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2015 NCAA Div. I Championships: 174 pounds
2015 NCAA Preview: 174 pounds
Perhaps no weight class is deeper and tougher than 174 pounds where five All-Americans return from 2014 who could only watch as Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry defeated Oklahoma’s Andrew Howe in last year’s NCAA final between those former Bedlam rivals.
Emerging as the wrestler to beat from that 2014 quintet is Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh, who finished third and fourth, respectively, the past two national tournaments. The senior from Wagner, S.D., enters the 2015 NCAAs with a 33-0 record and has championships at the Las Vegas Invitational, Southern Scuffle and most recently the Big Ten tournament.
The Husker’s finals victim in Chattanooga and at the conference tournament was Penn State’s Matt Brown, also a two-time All-American. Two years ago, the Nittany Lion from West Valley City, Utah, reached the NCAA finals before losing in overtime to OSU’s Perry. This year, Brown has a pair of wins against Iowa’s Mike Evans, who defeated the Lion in last year’s NCAA quarterfinals.
Finishing third and fourth in the Big Tens were Evans and Minnesota’s Logan Storley. The rivals met twice this winter with the Hawkeye from Enola, Pa., winning both matches in overtime. One of Evans’ strongest events of the year came in December when he won the Midlands.
Storley, a native of Webster, S.D., and former high school rival of Kokesh, has met the Husker in each of the past two tournaments. In 2013, Kokesh prevailed in overtime of a third-place meeting, while the Gopher returned the favor and defeated the Husker in the consolation final last year.
The fifth returning All-American is Pitt’s Tyler Wilps, who finished seventh last March in OKC, and is most recently coming off an ACC championship where the senior of Oakdale, Pa., was named the OW.
There is also a sixth wrestler with AA credentials: Ohio junior Cody Walters, an eighth-place finisher in 2013, who recently won his third MAC title.