Cole VonOhlen leads service academy grapplers into NCAA wrestling tournament

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Not a follower of Air Force wrestling? Then you might not know much about junior 149-pounder Cole VonOhlen.

A quick primer: Of the nine service academy grapplers headed to the 2012 NCAA Division I Wrestling Tournament next week in St. Louis, he’s the only one ranked, claiming the third seed in his weight class. His 36-2 record this year includes a 13-0 mark in dual meets, and according to his official bio, his “craziest ambition” is to “fight a grizzly bear with a samurai sword.”

At least he has a fallback career as a reality TV producer. Here’s an interview he gave to USA Wrestling after claiming the NCAA West Regional championship; give it a watch, then click through for more on VonOhlen and other academy wrestlers gunning for a national title.

VonOhlen went 2-2 at 141 pounds in last year’s NCAA tournament and is in prime position to better that mark this year. He’ll likely have to figure out Oklahoma State redshirt senior Jamal Parks (30-0), the No. 2 seed in the bracket who defeated VonOhlen in December at a tournament in Reno, Nev. Top seed Frank Molinaro of Penn State is also unbeaten (28-0) and also a redshirt senior, and Michigan redshirt sophomore Eric Grajales (18-6), the No. 8 seed, handed VonOhlen his only other loss of the season, winning December’s Cliff Keen Collegiate Wrestling Invitational in Las Vegas.

Unlike the last two years, VonOhlen has company from Colorado Springs — sophomore 157-pounder Joshua Kreimier earned his berth with a third-place showing at regionals, helping the Falcons to a fourth-place team finish. A win in his first-round match against Boise State’s Georgi Ivanov (22-6) likely would earn Kreimier a shot at top-ranked Kyle Dake of Cornell (30-0), who’ll be after his third NCAA title.

The Navy Midshipmen will send four grapplers to St. Louis: juniors Bobby Barnhisel (157 pounds, 17-10) and Peter Huntley (174, 21-10), and seniors Aaron Kalil (133, 31-9) and Luke Rebertus (184, 29-11). Army will send three: Junior Derek Stanley (197, 23-15), sophomore Jordan Thome (133, 26-11) and freshman Cole Gracey (24-12), one of only two true freshmen in the 165-pound bracket.

The tourney starts Thursday in St. Louis. Head here for full brackets and tournament information.

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