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EIWA NOTES: Americanís Cannon aims for NCAA title; East Stroudsburgís final EIWA meet|
By Gary Abbott - USA Wrestling
Cannon seeks to become second NCAA champion from American|
One of the least known undefeated wrestlers in Div. I wrestling may be American's Mike Cannon, who enters the EIWA finals with a 29-0 record for the year. He will be battling Cornell's Steve Anceravage in the championship finals at 174 pounds on Sunday night.
Cannon, who was sixth at the NCAA Championships last year, is hoping to become the second NCAA champion from this emerging program, joining 2007 NCAA champion Josh Glenn on the top of the podium.
"He is aggressive enough to win it," said American coach Mark Cody/ "He wrestles really hard every match.
Cody likes telling the stories of athletes like Cannon, wrestlers who may have been missed by other programs but have thrived at the American program.
"He was a one-time state champion in Maryland, from the small schools division," said Cody. "There are 16 kids in his family, with no twins. He's the oldest of them all."
Cannon has become an NCAA contender by doing the extra work it takes to succeed.
"He has a tremendous work ethic, a year round guy," said Cody. "Last year, one week after the NCAA's, he was back in the room. That is only because I made him take the week off."
Cody said that one of the reasons Cannon, as well as recent All-Americans Glenn, Daniel Walters and Muzaffar Abdurachmanov have done so well is that they worked out daily with AU assistant coach Joe Henson. Cody says that Cannon has actually been able to score on Henson in some recent workouts.
"They were all around Joe's weight class. Joe Henson is a major factor in their development," said Cody.
"He does everything you as of him as a coach. If you say, hit a shot to the right and post, he does it. If you say to pick up riding time, he does it. He looks over to you in the corner during the breaks in matches. He is very coachable," said Cody.
American will be sending two athletes to the NCAA Championships, based upon the new qualifying criteria, Cannon and 141-pounder Kyle Borschoff, who placed third here this weekend.
"We have had six All-American trophies the last four years," said Cody. "It would be nice to get two more. I'd like to see both of them on the top of the podium. I am confident they can both get there. The question is just how high."
East Stroudsburg gets an NCAA qualifier in its last EIWA Tournament
There was news last year about the wrestling program at East Stroudsburg University, a longtime member of the EIWA Conference. The college administration decided that the wrestling team would change from a Div. I team to a Div. II team, the level which the rest of the school's sports program competes.
That means that this year is the last time that East Stroudsburg will be competing at the EIWA meet. Coach Joey Rivera is proud of how his team performed this weekend, including the fact that heavyweight Chris Birchler placed third and qualified for the NCAA Championships. He said the team was pumped up about being in its final EIWA Tournament.
"They were excited. We had one of the better teams we have had in a number of years. They wanted to come here and surprise people and end the Div. I era on an high note," said Rivera.
The change in division announcement made each member of the team evaluate their goals and decide whether or not to remain with the team.
"When it came up, I confronted it head on. It was their choice to stay or to go to another school," said Rivera. "The mission didn't change . We are still trying to develop champions and qualify people for the NCAA Championships. We accomplished some of our goals. We got a guy through to the NCAAs and are very excited."
According to NCAA rules, there is a two-year probation for a team dropping division, for which East Stroudsburg has applied for an NCAA waiver. Rivera expects to hear later this spring. He calls it a "waiting game."
ESU is graduating only two fifth-year seniors and has a bulk of the team back next year.
"I am confident we will have a competitive team. It is a process. We already beat two Top 15 Div. II teams this year. When we compete there, I expect us to be in the Top 15, then the Top 10, then working to get athletes on the podium at the national championships."
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