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This week, TheMat.com will move to the USOC platform, with a new look, new functionality, but with the same favorite features....

Terry Shockley named Chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame

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NCAA announces finalist cities for its championships for 2014-18, including wrestling at all levels

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Preview of this weekend's "sweet" wrestling action



Fictional movie character Forrest Gump spoke about life being like "a box of chocolates." Sometimes, there are so many sweet and tasty choices available to us. For the wrestling fan, this weekend's slate of major college events is much like that box of chocolates. The heart of the folkstyle wrestling season is here. The college and high school season is in its busiest time, as major conference matches are being held and teams begin preparations for the important season-ending tournaments. Rather than one major competition this weekend, there are many "highlight" events. Any one of these tasty morsels would be a great choice. No. 8 Oklahoma at No. 4 Iowa State, Friday, Feb. 2 These Big 12 rivals are battling for pride and national rankings this year, as well as seeding positions in the conference tournament. The teams met in the quarterfinals at the National Duals, with Iowa State scoring a tight 19-17 victory. The Cyclones won five straight matches, from 157 to 197, the key to that victory. Iowa State has more individual stars, but Oklahoma offers great balance and intensity. You can expect a similar tight match this time. "It will be push-push, a battle, " said Iowa State coach Bobby Douglas. "We have to win the matches we can, and we have to make sure not to give up bonus points. In the Big 12, you can be assured there will be some upsets. Everybody has to be on their game." No. 3 Iowa at No. 5 Michigan, Friday, Feb. 2 The Big Ten is always very competitive, but the goal of most of the conference is to defeat the Univ. of Iowa, college wrestling's dominant team for many years. At the National Duals earlier this month, the Michigan Wolverines almost knocked off the Hawkeyes in the quarterfinals, losing 20-18. The bout went down to the last match, with Michigan still having a chance to win. Iowa's light weights are very dominant, and when they perform well, other teams have a difficult time winning a dual meet. Michigan did win six of the 10 matches at the National Duals, and a few more bonus points were possible. Michigan knows it almost beat Iowa, and must be excited about another shot on their home mats. No. 7 Michigan State at No. 11 Ohio State, Friday, Feb. 2 This is another Big Ten battle with major national implications. Michigan State took a jump forward by beating Illinois in a dual meet, 16-15, and had a competitive battle with cross-state rival Michigan, losing 20-12. Ohio State is a rising power, that has been on a roll since January, winning 10 straight dual meets. The Buckeyes have a talented young team, led by No. 1 ranked freshman Tommy Rowlands at 285 pounds. A victory over a higher-ranked conference rival would be a big boost for the Ohio State program. No. 15 Arizona State at No. 17 Oregon, Friday, Feb. 2 This Pac-10 battle will help determine what team could be considered the Best of the West this season. Arizona State was in the Top 10 nationally until a disappointing performance at the National Duals, but has wrestled well against regional rivals. Oregon knocked off cross-state rivals Oregon State in December, but has lost three straight matches to Western teams, including No. 12 Boise State. An Oregon upset would set back Arizona State's chances to claim the top regional ranking. In any case, the results this weekend will be a major factor in the Pac-10 seedings. Harvard at Pennsylvania, Saturday, Feb. 3 In recent years, the Ivy League has become a major force in Div. I college wrestling. Although Penn and Harvard are not in the Top 25 at this time, they are major players in Eastern college wrestling. Both compete in the EIWA Championships, and many of their athletes are All-American candidates. A star to watch is Penn's Yoshi Nakamura at 157 pounds, ranked No. 3 in the nation this week and a potential NCAA champion. There is great pride in being the best of the Ivy League, and these two teams, along with Cornell, make a run at it each year. No. 9 Nebraska at No. 20 Northern Iowa, Saturday, Feb. 3 This will feature the return of new Nebraska coach Mark Manning to Northern Iowa, where he served as the head coach and helped revive the proud UNI program. Manning will face off against new Panther head coach Brad Penrith, who served with distinction as an assistant to Manning. Nebraska has more firepower in its lineup than Northern Iowa, but expect the Panthers to be excited to show their stuff against their former coach. No. 1 Minnesota at No. 6 Illinois, Sunday, Feb. 4 The Gophers are still on a roll, after beating Iowa and Oklahoma State to claim the title at the National Duals and earn the nation's top team ranking. They are now in the heart of the conference schedule, which features eight straight meets against Big Ten rivals. The highly anticipated arrival of Olympic bronze medalist Garrett Lowney at heavyweight has been a boost to the team. Illinois rebounded from a loss to Michigan State with a 32-3 stomping of Penn State, and may offer the Gophers all they can handle. High school fans also have a great treat in store this weekend, as the top national ranking is up for grabs. St. Edward Super Quad, Lakewood, Ohio, Saturday, Feb. 3 This is the biggest high school wrestling event of the season on the national level. St. Edward of Ohio, ranked No. 2 in the NWCA/TheMat.com High School Poll, will face No. 1 Blair Academy of New Jersey on its home mats. The winner of this match will be considered the best high school team in the nation. Also in the quad are No. 15 Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller of Ohio and nationally respected Walsh Jesuit of Ohio. There is a tremendous amount of pride at stake, and the action will be wild. There will be numerous major college recruits on display at this quad. Anyone who has not seen Blair's heavyweight Steven Mocco in action and can get to Cleveland on Saturday should stop by. Mocco is a great freestyle wrestler, who has a judo background, and does some things that most heavyweights are unable to do. He may be the best high school wrestler in the nation, regardless of weight class. For those unable to attend these events, follow the action right here on TheMat.com.
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