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2015 NCAA Div. I Championships: 184 pounds
2015 NCAA Preview: 184 pounds
Cornell sophomore Gabe Dean has used the Southern Scuffle the past two seasons to make the biggest impact moments of his two-year career. At the 2014 Scuffle, the native of Lowell, Mich., stunned Penn State’s eventual three-time national champion Ed Ruth.
And while Dean lost to the Nittany Lion in last year’s national semifinals, he used this year’s Scuffle to pin Pitt’s Max Thomusseit for a second straight championship. Dean’s win over the Panther also came after the Big Red star lost a pair of matches at the Las Vegas Invitational. Dean heads to St. Louis with a 22-match winning streak and most recently won his second EIWA championship.
Thomusseit’s setback in Chattanooga was the only loss suffered by the native of St. Paris, Ohio. The four-time national qualifier is still gunning for his first All-American honor. Most recently, the Panther, who earlier won the Keystone Classic in November, captured his first ACC title.
Two other wrestlers from the East should also be a factor:
- Old Dominion’s Jack Dechow, who lost 5-4 in last year’s NCAA consolation final, and added both a Midlands and MAC championship this season.
- Lehigh’s Nathaniel Brown, who finished second to Dean in the EIWAs, redshirted last winter after qualifying for the NCAAs in 2012 and ’13.
Meanwhile, there are a trio of 184 pounders who caught everyone’s attention at the Las Vegas Invitational who should be in the NCAA mix: Pac-12 rivals Blake Stauffer of Arizona State and Oregon State’s Taylor Meeks; and North Dakota State’s Hayden Zillmer.
Stauffer, competing in his third NCAA, defeated Meeks in both the Vegas final and Pac-12 championship. Meeks, meanwhile, is competing at 184 pounds as a senior after spending his first three seasons at 197, where he finished fourth in 2013 and upset Dean in Vegas.
Zillmer, up from 174, also beat Dean in Las Vegas and enters the NCAAs with a West Regional title.