Fort Wayne, Indiana – The past three years, the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana has been a key location in the college wrestling landscape. In 2018, the United Wrestling Group will again host the NWCA Multi-Divisional National Duals presented by Applied Silver, InBody, Theraworx and the United States Marine Corps on January 4-5.
With 86 teams, 65 nationally ranked programs and five different divisions, the event will again live up to its moniker — Mat Mayhem.
“Fort Wayne has been a tremendous place for us the last four years,” said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. “It’s a big two days of wrestling, not just with the National Duals portion, but NUWAY also provides competition at the age-group levels as well as a college open, so there’s no shortage of competition across the board.”
Two other notable stats stand out about the 86-team field and that comes from the quality of individuals competing. Of the 50 top-ranked individuals across the five divisions, 34 will be in action in Fort Wayne. A total of 345 nationally ranked individuals are expected to compete.
Competition begins at 9 a.m. on Thursday with the semifinal rounds beginning at 11 a.m. Friday followed by championship and placement matches at 2 p.m. All times are Eastern.
WHAT: NWCA Multi-Divisional National Duals
WHERE: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Indiana
WHEN: January 4-5
RESULTS & LIVE STREAMING VIA TRACKWRESTLING: Men’s Divisions | Women’s Division
LIVE STREAM: Subscription Info ($19.95 – includes all divisions, live and archived content)
TICKETS: Adult All-Session $40; Student All-Session $30. Adult Single Day $20, Student Single Day $15.
Division II: Ashland, California Baptist, Central Oklahoma, Colorado State-Pueblo, Gannon, Indianapolis, Kutztown, Lake Erie, McKendree, Nebraska-Kearney, Notre Dame College, Pitt-Johnstown, Seton Hill, St. Cloud State, Upper Iowa, Wheeling Jesuit.
Division III: Augsburg, Augustana (Ill.), Baldwin Wallace, Centenary, Chicago, Coe, Concordia-Moorhead, Cortland State, Ferrum, Heidelberg, Ithaca, Johnson & Wales, Manchester, Millikin, NYU, North Central, Ohio Northern, Olivet, UW-La Crosse, UW-Whitewater, Wabash, Wartburg, Wheaton, Wilkes.
NAIA: Baker (Kan.), Campbellsville, Concordia (Neb.), Cumberland (Tenn.), Embry-Riddle (Ariz.), Grand View, Indiana Tech, Jamestown (N.D.), Life, Lindsey Wilson, Midland, Missouri Valley, Providence (Mont.), U. of the Cumberlands (Ky.), William Penn (Iowa), Williams Baptist (Ark.).
NJCAA: Barton, Clackamas, Colby, Harper, Iowa Lakes, Iowa Western, Labette, Lincoln, Nassau, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Northwest Kansas Tech, Rochester, Southwestern Oregon, Spartanburg Methodist, Triton, Western Wyoming.
WCWA: Campbellsville, Eastern Oregon, Emmanuel, Grays Harbor, Jamestown, King, Life, McKendree, Missouri Baptist, Missouri Valley, Oklahoma City, Southwestern Oregon, U. of the Cumberlands (Ky.), Wayland Baptist.
Last year’s Division II bracket was as unpredictable and upset-riddled as any in the event’s history. While those types of scenarios are never truly expected, it gives fans a reason to keep an eye on every round of the competition. Three-time champion St. Cloud State looks to repeat. The top-ranked Huskies have finished in the top three six straight seasons and have won 136 of their last 145 duals.
St. Cloud State will open with 15th-ranked Lake Erie College in the opening round with the winner facing either ninth-ranked Indianapolis or unranked Kutztown. Lake Erie finished in seventh place a year ago, a program best. Third-ranked Ashland will enter as the No. 2 seed. The Eagles will open with 25th-ranked Seton Hill. It’s been a while since Ashland had any notable success in the event. The last time the Eagles placed in the top eight came in 2006. Notre Dame College has won the event four different times — twice in Division II and twice as an NAIA program. The Falcons, ranked eighth, will open up with 10th-ranked Upper Iowa, showcasing the depth of the Division II portion of the event. Nine of the top 10 teams in the country are competing in Fort Wayne. The winner of the Notre Dame-Upper Iowa dual will face the winner of the Ashland-Seton Hill match.
Also in the bottom bracket is third-seeded Cal Baptist, which is currently in its final year eligible to compete as a Division II program. The Lancers athletic department will begin the transition to Division I next season and coach Lennie Zalesky’s team will try to claim the school’s first NWCA National Duals title. The third-ranked Lancers open up with No. 18 Gannon.
Two of the culprits behind last year’s shattered brackets — CSU-Pueblo and Wheeling Jesuit — will meet in the first round. Last season, both were unseeded and found their way into the semifinals. Wheeling Jesuit earned the finals berth with a 21-20 criteria win over the Thunderwolves. CSU-Pueblo’s ranked seventh this time around, so if Wheeling Jesuit wants to make a return appearance, they’ll have to start out with another sizeable upset. The winner will advance to face either Cal Baptist or Gannon.
Fifth-ranked McKendree opens up with No. 13 Central Oklahoma in the opening round with the winner advancing to face the winner of the Pitt-Johnstown-Nebraska-
Individually, six No. 1 wrestlers are in the field in Division II and 68 wrestlers are ranked in the top 12. There are also five past national champions in the Division II field: St. Cloud State’s Brett Velasquez at 125, McKendree’s Darren Wynn at 141, Nebraska-Kearney’s Keith Surber at 149, Pitt-Johnstown’s Tyler Reinhardt at 174 pounds and Cal Baptist’s Andrew Schulte, who won a 141-pound NAIA title at Concordia (Neb.) in 2016.
Since the addition of the multi-divisional aspect of the National Duals in 2002, Wartburg is the only college program in the country that’s made the finals every single year. The Knights have won 11 Division III National Duals championships, including the last seven in a row. Much like the dominance shown at the NCAA Division III championships for the past 20 years, the titles on the National Duals front have only been in the hands of Wartburg and its chief rival, Augsburg.
“That’s a rivalry that we just can’t get enough of,” said Moyer. “The history and legacy of those two programs is so notable, the New York Times even featured it a few years ago.
“But one thing we also need to showcase about this event, especially in Division III, is the growth of wrestling we’ve seen. Johnson & Wales is a championship contender, they were ranked No. 1 a few weeks ago and that school has only had a wrestling team for 20 years. Ferrum is another program that’s become nationally relevant in just a short time,” added Moyer.
Division III also has the largest field, with 24 teams competing. The top eight seeds — Wartburg, Johnson & Wales, Augsburg, Ithaca, Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wabash, Baldwin Wallace and Ferrum all receive first-round byes and will await winners of the preliminary round. Wartburg’s lineup was recently bolstered by the second-semester return of 2017 NCAA Division III champion Eric DeVos.
Division III features 14 of the 24 teams ranked in the Top 25 including 11 of the top 15. Six ranked teams will have to navigate those preliminary bouts as No. 11 Coe will face Manchester with the winner facing No. 9 Ferrum; No. 15 Wisconsin-La Crosse opens up with Wheaton with the winner advancing to face No. 8 Baldwin Wallace, Division III’s current leader in dual meet victories with 11.
No. 17 Chicago will face Heidelberg with the winner facing fourth-ranked Ithaca. No. 24 Ohio Northern starts off with Cortland State with the winner earning the right to take on five-time champion and third-ranked Augsburg. Olivet will face Augustana (Ill.) with the winner to face top-ranked Wartburg while NYU and Millikin will wrap up the prelims with the winner advancing to face second-ranked Johnson & Wales.
Individually, nine of the 10 top-ranked wrestlers in Division III are in the mix, including returning national champions Eric DeVos of Wartburg at 174 pounds and Jordan Newman of Wisconsin-Whitewater at 197 pounds. Wabash’s Devin Broukal hasn’t seen action this year, but he did win the 2016 NCAA Division III title at 133 pounds. In all, 57 wrestlers ranked in the top 10 of Division III will be competing in Fort Wayne.
While Wartburg’s dominance has been prevalent since the event’s inception, Grand View’s dominance in the NAIA has been prevalent since the program’s inception. The Vikings are eyeing a sixth straight National Duals championships in the program’s first nine years.
Last year, Grand View went 42-8 in individual matches and defeated Indiana Tech for the championship for the second year in a row. While Grand View enters No. 1, a perch they’ve held in the NAIA for 42 straight polls, the field also includes a total of 12 ranked teams, including the top seven teams. They’ll bring past national champions Josh Wenger, Grant Henderson, Evan Hansen and Dean Broghammer to the party in Fort Wayne.
Second-ranked Missouri Valley has placed in the top eight 12 times, but these Vikings haven’t reached a final since the event expanded beyond four teams in 2006. They open with unranked Jamestown with the winner facing either No. 6 Providence (Mont.) or No. 14 Embry-Riddle (Ariz.). Providence underwent a name change in the offseason. The school was previously known as the University of Great Falls.
Third-ranked Indiana Tech has been a force in the NAIA since the program started in 2011-12. The Warriors have placed in the top seven each of the last four seasons. They open up with unranked Cumberland University (Tenn.) with the winner facing either fifth-ranked Williams Baptist (Ark.) or 15th-ranked Baker (Kan.). Williams Baptist is led by returning NAIA heavyweight national champion Demetrius Thomas.
Coach Chris Fleeger has a division-leading three top-ranked wrestlers for fourth-ranked University of the Cumberlands (Ky.). With three of the first four weights manned by Hayden Lee, Jake Sinkovics and Tres Leon, the Patriots are a formidable squad and can get momentum moving in their direction in a hurry. Cumberlands will open with unranked Midland with the winner facing either seventh-ranked Life (Ga.) or 19th-ranked Concordia (Neb.). Life is led by top-ranked 197-pounder Dalton Bailey.
Nine top-ranked wrestles in the NAIA are set to compete as well as a total of 115 wrestlers who are ranked in the top 20.
Teams from the National Junior College Athletic Association joined the National Duals fray in 2004. Clackamas Community College out of Oregon City, Oregon is going for a record fifth straight National Duals title in the division. In 2011, the Cougars played spoiler and claimed its first title, preventing Iowa Central from winning its fifth in a row. They’ll have to avoid the same fate against a solid field that includes 12 ranked teams including two-time team runners-up Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
Clackamas, which boasts a lineup of names wrestling fans may recognize from their high school and age-group successes, opens up with unranked Triton and the winner of the dual will advance to face either No. 13 Northwest Kansas Tech or No. 17 Lincoln. Clackamas hammers include returning NJCAA champion Dayton Racer, who competed at Iowa Central last season, and former Division I wrestlers Ralpy Tovar, Dylan Reel and Gage Harrah.
Northwest Kansas Tech brings in the top-ranked heavyweight as Odgerel Batkhishig, a native of Mongolia, comes in ranked No. 1. Down on the bottom half of the bracket, NEO will open with 23rd-ranked Colby Community College. The Golden Norsemen have finished second in two of the last three National Duals and are led by returning NJCAA champion Wyatt Jordan at 165 pounds. The winner of the NEO-Colby dual will face either 11th-ranked Southwestern Oregon or 15th-ranked Nassau Community College, which returns to the National Duals after a number of years competing at the Virginia Duals. Nassau won the first two NJCAA National Duals championships.
Fourth-ranked Iowa Lakes is the third seed and will face unranked Harper in the opening round. The winner will face either 14th-ranked Barton (Kan.) or Western Wyoming. Iowa Western comes in ranked fifth and is seeded fourth. The Reivers will open up with Labette, a two-time winner of the National Duals, with the winner of that dual facing the winner of the Rochester-Spartanburg Methodist dual.
Individually, 52 wrestlers are ranked nationally in the NJCAA portion of the National Duals.
With the growth of women’s wrestling comes the growth of the women’s portion of the National Duals. Initially a tri-meet, the WCWA tournament has grown to where 12 of the 14 teams are ranked in the top 20. With almost every team founded in the past 18 years, the depth and quality has improved. King University has won the last four National Duals titles, but the Tornados are in the midst of a rebuilding season and second-ranked Campbellsville seems to be the front-runner to capture its first title this season.
Seeded first, Campbellsville will have a first-round bye as will the No. 2 seed, McKendree. With a little over a month left in the WCWA season, this is one of the final events teams will use to peak heading into the WCWA Nationals in Oklahoma City. Campbellsville will face the winner of the Life-U. of the Cumberlands dual. Life, under first-year coach Ashley Sword, has made considerable gains this season. Fourth-seeded King will be hard-pressed to tie Oklahoma City’s record of five straight titles as they’ve already lost once this season to Campbellsville. The Tornado open with Jamestown with the winner facing either Emmanuel or Missouri Valley in the top bracket.
Wayland Baptist is the third seed. The fifth-ranked Pioneers haven’t seen much dual action this year. They’ll face Southwestern Oregon in the opening round with the winner facing either Grays Harbor College or Missouri Baptist. McKendree, like Wayland Baptist, has seen limited dual meet competition this season. The Bearcats will face the winner of the Eastern Oregon-Oklahoma City dual.
Individually, 53 wrestlers are ranked in the top eight in the WCWA rankings. King is anchored by two-time WCWA champion Marina Doi. Campbellsville is led by three-time champion Kayla Miracle. Andribeth Rivera sat out of WCWA competition the first semester, but she could be one to watch should she be back on the mats for Campbellsville. Cody Pfau, a two-time champion while at Oklahoma City, is back for one last shot at Emmanuel College.