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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

Shockley will succeed long-time chairman Jim Keen. Sr. as Chairman of the Board....

Iowa's Tony Ramos determined to finish career with NCAA title

The Hawkeye senior will battle Virginia Tech's Devin Carter in the NWCA All-Star Classic on Saturday....

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

Cleveland, Kansas City, Louisville, New York City, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia & St. Louis are Div. I finalists. Div. II and III finalists also announced....



NCAA Div. I Championships individual preview - A drama at every weight class



Much of the fun in following the NCAA Div. I Championships is watching the battle at each of the 10 weight classes. No matter what happens in the team race, the tournament has tremendous drama as every athlete chases his personal dream of becoming a NCAA champion. This field features a number of defending or returning NCAA champions. Back from last year are NCAA champions Eric Juergens of Iowa (133), Donny Pritzlaff of Wisconsin (165), Cael Sanderson of Iowa State (184) and Brad Vering of Nebraska (197). Returning from 1999 are Stephen Abas of Fresno State (125), Doug Schwab of Iowa (141), T.J. Williams of Iowa (157), Kirk White of Boise State (157, down from 165), plus Sanderson. Sanderson has never lost a college match, and has broken the NCAA consecutive win streak this year. He was Outstanding Wrestler at the last two NCAA Championships, and has become a major media star for his amazing achievements. While all eyes will be on Sanderson, each and every weight class will have tremendous talent. Let the Games Begin!!! Note: Rankings are most recent Amateur Wrestling News rankings 125 pounds - 1999 NCAA champion Stephen Abas of Fresno State has returned from a redshirt year for an attempt to qualify for the Olympic team and has dominated this class. Abas (29-0) is a junior, and has a goal of winning three NCAA titles. His top challengers come from the Big Ten, No. 2 Jody Strittmatter of Iowa (27-2) and No. 3 Leroy Vega of Minnesota (29-6). Strittmatter has dominated his series against Vega, including the Big Ten finals win, but Vega owns a win over Strittmatter in a dual meet. Freshman Jason Powell of Nebraska (19-6) claimed the Big 12 title and has been an impressive freestyle wrestler. The rest of the field is balanced, with a number of talented athletes in contention for All-American honors. The PAC-10 contributes No. 6 Ruben DeLeon of Bakersfield (25-6), conference champion No. 11 Ben Vombaur of Boise State (21-9) and Australian native No. 13 Shawn Williams of Oregon (26-9). Other Big 12 stars include No. 5 Matt Ridings of Oklahoma (23-5) and No. 8 Matt Brown of Oklahoma State (19-10). Big Ten contenders are No. 7 Chris Williams of Michigan State (26-9), No. 11 Ryan Escobar of Illinois (24-12) and No. 12 A.J. Grant of Michigan (27-13). Although EWL star Trap McCormack of Lock Haven (28-4) is ranked No. 9, he lost to No. 19 Shawn Amistade of Pittsburgh (14-11) in the conference finals. EIWA champion Mason Lenhard of Pennsylvania (24-6) could surprise. As is the tradition at this weight, any number of wrestlers could win a key match and move into All-American status. 133 pounds - Defending NCAA champion Eric Juergens of Iowa (25-1) looks to finish his senior season with a second title and a victory on his home mats. He was dominant in winning the Big Ten title, and will be heavily favored. His top challenge could come from freshman No. 2 Johnny Thompson of Oklahoma State (28-2), who didn't make the Cowboy lineup until second semester and is a master of winning close bouts. Talented No. 3 Todd Beckerman of Nebraska (21-4), the Big 12 runner-up, has championship potential. From this point, the weight class drops off in dominant stars, opening it up to a large number of potential All-Americans. EWL champion and No. 4 Rob Loper of Pittsburgh (12-3) could be a major factor, and has an impressive career. No. 5 Pat McNamara of Michigan State (29-5) has been spectacular at times, but was upset in the Big Ten semifinals and placed third. Hofstra's No. 6 Roman Fleszar (16-3) has talent and is trying to help move his program to the big time. The Big Ten has a bevy of potential placers, including No. 8 Kevin Black of Wisconsin (23-11), the surprise runner-up at the conference meet, plus No. 9 Evan Robinson of Purdue (23-7) and No. 10 Brett Lawrence of Minnesota (21-6). From the Big 12 are No. 7 Matt Azevedo of Iowa State (29-9) and No. 15 Witt Durden of Oklahoma (25-14). The Pac-10 is looking for conference champion and No. 11 David Douglas of Arizona State (22-8) plus No. 12 Brian Watson of Oregon (22-10) to move up into the top eight. Others to watch are MAC champion and No. 12 Shawn Kegel of Buffalo (25-1), No. 14 Scott Bair of Lock Haven (26-4) and ACC champion and No. 16 Brandon York of Maryland (29-3). 141 pounds - This weight class has three stars, including a former champion, a two-time runner-up and a super sophomore with amazing freestyle skills. The past NCAA champion is No. 1 Doug Schwab of Iowa (30-0) who was the 1999 champion but dropped to third last year. Schwab crushed the competition at the Big Ten Tournament and is on a roll. The two-time runner-up is No. 2 Michael Lightner of Oklahoma (30-0), the unbeaten Big 12 champion, who wants to end his career with a gold medal. The young star is No. 3 Eric Larkin of Arizona State (22-1), the PAC-10 champion who is a member of the Senior Freestyle Team USA and was impressive in the 2000 Olympic Trials. Any of these athletes could take it all. The battle for All-American spots will be fierce behind these three stars. EWL champion and No. 4 Sean Gray of Virginia Tech (27-2) can not be overlooked. No. 5 Donnie DeFillipis of George Mason (25-3), the Colonial Athletic Conference champion, is relatively unknown but dangerous. No. 6 Jason DeBruin of Hofstra (23-8), the ECWA champion, should be a factor. Looking to beat their seeds and help their team win the team title are Minnesota's Chad Erikson (24-5), ranked No. 7 and Oklahoma State's Charles Walker (17-7), ranked No. 8. A pair of freshmen will make runs for All-American status, No. 9 Jason Mester of Central Michigan (35-8) and No. 10 Zach Roberson of Iowa State (22-13). A longshot is No. 11 Jeremy Hart of Appalachian State (11-2), the Southern Conference champion. The Big Ten is well represented, with No. 12 Grant Hoerr of Wisconsin (27-9), No. 14 Robert Sessley of Ohio State (30-12), and a pair of wrestlers with the same name, No. 15 Mike Castillo of Michigan State (23-12) and No. 16 Mike Castillo of Illinois (20-9). No. 16 Matt Goldstein of Lehigh (32-9) could be dangerous. 149 pounds - Entering the NCAA Championships, the top-ranked wrestler is senior Reggie Wright (28-0) of Oklahoma State, an unbeaten star who has put together a strong season and captured the Big 12 title. Returning NCAA runner-up Adam Tirapelle of Illinois (25-2) holds a No. 2 ranking from Amateur Wrestling News, even after he was defeated in the Big Ten Finals by No. 3 Jared Lawrence of Minnesota (27-5). If Tirapelle, a senior, and Lawrence, a sophomore, meet in the semifinals, it could be a superb bout again. Lehigh's EIWA champion and No. 4 Dave Esposito (28-3) has proven the ability to challenge for the title. Small conference champions No. 5 Marc Hoffer of American (29-1) from the CAA and No. 6 Eric Schmeising of Hofstra (28-5) from the ECWA will make a run for the medals. Oklahoma's Jared Frayer (33-5), the Big 12 runner-up, is also a superb wrestler. Beware of No. 13 Jamarr Billman of Lock Haven (20-1), a former All-American and transfer from Penn State, who won the EWL title and could be very dangerous. A true freshman, EIWA runner-up and No. 14 Jesse Jantzen of Harvard (21-6), was the nation's top recruit last year. Others with All-American hopes include No 8 John Marc Bentley of North Carolina (29-1), the ACC champion and No. 9 Cedric Haymon of Cal Poly (37-4), the PAC-10 champion. The Big Ten sends a few other possible placewinners - No. 10 Mike Kulczycki of Michigan (35-10), No. 11 Keaton Anderson of Ohio State (26-3) and No. 12 Mike Zadick of Iowa (19-7). 157 pounds - Leading the pack is 1999 NCAA Champion T.J. Williams of Iowa (24-0), who placed third at last year's NCAA Championships. Williams is unbeaten this year and was impressive in winning the Big Ten title a week age. Williams has just one loss in his Div. I career, and aims to go out on top. Ranked No. 2 is Big 12 champion Bryan Snyder of Nebraska (24-1), a talented star who has championship potential. EIWA champion Yoshi Nakamura of Pennsylvania (22-1) has emerged as a title contender with an impressive season. The PAC-10 is strong with its champion and No. 4 Eric Jo
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