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|Competition expected to be fierce at NWCA National Duals in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Jan. 15-16|
By Jason Bryant NWCA
Manheim, Pa. - Wrestling fans can expect the best competition in the nation to take the 16 mats at the 2006 NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals presented by PayDay PROTM.
Amongst the 80 college teams competing in the seven divisions of collegiate wrestling on January 15-16 at the University of Northern Iowa's UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa, will be the nation's top-ranked Division I team, Oklahoma State.
Pairings for the annual event will be released on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
The Cowboys have won the past three NCAA Division I team titles and return four NCAA individual national champions. In its history, Oklahoma State has won 33 national championships and is the defending champion of the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals.
"We feel that this is going to be one of the best wrestling tournaments ever held in the United States," said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. "You have representation from every level of collegiate wrestling, varsity and club, men and women all under one roof. This will be a fantastic event for the fans.
Last season, the Cowboys beat Illinois to claim the team championship.
Illinois and coach Mark Johnson won't return to the National Duals, but Minnesota, Oklahoma, Michigan, Central Michigan and Hofstra do.
The 2006 Division I field will see fresh faces from some familiar programs. Coming back to the National Duals will be: Cornell, Iowa, Iowa State, Kent State, Northwestern, Missouri, Northern Illinois, Arizona State, Nebraska and host Northern Iowa.
"Having all three Iowa Division I programs in the field will really make it exciting for the fans," Moyer said. "There are few places where the passion about collegiate wrestling is rivaled than the state of Iowa."
Top-ranked Nebraska-Omaha will attempt to defend its 2005 National Duals title. The Mavericks also boast one of the nation's top heavyweights, in three-time NCAA Division II Champion Les Sigman.
Traditional Division II powers from all around the nation will make the D-II tournament one of the most competitive of all the seven divisions competing.
Minnesota State, Mankato, Pitt-Johnstown, Nebraska-Kearney, and Central Oklahoma are ranked behind Nebraska-Omaha in the latest NWCA Division II wrestling rankings and all are competing during the weekend. Upper Iowa is also in the field for the first-time as a member of Division II.
Also joining the top five are: Ashland (Ohio), UNC Pembroke, Augustana (S.D.), Gannon (Pa.), Findlay (Ohio), Mercyhurst (Pa.), Shippensburg (Pa.), Central Missouri State, Fort Hays State (Kansas), and Minnesota State, Moorhead.
Wartburg (Iowa) and Augsburg (Minn.) have been atop the Division III rankings for seemingly the past decade, but the Division III field at the National Duals will likely challenge Division III's top teams. Augsburg beat Wartburg in last year's Division III National Duals finals.
Joining Wartburg and Augsburg are: Delaware Valley (Pa.), Ohio Northern, John Carroll (Ohio), Wisconsin-La Crosse, Luther (Iowa), Augustana (Ill.), Simpson (Iowa), McDaniel (Md.), Coe (Iowa), St. John's (Minn.), Wilmington (Ohio), Buena Vista (Iowa), Wisconsin-Steven's Point, and Cornell College (Iowa).
The NAIA field has expanded to 16-teams and the ever-growing division that's comprised of many small, private colleges, heads away from the quad-meet format to a full, 16-team bracket.
Top-ranked Lindenwood (Mo.) will be targeted by 16 of the top NAIA programs.
Joining Lindenwood in the field are: Bacone (Okla.) College, University of Cumberlands (Ky.), Missouri Valley College, Campbellsville University (Ky.), Cumberland University (Tenn.), Dakota Wesleyan College, Dana (Neb.) College, Dickinson (S.D.) College, Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) Aeronautical, Jamestown (N.D.) College, McKendree (Ill.) College, King College (Tenn.), Southern Oregon University, Montana State-Northern, William Penn (Iowa).
The Junior College tournament also expands from four to eight teams with the following schools wrestling in a bracketed format for the first time: Colby Community College, Ellsworth Community College, Itasca Community College, Labette Community College, Lincoln College, Ridgewater College, Northwest College and William Rainey Harper College.
Women's collegiate freestyle teams make their second appearance with the collegiate programs at Missouri Valley, the University of the Cumberlands and the University of Northern Michigan's U.S. Olympic Education Center coming back for a second-time.
The National Collegiate Wrestling Association is also putting teams on the mat for the first time. The association which governs the national tournaments for unassociated college programs and wrestling club teams will see New Hampshire, Grand Valley State and Central Florida compete at the UNI-Dome.
"The addition of the NCWA teams to the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals shows that the sport of wrestling is growing with interest," Moyer said. "These are athletes that want to wrestle because they love to wrestle."
TICKET PRICES AND SCHEDULE
UNI-Dome, University of Northern Iowa
All Sessions Pass $25
All Sessions Senior/Student* $17
All Session Group Tickets(8+)** $17
Individual Session $12
Individual Session Senior/Student* $8
Individual Session Group Tickets(8+)** $8
9 AM - 3PM Saturday
3 PM - 11PM Saturday
9 AM - 5 PM Sunday