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WIN Magazine NCAA Previews • 174 pounds
174-Pound Scouting Report
What a difference two weeks makes. On Feb. 24, Minnesota’s Logan Storley appeared to be on top of the college wrestling world, especially after he defeated Iowa’s Mike Evans and Oklahoma State Chris Perry — on a defensive fall — at the National Duals in
Minneapolis. But when it came to the Big Ten tournament, the Gopher appeared almost fortunate to finish among the top seven when the sophomore All-American lost in the first round to Michigan’s Dan Yates and then to Ohio State’s Nick Heflin in consolation, but eventually settled for seventh place.
That outcome moved Perry, who was ranked No. 1 for most of the regular season, back on top as the man to beat in Des Moines at 174 pounds. After all, the Cowboy, who finished third last year, did beat Storley at the Southern Scuffle.
Penn State’s Matt Brown, who recently won his first Big Ten championship by avenging an earlier-season loss to Evans, has gotten the No. 2 seed. This is the same Brown who could have been a starter for the Lions in 2012 had he not backed up eventual national champ in Ed Ruth last season. Some fans forgot about this native of Utah who actually signed with Iowa State, then followed head coach Cael Sanderson to Penn State following his Mormon mission.
Since the NCAAs are back in Iowa, where one might assume the Hawkeyes will receive some home-mat motivation, Evans will likely be in the hunt. The sophomore, who failed to place as a No. 5 seed a year ago at 165 pounds, turned in some remarkable wins this season. On his home mat in duals, he defeated Heflin in overtime and edged Brown just when it looked like he was about to lose to the Nittany Lion.
In addition to Heflin, who missed much of the first semester from an injury after earning AA honors last March, the Big Ten was very competitive at this weight.
Another pair of Big Ten wrestlers to keep an eye on are Illinois’ Jordan Blanton and Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh. Blanton finished fourth nationally last year and is coached by Mark Perry Jr., the older brother of current Cowboy Chris Perry. Kokesh, who finished third at the Big Tens, is from South Dakota, where he once had a strong prep rivalry with Storley.
If there was a wrestler outside the Big Ten who could eventually end up on top, that could be Maryland’s Josh Asper, who won his second ACC championship, but first at 174 after moving up from 165. This native of Maryland, who was named his school’s Best Male Athlete in 2012, has settled for a pair of sixth-place national finishes.
Watch out for these wrestlers who are either seeded low, or unseeded:
• Few wrestling fans outside the community of Columbia, Mo., had heard much about Todd Porter before this season. But the senior from House Springs, Mo., has more than held his own against talented foes at 174, especially Chris Perry, who suffered his first loss this year against the Tiger and needed riding time to beat him at the National Duals.
• Lehigh’s Nathan Brown is just a sophomore who had already dealt with plenty of roller coaster-type emotions. A year ago, the native of Lewisburg, Pa., qualified for the NCAAs after finishing fourth at the EIWAs. But was unable to finish the tourney because of an injury. The Mountain Hawk will be in Des Moines this year after winning the EIWAs.
• Brown is not the only highly talented wrestler from the EIWA who could turn some heads at the NCAAs. Navy’s Matthew Miller finished second to Brown in this year’s EIWA final because of a 1:12 riding-time advantage. A freshman from Edgewood, Md., Miller attended the Naval Academy Prep school in 2011-12 after winning two state championships for The John Carroll School. Miller is 25-5.