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College Update for March 29: Class of four-time All-Americans provide many memories



By Jason Bryant
jbryant@intermatwrestle.com

People are already going stir-crazy.

The college wrestling season hasn't been over but for just over 10 days and already, people are talking about next year, the incoming recruiting classes and of course, still harping on what happened in Oklahoma City.

But for four seniors, their remarkable careers came to an end and they finished their runs at the NCAA championships just like they started - on the podium.

Steve Mocco stepped onto the podium for the first time back in Albany, N.Y., in 2002. Then a true freshman at the University of Iowa, Mocco fell in the rideout to Ohio State's Tommy Rowlands.

The following year in Kansas City, Mocco ended his season unbeaten and really untested, winning his first national championship at heavyweight and wrestling his last bout at Iowa.

After a Mocco was granted an Olympic Activities Waiver (commonly referred as an Olympic redshirt), he picked up his tent and moved south to Stillwater, transferring to Oklahoma State, where he would win a second national title in St. Louis.

2005-06 had a vastly different outcome for Mocco than in his previous seasons. Unlike his loss to Rowlands as a freshman, Mocco hadn't figure out Konrad this season. He'd never lost to him prior to the NWCA All-Star Meet, but 2005-06 was Konrad's year, beating Mocco four times.

Regardless, Mocco goes down as one of the top heavyweights ever to wrestle collegiately, joining the likes of Steve "Dr. Death" Williams of Oklahoma, Stephen Neal of Cal State-Bakersfield and Dick Hutton of Oklahoma State as four-time heavyweight All-Americans.

Cornell's Dustin Manotti had a vastly different trek coming out of high school. Never a state champion in wrestling-rich Pennsylvania, Manotti went to Cornell with modest expectations, but leaving as a four-time All-American didn't come as a reach when Manotti broke out his freshman year, winning The Midlands before finishing eighth at a very deep 149-pound weight class in Kansas City.

Manotti didn't surprise anyone as a sophomore, finishing fourth behind Harvard's Jesse Jantzen, Oklahoma State's Zack Esposito and Michigan's Ryan Churella.

"I think the program now has an expectation level now with the recruits that we're bringing in, they just expect to be all Americans, multiple-time All-Americans," said assistant coach Steve Garland at this year's NCAA championships in Oklahoma City.

Manotti's presence, especially his run to third after an opening-round loss, only adds to the momentum that Cornell has picked up in recent years.

Unlike Manotti, who came in without the accolades of some in his graduating class, Oklahoma's Teyon Ware was considered all-world before he even stepped foot in Norman.

A four-time high school state champion that went unbeaten in high school and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame's 2002 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award winner, Ware was expected to shine.

His first season, some might recall, he was pulled out of redshirt after returning All-American Nate Parker cut ties to the team and Ware, who was redshirting, was pulled out of redshirt and then proceeded to win an NCAA championship, beating Northern Iowa's Dylan Long in overtime in Kansas City in 2003.

Ware came back to earth, rather, people figured out his countering style, dropping to sixth as a sophomore.

In 2005, Ware returned atop the podium, picking up his only college victory over Iowa State's Nate Gallick, a brooding 3-2 decision.

Ware and Gallick would meet again in 2006, with Gallick reversing the outcome and winning his first title, 3-2, over Ware.

Gallick could just as easily be on this list, but was forced to 149 as a freshman due to the presence of returning national champion Aaron Holker on the Cyclones roster.

Ware's profound grin is what many fans will remember, or his premature backflip in 2003 or his well-time backflip about 30 seconds later.

His one-sided rivalry with Gallick will probably best be remembered for "paint drying" matches.

"I'm not out there to please people," Ware said at a press conference in Oklahoma City before the NCAA championships. "It might not be clear to everyone else how much we're actually doing out there."

It's an unenviable thing being forgettable, but fortunately for Oklahoma State's Jake Rosholt, you'll have to remember a three-time NCAA champion sporting orange.

From Sandpoint, Idaho, Rosholt was a force coming out of high school and after a redshirt year, he came into the lineup with modest success against the tough Oklahoma State schedule. Coming into the NCAA championships as a redshirt freshman, Rosholt surprised everyone, coming from the 10th-seeded position to not only avenge a loss to fourth-seeded Scott Barker, then of Missouri, but to score a resounding 13-5 major decision for his first title - this one at 184 pounds.

As a sophomore, third-seeded Rosholt fell to eventual runner-up Ben Heizer of Northern Illinois and finished third.

Then a move to 197 pounds saw Rosholt win two more titles, a one-pointer over Northern Iowa's Sean Stender in St. Louis in 2005 and a dominating 10-3 victory over Penn State's Phil Davis in Oklahoma City.

Rosholt's the 10th-four time All-American at Oklahoma State, joining former teammates Johnny Thompson and Tyrone Lewis and coaches Mark Branch, Pat Smith and Eric Guerrero in the elite club.

"There have been a lot of great wrestlers that have come out of Oklahoma State," Rosholt said after his third title. "It's an honor to be thought of among those kinds of wrestlers."

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