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|Nine ranked teams highlight NCWA National Duals field in Dalton, Ga.
Scott Farrell NCWA
DALTON, Ga. – The NCWA National Duals return to Dalton, Ga., this weekend, with nine of the association’s top 10 teams in attendance.
This is the fifth season for the NCWA to contest an official national duals tournament, and the third consecutive year that the NCWA has gone to Georgia’s northwest corner as its host.
Maryland-Baltimore County leads the NCWA in team points earned thus far and thus earned the top seed. The Retrievers are ranked sixth in the coaches’ poll and placed eighth at the Ursinus/Will Abele Invitational last week in their last action. UMBC also won their own duals tournament with wins over nationally-ranked NJCAA team Gloucester CC (26-24), and topped Apprentice, Penn State-Mont Alto and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Lindenwood-St. Charles could be considered a co-favorite among a tight list at the top of the NCWA rankings. The Lions are the top-ranked team in this week’s NCWA Coaches’ Poll, and are 3-2 this season in dual matches. Matt Greene lead the Lions in wins at 15-8 in the 174-pound bracket, and Jacob Janes, a 141-pound junior, also has double-digit wins on the season thus far.
Central Florida, runner-up at the Duals in 2011 and 2009 and the only team to reach the finals twice in the four previous National Duals, is seeded third based on the NCWA’s point system and returns with one of its strongest teams. The Knights have wrestled a strong dual schedule, and had its most successful finish yet at last month’s UNC-Pembroke Invitational. Santiago Martinez (157 lbs.) is the NCWA’s top point-earner through mid-season, and is 24-1 on the season with 11 pins.
Josh Woods is sixth on the NCWA point list and is 16-5 on the season.
Defending champion Liberty, which topped Lindenwood-St. Charles 25-15 for the duals title last year, is seeded fourth backed by its No. 3 ranking in this week’s poll. The Flames took fifth place at the Virginia Duals last week, losing to Central Florida 35-18 in its last match. Liberty’s strength lies in its middle weights, anchored by Keyshaun Ward (174), last year’s NCWA runner-up Royal Brettrager (184), and defending NCWA champion Aaron Thompson (197). All three were undefeated in Virginia.
Lindenwood-Belleville is seeded fifth, and Grand Valley State, which won the duals title in 2009, is sixth. The remaining seeds will be determined by the coaches Thursday night.
Wrestling begins at 2 p.m. Friday, with the round of 16 bracket opening at 6:30 p.m. The finals are at 5 p.m. Saturday.
The National Duals’ high school division has expanded this year and includes teams from three states - Auburn (Ala.), Fort Campbell (Ky.), Wayne County (Monticello, Ky.) and Pigeon Forge (Tenn.). They will wrestle a round-robin schedule on Saturday.
The list of schools at the NCWA Duals are:
The Apprentice School (Va.)
Central Florida (No. 3 seed)
East Tennessee State
Grand Valley State (Mich.) (No. 6 seed)
Liberty (defending champion, No. 4 seed)
Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) (No. 5 seed)
Lindenwood-St. Charles (Mo.) (No. 2 seed)
Marion Military Institute (Ala.)
Maryland-Baltimore County (No. 1 seed)
Mass. Institute of Technology
NCWA Coaches’ Poll, Jan. 15
(top 10 plus other ranked teams listed)
1. Lindenwood-St. Charles (2)
2. California Baptist (4)
4. Central Florida
5. Grand Valley State
6. Maryland-Baltimore County (1)
8. The Apprentice School
9. Middle Tennessee
10. Marion Military
11. U.S. Naval Academy Prep
15. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology
17. Georgia Southern
24. North Florida
NCWA Team Points Leaders
(top 10 plus other top participating teams)
1. Maryland-Baltimore County
2. Central Florida
3. The Apprentice School
4. Middle Tennessee
6. California Baptist
7. Marion Military Institute
8. Grand Valley State
10. Lindenwood-St. Charles
13. South Florida
14. Georgia Southern
15. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology
17. East Tennessee State
23. North Florida