When it came to deciding the 2012 NCAA champion at heavyweight, Lehigh’s Zach Rey was the defending champion … but Oklahoma State’s Alan Gelogaev was expected to give Rey his biggest challenge considering the Cowboy was ranked No. 1 prior to the start of the NWCA National Duals.
But that all changed when Gelogaev suffered a season-ending injury prior to the National Duals Final Four.
And when it came to the NCAA tournament, Rey did not repeat; losing instead to Minnesota sophomore Anthony Nelson.
The following is a breakdown of WIN’s Top 20 wrestlers at heavyweight, where Nelson is back and so is the Cowboy from OSU.
1. Anthony Nelson, Minnesota, Junior
The native of Cambridge, Minn., allowed just four points at last year’s NCAAs, where this Gopher defeated 2011 national champion Zach Rey of Lehigh for his first NCAA title. In compiling a 32-2 record, Nelson won 25 straight matches en route to a Big Ten championship.
One year earlier, Nelson also earned All-American honors by claiming seventh place and finished 33-8. The Gopher, who finished second at the 2011 Big Tens, lost to Penn State’s Cam Wade in the second round, but came back to win three consolation matches, including a Round of 12 victory over Oklahoma’s Nate Fernandez. His final match of 2011 was a pin against Arizona State’s Levi Cooper in the seventh-place match.
Before coming to Minneapolis, Nelson won two state titles and the 2009 NHSCA Senior national championship.
2. Alan Gelogaev, Oklahoma State, Senior
Coming to OSU from Moscow, Russia, where he excelled in freestyle, Gelogaev began his college career at 197 pounds and also earned an All-American honor (7th) in 2010 as he learned to adapt to American folkstyle wrestling.
One year later, he moved up to heavyweight but was forced to take a medical redshirt.
Finally in 2011-12, “Z” appeared to finally make the adjustment as he won his first 24 matches of the year before he suffered another injury a few days before the start of the National Duals Final Four and was lost for the rest of the postseason.
Overall, Gelogaev’s college record is 58-10.
3. Dom Bradley, Missouri, Senior
Growing up in the Kansas City suburb of Blue Springs, Mo., where Bradley was a three-time state champ before winning a Junior World championship in freestyle, he had just a 100-mile drive to Columbia.
Unfortunately, his ride to college fame has been a long one.
First, he had to wait two years until Mark Ellis — the 2010 NCAA champion — graduated. Finally in 2010-11 in his first year as a starter, Bradley finished 30-4 on the year and also earned his first All-American honor by claiming third place nationally in Philadelphia. His only NCAA loss was to eventual champ Zach Rey of Lehigh. He came back to beat Central Michigan’s Jarod Trice in the third-place match.
There would be one more pause in his college career when Bradley opted to take an Olympic redshirt last season. At the Olympic Trials in Iowa City, Bradley reached the quarterfinals where he coincidentally lost to Trice.
4 Jarod Trice, Central Michigan, Senior
The two-time All-American and three-time national qualifier is back for his final season after taking an Olympic redshirt last winter. And while he eventually finished third in freestyle in the Olympic Trials in Iowa City, the Chippewa big man also competed in one college tournament; defeating Iowa’s Bobby Telford in the Midlands.
Before last season, the native of Highland Park, Mich., had compiled a 79-22 record for CMU, including a 9-7 mark in three national tournaments. That included a 4-2 record in 2011, when he won three bouts before losing to American’s Ryan Flores in the semifinals. He settled for fourth place, losing to Missouri’s Bradley in his final bout. In 2010, Trice was upset by West Virginia’s Brandon Williamson, but came back to win four wrestlebacks, two in overtime, including a victory over Minnesota’s Ben Berhow in the Round of 12. He settled for eighth place.
5. Michael McMullan, Northwestern, Sophomore
The Wildcat was seeded No. 10 in St. Louis, where he only lost one match — to eventual champion Anthony Nelson of Minnesota — and came away with a third-place medal. Along the way, McMullan pinned No. 7 seed Jeremy Johnson of Ohio in the second round. After losing to Nelson in the quarters, McMullan earned an AA honor with a Round of 12 win over Nebraska’s Tucker Lane. He then added three more wins, including a 10-5 victory over Oregon State’s Clayton Foster to finish the year 29-11.
Before coming to Evanston, the native of Easton, Pa., won the 2009 and 2010 National Prep championships for Wyoming Seminary.
6. Bobby Telford, Iowa, Sophomore
The young Hawkeye had a respectable year in his first season as a starter, claiming fifth place at the Nationals and compiling a 30-9 overall record. That included a pair of second-place finishes at the Midlands and Big Tens.
Once in St. Louis, Telford defeated Northern Iowa’s Blayne Beale and Ohio State’s Peter Capone to reach the quarterfinals, where he lost to 2011 champ Zach Rey of Lehigh. In the wrestlebacks, the Hawkeye won three of four matches, including an All-American-clinching win over Arizona State’s Levi Cooper.
Telford came to Iowa from Hockessin, Del., and won two Delaware state championships for St. Mark’s.
7. Jeremy Johnson, Ohio, Junior
The Bobcat has won one MAC championship and appeared in two Nationals, including last season when he matched his No. 7 seed with a seventh-place finish. Overall, his record was 35-7. That included four wins in St. Louis; highlighted by a pin against The Citadel’s Odie Delaney to clinch his first AA honor.
One year earlier, Johnson finished third in the tough MAC tournament and was named Freshman of the Year with a 32-13 mark.
As a prep, he posted a 95-36 career record at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School in Ohio.
8. Nick Gwiazdowski, NC State, Sophomore
The 2011 Junior Schalles Award winner from Delanson, N.Y., responded with a CAA championship and an eighth-place finish at the NCAAs as a true freshman at Binghamton … before following his former Bearcat coach to Raleigh this past six months.
In compiling a 30-9 record, Gwiazdowski lost his first NCAA match to eventual champion Anthony Nelson of Minnesota. But he responded by winning four straight wrestlebacks, including a Round of 12 win over Penn State’s Cameron Wade to clinch AA honors.
At Duanesburg High School, the heavyweight won two New York state titles
9. Levi Cooper, Arizona State, Senior
The native of Hubbard, Ore., competed at two different schools — at Portland State in 2009 and CSU Bakersfield in 2010 — before finding a home in Tempe, Ariz. In his two years with the Sun Devils, Cooper enjoyed an All-American season in 2011, when he finished eighth in Philadelphia.
Last year, Cooper was seeded No. 9 but was upset by Michigan State’s Steve Andrus in the first round. In the wrestlebacks, Cooper won three matches, but came up one victory short of a second All-American honor when he lost to Iowa’s Telford.
Overall, Cooper’s college record is 62-38.
10. Odie Delaney, The Citadel, Senior
This Bulldog has won three Southern Conference championships — at 197 in 2009 and at heavyweight in 2010 and 2012 — to qualify for the national tournament each season. (In 2011, the native of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., redshirted for the South Carolina school.)
After failing to win a match in his first two NCAAs, Delaney won his first two matches last March in St. Louis, including an opening round win over Maryland’s Spencer Myers, before falling to American’s Ryan Flores. In consolation, Delaney lost a Round of 12 bout to Ohio’s Jeremy Johnson.
Overall, his career record is 79-42.
11. Ben Apland, Michigan, Senior
This native of Woodridge, Ill, has competed the last three years for the Wolverines and qualified the past two seasons for the Nationals.
He has compiled a 71-48 record and his best year came last season when he was 23-11 and split four matches in St. Louis. His national victories came against Pitt’s Donnie Tasser and Michigan State’s Steve Andrus.
In 2011, an 18-15 record accompanied him at the national tournament where he went 1-2.
12. Zac Thomusseit Pittsburgh Senior
The older brother of Pitt’s 184-pound Max Thomusseit is moving up to heavyweight after he was forced to take a medical hardship last season after suffering an injury in December.
Prior to that, this native of St. Paris, Ohio, had competed at 184 pounds as a true freshman and sophomore in 2009 and 2010; earning a first NCAA appearance in his second season and he split four matches in Omaha.
One year later, Thomusseit moved up to 197 pounds and was seeded No. 7 in Philadelphia. He responded by winning matches over Boise State’s Casperson and Purdue’s Logan Brown before falling in the quarterfinals to Oklahoma State’s Clayton Foster. He missed out on an All-American honor when he lost in the Round of 12 to Minnesota’s Sonny Yohn.
Overall, his career record is 68-32.
13. Spencer Myers, Maryland, Junior
The native of Selinsgrove, Pa., dealt with somewhat of a “sophomore slump” in his second national tournament … after finishing sixth at the 2011 NCAAs as a true freshman with a 30-13 mark.
But there would be no NCAA magic in St. Louis last March, when the ACC champion was upset in the first round by The Citadel’s Odie Delaney. That was followed by a loss to Arizona State’s Levi Cooper in his first wrestleback to finish 22-9 on the year.
14. Michael McClure, Michigan State, Sophomore
This should be the Spartan’s first season as a starter after McClure redshirted last season while teammate Steve Andrus qualified for the NCAAs. One year earlier, McClure turned in a 22-5 mark while teammate Joseph Rizqallah represented MSU in the postseason.
A native of Holland, Mich., McClure captured a state championship as a senior while going 55-0.
15. Matt Gibson, Iowa State, Senior
The Cyclone finished 27-10 and earned an NCAA appearance in his second season with Iowa State last winter by winning the Big 12 championship. This came after the native of Vallejo, Calif., captured a state JUCO title with Sierra College.
After losing to Ohio State’s Peter Capone in St. Louis, the Cyclone responded with wins over Northern Iowa’s Blayne Beale and Central Michigan’s Peter Sturgeon.
While competing for Jesse Bethel High School, Gibson was a two-time California state placer at 189 and 215 pounds.
16. Chad Hanke, Oregon State, Senior
Hanke, who replaces OSU All-American Clayton Jack, enjoyed more success the past two years on the freestyle stage as he finished second in the 2011 World Team Trials at 211.5 pounds before moving up to heavyweight last season while taking an Olympic redshirt.
Prior to that, this native of Dayton, Ohio, competed at 197 pounds for two years (2010 and ’11). But he has yet to qualify for the Nationals despite a 32-11 record in 2011 when he finished fourth at the Pac-10 tournament.
In high school Hanke won three state championships for Dayton High School.
17. Kevin Innis, Boston U, Junior.
The native of Secaucus, N.J., has spent two years with the Terriers, going 16-15 as a freshman and 22-7 last season when he qualified for the Nationals. Innis won his first-round match in overtime against Patrick Tasser of Pitt before losing consecutive matches.
In high school, Innis finished second in the New Jersey state tournament for St. Peter’s Prep.
18. Keldrick Hall, Oklahoma, Junior
The Sooner has moved up to heavyweight after going 22-12 at 197 pounds in his first year as a starter. That also garnered the native of Dallas, Texas, a berth in the national tournament, where he won a consolation match against Keith Witt of Kent State.
In his first two seasons as a Sooner sub, Hall earned a 34-26 record.
19. Blayne Beale, Northern Iowa, Senior
In his first year as a starter, the native of Davenport, Iowa, finished 28-13 for the Panthers and won the West Regional championship for a spot in the national tournament. Beale lost both of his NCAA matches; oddly against in-state foes, Bobby Telford of Iowa and Matt Gibson of Iowa State.
In high school at Davenport West, Beale’s highest state placement was fourth.
20. Adam Chalfant, Indiana, Junior
This Hoosier did not hit the Indiana campus until the second semester, but that was enough time for him to finish fifth in the Big Tens and qualify for the NCAAs with a 24-13 mark. He finished 0-2 in St. Louis.
One year earlier, Chalfant finished third at the National Junior College tournament for Harper College. A native of Winchester, Ind., Chalfant was a state champion in wrestling, but first chose to play college football at Western Kentucky.