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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.

2015-16 Head-to-Head Matchups of Top 10 149

Updated 2016 NCAA Brackets

1. Brandon Sorensen, Iowa, Sophomore, Cedar Falls, Iowa

iowa 149 Sorensen_Brandon2015-16 Notes: The Hawkeye entered the Big Tens undefeated (23-0) with three pins and his biggest regular-season wins came against Northwestern’s Jason Tsirtsis (who beat Sorensen in the 2015 Big Ten finals and NCAA third-place bout) for a Midlands title while also collecting a pair of wins against Nebraska’s Jake Sueflohn.

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.

penn state 149 Retherford_Zain (H-15-MS) 69042015-16 Notes: The Nittany Lion, who once made national news as a true freshman in 2013-14 when he upset Ohio State’s four-time NCAA champ Logan Stieber, returned from redshirting last winter by going undefeated (25-0 with 10 pins) heading into the Big Tens. Retherford earned bonus points in 21 of those victories, including major decisions against Nebraska’s Jake Sueflohn and Northwestern’s Jason Tsirtsis.

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.

nebraska 149 Sueflohn, Jake 35062015-16 Notes: The Husker has returned from a season-ending ACL injury last winter by going 24-4 through the regular season. Among his biggest wins was a pin against 2015 All-American B.J. Clagon (Rider) and 4-1 victory over Missouri’s Lavion Mayes on Feb. 21.

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.

missouri 149 Lavion Mayes2015-16 Notes: Moving up a weight class was a positive thing for this Tiger who stood 24-1 prior to the MAC tournament. In addition to winning the Las Vegas Invite in December, Mayes also defeated the likes of Oklahoma State’s Anthony Collica.

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.

NU Headshots Oct 10, 2012 in Evanston, Ill.

NU Headshots Oct 10, 2012 in Evanston, Ill.

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.

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