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2016 NCAA Preview: 197 pounds
Notable 197-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. Morgan McIntosh, Penn State, Senior, Santa Ana, Calif.
NCAA Resume: 12-5 (7th, 3rd) in three tournaments — The Nittany Lion was seeded No. 2 last March when he was upset by Duke’s Conner Hartman in the quarterfinals, but rallied to win four straight wrestlebacks, including 3-1 over Missouri’s J’den Cox and 12-7 over Minnesota’s Scott Schiller to claim third place. McIntosh also finished seventh as a No. 3 seed in 2014 and qualified for the 2012 NCAAs before redshirting in 2013.
2. J’den Cox, Missouri, Junior, Columbia, Mo.
NCAA Resume: 9-2 (1st, 5th) in two tournaments — The Tiger got off to a great start when he won all five bouts and claimed a national title as a true freshman in 2014 when he defeated Ohio State’s Nick Heflin in the final. Last year, Cox was seeded No. 1 but lost 3-2 to Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder in the semifinals and settled for fifth beating. Duke’s Conner Hartmann.
3. Brett Pfarr, Minnesota, Junior, Le Sueur, Minn.
NCAA Resume: 1-2 in one tournament — The Gopher wrestled at 184 pounds last March and earned a No. 11 seed but was upset by Davidson’s Scott Patrick in the first round. Pfarr came back to beat Binghamton’s Jack McKeever before falling to NDSU’s Hayden Zillmer.
4. Conner Hartmann, Duke, Senior, Port Orchard, Wash.
NCAA Resume: 8-7 (6th, 5th) in three tournaments — One year after Hartmann became Duke’s second All-American with a fifth-place finish in 2014 as an unseeded wrestler, Hartmann added to his trophy case when won his first three bouts last March, including an upset of Penn State’s Morgan McIntosh in the quarterfinals and settled for sixth place.
5. Nathan Burak, Iowa, Senior, Colorado Springs, Colo.
NCAA Resume: 7-5 (8th, 7th) in two tournaments — The Hawkeyes won the first two matches in each of his two national tournaments, including last year when he won by major decision over Edinboro’s Vincent Pickett and SIUE’s Jake Tindle before losing to eventual champ Kyven Gadson of Iowa State. Burak ended up in the seventh-place bout in each NCAA; losing to Penn State’s Morgan McIntosh in 2014 and beating Michigan’s Max Huntley last March.
Other notable wrestlers in alphabetical order:
• Despite losing in the Pac-12 finals, Reuben Franklin of CSU Bakersfield has enjoyed a banner senior season after redshirting in 2014-15 by qualifying for his first nationals. His regular-season highlights saw the native of Murrieta, Calif., win seven of eight bouts at the Las Vegas Invite, where he pinned Michigan’s Max Huntley.
• Sophomore Jared Haught of Virginia Tech ended his regular season on a high note when he avenged an earlier-season loss to Michigan’s Max Huntley on Feb. 21. Despite finishing just 16-18 as a freshman, the Hokie qualified for the 2015 NCAAs and went 1-2.
• Michigan’s Max Huntley, who finished eighth in last year’s NCAAs, earned a sixth year after missing the 2013-14 season because of an injury is enjoying his first year in graduate school by winning 18 of 21 bouts, including six by pin, before the Big Tens. That included an 11-match winning streak after claiming fifth at the Las Vegas Invite.
• Junior Aaron Studebaker of Nebraska, 18-7 before the 2016 Big Tens, earned three wins as a No. 15 seed in last year’s nationals, including pins against Chattanooga’s Jared Boykin and Cornell’s Jace Bennett, but came up short in earning AA honors when the Husker lost in the R12 to Minnesota’s Scott Schiller.
• Senior Phil Wellington of Ohio U. had earned 22 wins before this year’s MAC tournament was expected to earn a fourth national tournament appearance. The Bobcat’s NCAA record is 4-6 and earned his most wins in 2013 as a freshman. In 2014, Wellington was seeded No. 8 but was upset in the first round. n