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Cliff Keen/NWCA National Wrestling Duals at Penn State to be spectacular showcase of college talent



The 2001 Cliff Keen/NWCA National Wrestling Duals will be held at Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State Univ. in State College, Pa., on Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21. The competition determines the best dual meet team in college wrestling each year, and is truly a showcase event for the sport of wrestling. Here are some compelling reasons why you should drive to State College, Pa. this weekend, or sign up for TheCyberMat.com for the cybercast airing of the finals: 1. The best teams - This year's field is loaded with most of the best teams in the nation right now. All of the top four teams will be there, as well as eight of the top 10 from last week's NWCA/TheMat.com College Wrestling poll. The field is determined by results from the previous year's NCAA Tournament, and some years there are strong teams that choose not to attend. In 2001, the best will be there, looking for glory. Oklahoma State, ranked No. 1 and undefeated, will be the favorite going in. No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Iowa and No. 4 Iowa State will all try to change their position by winning this tournament. Oklahoma State has beaten Iowa and Minnesota in dual meets already this year, but will they win a second time? The results of this weekend may determine the final rankings for the rest of the year. What makes things fun are the other teams in the field, all aiming to knock off a higher ranked team and move up in the polls. Rounding out the top 10 teams in the field are No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 7 Michigan, No. 8 Nebraska and No. 9 Arizona State. These squads will try to get into the semifinals by beating one of the top four, and can make their season by qualifying for the championships finals. Four other top 25 teams are in the field: No. 12 Lehigh, No. 13 Edinboro, No. 19 Hofstra and No. 22 Virginia Tech. Host Penn State is the other Div. I power in the tournament. Rounding out the field are three talented teams in other divisions: Nebraska-Omaha (3rd in 2000 NCAAs), Montclair State (3rd in 2000 NCAAs) and 2000 NAIA champion Montana-State Northern. 2. Sanderson is expected to set the record - In the first round of action Saturday morning, Iowa State junior Cael Sanderson will have the opportunity to set the record for the most consecutive college wrestling victories with 101 straight wins. There has been some dispute whether the record, set by the great Dan Gable of Iowa State in the early 1970's, is 98 or 100. The NCAA says it does not keep such records; Iowa State says Gable ran off 100 in a row. If Sanderson wins Saturday morning in his bout at 184 pounds, he will have reached the magic 101. Who his opponent will be has yet to be determined, as the team draws will be based upon Wednesday's NWCA/TheMat.com poll. Whoever steps on the mat with Sanderson may become a piece of wrestling lore, the answer to a trivia question, just like baseball pitcher Al Downing will be remembered as the man who served up Hank Aaron's 715th homer. The next goal for Sanderson will be to run the table, winning four NCAA titles without a loss. For those who have seen this star in action, that amazing goal seems very possible. 3. The host team Penn State - The Nittany Lions are the only Div. I team in the tournament that did not hold a top 25 ranking going into this week. However, over the weekend, Penn State knocked off No. 12 Lehigh in a dual meet, and showed some spunk in the process. They may jump into the polls on Wednesday, based upon their performance. This tournament, on the home mats in Bryce Jordan Center, could be a turning point for their season. If Penn State is able to stay alive well into the tournament, and keep the home fans excited, it could make the event more exciting. The problem will be that the quality of the tournament is so high, no team will have an easy go, even in the early consolation rounds. 4. The star athletes in every class: Because of the quality of the field, this meet will include many of the star individual athletes who will make serious runs at NCAA gold medals later this year. There are seven No. 1 ranked wrestlers in the field, based upon the most recent Amateur Wrestling News rankings (published Jan. 15). Every weight has at least six athletes ranked in the Top 20. A few of the weight classes are loaded. The 141-pound class has the top six ranked wrestlers, and eight of the top nine. The 133-pound class has the top five wrestlers, and seven of the top nine athletes. The top four wrestlers at 197 pounds will be in State College at the National Duals. Every weight class will have ranked athletes going head-to-head, and certainly some upsets are in the works. A review of the ranked wrestlers in each class: 125 - 2. Jody Strittmatter-Sr, Iowa; 3. A.J. Grant-Soph, Michigan; 4. Leroy Vega-Jr, Minnesota; 8. Jason Powell-Fr, Nebraska; 9. Matt Brown-Jr, Oklahoma St; 13. Bo Maynes-Soph, Oklahoma 133 - 1. Eric Juergens-Sr, Iowa; 2. Brett Lawrence-Sr, Minnesota; 3. Todd Beckerman-Sr, Nebraska; 4. Johnny Thompson-Fr, Oklahoma St; 5. Roman Fleszar-Sr, Hofstra; 7. Pat McNamara-Sr, Michigan St.; 9. Matt Azevedo-Sr, Iowa St; 11. Scott Moore-Soph, Penn St; 13. David Douglas-Jr, Arizona St; 19. Witt Durden-Soph, Oklahoma 141 - 1. Doug Schwab-Sr, Iowa; 2. Michael Lightner-Sr, Oklahoma; 3. Eric Larkin-Soph, Arizona St; 4. Sean Gray-Jr, Virginia Tech; 5. Jason DeBruin-Jr, Hofstra; 6. Chad Erikson-Jr, Minnesota; 8. Zach Roberson-Fr, Iowa St; 9. Matt Goldstein-Sr. Lehigh; 17. Jerrod Sanders-Soph, Oklahoma St; 19. Clark Forward-Fr, Michigan; 20. Nate Parker-Soph, Penn St. 149 - 2. Reggie Wright-Sr, Oklahoma St; 3. Jared Lawrence-Soph, Minnesota; 4. Dave Esposito-Sr, Lehigh; 5. Mike Zadick-Jr, Iowa; 6. Eric Schmiesing-Sr, Hofstra; 8. Jared Frayer-Jr, Oklahoma; 9. Billy Maldonado-Jr, Iowa St; 11. Ryan Shapert-Sr, Edinboro; 12. Mike Kulczycki-Soph, Michigan 157 - 1. T.J. Williams-Sr, Iowa; 2. Bryan Snyder-Jr, Nebraska; 4. Luke Becker-Soph, Minnesota; 6. Cole Sanderson-Sr, Iowa St; 9. Shaun Shapert-Sr, Edinboro; 11. Ryan Bernholz-Sr, Lehigh; 16. Rocky Smart, Soph, Arizona St; 17. Shane Roller-Soph, Oklahoma St; 18. Brian Burrows-Jr, Oklahoma; 20. Dennis Papadatos,-Sr Hofstra 165 - 1. Joe Heskett-Jr, Iowa St; 3. Brad Pike-Sr, Minnesota; 4. Steve Blackford-Sr, Arizona St.; 5. Chris Martin-Sr Virginia Tech; 6. Robbie Waller-Soph, Oklahoma; 7. Ty Wilcox-Jr, Oklahoma St; 8. Ben Shirk-Jr, Iowa; 11. Chris Vitale-Jr, Lehigh; 14. Noel Thompson-Soph, Hofstra; 19. Charles Martelli-Jr, Michigan 174 - 1. Otto Olson-Sr, Michigan; 2. Josh Koscheck-Jr Edinboro; 4. Gabe McMahon-Sr Iowa; 7. Perry Parks-Sr, Iowa St; 10. Michael Barger-Jr, Oklahoma; 11. Tyrone Lewis-Fr, Oklahoma St; 12. Ati Conner-Sr, Nebraska; 14. Matt Kraft-Jr, Minnesota; 15. Eric Hall-Sr, Virginia Tech 184 - 1. Cael Sanderson-Jr Iowa St.; 2. Daniel Cormier-Sr, Oklahoma St; 4. Damion Hahn-Fr, Minnesota; 6. Jessman Smith-Soph, Iowa; 8. Andy Hrovat-Jr, Michigan; 10. R.D. Purcell-Sr, Arizona St; 11. Rob Rohn-Jr Lehigh; 16. Jeff Knupp-Jr, Penn St 197 - 1. Brad Vering-Sr Nebraska; 2. Mark Munoz-Sr. Oklahoma St; 3. Zach Thompson-Sr Iowa State; 4. Jon Trenge-Fr, Lehigh; 9. Owen Elzen-Jr Minnesota; 10. Dave Shunamon-Soph, Edinboro; 11. Waymon May-Sr, Oklahoma Hwt - 7. Josh Pearce-Jr, Edinboro; 9. Leonce Crump-Fr, Oklahoma; 10. Kellan Fluckiger-Soph, Arizona St; 11. Matt Knauer-Jr, Iowa St; 14. Shawn Laughlin-Jr, Lehigh; 15. Matt Brink-Sr, Michigan 5. The National Duals format - There is nothing quite as dramatic as a high level dual meet competition. In international wrestling, the annual World Cup is a spectators' delight. In college wrestling, the National Duals is the best of the best in team matchups. There is a different element to dual meet tournaments. The focus is more on the team, and anything can happen in a close bout. Sometimes, the heroes at these events are little known athletes, or even backups, who step up to the plate and have a clutch performance when the team needs it the most. The other key element is how healthy the teams are coming in, and how well they weather the physical demands of two days of intense action. This event
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