Oklahoma State’s Jordan Oliver isn’t the only Cowboy to have earned a No. 1 seed at the NCAAs this year.
Joe LeBlanc from the University of Wyoming Cowboys is the top seed in the 184-pound bracket at the 2012 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis March 15-17.
Looking back at the 2011 NCAAs: The 184-pound title match one year ago in Philadelphia featured a battle of wrestlers from Eastern schools: No. 2 seed Robert Hamlin of Lehigh, facing No. 9 seed Quentin Wright of Penn State. Wright, who had knocked off two higher-seeded opponents to make it to the finals, defeated “the Vermonster” 5-2 to become the only Nittany Lion to win an individual title as the team won its second-ever NCAA championship… and the lowest-seeded wrestler to be crowned champ in nearly 50 years. (Penn State won the team title at the 1953 NCAAs.)
Wright and Hamlin are both still competing in college, and are seeded in the 184 bracket.
As for LeBlanc… the Cowboy failed to make weight on the last day of competition. He was forced to forfeit his last two matches at the 2011 NCAAs, which cost Wyoming 14 team points. Despite these setbacks, LeBlanc placed sixth, earning All-American honors.
Meet the seeds: The seeded wrestlers in the 33-man bracket at 184 are one of the most diverse dozen of the ten weight classes, at least in terms of conference representation. The only conferences with more than one wrestler: Big Ten (three)… and WWC (Western Wrestling Conference — two). Here are brief bios:
- Joe LeBlanc, Wyoming: This Cowboy has a 30-1 record as a senior, and the 2012 WWC championship. He is a 2011 NCAA All-American.
- Robert Hamlin, Lehigh: The “Vermonster” hopes to be the first collegiate wrestler from the state of Vermont to win an NCAA title. Hamlin is a junior with a 29-1 record this year, and the 2012 EIWA (Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) title. As runner-up last year, he earned All-American honors.
- Ben Bennett, Central Michigan: The Chippewa junior has a 30-3 mark for the year, and the 2012 MAC (Mid-American Conference) title.
- Steve Bosak, Cornell: Yet another member of the junior class, Bosak is 28-4 this season, and was runner-up at the EIWAs. He placed fourth at last year’s NCAAs, which makes him an All-American.
- Kevin Steinhaus, Minnesota: The first of only three Big Ten matmen in this bracket, Steinhaus is a sophomore with a 27-4 record, and the 2012 Big Ten title. By coming in eighth at the 2011 NCAAs, he earned All-American status.
- Quentin Wright, Penn State: The defending champ at 184 finds himself this far down the bracket; one factor may have been not even making it into the finals. Wright, a junior, is 26-3 this year.
- Josh Ihren, Nebraska: The Cornhusker compiled a 23-5 mark his junior year, and was runner-up at the 2012 Big Ten finals.
- Ryan Loder, University of Northern Iowa: Loder, a sophomore, was 32-4 this year, and lost to LeBlanc by one point in the 2012 WCC finals.
- Austin Trotman, Appalachian State: This senior built a 33-4 record in 2011-12, bringing home the 2012 Southern Conference title.
- Jake Swartz, Boise State: A Pac 12 title and an 18-4 record is heady stuff for a sophomore.
- Ben Clymer, Hofstra: A senior with a 29-6 season, and the 2012 CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) title.
- Jon Fausey, Virginia: 2012 ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) champ who’s 21-3 as a sophomore this year.
First matches for top four seeds: Here are the first-round match-ups for the top four seeds in the 133-pound bracket at the 2012 NCAAs:
- No. 1 seed LeBlanc vs. unseeded Mike Larson of Missouri, 20-4.
- No. 2 seed Hamlin vs. unseeded Casey Newburg, Kent State, 29-11
- No. 3 seed Bennett vs. unseeded Erich Schmidtke, Oklahomam, 18-12
- No. 4 seed Bosak vs. unseeded Braden Atwood, Purdue, 21-13
NOTE: College Wrestling Examiner’s “Mat Bracketology” feature is a series of articles that provides a quick preview of the seeded wrestlers in each weight class, along with opening matches for the top four seeds.
Want to know more? Start with the official website for the 2012 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Click here to see the brackets. Check out TheOpenMat.com’s 174-pound preview… and D1CollegeWrestling.net’s predictions for All-Americans and champs in each weight class.
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