethlehem, Pa., and state champ from Saucon Valley finished 19-12 as a redshirt freshman.
20. Derrick Borlie, Virginia Tech, Junior
The native of Winchester, Va., sat out last season with a knee injury. He transferred to Tech from Wisconsin. In two years as a reserve with the Badgers, Borlie finished 27-10, primarily competing in open tournaments.
Before college, Borlie was a two-time Virginia state champion from Millbrook High School.