Top 10 125lbs NCAA Performances (#5-#1)
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Top 10 125lbs NCAA Performances (#5-#1)

2010 to Present

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Top 10 125lbs NCAA Performances (#5-#1)
Tony Rotundo/WrestlersAreWarriors.com

#10-#6

Last week, the first half of my Top 10 125lbs NCAA Performances went through both the beginning of eras and end of careers. At a weight-class like 125lbs, the ability to separate oneself as the best is often a fleeting opportunity. The talent pool is ever-deep. The weight is hard to pull. Your technique and grit both must be ready at times of maximum muscle output. Few can call themselves national champion, fewer say it multiple times. Because of the unbelievable difficulty it takes to be the champion, it is not often that individual performances shine through brighter than a gold medal. As we saw last week, the likes of Dylan Peters, Alan Waters, Frank Perrelli, and Zach Sanders were able to transcend the top of the podium with the way they embodied the spirit of wrestling. It is not about the physical trophy; it is about the manner in which one competes. The following are my top 5 performances of the D1 NCAA Tournament at 125lbs, since 2010.

#5: 2013 NCAA Quarterfinals - Freshman Nahshon Garrett vs RS-Senior Matt McDonough

The end of an era. Despite being an injured 5th-year senior, Matt McDonough of the University of Iowa was, entering the 2013 national tournament, still a 3x NCAA finalist, 2x NCAA Champion, and #3-seed. In the quarter-finals, McDonough met a familiar foe in the 6th-seeded freshman Nahshon Garrett of Cornell University. McDonough had previously beaten Garrett at the National Duals in 2013. The California native kept his composure and took McDonough to overtime before taking down the national champion in sudden victory. It was the first time in four NCAAs that McDonough didn’t make the semi-finals (or finals). McDonough would not All-American in his last trip to NCAAs.

The win propelled Garrett to his first of eventually four All-American honors.

#4: 2011 NCAA Finals - RS-Senior Anthony Robles vs RS-Soph. Matt McDonough

The 3x All-American was not going to settle for “another” All-American honor, as Anthony Robles of Arizona State University took the #1-seed into the NCAA finals to face defending-NCAA champion, #2-seed Matt McDonough. Robles had made it to the NCAA semi-finals back in 2009 and the NCAA quarters in 2010. Mastering his game and strategy, Robles was workmanlike on his way to the finals. There, he let his game redline, earning a national title and putting the McDonough-era on hold for a year.

#3: 2015 NCAA Semi-Finals - Freshman Zeke Moisey vs RS-Soph. Thomas Gilman

In one of the biggest upsets in recent memory, the scramble-or-die master Zeke Moisey of West Virginia University found himself in the NCAA semis after upsetting #2-seed, returning 2014 NCAA finalist Nahshon Garrett in the second round of the tournament and topping #7-seed Eddie Klimara of Oklahoma State University in the quarters.

Meanwhile, #6-seed Thomas Gilman of Iowa entered the tournament with a chip on his shoulder. A modern example of the depth at Iowa, Gilman watched the 2014 national tournament from the stands when teammate Cory Clark was selected as the starter at 125lbs. Gilman showed his worth as he beat both #11-seed Jordan Conaway of Penn State and #3-seed, 2014 All-American Joey Dance of Virginia Tech in overtime to make it into the semis. He had the unseeded-bracket-buster Zeke Moisey.


#2: 2016 NCAAs - Nico Megaludis Completes His Vision Quest

Returning from a 2014-2015 redshirt season, Nico Megaludis of Penn State joined the likes of Matt McDonough, Alan Waters, and Jesse Delgado as 5th-year seniors at 125 looking for a national title. At a weight class like 125, where there is always the possibility of a young freshman or sophomore mounting a title-run and taking out anyone in their path, 5th-year seniors are not immune to young talent ending their dreams, as we have seen.

Megaludis would not fall victim to history or trends. After his incredible finals run as a freshman in 2012, where he beat senior All-Americans Zach Sanders and Frank Perrelli to make it to the finals, Megaludis would lose to Matt McDonough, a junior at the time, in the 2012 NCAA finals (as McDonough captured his 2nd career NCAA title). Megaludis would finish runner-up at NCAAs again in 2013 when he lost to Jesse Delgado of the University of Illinois, Delgado’s first of two titles. In 2014, Megaludis lost a 6-4 match to sophomore Nahshon Garrett of Cornell in the national semi finals. After his redshirt, Megaludis entered the 2016 NCAAs as a man on a mission and a #3-seed. He faced the #4-seed, All-American Thomas Gilman, in the finals.

#1: 2016 NCAAs - David Terao Steals the Heart of Madison Square Garden

This is not a recency effect choice. Four-time NCAA qualifier David Terao of American University had an odyssey of a career. Terao was never a conference champion (3rd, 2nd, 2nd, 5th-place career finishes at EIWAs). At his first NCAAs, 2013, he went 0-2. In 2014, Terao lost to conference-rival Nahshon Garrett in the NCAA quarters, before losing a 3-2 OT match to Darian Cruz in the round of 12, a win away from "All-American". Heading into the 2015 tournament, Terao was unseeded when he upset the 9-seed Dylan Peters of the University of Northern Iowa and an injured Jesse Delgado (still, the defending 2x NCAA champion at the time) to again reach the national quarterfinal. He would run into #1-seed Alan Waters of the University of Missouri in the quarters and lose, finding himself once again a win away from All-American. Terao’s opponent, Jordan Conaway of Penn State, returned to the national scene after being a round of 12er in 2013 as a Redshirt Freshman at 133 and being a back-up in 2014. In 2015, down at his more suitable weight of 125, Conaway made sure to earn his All-American honor.

Once again empty-handed leaving his third national tournament, David Terao had the scary possibility of never proving to the national audience how good he was. He had a myriad of highlights on FloWrestling. He had made a following due to his exciting judo/wrestling hybrid style. To say his mark wasn't made on the sport with his performances up to that point would be selling Terao short. He had earned respect with his high-level wrestling and notable victories. After the 2015 NCAAs, though, Terao easily could have been lost to the annals of collegiate-wrestling history. In 2016, Terao went out with what got him to the show, winning over the heart of Madison Square Garden with fearless wrestling.

In the second round of the tournament, the #15-seed Terao upset #2-seed Joey Dance of Virginia Tech in a tightly contested match.

The win set Terao up in the national quarter-finals against Stanford’s Connor Schram. It was Terao’s third-straight national quarter-final. It was Terao’s 5th chance at being an All-American. He wouldn’t let it get away from him again.

In the national semi-finals, the first-time All-American would face off against four-time All-American Nico Megaludis. Not even Terao could derail Megaludis’s eventual title-run. After losing in the semis, Terao beat two-time All-American Dylan Peters of Northern Iowa to set-up a match in the Consolation-Finals against 2015 NCAA Champion Nathan Tomasello of Ohio State University. They would scrap to a 5-3 decision for Tomasello, but it was Terao who earned the ovation. His heart over his four college years is what earns Terao the top-spot on my list of the top performances thus far in the 2010s at 125lbs.

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