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This Week in College Wrestling



Central Michigan's Wynn Michalak is certainly pretty good. Wrestling fans knew that before the 2005-06 wrestling season got underway. The redshirt sophomore from Caro, Mich., went 35-10 last season and as the 12th-seed at the NCAA Division I championships in St. Louis, place sixth.

Now, Michalak is the top gun at 197 pounds. When the NWCA/InterMat/NWMA rankings were released on Tuesday afternoon, it was the Chippewa 197-pounder that was ranked No.1 -- heavily based on his unbeaten record coupled with his 5-1 victory over two-time national champion Jake Rosholt of Oklahoma State in the finals of the college division at the Reno Tournament of Champions.

The rise for Oregon's Joey Bracamonte wasn't as significant, but the champion at 165 pounds was named Outstanding Wrestler after his fall over returning national champion Johny Hendricks. Bracamonte moved up to No. 5, while Hendricks fell to No. 2 and Michigan's Ryan Churella overtakes the top-spot for the first time this season.

In the team standings, the Chippewas finished second in Reno, but didn't move up in the USA Today/NWCA/InterMat Division I Coaches Poll. They remain tenth.

Minnesota jumped to second behind Oklahoma State. The Golden Gophers are 7-0 and leapfrogged Oklahoma. J Robinson's team has victories over Iowa State and Nebraska in the last two weeks, and show little signs of stopping, even without a full-sized 197 pounder.

More than just Reno
Sure, the Reno Tournament of Champions was the key college event over the weekend, but the Division III's had themselves a bit of fun, making the trek to Las Vegas for the third annual Desert Duals.

Wartburg hosts the event, even if the venue is 1550 miles away from the Waverly, Iowa, campus. In a rotational dual format, teams from the Iowa Conference, NAIA, New England Conference and even the NCWA met in Vegas to escape the beckoning chill of winter.

The longest trips were made by Johnson & Wales (2711 miles from Providence, R.I.) and the The Apprentice School (2484 miles from Newport News, Va.).

"The idea of hosting a big dual event in a place like Las Vegas is great and I think there should be more events like it," said Apprentice School head coach Jeff Rusak. "It gives teams a chance to get out and see some different competition and different styles of wrestling."
"These kind of events give student athletes the chance to break from the ordinary and more importantly promote the sport of wrestling in some of our bigger cities and let people know what wrestling is all about," said Rusak.

"Wartburg did an excellent job hosting. Having the event at the same place where everyone is staying makes everything run a lot smoother and takes away extra travel time," he said. "We started the day at 8 a.m. and we're cleaned up by 7 p.m. with everyone wrestling four duals and also allowing backups to have exhibitions. My thanks to Jim Miller and the rest of the Wartburg staff for a great wrestling event!"

This isn't a typo
One notable from the Desert Duals saw Wartburg's Jacob Naig, a Division III All-American last season, was pinned in 11 seconds by Johnson & Wales' Rob Doherty. Naig was ranked second in the nation, while Doherty wasn't ranked anywhere.

It's all about match-ups
Nebraska's a pretty difficult team to figure out this season. Eleven days after knocking then-No. 2 Michigan off 18-16, the 11th-ranked Huskers fell to 23rd-ranked Cal Poly 21-19.
Paul Donahoe rebounded from a loss to Minnesota's Travis Lang to beat then 10th-ranked Chad Mendes 6-5. That victory was offset by Dave Roberts knocking off Nebraska's Dominic Moyer in overtime at 141 pounds. The teams split the 10 matches, but two falls ultimately gave the Mustangs the upset victory.

Speaking of match-ups, Buffalo's Mark Budd beat former No. 1 Shawn Bunch of Edinboro two weeks ago. That's old news. But how's Budd done since then? He dodged a proverbial bullet with an overtime victory over Appalachian State's Terreyl Williams on Tuesday night. Williams was the runner-up this weekend at the Cleveland State Open to Kent State freshman Danny Mitcheff. Williams did beat Indiana's Angel Escobedo 8-4 at CSU.

Coming soon
Hofstra's two-time All-American Jon Masa is one step closer from re-entering the Pride starting line-up -- he's down to 149 pounds. Masa cruised to a championship over the weekend at the Cleveland State Open.

Signees fare well at high school super tournaments
With the Beast of the East and Reno Tournament of Champions concluding over the weekend, how did those that signed early fare?

Beast Champions that signed/committed early
130: Jordan Frishkorn, Great Bridge, (Va.) - Oklahoma State
140: Lance Palmer, St. Edward (Ohio) - Ohio State
160: Dave Rella, Walsh Jesuit (Ohio) - Penn State
171: Mike Letts, Octorara (Pa.) - Maryland

Reno Champions that signed/committed early
119: Filip Novochkov, Fremont (Calif.) - Cal Poly
130: Billy Murphy, Hughson (Calif.) - Virginia Tech
135: Eli Hutchison, Skyview (Alaska) - Boise State

And while we're at it, here's the Ironman champs that signed/committed early
125: Keith Sulzer, St. Edward (Ohio) - Northwestern
130: Billy Murphy, Hughson (Calif.) - Virginia Tech
140: Matt Dunn, Reynolds (Pa.) - Columbia
160: Mack Lewnes, Mt. St. Joseph (Md.) - Cornell
275: Kenny Lester, Oviedo (Fla.) - Arizona State

Coming up
Don't look for too much college wrestling action this week. Nearly every college will give their students a break from competition until school gets back in session in early January, at least for the Division I programs.

Four events of note will take place after Christmas, highlighted by The Midlands and the Southern Scuffle. The Wilkes Open, the Florida Citrus Duals, and the Sunshine Open are also notable.

Expect a slow week as nearly everyone fattens up on fruitcake and egg nog.

Happy Holidays.


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