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Storley ready to get back on track at nationals

WEBSTER -- Only once has Logan Storley experienced a difficulty level this high.

The University of Minnesota sophomore 174-pounder is competing in his second straight NCAA National Wrestling Tournament, an event he says is hard to describe.

"It's the big show. ... In sports in general, there's no other tournament that's tougher than the three-day NCAA Division I wrestling tournament," said Storley, a Webster native and six-time high school state champion. "I've done a lot of stuff and I know a lot of athletes, and no one is as beat up and as tired as D-I wrestlers after this three-day grind."

The meet is being held Thursday through Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, and Storley is looking to continue the success he had at his first national tournament a year ago.

Before Storley started for the Gophers, he won 262 of 265 high school matches from 2006 to 2011 and became only one of two wrestlers in state history to win six state titles. He claimed championships at the junior national level and was awarded MVP honors at the respected Disney Duals meet.

As a true freshman with Minnesota, Storley went 27-9 and was the Big Ten Conference tournament runner-up.

He took sixth place at the national tournament at 174 pounds. In what was one of his most memorable matches of the year, he defeated Ethen Lofthouse, of Iowa, in the quarterfinals 3-1 to guarantee himself All-American status, or top eight in his weight class.

After losing in the semifinals to the eventual national champion, Storley lost his next two matches and finished in sixth to wrap up his first year of collegiate wrestling.

This year, the sophomore heads into the national tournament with a 24-3 record and faces Cal-State Bakersfield's Bryce Hammond, who's 32-8, in the first round.

Storley can't wait to get back on the big stage.

"You've got 20,000 people screaming, going crazy, and it's just awesome," Storley said. "It's what we dream of. To finally get out there and compete in front of a crowd like that is awesome."

Storley is not headed into the national tournament on a high note. After taking second at the Big Ten Conference tournament last year, Storley came into this year's meet as the top seed. He struggled and finished in seventh place.

"After last week at Big Tens, I'm going in there a little p****d off," Storley said. "I've got something to prove now."

For part of the season, Storley was ranked No. 1 at 174 pounds, but he's the sixth seed at the national tournament. He's defeated each of the top-four seeded wrestlers in his bracket at least once this year and also has wins over the seventh and eighth seeds.

If Storley wins his first two matches, he could meet up against third-seeded Mike Evans, of Iowa, in the quarterfinals. Storley has defeated Evans twice this season, both decisions by two or less points. Two other top-ranked wrestlers on Storley's side of the bracket are Penn State's second-seeded Mathew Brown and Illinois' seventh-seeded Jordan Blanton. During the season, Storley pinned Brown this year and beat Blanton 6-5.

"Honestly, I have no idea," Storley said of the weight class' favorite. "Brown won the Big Tens, so I think a lot of people are looking at him. (Chris) Perry won the Big 12 tournament, so a lot of people are looking at him. But I'm not really too worried about that. I'm going to go there and take care of my side of the bracket. I'm going to take it one match at a time and put myself in the finals."