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NCAA Preview: 165 pounds features two champs and three former finalists

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Updated: October 11, 2012

The following is a breakdown of WIN’s Top 20 wrestlers in the 157-pound weight class.

Click here for the preview of the remaining nine weight classes.

1. David Taylor, Penn State, Junior           

Penn State’s David Taylor, the 2012 NCAA champion and Hodge Trophy winner, has been nearly perfect in his two years in State College, where he is 70-1 and a two-time NCAA finalist.

No college wrestler was more dominant than this Nittany Lion who won all 32 matches last winter, his first NCAA championship and the 2012 Dan Hodge Trophy. And David Taylor returns for his junior season with a 70-1 career mark. The former four-time Ohio state champion from St. Paris Graham High School pinned 15 of his foes last year — including four at the NCAAs. Taylor also scored technical falls over nine foes, including Lehigh’s Brandon Hatchett in the NCAA final.

What made Taylor’s season so remarkable is that he responded from a disappointing end to the 2011 season when Taylor’s only loss came in the 157-pound NCAA finals to Arizona State’s Bubba Jenkins, who stunningly pinned the Nittany Lion.

Overall, Taylor’s NCAA record is 14-1.

2. Kyle Dake, Cornell, Senior                        

No Cornell wrestler has enjoyed a better career than “true” junior Kyle Dake, who since graduating from Ithaca’s Lansing High School in 2009 has won three NCAA championships at three different weights and is most likely moving up to 165 for the season.

In March of 2010, Dake won 34 of 36 matches, including a 141-pound NCAA title over Iowa’s Montell Marion. He also avenged one of his losses that true freshman season to Ohio State’s defending national champion Reece Humphrey.

In 2011, Dake moved up to 149 pounds and won 31 of 33 bouts by the time he rode Penn State’s Frank Molinaro for over four minutes of an 8-1 decision in Philadelphia. This was the same postseason that Dake lost the EIWA final to Bucknell’s Kevin LeValley, leaving the defending champ with a No. 4 seed at the NCAAs. But the Big Red sophomore outscored his five foes at the NCAAs, 32-1.

Finally last year, Dake earned his first unbeaten season (35-0) after moving up to 157, including a 4-1 win over Iowa’s Derek St. John in the national championship match in St. Louis.

In moving up to 165, Dake could eventually meet his friend, David Taylor of Penn State. The two met in last spring’s Olympic Trials in Iowa City, Iowa, where Dake earned a second-period fall over the Nittany Lion in their 163-pound freestyle match.

 

3. Tyler Caldwell, Oklahoma State, Junior                       

The last time this native of Wichita, Kan., competed on a college mat, Caldwell was wrestling for Big 12 Oklahoma; losing 11-3 to Nebraska’s Jordan Burroughs in the 165-pound NCAA final in Philadelphia in 2011. Since then, Caldwell — who also finished fifth for the Sooners in 2010 and was 63-20 in his two years in Norman — took an Olympic redshirt last winter before he eventually transferred to Stillwater.

In last year’s Olympic Trials in Iowa City, Caldwell defeated Penn State’s Matt Brown but lost to Andrew Howe and Nick Marable in the 163-pound weight class.

Prior to wrestling in college, Caldwell won four Kansas state championships for Goddard High School, where he compiled a 150-4 career mark.

 

4. Peter Yates, Virginia Tech, Senior                       

This Hokie became a rare native of Georgia to claim All-American honors last March when the graduate of Salem High School in Conyers, Ga., finished fifth in St. Louis. When Yates graduated as a three-time state champion, he immediately made varsity at Blacksburg in 2008-09 and qualified for the NCAAs with a 31-8 mark. Unfortunately, he sprained his knee before the Nationals and was forced to withdraw. One year later, he reinjured his knee at the Southern Scuffle and was forced to take a medical redshirt. Finally, he has made it through the last two seasons, including 2011 when he finished with a 28-10 mark and upset Iowa’s No. 11-seed Aaron Janssen at the NCAAs.

Last year in going 28-7, Yates was seeded No. 6, but lost in the first round to Oklahoma State’s Dallas Bailey. In consolation, the Hokie won six of seven bouts, including a 13-7 victory over ACC rival Josh Asper of Maryland in the fifth-place match.

 

5. Josh Asper, Maryland, Senior                       

The native of Parkton, Md., was named Maryland’s Male Athlete of the Year award last season after he finished his third season as a starter with his second All-American honor.

In his three years as a starter, Asper has compiled a 96-18 record. That included a 34-9 record in 2010 when he just missed an All-American honor when he lost in the Round of 12 to Old Dominion’s Chris Brown. One year later, Asper earned the most wins (35-5) on the team and collected his first All-American honor with a sixth-place finish. Finally last year, the Terp collected another sixth-place finish with a 32-7 record.

 

6. Conrad Polz, Illinois, Junior                          

The native of Orland Park, Ill., has been a starter for the Illini for the past three years but did not qualify for the NCAAs until last season when he finished 24-8 and added his first All-American honor (eighth place).  That came after Polz, a No. 9 seed, lost his first-round match to Oklahoma’s Patrick Graham, but came back to win four consolation bouts, including a 3-1 overtime win over Hofstra’s P.J Gillespie in the Round of 12.

Before coming to Champaign, Polz won three Illinois state championships for Carl Sandburg High School. His career record as an Illini is 55-34.

 

7. Mike Evans, Iowa, Sophomore                       

The native of Enola, Pa., and graduate of Blair Academy nearly had a banner redshirt freshman season last winter when he finished 26-8 and finished second in the Big Ten tournament to earn a No. 5 NCAA seed. Unfortunately, the Hawkeye lost in the second round to Paul Gillespie of Hofstra and was eliminated by in his first wrestleback by Wisconsin’s Ben Jordan.

 

 

8. Nick Sulzer, Virginia, Sophomore                       

Two years after winning an Ohio state championship for St. Edward High School, Sulzer finished 27-9 last winter for the Cavaliers. That included a 2-2 mark at the NCAAs where he defeated No. 10 seed Cody Yohn of Minnesota and Coleman Gracey of Army. His losses came to eventual All-Americans Josh Asper of Maryland and Ben Jordan of Wisconsin.

Sulzer comes from a wrestling family as one brother, Keith, competed for Northwestern while Aaron currently competes for Eastern Michigan.

 

9. Patrick Graham, Oklahoma, Senior                       

The native of Annapolis, Md., followed head coach Mark Cody from American University in Washington D.C. to the OU campus in Norman, Okla., a year ago; compiling a 20-14 record and a berth in the 2012 NCAAs. Graham split his four matches in St. Louis, upsetting Illinois’ No. 9 seed Conrad Polz in the first round. After losing to Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh, 5-4, the Sooner defeated Northwestern’s Pierce Harger before being eliminated by Virginia Tech’s Peter Yates. Graham’s career college record is 63-50, which includes a 43-36 record in his two years in D.C., where he was a national qualifier in 2011.

 

10. Corey Lear, Bucknell, Senior           

In his third season with the Bison, Lear turned in an 18-11 record and qualified for his first NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, the native of Orangeville, Pa., was matched against eventual champion David Taylor in the first round and lost by fall.

Lear battled back to win two consolation bouts over David Cheza of Michigan State and Dallas Bailey of Oklahoma State before being eliminated by Illinois’ Conrad Polz.

 

 

11. Cody Yohn, Minnesota, Senior                       

The native of Alamosa, Colo., earned his third NCAA trip last winter, but settled for a 21-11 record at 165 pounds. One of his bigger wins came against Iowa’s Mike Evans in the National Duals, shortly after Yohn lost to the Hawkeye in a dual in Iowa City.

Overall, Yohn’s career record at Minnesota is 72-41. That included a 23-17 mark in 2010 when he competed at 165, 174 and 184. One year later, Yohn improved that record to 28-13 and he eventually finished seventh for his first All-American honor.

 

12. Zach Toal, Missouri, Junior                       

Since leaving Sidney, Ohio and Troy Christian High School, the Tiger became a starter as a redshirt freshman and has compiled a 43-25 record the past two years. Toal also has qualified both seasons for the Nationals, including last March when he finished 21-11 and won the Big 12 championship with an avenging victory over Andrew Sorenson of Iowa State.

In national tournament competition, Toal is 1-4; capturing his only win in 2011, when the Tiger was seeded No. 10 but lost in the first round to Jim Resnick of Rider. In the wrestlebacks, Toal defeated Turtogtokh Luvsandorj of The Citadel before losing to Stephen Burak of Penn. Last year Toal was unseeded and lost to Robert Kokesh of Nebraska and Mark Lewandowski of Buffalo.

13. Joe Booth, Drexel, Senior                                   

The native of Bayville, N.Y., has qualified for the national tournament in each of his three seasons at this Philadelphia school and has a 71-27 career record. That included a 22-9 mark at 157 pounds in 2010, before moving up to 165 his sophomore season when he finished with a 25-11 record, followed by a 24-7 mark last season.

Booth, who is looking to become the Dragons’ first All-American since Ryan Hluschak in 2007, has a combined NCAA record of 2-6: 1-2 in 2010; 1-2 in 2011 and 0-2 last March.

 

14. Steven Monk, North Dakota State, Junior           

After compiling a 61-18 record in two seasons at 157 pounds, the native of Wausau, Wisc., is moving a weight class this winter. Ranked No. 2 in total wins among 157-pounders last season, Monk (35-9) qualified for his first national tournament last season when he enjoyed a 10-match winning streak. That included wins over Boise State’s George Ivanov and Oregon State’s Roger Pena.

Monk came within one victory of a Top-8 finish in St. Louis. After losing to American’s Ganbayar Sanjaa in the second round, the Bison wrestler won two wrestlebacks before falling 3-1 to Nebraska’s James Green in the Round of 12.

 

15. Tyler Koehn, Nebraska, Senior                        

The native of Pittsburg, Kan., had competed the past two years at 174 pounds, including last season, when he finished 19-14 and earned his first NCAA appearance. The Husker was 1-2. Koehn’s national tournament victory was against N.C. State’s Quinton Godley in the first round. Koehn, who is 46-36 in his career, is a three-year starter, including at 157-pounds as a redshirt freshman in 2011.

 

 

16. Pierce Harger, Northwestern, Sophomore                       

The native of Loveland, Ohio, turned it on in the postseason last March, when he wrestled above his No. 8 seed at the Big Tens, where he finished sixth and qualified for his first national tournament. At St. Louis, Harger went 1-2; defeating Drexel’s Joe Booth in a consolation match and ended his redshirt freshman campaign with a 22-14 mark.

Before coming to Evanston, Harger was a four-time state place-winner for Archbishop Moeller High School.

 

17. Patrick Martinez, Wyoming, Junior                       

With the graduation of Wyoming’s All-American Shane Onufer, this two-time NCAA qualifier is returning to 165 pounds after competing at 174 the past two winters. Since coming out of Hemet, Calif., Martinez has compiled a 64-27 record with the Cowboys. That included last season when he led all 174-pounders in wins (35-12).

At the national tournament, Martinez was 1-2 in both NCAAs, beating Liberty’s Royal Brettrager in 2011 and Levi Clemons of Chattanooga last March.

 

18. Mark Lewandowski, Buffalo, Senior                       

After finishing in the Top 12 as a redshirt sophomore in 2011, the native of Depew, N.Y., qualified for his second national tournament last year when he posted a 29-8 mark and led the nation with 11 technical falls but finished 1-2 in St. Louis. One year earlier, the Bull won the MAC championship at 157 pounds, and pinned Chattanooga’s Josh Condon in the first round before losing to eventual champ Bubba Jenkins. Lewandowski followed that with a pair of wins over North Carolina’s Corey Mock and Virginia Tech’s Jesse Dong before losing to Iowa’s Derek St. John.

 

19. Tristan Warner, Old Dominion, Junior           

This is Warner’s third season as a starter for the Monarchs and is coming off a 27-16 record last season, when he qualified for his first national tournament — going 0-2. He also turned in a 3.95, the second-highest grade point average of a wrestler in the country last winter. This came one year after the native of Mechanicsburg, Pa., finished 18-22 as a freshman in 2011.

 

 

20. Mike Ottinger, Central Michigan, Sophomore                       

The native of Schnecksville, Pa., enjoyed a banner true freshman season last winter when he finished 23-11 and won the MAC championship and an NCAA berth. This came one year after winning a Pennsylvania state championship and a victory over All-American Destin McCauley at the Dapper Dan Classic.

Unfortunately, Ottinger’s NCAA stay was not long as he lost both matches to Army’s Coleman Gracey and Northern Colorado’s Gabe Burak.

 

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