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WIN’S 2013-14 NCAA PRESEASON PREVIEW: 133 POUNDS
By Mike Finn
Editor’s Notes: Between Aug. 9 and the start of the college wrestling season, WIN is taking a closer look at the top wrestlers in all ten weight classes. The information below is subject to change as some wrestlers may change weights or redshirt this upcoming season.
Overview: Logan Stieber, the two-time NCAA champion at 133 pounds, is moving up to 141 pounds this winter for Ohio State. Seven All-Americans from 2013 return, including Tony Ramos, whose only post-season losses the past two years were to Stieber. Also don’t forget about Wisconsin’s Tyler Graff, who lost a lead in last year’s semifinals and was defeated by Ramos, and Edinboro’s A.J. Schopp, who has pinned 37 foes the past two winters and earn AA honors last season after recording an NCAA-high 39 wins in 2012.
Other Top Storylines:
Wisconsin’s Graff is a three-time All-American and both Penn State’s Jordan Conaway and Northern Iowa’s Levi Wolfensperger finished in the Round of 12 last March for their respective schools at 133 pounds.
Yet there is no certainty that either will start for the Badgers, Nittany Lions and Panthers this winter at 133 pounds.
That’s because Graff may move up to 141 pounds this year for the Badgers, and coach Barry Davis could insert redshirt freshman Jesse Thielke, who is representing the U.S. at 132 pounds in this fall’s World Championships in Greco-Roman.
Meanwhile, PSU coach Cael Sanderson could turn to 2012 prep All-American (and four-time Pennsylvania state champ) Jim Gulibon, who compiled a 21-7 mark wrestling unattached last winter. And Northern Iowa coach Doug Schwab is expected to have junior Joe Colon back in the line-up after the 2012 starter — who finished 27-4 and reached the Round of 12 at the NCAAs — was removed from the team last December.
Zane adds zip to Illini
Another young wrestler to keep an eye on is redshirt freshman Zane Richards of Illinois, whose 35 wins (against just seven losses) last winter competing unattached was the second most by a 133-pounder in 2012-13. The native of Carbondale, Ill., won two Illinois state high school championships for Carbondale High and a Junior freestyle national title before moving north to Champaign.
Welcome back redshirts
Several highly-rated wrestlers, who chose to redshirt last winter, will be back: most notably Lehigh’s Mason Beckman and Stanford’s Ryan Mango, the younger brother of two-time Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler Spenser Mango. Two years ago as a true freshman, Beckman finished 27-11 and finished fourth at the EIWAs before losing to Ohio State’s Stieber in an NCAA first-round bout and failed to place. He then won 39 of 43 matches competing unattached last winter. Mango (81-29 in his career) has earned two All-American honors: sixth in 2011 and fifth in 2012; both at 125 pounds.
NCAA Runner-up — Tony Ramos, Iowa, Senior, 30-2, 14 pins
Both of Ramos’ losses last season came in the post-season — against Ohio State’s Logan Stieber — in the Big Ten and NCAA finals. The finals match included a controversial scramble where officials conferred on whether or not Ramos scored back points in the Hawkeye’s 7-4 loss to the Buckeye in Des Moines.
Otherwise, Ramos, a native of Carol Stream, Ill., is 88-12 with 24 pins in three years as a starter and earned All-American honors the last two seasons. Two years ago, Ramos also only lost one match at Nationals — a 4-2 match to Stieber — and placed third in St. Louis.
3rd place — Tyler Graff, Wisconsin, Senior, 33-6, 4 pins
This native of Loveland, Colo., has earned three All-American honors. He finished third last year after starting the season at 141 pounds. It was the highest NCAA placement by this Badger who took an Olympic redshirt in 2011-12. In his first two seasons in Madison, Graff finished fifth in both the 2010 and ’11 NCAA tournaments.
As a redshirt freshman in 2010, Graff reached the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Dylan Ness of Minnesota. In the 2011 NCAAs, Graff reached the semis before losing to eventual champion Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State. And last season, the Badger returned to the semifinals where he lost 6-4 in overtime to Iowa’s Tony Ramos.
There is a chance Graff could return to 141 pounds this winter, opening up a spot a 133 pounds to 2013 World Greco-Roman Team member Jesse Thielke, who defeated Ryan Mango in the finals of last summer’s World Team Trials.
4th place — Aaron (A.J.) Schopp, Edinboro, Junior, 33-5, 18 pins
The 2012 Eastern Wrestling League Rookie of the Year proved that freshman honor — as well as a 39-6 record with 19 pins and a Round of 12 finish at the 2012 NCAAs — was no fluke as the native of Tyrone, Pa., earned his first All-American honors last March.
Schopp, who defeated Michigan’s Rossi Bruno, Binghamton’s Derek Steeley and Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes, reached the semifinals in Des Moines, where he lost to eventual champion Logan Stieber. Once in the wrestlebacks, Schopp defeated Oklahoma State’s Jon Morrison before losing 6-3 to Wisconsin’s Tyler Graff.
5th place — Jon Morrison, Oklahoma State, Senior, 30-8, 2 pins
When 2012 national runner-up Jordan Oliver moved from 133 to 149 pounds last winter, it opened up a spot for this native of Orland Park, Ill. Morrison who was a two-time national qualifier at 125 pounds for the Cowboys and compiled a 39-18 mark his first two seasons. In 2011, Morrison was seeded No. 9 but lost both of his matches in Philadelphia. In 2012, Morrison was unseeded and split his four matches in St. Louis.
That changed last winter when Morrison, seeded No. 7, won his first two bouts before losing 6-1 in the quarters to Iowa’s Tony Ramos. Once in the wrestlebacks, he won three of four bouts, including a 6-4 win over Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes for fifth place.
6th place — Chris Dardanes, Minnesota, Junior, 21-9, two pins
The native of Chicago — and twin brother of Minnesota’s 141-pound Nick Dardanes — has earned All-American honors in his first two seasons as a starter for the Gophers.
In 2012, Dardanes was 25-12 with six pins and claimed fourth place at the NCAAs as a No. 10 seed in St. Louis — where he defeated Edinboro’s A.J. Schopp in the second round before losing to eventual champion Logan Stieber in the quarters.
Last March, the Gopher once again reached the quarters but lost 11-7 to Schopp, but clinched a second All-American honor with an 11-9 overtime win over Central Michigan’s Scott Sentes in the Round of 12.
7th place — Cody Brewer, Oklahoma, Sophomore, 25-8, 2 pins
Competing in his first NCAA tournament as a No. 8 seed, the native of Kansas City, Mo., won his first two matches in Des Moines last March before losing to eventual champ Logan Stieber of Ohio State. After clinching All-American honors with a victory over Penn State’s Jordan Conaway in the Round of 12, Brewer split his final two matches; ending with a come-from-behind win over Missouri’s Nathan McCormick for seventh place.
8th place — Nathan McCormick, Missouri, Junior, 34-7, 7 pins
A three-time NCAA qualifier, the native of Leawood, Kan., earned his first All-American honor when he pinned Northern Iowa’s Levi Wolfensperger in the Round of 12. Before that, the Tiger won his first two matches in Des Moines before losing 5-3 in the quarters to Wisconsin’s Tyler Graff.
OTHER NOTABLE RETURNING NCAA QUALIFIERS
ROUND OF 12 FINISHERS
• Jordan Conaway, Penn State (12th seed), Sophomore, 19-10
• George DiCamillo, Virginia (11th seed), Sophomore, 33-10
• Levi Wolfensperger, Northern Iowa (9th seed), Sophomore, 26-10
ROUND OF 16 FINISHERS
• Geoff Alexander, Maryland, Junior, 25-11
• Rossi Bruno, Michigan, Sophomore, 16-18
• Jamie Franco, Hofstra, Senior, 20-15
• Nick Wilcox, Bloomsburg, Senior, 27-9
ROUND OF 24 FINISHERS
• Matt Bystol, Columbia, Senior, 10-12
• Randy Cruz, Lehigh, Sophomore, 32-13
• Vincent Dellafave, Rutgers, Senior, 27-10
• Dane Harlowe, Boston U., Sophomore, 10-7
• Shelton Mack, Pittsburgh, Junior 18-11
• Mackenzie McGuire, Kent State, Sophomore, 25-20
• Derek Steeley, Binghamton, Senior, 16-14
• Joseph Ward, North Carolina, Sophomore, 21-13
ROUND OF 32 FINISHERS
• Anthony Elias, Davidson, Junior, 11-10
• Brandon Gambucci, Duke, Junior, 20-8
• Dylan Hydar, Air Force, Sophomore, 21-14
• Devon Lotito, Cal Poly, Sophomore, 25-7
• Jimmy Morris, Rider, Junior, 24-14
• Sam Speno, NC State, Sophomore, 16-14
• Erik Spjut, Virginia Tech, Senior, 17-13