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|NCWA Season Preview|
By Jim Heath NCWA Sports Information Director
Heading into the ninth year of National Collegiate Wrestling Association action, a few questions loom for the 2005-06 campaign:
Can someone step up and stop Central Florida from a "three-peat"?
Will the Apprentice School shed its bridesmaid label having four straight top four finishes at nationals?
Will Grand Valley ride the emotion of wrestling at home to return to the NCWA championship stage? What unknown team will put it all together and make a run in March at nationals?
Several tournaments throughout the year will be excellent tests for teams preparing themselves for a visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan in March for the 9th annual NCWA National Championships.
Nov. 4-5: UCF Knight Brawl Duals and Central Florida Open
The two-time defending national champions kickoff the 2005-06 season with a strong field for their Nov. 5 tournament. The Apprentice School will travel to Florida along with Marion Military Institute, Pensacola Christian College, Florida Atlantic, Florida, South Florida and Florida Gulf Coast, Central Florida and Sierra Community College from California for in the neighborhood of 120 participants in the Saturday event. Sierra is one of the top teams in California as they just finished second in the state dual meet championships in late October.
The night before Central Florida will host the Knight Brawl Duals with Sierra Community College, Pensacola Christian and Apprentice School. UCF will take on Sierra at 6 p.m. and then a first-ever matchup with Apprentice School to follow. Apprentice will take on Sierra after that match.
Nov. 11-12: UNCP Classic - Pembroke, N.C.
The NCAA Division II Braves have always been inviting top NCWA teams to their classic and this year is no exception. Central Florida, Mercer, Apprentice School, Pensacola Christian, Clemson University and the University of Florida join the field for a strong tournament.
Nov. 19: SW Conference at UT-Dallas
The Southwest Conference opens its slate with a pre-conference get together at UT-Dallas. Texas A&M, TCU, Texas Tech, Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado, Northwest Missouri State are among others slated to start the season with a pre-conference kickoff.
Nov. 25-26: Rumble on the Hill at Chapel Hill, N.C.
NCAA Division I North Carolina hosts a major tournament over Thanksgiving weekend that last year drew nearly 350 wrestlers from schools across the country. Mercer, Georgia, Southern Virginia, Clemson, Marion Military Institute and Central Florida will represent the NCWA at this prestigious tournament.
Dec. 4: Maryville Duals - Maryville, Tenn.
The Fighting Scots are hosting a 12-team dual tournament the first weekend of December in the Great Smokey Mountains. The hosts finished second in the tournament last year and this year appears to be even stronger with the host Scots bringing in: Apprentice School, Mott Community College, Pensacola Christian, Southern Virginia, Marion Military Institute among others.
Dec. 10: UT-Dallas Quad - Dallas, Texas
The previous hosts of the NCWA nationals have a quad match scheduled for December 10 with Texas A&M, TCU and Texas State coming to have a quad night.
Holiday Season: Desert Duals, Lone Star Duals and Virginia Duals
The NCWA will have a presence this year at three big NCAA dual tournaments. Apprentice School will travel to Las Vegas for the Desert Duals hosted by Wartburg College December 19. This tournament will have a lot of Division III teams including national powers Wartburg, Coe College and Luther College.
On January 6-7, UT-Dallas and Central Florida will compete in the annual Lone Star Duals in Texas. This tournament is loaded with NCAA Division I teams like Army, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Purdue among others.
The next weekend the Apprentice School will compete in the American College Division of the 26th annual Virginia Duals tournament. Other teams in this bracket include: Delaware State, Anderson College, SUNY Brockport, South Dakota State, Duquesne, Franklin & Marshall and Princeton.
Jan. 15: NWCA National Duals
This is the first year that the NCWA will have a presence at the National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals to be held this year at University of Northern Iowa.
Central Florida, Grand Valley State, New Hampshire and a fourth team will participate in a four-team dual tournament during the second day of the NWCA National Duals.
Jan. 22: Tropical Smoothie Classic - Gainesville, Fla.
The second annual Tropical Smoothie Classic appears to be headed into a powerhouse field. Central Florida won the event last year and returns to defend its title with a host of teams heading to sunny Florida. The field will possibly include: Pensacola Christian, Georgia Tech, Florida Atlantic, Georgia College, Univ. of Georgia, Florida A&M, Ohio State, Florida State, Mercer, South Florida, Auburn, Marion Military, Alabama, Yale University, Maryville College, Texas Tech, Bryant College, Texas A&M, Miami (OH), Florida Gulf Coast, Univ. of Texas at Dallas and Florida.
Jan. 29: 26th annual Builder Invitational - Newport News, Va.
The Apprentice School hosts one of the stronger tournaments in the late stages of the season with a good mix of NCWA teams along with NCAA Division II and NAIA schools. This year's field should be no exception as defending champion UNC Pembroke is scheduled to return with: William & Mary, Maryland-Baltimore County, Clemson, Catawba, Washington & Lee, Newberry, Southern Virginia, VCU, NAIA new team King College, Williamson Trade School, Maryville, UNH, Middle Tennessee State and Belmont Abbey join the host Builders.
Feb. 4-5: Doug Cherry Tournament - Easton, Pa.
This annual tournament hosted by Lafayette College shifts to Northampton Community College this year and is expanded to a two-day affair.
A lot of NCWA teams will be participating including two-time defending champion Central Florida, runner-up Apprentice School and Northampton CC, Lafayette, Maryville, Ohio State Club, New Hampshire, Florida, Toledo, Lehigh club, UMass-Amherst, Valley Forge, Luzerne CC, USMA Prep, Army JV, Miami-Ohio, Northeastern, Delaware, Yale, Blair Academy, RPI, Williamson Trade, Frostburg State, Adirondack CC, Bryant, Mott CC and Florida State
One good sign for the NCWA, and wrestling in general, is that the amount of new teams joining the association this year is increasing. New members as of October 26 include: Bowling Green State University, Dartmouth College, Darton College, East Georgia College, Florida Gulf Coast University, Northland Baptist Bible College, Northwest Missouri State University, Syracuse University, University of North Florida, University of Rio Grande and University of Southern Indiana.
All of this leads into the weekend of Feb. 17-18 when the conference tournaments will be held and the weekend of March 3-4 with Grand Rapids, Michigan hosting the 9th annual NCWA Nationals.