By Jason Bryant
Eighty-six teams from five different collegiate divisions will take to the mats at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana for the NWCA Multi-Divisional National Duals presented by Hibiclens and the United States Marine Corps in honor of Cliff Keen on January 9-10.
College teams from NCAA Division II, Division III, NAIA, NJCAA and the WCWA will all be battling for national dual meet championships.
Mat Mayhem, as the event is called, will be also run in conjunction with several events run by The United Wrestling Group, such as Youth Duals, the High School Duals, Women’s Wrestling Duals, Great Lakes Individual Championships and a college open tournament.
“The Mat Mayhem model provides wrestling fans an opportunity to see so many different levels of collegiate wrestling,” said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. “We have seen tremendous growth at the non-Division I level with upwards to 10-20 new men’s and women’s intercollegiate wrestling programs popping up each year. Being able to showcase these programs to more potential student-athletes is a win-win, as is proving an opportunity for teams who wouldn’t normally see each other to compete and wrestle for a dual meet title. We also know that the women’s intercollegiate division will undoubtedly inspire the young girls who are competing in the scholastic event.”
The Division II field includes defending champions Notre Dame College. The Falcons are coming off the school’s first NCAA team championship last year. Coach Frank Romano’s team comes in ranked No. 1 in the most recent NWCA Division II Coaches Association Rankings, released on January 2. One wrestler to keep an eye on is two-time Division II champion Joey Davis at 174 pounds. Davis, a junior, is undefeated in college competition.
Seven of the top 10 teams in the nation will be in the 16-team field with 12 of those programs nationally ranked in the Top 20. Maryville coach Mike Denney led his old Nebraska-Omaha squads to numerous Division II championships during his tenure and looks to lead his Saints, ranked No. 2 in the country, to its first championship at the National Duals.
Notre Dame will be the top seed and open up with Central Missouri at 9 a.m. with the winner taking on the winner of the dual between the No. 8 seed Central Oklahoma and Augustana (S.D.). Fourth-seeded Mercyhurst will face Upper Iowa in the bottom half of the top bracket with the winner facing either No. 5 seed McKendree or Newberry.
In the bottom half, Maryville is the No. 2 seed and will open up with Lake Erie at 11 a.m. The winner will face either Lindenwood or Kutztown in the quarterfinals. Ouachita Baptist comes in as the No. 3 seed and will open up with Alderson-Broaddus, which is making its first appearance at the National Duals. The winner will face either St. Cloud State or Fort Hays State.
The Division III field will feature 24 programs, including four-time defending champion Wartburg. The Knights lost a load of talent to graduation and will be in a battle to try to win its fifth straight and ninth overall. The top-ranked team coming in will be Wisconsin-Whitewater under first-year head coach Ned Shuck. The Warhawks will try to become the first team not named Wartburg or Augsburg to win the Division III portion of the National Duals.
Of the 24 programs, 17 are ranked in the Top 30 of Division III, which is the largest section of collegiate wrestling with nearly 100 teams.
With the expanded field, there will be eight preliminary bouts, which will then fill in the bracket for the Round of 16. Opening round bouts will pit Heidelberg vs. Loras with the winner taking on No. 1 seed Wisconsin-Whitewater; Cornell College vs. Washington & Jefferson with the winner facing No. 8 Augsburg; St. John’s vs. Alma with the winner taking on No. 5 Mount Union and Johnson & Wales vs. Augustana (Ill.) with the winner facing No. 4 Concordia-Moorhead. In the bottom half of the bracket, Olivet will face NYU with the winner taking on No. 2 Wartburg, Rhode Island College vs. Luther with the winner facing No. 3 Wabash, Wilkes vs. Dubuque with the winner facing No. 6 Wisconsin-La Crosse and Wheaton vs. Ithaca with the winner facing No. 7 Coe.
In the NAIA, Grand View looks to continue its dominance over the division. In now the program’s seventh year, the Vikings have won the past three NAIA national championships and have won National Duals titles each of the last three years as well. The Vikings boast four top-ranked wrestlers, including 2014 NAIA champions Ryak Finch and Brandon Wright. Eleven of the 16 teams in the field are ranked in the Top 20 in the December 31 NAIA national rankings, including eight of the top 10 teams.
Top-seeded Grand View opens up with Hannibal-LaGrange and the winner will face the winner of the Lindsey Wilson-Missouri Valley dual. Great Falls, the No. 4 seed, will face the University of the Cumberlands with that winner facing the winner of the Indiana Tech-Simpson (Calif.) dual in the quarterfinals.
On the bottom half, No. 2 seed Southern Oregon opens with Cumberland University with the winner facing either Embry-Riddle or Baker. No. 3 seed Campbellsville will face Bethany with the winner facing either York (Neb.) or Midland.
Clackamas will look to defend its championship in the NJCAA portion of the event. The Cougars come in ranked No. 1 in the nation and will be challenged by a 16-team field where 15 of the programs are ranked in the Top 25, including seven of the top 10 teams. Defending NJCAA national champion Northeastern Oklahoma A&M made history last year by winning the national championship in the program’s first year. The Golden Norse come in ranked No. 5. Muskegon and Iowa Central are the other top five-teams competing this season.
Clackamas comes in as the top seed and will face Rochester in the first round with the winner facing either Darton or Iowa Lakes in the quarterfinals. Also in the top half of the bracket, Muskegon will open with Iowa Western with the winner taking on the winner of the Ellsworth-Labette dual.
Down low, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M will be the No. 2 seed and face Niagara in the opening round with the winner taking on either Colby or Harper. Iowa Central, the third seed, will face Spartanburg Methodist with the winner taking on either Neosho or Lincoln.
In the women’s division, which wrestles with Olympic freestyle rules, defending champion King University boasts a talented lineup and will be the team to beat coming into Fort Wayne. Oklahoma City, a multi-time winner of the event, comes in ranked second. Seven of the top 10 teams will be in attendance, including first-year programs at Lyon and Ottawa.
King will have a first-round bye and will face the winner of the Life-Missouri Baptist Dual in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Oklahoma City also has a first-round bye and will face the winner of the Missouri Valley-Wayland Baptist dual. First round duals on Friday include Ottawa vs. University of the Cumberlands and Midland vs. McKendree in the top bracket and Campbellsville vs. Pacific and Lyon vs. Lindenwood in the bottom bracket.
The event will be streamed live via Trackcast and FOX College Sports will air one selected dual in each of the five collegiate divisions on a tape-delayed basis. Each dual will be re-broadcasted a minimum of 10 times for a total of 50 national broadcasts to a potential universe of 54 million homes each airing. These national telecasts are made possible by: Titan Mercury Wrestling Club, Global Wrestling Championships, and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Myron Roderick NCAA Championship Roast Committee, featuring Randy Couture.
All-session adult tickets are $40, while student tickets are $30. Single-day tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students. Action begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, January 9 with the final rounds set for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 10.
For a complete schedule of events, click here.
Men’s tournament brackets and live results for Division II, Division III, NAIA and NJCAA can be found here: http://www.trackwrestling.com/teamtournaments/VerifyPassword.jsp?tournamentId=239076
Women’s tournament brackets and live results can be found here: http://www.trackwrestling.com/teamtournaments/VerifyPassword.jsp?tournamentId=243076
Division II: #1 Notre Dame College, #2 Maryville, #4 Ouachita Baptist, #5 Mercyhurst, #6 McKendree, #7 St. Cloud State, #10 Lindenwood, #11 Central Oklahoma, #12 Kutztown, #14 Newberry, #17 Upper Iowa, #19 Fort Hays State, Alderson-Broaddus, Augustana (S.D.), Central Missouri, Lake Erie.
Division III: #1 Wisconsin-Whitewater, #2 Wabash, #4 Coe, #5 Concordia-Moorhead, #6 Wisconsin-La Crosse, #7 Wartburg, #8 Loras, #9 Mount Union, #11 Augsburg, #12 Cornell, #13 Luther, #14 Ithaca, #17 Wilkes, #18 Johnson & Wales, #21 Olivet, #22 Alma, #27 NYU, #28 Rhode Island College, Augustana (Ill.), Dubuque, Heidelberg, St. John’s, Washington & Jefferson, Wheaton
NAIA: #1 Grand View, #2 Southern Oregon, #4 Campbellsville, #5 Great Falls, #6 Indiana Tech, #8 Midland, #9 Embry-Riddle, #10 Missouri Valley, #12 Lindsey Wilson, #15 Baker, #17 York (Neb.), Bethany, Cumberland, Hannibal-LaGrange, Simpson (Calif.), U. of the Cumberlands.
NJCAA: #1 Clackamas, #3 Muskegon, #4 Iowa Central , #5 Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, #7 Darton, #8 Ellsworth, #9 Harper, #11 Labette, #13 Iowa Lakes, #14 Lincoln, #16 Neosho, #18 Colby, #19 Spartanburg Methodist, #21 Niagara, #24 Iowa Western, Rochester
Women: #1 King, #3 Lindenwood (MO), #5 Campbellsville (KY), #6 McKendree, #7 Univ of Cumberlands (KY), #8 Missouri Baptist, #10 Wayland Baptist, #11 Missouri Valley, #15 Lyon, #16t Life, #16t Ottawa, #19 Midland, #2 Oklahoma City, #21 Pacific