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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.

2015-16 Head-to-Head Matchups of Top 10 197

Updated 2016 NCAA Brackets

1. Morgan McIntosh, Penn State, Senior, Santa Ana, Calif.

penn state 197 McIntosh_Morgan (H-15-MS) 68582015-16 Notes: This former three-time California state champ from Calvary Chapel High School made big news back in 2011 as one of Cael Sanderson’s first national recruits. Five years later, McIntosh hopes to earn his first national championships and entered the Big Tens with a 24-0 mark with seven pins. Among his biggest wins came against Minnesota’s Brett Pfarr in the Southern Scuffle championship.

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.

missouri 197 J'den Cox2015-16 Notes: The Tiger hopes to regain the edge he held after the 2014 NCAAs when he won a national championship as a true freshman. And except for being disqualified against Phil Wellington of Ohio U. on Dec. 13, Cox has excelled with 25 wins prior to the MAC tourney, including a Las Vegas Invite title and moving up to heavyweight to help Missouri beat Cornell.

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.

minnesota 197 Pfarr Brett2015-16 Notes: Since moving up one weight, Pfarr has excelled at 197 and entered the Big Tens with a 31-2 record with three pins and 13 major decisions. In addition to finishing second at both the Las Vegas Invite and Southern Scuffle, the Gopher also beat Iowa’s Nathan Burak, 6-5, on Jan. 29.

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.

135815_team_mugs0372015-16 Notes: Hartmann entered the ACCs on a 16-match winning streak, beginning with a third-place finish at the Southern Scuffle and victories over nationally-ranked ACC rivals Mike Boykin (NC State), Zach Nye (Virginia) and Jared Haught (Virginia Tech).

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.

iowa 197 Burak, Nathan2015-16 Notes: The Hawkeye, whose older brothers Gabe and Micah wrestled for Penn, stood 20-1 heading into the Big Tens, which included a pair of wins over Nebraska’s nationally-ranked Aaron Studebaker (including a 4-2 decision in helping Burak win the Midlands).

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

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