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2015 NCAA Div. I Championships: 149 pounds
2015 NCAA Preview: 149 pounds
Last year’s NCAA final at 149 pounds featured two surprise finalists: Northwestern’s Jason Tsirtsis, who was seeded fifth as a true freshman, and Oklahoma State’s Josh Kindig, rated 11th. In the end the Wildcat defeated the Cowboy in what would be Tsirtsis’ third straight overtime victory.
This year, Tsirtsis has learned what it’s like to have a target on his back as the native of Crown Point, Ind., overcame an earlier-season setback against Iowa’s Brandon Sorensen and defeated the Hawkeye for his second straight Big Ten championship. Unfortunately for Kindig, he’ll have an up-hill battle at the NCAA tournament his senior season after injuries prevented the Southern Scuffle champ from competing at the Big 12s.
Perhaps the front-runner at 149 is Missouri senior Drake Houdashelt. A year ago, the Tiger who grew up in the St. Louis suburb of O’Fallon, Mo., was seeded No. 1 in Oklahoma City, but was upset by Tsirtsis in a 2-1 tiebreaker, and settled for fifth place. This year, Houdashelt’s only setback came against Kindig in the Southern Scuffle final and most recently he defeated Iowa’s Sorensen and added a third MAC championship.
Sorensen, a redshirt freshman from Cedar Falls, Iowa, did not earn the starting spot at Iowa until after the Midlands, when he caught everyone’s notice by beating both Tsirtsis and Kindig in January, then won 17 of 18 bouts before finishing second in the Big Tens.
Edinboro’s David Habat appeared to have plenty of momentum before the postseason as the native of Cleveland, Ohio, had won 13 straight since finishing second to Tsirtsis at the Midlands … but then was upset by Rider’s B.J. Clagon in the EWL championship bout.
Cornell’s Chris Villalonga, the Las Vegas Invite champ in December, is competing in his fourth NCAA, but looking to earn his first All-American honor.