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WIN Magazine NCAA Previews • 197 pounds
197-Pound Scouting Report
Kent State’s Dustin Kilgore made history in 2011, then disappeared. That was the sense of many who witnessed the Golden Flash defeat the top two seeds in Philadelphia — including a stunning 4:56 pin of Oklahoma State Clayton Foster in the championship match — to become the Ohio school’s first-ever national champion in wrestling … and the first since 1973 in any sport by the Mid-American Conference school.
But rather than return right away for a shot at another title and third All-American honor — the native of Berea, Ohio, also finished seventh in 2010 — Kilgore chose to take an Olympic redshirt last winter.
He eventually came up short in a bid to make the U.S. Olympic Team, finishing fourth at the Trials. He also was named the OW at the Sunkist Open and won the Pan American championship.
Since returning to the Golden Flash program, Kilgore won championships at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and later the Midlands in December … before becoming just the sixth wrestler to win four MAC championships on March 10.
Statistically, Kilgore enters the NCAAs with the most wins by any 197 pounder (39-0) and has pinned 18 foes this year.
But Kilgore is not the only returning national champion who will wrestle at 197 pounds in Des Moines.
Penn State’s Quentin Wright is competing at his third different weight in four Nationals; competing at 174 pounds in 2009, moving up to 184 in 2011 (when he won a national title as a No. 8 seed) and 2012 (when he finished second to Cornell’s Steve Bosak).
If fans don’t count the Lion’s loss to Pitt’s Matt Wilps in the NWCA All-Star Classic, then Wright enters the NCAAs with a 27-0 record, which included a later-season victory over Wilps.
Speaking of the Panther from the Steel City, Wilps recently captured his third Eastern Wrestling League championship and will be looking to improve on last year’s national fourth-place finish.
Another returning All-American is Wyoming’s Alfonso Hernandez, who lost 3-2 to Wilps in the consolation semifinal before claiming sixth place in St. Louis. The senior also recently won his second straight West Regional championship.
Meanwhile, there is a pair of sophomores who definitely stepped up their games this season. One is Oregon State’s Taylor Meeks, who won his first Pac-12 championship and returns for his second Nationals. The other is Iowa State’s Kyven Gadson, who was named the Junior Schalles Award winner — as the top high school pinner from Waterloo (Iowa) East — but was forced to miss almost all last year because of a shoulder injury. The sophomore returned with a vengeance this winter and won the Big 12 championship, one day before his father Willie, a former Iowa State All-American, passed away from cancer.
The following wrestlers could who are either unseeded or low seeds could provide some upsets at 197 pounds:
• Micah Burak and Nathan Burak wrestle for different schools — one is a senior at Penn and the other a freshman at Iowa, respectively — but they are also brothers from Colorado Springs, where Nathan spent the 2012 season competing at the Olympic Training Center. Micah recently won his first EIWA championship — after finishing second in three straight conference tournaments — while Nathan claimed fourth place at the Big Tens. Last year, Micah was seeded No. 11 and came back to win three wrestlebacks after losing in the second round.
• Oklahoma State’s Blake Rosholt is the third member of his family competing for the Cowboys at the NCAAs. Jake, a four-time All-American, won three NCAA titles (2003, ‘05, ‘06), while middle brother Jared was a three-time All-American at heavyweight. Blake actually represented OSU in the 2011 Nationals at heavyweight.
• Maryland’s Christian Boley enters his second Nationals with an ACC championship. The only difference is that the Terp was seeded No. 4 in St. Louis, but was upset by Binghamton’s Cody Reed, 2-1 in a first-round bout and then split two consolation matches. The junior is 26-6 after going 31-3 in 2012.