2024 NCAAs Preview • 197 pounds


Second-Round Notes

  • Missouri’s Rocky Elam, a past All-American but seeded No. 12, benefitted from a pair of stalling calls against Cornell’s No. 5 Jacob Cardenas in the second period, then added an escape and riding time point for a 4-0 victory.
  • Otherwise, the remaining top 7 seeds stayed intact, including a fall by No. 1 Aaron Brooks (Penn State), his second bonus-points victory, and a second straight technical fall by No. 2 Trent Hidlay (NC State).

First-Round Notes

  • Utah Valley’s Evan Bockman, seeded NO. 20, used a 15-second riding time advantage in the tiebreakers to beat Campbell’s No. 13 seed Levi Hopkins.
  • Minnesota’s No. 22 seed Garrett Joles scored a takedown with 29 second left in the second period to tie the score, then added a third-period escape to beat Maryland’s No. 11 seed Jaxon Smith.
  • Virginia Tech’s No. 26 seed Andy Smith scored the bout’s only takedown with a minute left in sudden victory to beat Iowa’s No. 7 seed Zach Glazier.


The following is a look at WIN’s Top-10 rated wrestlers, plus other notable wrestlers, at 197 pounds before the conference/NCAA qualifying tournaments. Go to WIN-Magazine.com for an updated NCAA preview after the qualifiers.

1. Aaron Brooks, Penn State, Sr., Hagerstown, Md.

Note: Similar to a route his coach Cael Sanderson accomplished as a college wrestler, Brooks is moving up from 184 to wrestle at 197 as a senior.

Season/Career Record: 14-0/81-3

NCAA Resume: Looking to become sixth all-time wrestler to win four NCAA titles after he won three straight; beating Parker Keckeisen (UNI), 7-2, in 2023, Myles Amine (Michigan), 5-3, in 2022 and Trent Hidlay (NC State), 3-2, in 2021. He also qualified for the cancelled 2020 NCAAs, going 15-1 in his career.

Regular-season Notes: 13 of his victories have been bonus-point wins.

2. Trent Hidlay, NC State, Sr., 

Lewistown, Pa.

Note: His older brother, Hayden was a five-time AA at NC State and is an assistant coach at North Dakota State.

Season/Career Record: 22-0/95-11

NCAA Resume: Fifth Nationals, starting with the cancelled 2020 NCAAs. Then after finishing second to Aaron Brooks in 2021, the Wolfpacker claimed fifth place in 2022 and four last March. His career mark is 12-5.

Regular-season Notes: Defeated Cornell’s Jacob Cardenas twice, including during his title run at the Las Vegas Invite. 

3. Tanner Sloan, South Dakota State, Sr., Alburnett, Iowa

Note: He is looking to claim school’s first NCAA title since Seth Gross in 2018.

Season/Career Record: 18-1/104-21

NCAA Resume: Fifth Nationals, beginning with cancelled 2020 NCAAs. But his only AA honor came last March when he finished second to Pitt’s Nino Bonaccorsi, 5-3. Before that, Sloan reached the blood round in 2021 before going 1-2 in 2022. His career record is 8-5.

Regular-season Notes: Defeated Oklahoma’s Stephen Buchanan, 4-1, on Feb. 9 and pinned Missouri’s Rocky Elam on Feb. 18.

4. Stephan Buchanan, Oklahoma, Jr., Loyal, Wisc.

Note: Started his career at Wyoming, where he earned two AA honors before transferring to OU in 2022; redshirting last winter.

Season/Career Record: 18-1/77-23

NCAA Resume: Fourth Nationals, highlighted by a third-place finish in 2022, one year after claimed eighth in 2021. He also qualified for the cancelled 2020 NCAAs and has an 8-1 record.

Regular-season Notes: 17 of his victories before the Big 12s were bonus-point wins, including eight by fall.

5. Michael Beard, Lehigh, Jr., 

Reading Pa.

Note: Started his career at Penn State, before transferring to Lehigh in 2022.

Season/Career Record: 22-1/63-14

NCAA Resume: Third Nationals, including a seventh-place finish for Penn State in 2021. Since coming to Lehigh, Beard qualified for the 2023 event and won three bouts but lost in the R12.

Regular-season Notes: Defeated Binghamton’s Lou DePrez, 12-1, on Jan. 12.

6. Lou DePrez, Binghamton, Gr., Hilton, N.Y.

Note: His three brothers Anthony, Vincent, and Sam also wrestled at Binghamton.

Season/Career Record: 19-1/124-23

NCAA Resume: Fifth Nationals, dating back to 2019, when he lost in the blood round. After dealing with the disappointment of the cancelled 2020 NCAAs as a No. 3 seed, DePrez claimed his first AA honor (8th at 184) in 2021 before missing out by one victory in 2022 when he moved up to 197. Overall, his NCAA record is 8-7.

Regular-season Notes: Ended the regular season with a 7-3 victory over Cornell’s Jacob Cardenas.

7. Jacob Cardenas, 

Cornell, Sr., Kearny, N.J.

Note: 2018 New Jersey state high school champ for Bergen Catholic.

Season/Career Record: 18-5/61-19

NCAA Resume: Third Nationals, highlighted by an eighth-place finish last March. One year earlier, he went 1-2.

Regular-season Notes: Defeated Missouri’s Rocky Elam, 4-0, on Jan. 28.

8. Rocky Elam, Missouri, Jr., Kansas City, Mo.

Note: Won a Junior World championship with his Missouri teammate Keegan O’Toole in 2021.

Season/Career Record: 9-2/64-13

NCAA Resume: Fourth Nationals as he looks to become a four-time All-American after claiming fifth in 2021, fourth in 2022 and third last March. His career mark is 16-5.

Regular-season Notes: His limited regular season saw him score a 11-0 major decision vs Virginia Tech’s Andy Smith.

9. Stephen Little, Little Rock, RSFr., Sturgis, Ky.

Note: Won three Kentucky state championships for Union County.

Season/Career Record: 18-2/18-2

NCAA Resume: First Nationals

Regular-season Notes: Defeated Maryland’s Jaxon Smith, 7-3, in November.

10. Jaxon Smith, Maryland, So., 

Cartersville, Ga.

Note: Looking to become school’s first AA since Youssif Hemida finished sixth in 2019.

Season/Career Record: 15-3/38-11

NCAA Resume: Second Nationals after he lost in the R12 last March as a No. 11 seed.

Regular-season Notes: Defeated South Dakota State’s Tanner Sloan, 8-2, at the Las Vegas Invite.

Others to watch

• Iowa senior Zach Glazier, who backed up former AA Jacob Warner for three years, certainly has made the most of his only season as a starter as he compiled a 16-1 mark before the Big Tens. That included an 11-2 major decision over Nebraska’s 2023 Big Ten champ Silas Allred.

• There are two wrestlers and brothers with the last name Stout: Princeton’s Luke Stout and Pitt’s Mac Stout. Luke is a junior and three-time national qualifier who was 16-5 before the EIWAs. Mac is a redshirt freshman, who was 17-5 before the ACCs.

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