By Jim & Tony Nordland

     Defending team champion
Penn State is the pre-tournament favorite and hope to claim their second consecutive championship. A total of 330 wrestlers, including five returning and one former NCAA champion, prepare for the 82nd annual NCAA Wrestling Championships at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 15th -17th. Teams that will challenge the Nittany Lions over the three-day grueling competition will be Oklahoma State, Minnesota, Iowa and Cornell. Penn State has three number #1 seeds and all are unbeaten: Frank Molinaro (28-0) at 149, David Taylor (27-0) at 165 and Ed Ruth (26-0) in the 174-pound class.

     Defending NCAA champions include:
Jordan Oliver (24-1) of Okla State at 133, Kellen Russell (28-1) of Michigan at 141, Cornell's Kyle Dake (30-0) at 157, Quentin Wright (26-3) of Penn State at 184 and Lehigh's Zach Rey (22-2) at 285-pounds. Iowa's Matt McDonough (31-1) was a 2010 titlist and is top-seeded in the 125-pound class. There are 46 returning All-Americans in the field.

New York State has 26 NCAA qualifiers and will be paced by the aforementioned Dake, now a junior who has won two NCAA titles in two different weight classes. Returning All-American Paul Gillespie (28-5) of Hofstra will seek his second NCAA medal at 165 pounds. 

A quick glance at the weight classes:

125 pounds-
Hofstra's CAA champion Steve Bonanno (28-6) from Wantagh is rated #12 and opens with Joe Ruth (Cent Mich). Also in the top bracket is former champion, Matt McDonough (Iowa) and #5 Nicholas Bedelyon (Kent St). Minnesota's Zach Sanders (25-3) of Minnesota is the #2 seed and could face the winner of Buffalo's Max Soria (21-17) from Kings Park and Frank Perrelli (Cornell) in the quarterfinals.

133 pounds-
Former SWR standout Steven Keith (30-8) of Harvard has an opening pigtail bout with Geoff Alexander (Maryland), he could eventually face #3 Tony Ramos (28-3) of Iowa in the quarterfinals. Also lodged in the lower bracket is Hofstra's Jamie Franco (21-11) of Monroe-Woodbury, he has a first round match with Matt Nelson (Virginia). Nick Arujau (5-5) of Syosset, now Cornell, will face Shane McGough (Arizona State) in his first NCAA competition.

141 pounds-
American's Matt Mariacher (23-7) from Iroquois HS drew the 11th seed and will face Justin LaValle (Old Dominion). Other New Yorkers in the lower bracket are Rocky Point's Stephen Dutton (19-5) of Lehigh and Cornell's Mike Nevinger (28-10) from Letchworth HS. Dutton opens with Mitchell Port (Edinboro) and could meet #3 Iowa's Montell Marion (27-3) in the quarters. Nevinger will battle with Jake Sueflohn (Nebraska) in his prelim.

149 poun
ds- Whitney Point product Donnie Vinson (32-11) of Binghamton is the 4th seed and meets Oklahoma's Nick Lester (20-10) in a tough opening bout. Vinson could eventually face top-seeded Frank Molinaro (Penn St) in the semifinals. SWR's Corey Jantzen (9-2) of Harvard has battled through injuries and will face Lehigh's Shane Welch (24-5) in a bottom bracket prelimainary.

157 pounds
- Two-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake (Lansing HS) will attempt to win his third title in three different weight classes. The Big Red  junior boasts a remarkable 95-4 career mark and is unbeaten on the season. His top challengers are Derek St. John (17-2) of Iowa and Jason Welch (23-1) of Northwestern. Binghamton's Justin Lister (26-5) of South Jefferson HS finished fourth at the 2010 NCAAs and is lodged in the top bracket with Dake. Lister's first round foe is Joshua Kreimier of the Air Force.

165 pound
s- The Empire State is well represented in this weight class. Returning AA Paul Gillespie (Long Beach HS) drew the 12th seed and is pitted against Mike Ottinger (Cent Michigan) in the first round. Gillespie is in the top tier and could meet #1 David Taylor in the semis. In the bottom bracket is Drexel's Joe Booth (24-5) from LI Lutheran who will face Pierce Harper (Northwestern) and James Brundage (21-17) formerly from Ossining HS, now Rider, he has an opening draw with Dallas Bailey (Okla St). Lodged in a pigtail bout is Buffalo's Mark Lewandowski (28-6) of Lancaster HS, he has a tough opponent in #7 Maryland's Josh Asper (24-1).

174 pounds-
Due to a scratched wrestler and re-bracketing, Brown's Dave Foxen (17-12) from Garden City will now have an opening bout with #5 Ethen Lofthouse (24-7) of Iowa. Also in the top bracket is undefeated # 1 Ed Ruth. Indiana's Ryan Leblanc (29-14) of Morrisville-Eaton HS has a prelim with Turtobtokh Luvsandorj (Citadel) in the bottom bracket. Also lodged in that bracket are two other unbeatens, #2 Chris Perry (26-0) of Okla St and #3 Nick Amuchastegui (20-0) of Stanford.

184 pou
nds- Binghamton junior Nate Scheidel (28-8) of Caledonia-Mumford HS will face the #12 seed, Jonathan Fausey (21-3) of Virginia. The winner of that bout could meet #4 Steve Bosak (28-4) of Cornell in the quarterfinals. Also in this bracket is top-seeded Joe LeBlanc (30-1) of Wyoming.

197 pou
nds- Fourth-seeded Christian Boley (30-1) formerly from Brockport HS, is a sophomore at Maryland and has an opening bout with Binghamton's Cody Reed (23-16) of Walton HS. That winner could eventually meet #5 Cayle Bowers (23-3) of Okla State. Also in the top bracket is top-ranked Cam Simaz (26-1) of Cornell who has NCAA placings of 8-3-3. Army's Derek Stanley (23-15) of Saugerties has a prelim bout with Ryan Smith (Cal Poly).

285 pou
nds- New York has four entrants in this weight including Cornell senior Maciej Jochym (19-15) from Herricks HS, he will face Tucker Lane (Nebraska) in the first round. Edinboro's Ernest James (30-10) from Longwood HS has a tough opening bout with #1 Ryan Flores (17-0) of American. Others are Peter Capone (14-15) from Johnson City, now Ohio State, who opens with Matt Gibson (Iowa State) and Binghamton true freshman Nick Gwiazdowski (25-6) of Duanesburg who has a tough draw with second-seeded Tony Nelson (27-2) of Minnesota.

Mat Notes
  Of the Empire State's 26 representatives, 16 won NYS Championships. Two-time winner Kyle Dake will seek his third NCAA crown in three different weight classes. Dake's dad, Doug, was his high school wrestling coach and is a former1985 NCAA All-American at 177 pounds for Kent State. Cornell won their sixth  straight EIWA Championship and have  been runners-up at the last two NCAA meets, once again they have a formidable squad and look for another top five team finish. CAA rivals, Hofstra and Binghamton, are seeking top 25 finishes at the 2012 NCAAs. The Pride edged the Bearcats, 80.5 to 78.5 points at the CAA Championships. Former Nassau CC star and NJCAA champion, Brandon Williamson (26-6), now at WVirginia, is entered in the 285-pound class. Pennsylvania leads all states with an unbelievable 61 NCAA qualifiers.
Kevin Smith (Buffalo)
PJ Gillespie (Hofstra)
Kyle Borschoff (American)
Desi Green (Buffalo)
Defending NCAA Champion Kyle Dake of Cornell University.
Steve Bonanno (Hofstra)
Steven Keith (Harvard)
Stephen Dutton (Lehigh)
Justin Lister (Binghamton)
Paul Gillespie (Hofstra)
Joe Booth (Drexel)
Nick Gwiazdowski (Binghamton)