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WIN Preseason Preview at 174: Perry heads up most talented weight class
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 in Division I. The information below is subject to change as some wrestlers may change weights or redshirt this upcoming season.
By Mike Finn
This may rate as college wrestling’s toughest weight considering seven of last year’s All-Americans are slated to return, including the top six finishers — starting with champion Chris Perry and ending with five Big Ten stars named Matt Brown, Robert Kokesh, Logan Storley, Nick Heflin and Michael Evans. Then throw in the return of Andrew Howe, the former three-time All-American and 2010 national champ from Wisconsin — who transferred to Oklahoma last year — and it’s hard to imagine any other weight class as talented as this.
• Howe is not the only talented wrestler who redshirted prior to a senior season. The same thing could be said of The Citadel’s Turtogtokh Luvsandorj, a native of Mongolia, who has competed in three NCAAs, but has yet to medal.
1st place – Chris Perry, Oklahoma State, Senior, 36-2, 8 pins
The nephew of Cowboy coach John Smith and younger brother to Mark Perry, the two-time NCAA champ from Iowa and current Illinois assistant coach, finally reached the Promised Land last March when his second AA honor turned gold with a 2-1 tiebreaker win over Penn State’s Matt Brown. One year earlier, the native of Stillwater finished third at 2012 NCAAs — losing only to Stanford’s Nick Amuchastegi in the semifinals. And in 2011, the then redshirt freshman competed at 184 pounds and reached the quarters before losing to Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin. His career record is 92-10 with 17 falls.
2nd place – Matt Brown, Penn State, Junior, 29-5, 8 pins
Coach Cael Sanderson, who first recruited this native of West Valley City, Utah, to join him at Iowa State, finally found a spot for Brown last season after backing up NCAA champ Ed Ruth in 2012 and returning from a Mormon Mission, which kept him out of wrestling for two years. Seeded No. 2 at the NCAAs — after winning the Big Tens — Brown reached the finals with a 3-2 victory over Minnesota’s Logan Storley.
3rd place – Robert Kokesh, Nebraska, Junior, 38-4, 9 pins
The two-time NCAA qualifier from Wagner, S.D., finally earned All-American honors last season and what made it even more special was his 3-1 overtime victory over former prep rival and current Minnesota Gopher Logan Storley in the third-place match. One year after reaching the 165-pound NCAA quarterfinals in 2012, the Husker’s only nationals loss last March was a 4-2 OT verdict to Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry.
4th place – Logan Storley, Minnesota, Junior, 28-5, 4 pins
This Gopher became an immediate starter for Minnesota in 2011-12 after winning six South Dakota State championships for Webster High School. An during these past two years, Storley has compiled a 54-14 record and earned two All-American honors: finishing sixth in 2012 and fourth last March, when his only NCAA losses came against Matt Brown and Robert Kokesh.
5th place – Nick Heflin, Ohio State, Senior, 20-7, 3 pins
The native of Massillon, Ohio, has finished fifth nationally the past two months of March, but last season NCAA performance may have been even more remarkable, considering the Buckeye was injured much of the regular season. Once in the national tournament in 2013, Heflin reached the quarterfinals, where he lost a 3-2 tiebreaker to Chris Perry. In four wrestlebacks, his only loss was 3-2 to Logan Storley and avenged a regular-season loss to Iowa’s Matt Evans by pinning the Hawkeye in 2:10.
6th place – Michael Evans, Iowa, Junior, 23-7, 2 pins
Seeded No. 3 in Des Moines last March, the Hawkeye dealt with disappointment and injuries at the NCAAs as he lost 3-2 to Minnesota’s Logan Storley in the quarterfinals, but he earned his first AA honor with a Round of 12 win over Missouri’s Todd Porter. One year earlier, the former Blair Academy star competed at 165 pounds as the No. 5 seed, but was upset in the second round by Hofstra’s PJ Gillespie and eliminated in his first wrestleback by Wisconsin’s Ben Jordan.
8th place – Cody Walters, Ohio U., Sophomore, 39-5, 6 pins
Competing as a redshirt freshman in 2013, the native of Macedonia, Ohio, won the Mid-American Conference championship but was still unseeded in his first NCAAs. After losing 8-3 to Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh in the second round, the Bobcat won three straight wrestlebacks, including a 5-2 win over Iowa State’s Tanner Weatherman in the Round of 12.
OTHER RETURNING NATIONAL QUALIFIERS
ROUND OF 12
• Matt Mougin, Northern Illinois, Senior, 25-17. 6 pins
• Tanner Weatherman, Iowa State, Sophomore, 20-9, 2 pins
ROUND OF 16
• Nick Bonaccorsi, Pittsburgh, Sophomore, 19-9, 4 pins
• Ian Korb, Penn, Junior, 25-14, 1 pin
• Dan Yates, Michigan, Senior, 23-11, 3 pins
ROUND OF 24
• Austin Gabel, Virginia Tech, Sophomore, 22-13, 0 pins
• Phillip Joseph, Eastern Michigan, Senior, 18-15, 2 pins
• Craig Kelliher, Central Michigan, Senior, 22-14, 3 pins
• Bryce Hammond, CSU Bakersfield, Sophomore, 34-10, 4 pins
• Hunter Gamble, Gardner-Webb, Junior, 24-15, 2 pins
• Jon Fausey, Virginia, Senior, 30-10, 4 pins
ROUND OF 32
• Cody Weishoff, Oregon State, Senior, 19-10, 3 pins
• Matt Miller, Navy, Sophomore, 24-7, 10 pins
• Chad Welch, Purdue, Sophomore, 22-15, 4 pins
• Lee Munster, Northwestern, Junior, 24-9, 1 pin
• Blake Stauffer, Arizona State, Sophomore, 22-5, 2 pins
• Billy Curling, Old Dominion, Senior, 21-12, 0 pins
• Sam Wheeler, Kent State, Sophomore (moving to 184), 25-14, 2 pins