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of Purdue comes back after redshirting last year and will move up to 133 after placing sixth at 125 two seasons ago. Bryant Pick: Oliver Sesker Pick: Oliver 141 pounds: Both finalists return – Michigan’s Kellen Russell and Cal Poly’s Boris Novachkov. This could be an inter- esting rematch, should the two meet again. Russell finally got the title he was expected to gain coming out of Blair Academy, while Novachkov spent several weeks this summer in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center. Iowa’s Montell Marion is one of the weight’s most dangerous competitors and is look- ing to return to the finals after missing them last season. Marion also spent time at the OTC this summer. Bryant Pick: Russell Sesker Pick: Marion 149 pounds: There’s some depth at 149, but with returning runner-up Molinaro coming back, he should be the favorite. All-Americans Jason Chamberlain (Boise State) and Ganbayar Sanjaa (American) both broke through last year. Sanjaa’s no longer a mystery and that could allow opponents to close the gap on him. Jamal Parks (Oklahoma State) and Derek Valenti (Virginia) are returning All-Americans. Bryant Pick: Sanjaa Sesker Pick: Chamberlain 157 pounds: Kyle Dake of Cornell moves up to his third weight class in as many years and for the sake of being impartial, he’s the favorite. Forget impar- tial. Dake might take a loss here and there during the year, but when the lights are on, he’s money. Derek St. John (Iowa), Jason Welch (Northwestern) and Walter Peppelman (Harvard) are return- ing All-Americans, but this weight is Dake’s to lose. Bryant Pick: Dake Sesker Pick: Dake 165 pounds: A stinging loss in the


NCAA finals last year at 157 pounds will drive David Taylor in 2011-12. Taylor, moving up from 157 pounds, will be a pronounced favorite here. There are four more returning All-Americans: Shane Onufer (Wyoming), Josh Asper (Maryland), Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh) and P.J. Gillespie (Hofstra), but will any of them have the firepower to hang with the high-octane Taylor? Bryant Pick: Taylor Sesker Pick: Taylor 174 pounds: Surprise finalist Nick Amuchastegui could be on pace to become only Stanford’s second NCAA Division I Champion. The two-time All- American will try to match Matt Gentry’s


Cornell junior Kyle Dake is seeking his third NCAA title this season at a third different weight class. He moves up to 157 this year. Tony Rotundo photo.


2004 feat. He bested Penn State’s Ed Ruth in the quarters last year and Ruth ultimately finished third. Illinois All- American Jordan Blanton returns after missing most of last year with an injury. He could be the guy to pay most atten- tion to.


Bryant Pick: Amuchastegui Sesker Pick: Ruth 184 pounds: Seven All-Americans are in the mix in this class and while Quentin Wright of Penn State is the returning champion, it might not be a foregone conclusion. Wright limped through the middle part of the season before breaking out to win Big Ten and NCAA titles. Lehigh’s runner-up Robert Hamlin returns, as does Iowa’s Grant Gambrall, Cornell’s Steve Bosak, Edinboro’s Chris Honeycutt, Wyoming’s three-time All- American Joe LeBlanc and Minnesota sophomore Kevin Steinhaus. Oklahoma State sophomore Chris Perry is another wrestler to watch in this class. Bryant Pick: Wright Sesker Pick: LeBlanc 197 pounds: Cornell’s Cam Simaz is a force and he’s looking to pick up his fourth NCAA medal this coming year, but in the process, will try to get his first finals berth. Simaz, Minnesota’s Sonny Yohn and Indiana’s Matt Powless are the only three All-Americans returning at the weight, but there will be a focus on Oklahoma State transfer Cayle Byers. He


was a threat to become George Mason’s first NCAA champion, now he’ll try to add to the Cowboy total. He did pick up a win last year over eventual champ Dustin Kilgore of Kent State. Bryant Pick: Byers Sesker Pick: Simaz 285 pounds: Seven All-Americans come back at heavyweight, with six of them placing from last season. Returning champ Zach Rey proved to be tough to score on, although runner-up Ryan Flores of American provides enough scrambling to make things interesting. Central Michigan’s Jarod Trice was busy wrestling internatially this offseason, while Spencer Myers (Maryland) and Levi Cooper (Arizona State) were two of the tournament’s biggest surprises last sea- son. Oklahoma State’s Alan “Z” Gelogaev lost almost all of last season with an injury and could be a real threat. Another real threat to watch is Nebraska-Omaha transfer Elijah Madison, a past Division II champ who is now at Oklahoma. Bryant Pick: Gelogaev Sesker Pick: Rey Team race: It appears to be a four- team race between Penn State, Oklahoma State, Iowa and Minnesota when the NCAA Championships return to St. Louis in March.


It should be another great event. Bryant Pick: Penn State Sesker Pick: Iowa


USA Wrestler 7


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