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2016 NCAA Preview: 149 pounds
Notable 149-Pounders to Watch
Editor’s Note: Due to press deadlines, the following profiles of WIN’s ranked wrestlers were written prior to the NCAA qualifying tournaments.
Updated 2016 NCAA Brackets
1. Brandon Sorensen, Iowa, Sophomore, Cedar Falls, Iowa
NCAA Resume: 6-2 (4th) in one tournament — Seeded 4th last March, the Hawkeye lost 4-3 to Penn’s C.J. Cobb in the second round, but came back to win five straight wrestlebacks — including a R12 win over Virginia Tech’s Sal Mastriani before losing in overtime of his third-place bout with Tsirtsis.
2. Zain Retherford, Penn State, Sophomore, Benton, Pa.
NCAA Resume: 4-2 (5th) in one tournament — Competing at 141 pounds as a true freshman in 2014, Retherford earned a No. 3 seed and reached the semifinals where he fell to eventual champ Logan Stieber (Ohio State). A loss to top-seed Mitchell Port send the Lion to the fifth-place bout where he beat Franklin & Marshall’s Richard Durso.
3. Jake Sueflohn, Nebraska, Senior, Watertown, Wisc.
NCAA Resume: 5-6 in three tournaments — The Husker has yet to earn All-American honors with closest moment to that came in 2013 when he lost in the Round of 12. Sueflohn’s highest seed (6th) came in 2014 when he lost in the second round to eventual finalist Josh Kindig of Oklahoma State.
4. Lavion Mayes, Missouri, Junior, Mascoutah, Ill.
NCAA Resume: 7-4 (7th) in two tournaments — Both of his NCAA appearances came at 141 pounds, including last year when the Tiger came back from a second-round loss to Oklahoma State’s Dean Heil to win four of five wrestlebacks, including a R12 victory over Nebraska’s Anthony Abidin.
5. Jason Tsirtsis, Northwestern, Junior, Crown Point, Ind.
2015-16 Notes: This has been a tough year for the 2014 NCAA champion, who has dealt with injuries and more importantly lost his sister Jillian, who died in an auto accident last September. On the mat, the Wildcat lost his head coach Drew Pariano at the start of the season and appeared in just 15 matches (10-5) prior to defending his two Big Ten titles.
NCAA Resume: 10-1 (1st, 3rd) in two tournaments — The Wildcat put an exclamation mark on his redshirt freshman season in 2014 when he upset top-seed Drake Houdashelt (Missouri) in the semis before edging Oklahoma State’s Josh Kindig in the final. One year later, Tsirtsis
Other notable wrestlers in alphabetical order:
• Junior Matt Cimato of Drexel went 1-2 in his first national tournament last March and has responded with a 30-5 record this winter prior to the EIWAs and earned third-place finishes at the Roadrunner Open and Keystone Classic and fourth at the Southern Scuffle.
• Oklahoma State’s Anthony Collica has qualified for the NCAAs in each of his three years as a starter and has just missed All-American honors by losing in the R12 in 2014 at 141 pounds as a true freshman and at 157 pounds last March when the native of Solon, Ohio, was unseeded. Among his biggest wins this winter was a pin against North Carolina AA
• B.J. Clagon of Rider became his school’s first freshman All-American in any sport when the native of Toms River, N.J., placed fifth as a No. 15 seed. This year, the Bronco stood 17-9 prior to the EWLs.
• North Carolina’s Evan Henderson, a two-time All-American (sixth in 2013 and fourth in 2014 at 141 pounds), chose to redshirt last winter. Moving up a weight class, the Tar Heel senior and enjoyed one of his finest moments at the Southern Scuffle where he finished second.
• Boise State’s Geo Martinez has nearly doubled his efforts in 2014-15 when as a true freshman he won a Pac-12 title at 141 pounds and earned a No. 8 seed at the NCAAs where he lost in the R12 to Oklahoma State’s Dean Heil. This year, the Bronco won the Reno TOC and won 14 straight bouts before the Pac-12s.
• Redshirt freshman Justin Oliver of Central Michigan earned the weight class late in the season by winning his final 13 bouts, including a 5-4 win over Old Dominion’s Alex Richardson.
• Michigan’s Alex Pantaleo was another wrestler who excelled as a true freshman in 2014-15 when the native of Canton, Mich., qualified for the NCAAs where the Wolverine won two bouts. Among his biggest wins this season was a 7-4 win over Boise State’s Geo Martinez.