ST. LOUIS, MO. – The No. 3 St. Cloud State University wrestling team has waited 365 days for this moment. For this weekend technically. After seeing the 2019-20 national championship canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Huskies have spent the year waiting, hoping, and preparing for this very moment: defending their national title at the 2020-21 national championships.
After a shortened season, eight St. Cloud State wrestlers are headed to St. Louis, Missouri to do just that, as the 2021 Division II National Wrestling Championship is set to take place March 12-13 at America’s Center Convention Complex. The Huskies eight qualifiers are the most of any team in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) by a wide margin, as the next closest is four wrestlers from Upper Iowa. St. Cloud State’s eight wrestlers were the second most to qualify in the nation, as No. 1 Nebraska-Kearney saw 10 wrestlers qualify for nationals Monday afternoon.
Video will be available to fans throughout the tournament, and updates will be made to the team’s official Twitter account (@SCSUHUSKIES_WR).
Here are the five things to know before the 2021 National Championship:
7 – Seven of St. Cloud State’s earned automatic bids to the NCAA Championships after finishing first or second at the regional championship Saturday. Garrett Vos (Bonifacius, Minn. / Waconia), Joseph Bianchini (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / Immaculate Conception), Garrett Aldirch (Albert Lea, Minn. / Albert Lea), Devin FitzPatrick (Mahtomedi, Minn. / Mahtomedi), Billy Pitzner (Jefferson, Wis. / Milton), Noah Ryan (Mantorville, Minn. / Kasson-Mantorville) and Kameron Teacher (Grove City, Ohio / Central Crossing) all earned automatic bids to the championship while Colby Njos (Anoka, Minn. / Anoka) earned an at-large bid. Six of the eight Huskies competing at the NCAA championship were seeded in the top-8 entering the competition.
3 – Three wrestlers enter with the No. 1 ranking at their respective weight class. Vos has been the top wrestler at the 133 weight class all season long and will enter Friday as the No. 1 ranked wrestler in that respective weight class. Like Vos, Teacher entered and ended the regular season as the No. 1 wrestler at 285, garnering him the top seed in the weight class at the national championships. Finally, after falling to No. 6 in the final National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) rankings of the regular season, FitzPatrick vaulted to the top of the rankings at 165 after downing Shane Gantz at the NCAA Regional in late February.
5 – St. Cloud State won its fifth consecutive Super Region V title on February 27, leaving little doubt as to its dominance in the sport. After sharing the regular season title with Northern State, the Huskies claimed the region title with ease, outsourcing their opponents with 116.5 total team points. The next closest competitor was Upper Iowa, a team St. Cloud State beat 33-6 during the regular season. The Peacocks scored just 66.5 points at the regional and will send four wrestlers to the national championship this weekend.
4 – Four St. Cloud State wrestlers completed the 2020-21 season with pristine 4-0 records: Vos, Bianchini, Pitzner and Teacher. Teacher led the team in points scored at the end of 2020-21, scoring 37.5 points in his eight duals, with three major decision wins, one tech fall win and two pins during the season. Pitzner finished second on the team in points scored with 34, while both Vos and FitzPatrick, who went 7-1, closed the season by scoring 32.5 points. Bianchini scored 31 points during his undefeated season.
3 – Despite their undefeated season, the Huskies ranked No. 3 in the final NWCA top-25 poll released in February. St. Cloud State received 73 total points from the coaches, while Nebraska-Kearney took over the top spot with 92 total points. The Lopers also led the nation with nine ranked wrestlers, while only six Huskies were ranked in the final poll.