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WIN’S 2013-14 Preseason Preview: 141 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.
Can another Stieber take Maple down?
When Oklahoma’s Kendric Maple won last year’s NCAA championship, one of his obstacles was Ohio State’s Hunter Stieber, who earned the No. 1 seed above the No. 2 Sooner, but did not reach the final against Maple. One year later, Maple won’t have to worry about Hunter, who is redshirting, to repeat in 2013-14. Instead, the Sooner may have an even bigger task as Hunter’s brother — Logan, the two-time NCAA champ at 133 pounds — is moving up to 141 to three-peat and unseat Maple for the 2014 crown.
Meanwhile, five other AAs return from 2013, including runner-up Mitchell Port of Edinboro.
Redshirted AA Carter also moving up
Virginia Tech finished in the Top 10 in the NCAAs for the first time in school history last March … and that happened without 2012 All-American Devin Carter, who redshirted last winter. The native of Christiansburg, Va., competed at 133 pounds his first two seasons in Blacksburg, including 2012 when the Midlands champ finished fifth in St. Louis. As a freshman in 2011, the Hokie was seeded No. 9 but just missed AA status when he lost in the Round of 12. Carter’s return also means that teammate Zach Neibert, who finished eighth at 141 last March, is moving up to 149.
Returning AAs at 141 pounds
Champion — Kendric Maple (Oklahoma), Senior, 30-0, 7 pins
The two-time All-American earned his first national championship — and first by a Sooner in eight years — when the No. 2 seed defeated Edinboro’s Mitchell Port, 4-3, in last year’s NCAA final at 141 pounds. Along the way, Maple defeated — in order — Frank Goodwin of Maryland, 13-1, Joey Lazor of UNI by fall, Mark Ballweg of Iowa, 12-3 and Ugi Khishignnyam of The Citadel, 4-0, in Des Moines. One year earlier, Maple finished fourth in the 2012 NCAAs, also as a No. 2 seed. After earning his first NCAA bid as a true freshman in 2010, Maple redshirted in 2010-11.
Champion (133) — Logan Stieber (Ohio State), Junior, 27-0, 14 pins
The Buckeye, who is moving up to 141 pounds this winter after winning a pair of NCAA titles at 133, has been dominant the past two years: winning 60 of 62 individual matches, including 30 by fall. But the native of Monroeville, Ohio, has also faced his share of critics considering both NCAA victories were controversial. In 2012, Oklahoma State’s Jordan Oliver was not allowed a takedown in the closing minute of his 4-3 loss to Stieber. Last March, it appeared Iowa’s Tony Ramos may have put the Buckeye on his back but was not given any near-fall points in a 7-4 victory by Stieber.
Runner-up — Mitchell Port (Edinboro), Junior, 34-4, 6 pins
The native of Bellefonte, Pa., nearly made sure his first All-American honors would be memorable when he upset No. 1 seed Hunter Stieber of Ohio State, 7-6, in last winter’s NCAA semifinals. The Fighting Scot battled back from a 6-2 deficit and won on riding time. And while Port lost to Oklahoma’s Kendric Maple, 4-3 — when the Sooner rode Port for over two minutes — there is plenty of upside to this Scot, who is 64-14 the past two seasons with nine pins. In 2012, the three-time PIAA placewinner just missed AA status when he lost in the Round of 12.
4th place — Undrakhbayar “Ugi” Khishignnyam (Citadel), Sophomore, 42-6, 7 pins
This military school in the state of South Carolina has done a great job of bringing along some solid wrestlers from Mongolia. One was 174-pound Turtogtokh Luvsandorj, a three-time NCAA qualifier who will return for his senior year this winter after redshirting last winter. The other is “Ugi” who is also from the same hometown as Luvsandorj — Ulaanbaatar — and was part of the Mongolian national freestyle team before learning college folkstyle. Among his highlights last winter was a second-place finish at the Southern Scuffle and last year’s NCAA 3-2 overtime quarterfinal win over Oregon State’s No. 3-seeded and returning All-American Mike Mangrum.
5th place — Michael Nevinger (Cornell), Senior, 42-12, 7 pins
The native of Perry, N.Y., has a decent career record — 99-33 with 20 pins — in three years at this Ithaca, N.Y., Ivy League school. But since becoming a starter at the start of his sophomore season in 2011-12, it’s been the postseason where the Big Red senior has proved his mettle; finishing seventh in 2012 and fifth last March. He was unseeded in 2012 and earned just a No. 11 seed after placing third in the EIWAs last winter. Two years ago, he won four of five wrestlebacks to claim his first AA honor. Last year in Des Moines, Nevinger — the 2013 Southern Scuffle champ — was upset in the first round, but came back to win five of six wrestlebacks for a second straight Top 8 finish.
6th place — Evan Henderson (North Carolina), Junior, 38-9, 11 pins
One of the twin brothers from New Florence, Pa. — his sibling Robert competes at 149 pounds — Evan Henderson became the 23rd all-time All-American for the Tar Heels when he won his first two NCAA bouts to reach the quarterfinals and rallied from a loss to Edinboro’s Mitchell Port, then clinched AA status with a pin against Northern Iowa’s Joey Lazor in the Round of 12. He then defeated Virginia Tech’s Zach Neibert to finish in the top six at his weight class. One year earlier, the three-time PA state champ from Kiski Prep also qualified for the NCAAs with a 27-11 record … and his ten falls were the most by a UNC wrestler in 2011-12.
7th place — Nick Dardanes (Minnesota), Junior, 30-9, 1 pin
Nick joined his twin brother — Chris, a sixth-place finisher at 133 pounds — on the All-American stand when the Chicago native — and two-time Illinois state champ from Oak Ridge River Forest High School overcame a second-round loss last March to win three of four wrestlebacks and earn his first All-American honor. His biggest win in Des Moines was a 5-3 overtime win against No. 3-seed Mike Mangrum of Oregon State in the Round of 12. This Gopher also qualified for the NCAAs in 2012, but finished 2-2 in Philadelphia.
OTHER RETURNING NCAA QUALIFIERS
Round of 12
Richard Durso (Franklin & Marshall), Junior, 39-5, 6 pins
Joey Lazor (Northern Iowa), Senior, 36-9, 5 pins
Round of 16
Charles Cobb (Penn), Sophomore, 25-9, 1 pin
Nick Hucke (Missouri), Junior, 16-15, 0 pins
Round of 24
Julian Feikert (Oklahoma State), Junior, 22-19, 6 pins
Chris Mecate (Old Dominion), Sophomore, 37-9, 5 pins
Dan Neff (Lock Haven), Junior, 26-11, 2 pins
Brandon Nelsen (Purdue), Junior, 26-14, 10 pins
Luke Vaith (Hofstra), Senior, 22-14, 0 pins
Round of 32
Luke Goetl (Iowa State), Junior, 15-13, 2 pins
Frank Goodwin (Maryland), Junior, 7-11, 3 pins
Pasquale Greco (Northwestern), Sophomore, 14-13, 0 pins
Anthony Salupo (Lehigh), Junior, 13-11, 1 pins
Joseph Spisak (Virginia), Junior, 21-7, 3 pins
Nathan Pennesi (West Virginia), Senior, 22-11, 0 pins