By Jason Bryant, Mat Talk Online
Manheim, Pennsylvania – A frenzy of wrestling competition will descend upon the Kentucky Expo Center and its Freedom and Exhibition Halls on Jan. 4-5, 2019 as NUWAY hosts the 2019 NWCA Multi-Divisional National Duals in its new location. The event will feature 84 teams in five collegiate divisions, wrestling in a dual meet advancement format to crown a national dual meet champion.
After spending the last several years in Fort Wayne, Indiana, NUWAY and the NWCA have moved Mat Mayhem, as the event is known, to Kentucky, a state that’s seen eight new college wrestling teams since 2001 and five of them coming since 2013.
“Louisville has been a target for wrestling events for a long time,” said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. “They’ve had interest in hosting the NCAA Championships and we’re very excited to bring Mat Mayhem to a state that’s thirsting for more college wrestling competition.”
“Fort Wayne was a great place for this event, and in order to showcase the growth of wrestling and expose the entire field of college wrestling opportunities, Louisville has already shown itself as a place that will check all the boxes, not just for the event, but for the fans looking to enjoy some fantastic and exciting college wrestling,” added Moyer.
The field of 84 consists of teams from NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, NAIA, NJCAA, and Women. The largest division is the 24-team Division III field, which is also the largest division among NCAA divisions, with over 100 schools competing.
In Division II, NAIA and NJCAA, there are 16-team fields, while 12 teams will compete in the women’s division.
“Since 2001, over 210 wrestling teams have been added to college athletic departments across all divisions with the lion’s share of the growth coming at the sub-Division I level,” said Moyer. “This event not only showcases the growth at small schools but the growth in women’s wrestling and the opportunities that exist that many high school coaches in these regions might not know about. These types of schools are also fertile recruiting grounds for the next generation of teachers and coaches who will go into our scholastic programs around the county.”
In Division II, 13 of the 16 teams are ranked in the Top 25, including the top five teams in the land – St. Cloud State, Nebraska-Kearney, Notre Dame College, McKendree, and Upper Iowa. Four-time winner St. Cloud State will try to win a third straight. The Huskies are on a 35-match dual meet win streak. Notre Dame College won titles in 2014 and 2016 and was the last team to top the Huskies in a National Duals final.
In Division III, only two schools have ever won the event – Augsburg, and Wartburg. Top-ranked Augsburg is the returning team champions. In the previous 17 iterations of the Division III National Duals, second-ranked Wartburg leads Augsburg 11-6. Wartburg has been in the finals in every previous event. The only other schools to reach a Division III final are UW-La Crosse (2008, 2011), Elmhurst (2013), Concordia-Moorhead (2014), UW-Whitewater (2015) and Wabash (2016). Augsburg ended Wartburg’s seven-year run at the top of the National Duals in 2018. Of the 24 teams in the field, 15 are ranked in the Top 25, including nine of the top 10.
In the NAIA, Grand View has dominated, winning the previous seven tournaments and tying Wartburg’s National Duals record for consecutive team titles. Grand View is riding a 67-match dual meet win streak. The Vikings will be heavy favorites again but will see the 16-team field filled with ranked opposition. As of the December 12 NAIA rankings, 14 of the 16 teams are ranked, including seven of the top 10.
There will be a new champion in the NJCAA division in 2019 as Clackamas, winners of five in a row and six of the last seven, will not be competing this year. That opens the door for three-time runner-up and second-ranked Northeastern Oklahoma A&M to try to claim the school’s first National Duals title. The Golden Norsemen restarted their wrestling program six years ago and in the first five years of competition, they’ve been second at the National Duals twice and won three NJCAA team championships. Fourteen of the 16 teams are ranked in the Top 25, with four of the top 10 teams set to compete. NEO should be challenged by Western Wyoming and Northwest Kansas Tech.
The stage is also set for a new winner in the Women’s division, although that doesn’t mean returning champion Campbellsville is ready to just hand over the title. Wayland Baptist enters the event ranked No. 1, followed by five more teams ranked in the top 10. Wayland Baptist will be chased by McKendree, which was second last year, and Emmanuel, which has also emerged as a force in women’s college wrestling. Four-time champions, King University is ranked fifth but lacks some of the firepower previous Tornado teams had. Campbellsville is ranked seventh in the most recent WCWA rankings. We’ll also see the debut of Gannon’s women’s program at the event. Nine of the 12 teams are ranked in the top 20.
Overall, the NWCA Multi-Divisional National Duals speaks to the growth of college wrestling as 40 of the 84 teams in attendance were founded or reinstated after 2000 and 23 of these teams came into existence in 2010 or later.
WHAT: NUWAY hosts the 2019 NWCA Multi-Divisional National Duals
WHEN: January 4-5, 2019
WHERE: Freedom Hall & Exhibition Hall – Kentucky Expo Center, Louisville, Kentucky
TICKETS: All-Session Adult ($45), All-Session Student ($25); Single Day Adult ($25), Single Day Student ($17).
WATCH: Trackwrestling.com / Fox College Sports (Tape Delay)
Division II (16): Central Oklahoma, Fort Hays State, Gannon, Indianapolis, Limestone, Lindenwood, McKendree, Nebraska-Kearney, Notre Dame College, Pitt-Johnstown, Seton Hill, St. Cloud State, Upper Iowa, UW-Parkside, West Liberty, Wheeling Jesuit
Division III (24): Augsburg, Augustana (Ill.), Baldwin Wallace, Centenary, Chicago, Coe, Greensboro, Heidelberg, Ithaca, Johns Hopkins, Johnson & Wales, Luther, Millikin, Mount Union, Olivet, Roger Williams, UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Whitewater, Wabash, Wartburg, Westminster, WPI, York (Pa.)
NAIA (16): Baker, Bethany (Kan.), Campbellsville, Grand View, Indiana Tech, Life, Lindsey Wilson, Marian, Midland, Missouri Valley, Providence (Mont.), Southeastern, Southern Oregon, U. of the Cumberlands, Williams Baptist, York (Neb.).
NJCAA (16): Barton, Cowley, Harper, Itasca, Jamestown (N.Y.), Joliet, Labette, Muskegon, Nassau CC, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Northwest Kansas Tech, Rochester (Minn.), Southwestern Oregon, Spartanburg Methodist, Triton, Western Wyoming
Women (12): Campbellsville, Emmanuel, Gannon, King, Life, Lyon, McKendree, Missouri Valley, Nassau CC, Southern Oregon, U of the Cumberlands, Wayland Baptist
The NWCA brings the wrestling coaching community together to advance the sport and ensure that current and future generations have the opportunity to engage in a safe and educationally based wrestling experience. This is primarily done by strengthening existing programs, creating new programs, and providing coaches with progressive educational opportunities.