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2016 NCAA Preview: 157 pounds
Notable 157-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. Jason Nolf, Penn State, RS Freshman, Yatesboro, Pa.
NCAA Resume: first tournament
2. Isaiah Martinez, Illinois, Sophomore, Lemoore, Calif.
NCAA Resume: 5-0 (1st) in one tournament — The Illini lived up to his No. 1 seed in his first NCAA last March when scored bonus points in three of his victories, including a 10-2 major decision against Cornell’s Brian Realbuto in the finals.
3. Thomas Gantt, NC State, Senior, Cahokia, Ill.
NCAA Resume: 3-2 in one tournament — Gantt’s only NCAA appearance came in 2014 when he lost the first round as an unseeded wrestler, but came back to win three straight bouts, including a 9-3 win over Virginia’s Blaise Butler before falling in the Round of 12 to Wisconsin’s Isaac Jordan.
4. Ian Miller, Kent State, Senior, Oak Harbor, Ohio
NCAA Resume: 10-6 (4th, 5th) in three tournaments — The national tournament has been a roller coaster ride for Miller, from scoring a 57-second pin in his first NCAAs before dropping two bout; reaching the 2014 semifinals and eventually claiming fourth place after beating Iowa’s NCAA champ Derek St. John; before losing last March in overtime to Realbuto in the quarters after officials did not properly record his points last March when he settled for fifth place.
5. Cody Pack, South Dakota State, Senior, Quincy, Calif.
NCAA Resume: 3-6 in three tournaments — Pack has lost in the first round of every NCAA, including 2013 and ’14 when he went 0-4, but did rally to win three consolation bouts last March as a No. 5 seed — including an 8-3 win over Ohio State’s Josh Demas — before falling in the Round of 12 to Virginia Tech’s Nick Brascetta.
Other notable wrestlers in alphabetical order:
• Injuries have hampered Virginia Tech’s Nick Brascetta, a two-time All-American (eighth in 2013 and fourth in 2015), in is career, including this season when the Hokie senior competed in just eight matches before this year’s ACCs. Last year, the native of St. Paris, Ohio, compiled a 13-2 record and entered the NCAAs unseeded, but won his first two matches over Missouri’s Joey LaVallee and American’s John Boyle before losing to eventual champ Isaiah Martinez.
• Junior Richie Lewis of Rutgers transferred last summer from Iowa Central Community College (where the native of Toms River, N.J., finished second and third at the NJCAA national tournament). In his first season in Piscataway, the Scarlett Knight finished fourth at the Midlands and entered his first Big Ten tournament on an eight-match winning streak. That included a 3-2 win over Michigan’s Brian Murphy.
• Lehigh’s Mitch Minotti earned All-American honors the past two season — sixth in 2014 and eighth last March — but competed in just 14 bouts this winter before the EIWAs after suffering an injury during the Southern Scuffle where he settled for fourth.
• Michigan’s Brian Murphy has competed in two NCAAs, including last March when the Wolverine won his first two matches and claimed seventh place as a No. 11 seed. This year, the junior had competed in just 11 bouts and lost six.
• Dylan Palacio of Cornell dropped down to 157 after compiling a 53-13 record with two NCAA appearances — just missing All-American honors by one victory in each season — after also competing on the Big Red soccer team. This season, the junior did not start wrestling until January and tallied just 10 matches before the EIWAs. Among his biggest wins was an 8-4 decision against Oklahoma State’s Joe Smith.
• The Smith name is a common one at Oklahoma State, where brothers LeRoy, John and Pat all earned championships and All-American honors for the Cowboys. Now a second generation is ready to continue that tradition as true freshman Joe Smith, the son of head coach John Smith, took off his freshman redshirt in January and stood 28-3 (and runner-up places at the Reno TOC and Southern Scuffle) prior to his first Big 12 tournament.