2023 NWCA National Duals Logo

2023 NWCA National Duals Logo

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UNI-Dome braces for upcoming National Duals return as 93 teams descend on Cedar Falls

by National Wrestling Coaches Association

Manheim, Pennsylvania -- For the first time since 2011, the floor at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa will be covered with wrestling mats for the NWCA's National Dual Meet Championships.
 
The NWCA/USMC Multi-Division National Dual Meet Championships presented by A Better Way Athletics, Capital Construction and Defense Soap hosted by NUWAY will return to the campus of the University of Northern Iowa on January 5-6, 2024 with 93 college teams across six different bracketed tournaments.
 
The first whistle blows at 10 a.m. CST Friday. Fans who are unable to attend in person can watch online via Flowrestling.
 
Most of the growth of collegiate wrestling has come from NCAA Division II, Division III and the NAIA in both men's and women's wrestling. Women's wrestling is in its second year as an official championship sport in the NAIA, while it's in its second year of emerging sports status in the NCAA. The sixth division features teams from the National Collegiate Wrestling Association, a collection of programs ranging from schools in transitional years between divisions to university-sponsored club teams. Of the 93 teams attending, 57 launched wrestling programs since 2000, including each of the 31 women's programs.
 
Individually, the event will feature up to 324 ranked men's college wrestlers and 215 ranked women's college wrestlers. On the women's side, there's 140 returning All-Americans in the field, while the men's divisions feature as many as 154 wrestlers who have earned podium spots at some point during their collegiate careers.
 
There's also no better place to see top-ranked wrestlers under one roof as 53 wrestlers ranked atop of their weights are expected to compete at the event. The Division III men have eight of the 10 No. 1s, the Division II men have nine, the NAIA men have eight, the NCWA men have eight while both women's divisions have all 10.  
 
NCAA Division II Men's Division
Heading into this year's tournament, Central Oklahoma and West Liberty are tied atop the most recent NWCA Division II men's rankings. The Bronchos are two-time champions at the event, most recently in 2022. They are the top seed and will open up with Upper Iowa with the winner taking on either Ashland or eighth-seeded McKendree. Central Oklahoma boasts six returning All-Americans and seven nationally-ranked wrestlers, led by top-ranked Dalton Abney at 197 pounds. Abney is a three-time All-American and two-time Division II national champion. There's head-to-head ranked bouts to watch with UCO and Upper Iowa, highlighted by the 141-pound match between returning All-Americans Dylan Lucas of UCO, ranked second, and fourth-ranked Tate Murty of Upper Iowa.
 
West Liberty is seeded second. The Hilltoppers will open with Northern State on Friday afternoon, with the winner facing either No. 7 Indianapolis or Augustana (S.D.). West Liberty has four returning All-Americans, including 2023 184-pound national champion Ty McGeary and top-ranked heavyweight Francesco Borsellino. Two head-to-head ranked matchups could be worth watching there as top-ranked Wyatt Turnquist of Northern State could face off with fifth-ranked Nico Taddy at 149 pounds, while Northern State's fifth-ranked Devin Bahr could face off with second-ranked Jamar Williams of West Liberty at 157 pounds.
 
Third seeded Lander has made a quick rise to the upper echelon of Division II and spent several weeks this season ranked No. 1. The Bearcats were fifth last year at the National Duals and stunned the division's old guard by finishing second at the 2023 NCAA Division II men's championships. Coach R.C. LaHaye's team brought home a trophy within the program's first five years. Lander opens with Tiffin in the first round with the winner facing either sixth-seeded Nebraska-Kearney or Glenville State. The most anticipated bout in the Lander-Tiffin dual comes at 141 pounds where Tiffin's returning national champion and top-ranked Zackary Donathan should face ninth-ranked Isham Peace of Lander.
 
Fourth-seeded Lake Erie will open with UMary in a dual that features 10 ranked wrestlers, seven returning All-Americans and two head-to-head ranked matchups that could be key to advancing to the next round. At 133 pounds, UMary returning All-American Reece Barnhardt comes in ranked seventh and he should face off with No. 11 Ryan Wehner. Lake Erie's James Penfold comes in ranked No. 1 at 174 pounds after finishing fourth in the nation last year. He's set to face off with Max Bruss of UMary, who was fifth last year. The pair met last year in the consolation semifinals at the national championships with Penfold winning a 7-6 decision. The winner of this dual will face either fifth-seeded St. Cloud State or Newberry.
 
Despite winning five of the last six Division II Men's National Duals Championships, traditional power St. Cloud State is the fifth seed. Steve Costanzo's squad leads all active Division II men's teams with seven National Duals titles. With six wrestlers ranked, the Huskies should be heavy favorites over the Wolves, who are the only team in the Division II men's field not ranked in the nation's Top 25. The top individual matchup there should come at 149 pounds where returning All-Americans Colby Njos of St. Cloud and Devan Moore of Newberry could meet. Njos is returning from an injury that kept him out all of last season, while Moore finished eighth at last year's Division II championships.

NCAA Division III Men's Division
The only thing that's kept Augsburg and Wartburg from winning the Division III Men's National Duals title since the tournament's inception came in 2022 and that had to do with pandemic-related travel issues. When top-seeded Augsburg and second-seeded Wartburg have competed in the event – one of the squads has come away with the title. Augsburg enters this year's 23-team Division III men's field as the top seed with nine-ranked wrestlers. The Auggies have six returning All-Americans, including 2023 national champion Sam Stuhl at 141 pounds and top-ranked heavyweight Tyler Kim. Historically, the Auggies have won eight titles and been second six other occasions and are the returning team champions.
 
The top seven seeds receive first-round byes due to the larger size of the bracket. The seven first-round matchups are: Cornell College vs. Olivet, Concordia Wisconsin vs. Luther, Dubuque vs. Concordia-Moorhead, RIT vs. Millikin, UW-Whitewater vs. Marymount, Aurora vs. Wabash, and Loras vs. Alfred State.  
 
The Auggies will await the winner of the Cornell College-Olivet dual.  
 
Wartburg leads all schools with 12 National Duals championships and also has a tournament-best 18 finals appearances all-time. The Knights have nine wrestlers ranked and five returning All-Americans coming in, including a pair of national champions – 174-pounder Zane Mulder and 197-pounder Massoma "Mo" Endene. Mulder and Endene have placed in the postseason three times, including the 2021 NWCA Division III men's championships. The Knights await the winner of the Loras-Alfred State dual.
 
With nine wrestlers ranked coming in, third-seeded UW-La Crosse comes in as the tournament's third seed. The Eagles return three All-Americans including 157-pound champion Nolan Hertel, who also comes in ranked No. 1. Also formidable for UW-La Crosse are third-ranked Tyler Goebel at 149 pounds and third-ranked heavyweight Michael Douglas. Coach Dave Malecek's squad is the only other Division III men's school with a National Duals title, winning the team championship in 2022. UW-La Crosse will take on the winner of the RIT-Millikin dual.
 
With top-seven placements each of the last two years, North Central has slowly become a factor in the Division III men's wrestling landscape. With eight returning All-Americans and five ranked wrestlers, including the return of two-time Division III champion Robbie Precin to the lineup for the second semester. The Cardinals will face either Dubuque or Concordia-Moorhead to open up the Cardinals' tournament.
 
Fifth-seeded Baldwin Wallace has four All-Americans in the lineup including two past Division III champions – Jordan Decatur at 125 pounds and Michael Petrella at 149. Both come in ranked No. 1. All-Americans Jaden Hinton (133) and Doug Byrne (285) come in ranked fourth for coach Jamie Gibbs' Yellowjackets. They'll face either Concordia Wisconsin or Luther in the Round of 16.
 
Officially now known as Vermont State University Castleton, the sixth-seeded Spartans brings five ranked wrestlers to Cedar Falls, led by returning All-American James Rodriguez at 141 pounds, who comes in ranked ninth. The Spartans have had a solid season thus far and have a pair of wrestlers ranked fourth – Desmond McLaughlin at 174 and Sampson Wilkins at 184. VTSU Castleton will face UW-Whitewater or Marymount.
 
Seventh-seeded TCNJ is led second-ranked and returning All-Americans Nicholas Sacco at 165 pounds. The Lions will take on either Aurora or Wabash in the Round of 16. Eighth-seeded Johnson & Wales will open with Coe in the Round of 16.
 
NAIA Men's Division
Grand View comes in, like always, as the favorite to win a 12th straight NAIA Men's National Duals championship. The Vikings only trail Wartburg in total titles won across any division and they'll look to add to their astounding NAIA men's dual meet win streak of 159 in a row. Grand View isn't as loaded as they've been in past years with "only" seven returning All-Americans and 12 ranked wrestlers, five ranked No. 1. They open with William Penn.
 
Second-seeded Life upended Grand View for the NAIA men's national championship in 2021, but they've failed to beat the Vikings at the National Duals. The Running Eagles have fallen in the finals each of the last four trips. Life has 12 wrestlers nationally ranked, including two No. 1s. Of those 12, three have won national titles – Brandon Orum at 125 and Brevin Balmeceda at 157 pounds and Junior College transfer Thaddeus Long. Life will face either the University of the Cumberlands or seventh-seeded Indiana Tech.
 
Third-seeded Southeastern will open up with Marian in the opening round. With 10 ranked wrestlers and three returning All-Americans, Southeastern is built for duals, with six wrestlers holding rankings in the teens combined with third-ranked Sal Silva (157) and Gabe Jacobs (285). Southeastern's best finish in the event was last year, as the Fire finished third. The winner here will face the winner of the dual between sixth-seeded Doane and Southern Oregon University, one of three schools in the field who were in existence prior to 2000.
 
Fourth-seeded Campbellsville will take on Central Methodist to open the Tigers' tournament. With just one returning All-American, second-ranked Shadrick Sloan at 165 pounds, Coach Franky James' squad is also built more for duals. Central Methodist's top wrestler returning wrestler this season is returning All-American Donald Griffin, but he comes in ranked 15th at 157 pounds. The Campbellsville-Central Methodist winner will face either fifth-seeded Menlo or Oklahoma City.

NCAA Women's Division
Since the women's wrestling has experienced the most growth in the sport, there are both NCAA and NAIA dual meet championships. On the NCAA women's side of things, King has won the last two National Duals titles and finished runner-up one other time and has won six championships total since the inception of the women's divisions in 2005.  History aside, North Central, last year's runner-up, is the top seed followed by the first-year women's program at Iowa. Iowa comes in ranked No. 1 in the most recent NWCA rankings, but North Central will be bolstered by the return of two-time national champion Yelena Makoyed and the addition of national champion transfer Alara Boyd. The Cardinals were second last year and have 15 ranked athletes in addition to those two to choose from. Iowa, despite being in its first year, boasts seven wrestlers who have previously placed at collegiate women's national championships, including past champions Felicity Taylor and Marlynne Deede. With 15 teams in the field, North Central will have a bye and take on the winner of the dual between Lindenwood and No. 8 Lock Haven.
 
Iowa opens with Adrian College, with the winner there taking on either New Jersey City University or seventh-seeded Presbyterian.
 
Third-seeded King opens up with Aurora in the first round and has 11 ranked wrestlers, including top-ranked Samara Chavez at 116 pounds. Aurora has just one ranked wrestler at this point in the season but it's second-ranked Alexis Janiak at 130 pounds. In addition to Chavez, last year's runner-up at the National Collegiate Women's Wrestling Championships, the Tornado have nine wrestlers with national placement during their career, including runner-up Chey Bowman, wrestling this year at 155 pounds. Bowman's placed twice up at 170 pounds. The winner of this dual will face either sixth-seeded Sacred Heart or Emmanuel.
 
Fourth-seeded McKendree won the first NCAA Women's National Duals title back in 2020 and the Bearcats have made three finals all-time. They'll face Gannon to open up the tournament. Top-ranked 130-pounder Cameron Guerin is a three-time NCWWC champion, while there are nine wrestlers who have earned medals in the postseason at some point in their career. Transfer Julia Vidallon was a 2020 WCWA national champion, while Pauline Granados is a two-time finalist, winning the NCWWC in 2020. Gannon has five rostered past All-Americans and two ranked wrestlers – No. 9 Lili Ujfalvi at 143 pounds and No. 7 Jewel Gonzalez at 170. The winner here will face either fifth-seeded Colorado Mesa or Elmira.
 
Colorado Mesa has nine ranked wrestlers and seven past All-Americans, while Sacred Heart has seven ranked individuals and six past All-Americans.
 
NAIA Women's Division
The NAIA women's division should be wildly competitive as the top six seeds bring at least 10 ranked wrestlers to Cedar Falls. Top-seeded and top-ranked Life finished third last year and was the 2022 champion. Menlo, the 2020 champion, is seeded second, while last year's runner-up, Grand View, is seeded third. Returning National Duals and NAIA national champion Southern Oregon is seeded fourth.
 
Among Life's 12 ranked wrestlers are six past All-Americans, including 2023 runners-up Latifah McBryde (155) and Sarah Savidge (130). Latifah McBryde is one of three McBryde sisters in the lineup and they're all ranked. Zaynah is ranked ninth at 136, while Jamilah is the top-ranked wrestler at 143 pounds. Jamilah McBryde was third at last year's NAIA women's championships. We could see as many as six ranked matchups in the opening dual with two of best being Jamilah McBryde taking on seventh-ranked Tiyahna Askew at 143 and Life's Anna Krejsa facing off with seventh-ranked Juliana Diaz of Missouri Baptist. The winner here will face either the University of the Cumberlands or eighth-seeded William Penn.
 
With six All-Americans in the lineup, Menlo will open up with Baker in the first round. Menlo features top-ranked 191-pounder Tavia Heidelberg-Tillotson and three wrestlers ranked third at their respective weight classes – Tianna Fernanez at 101 pounds, Shannon Workinger at 155 and Kalila Shrive at 170. Baker's lone returning All-American is 16th-ranked Elisa Robinson at 191. The top individual bout here could come at 116 where fifth-ranked Katherine Heath of Baker could meet eighth-ranked Alejandra Corral of Menlo. The winner of the Menlo-Baker dual will face either Missouri Valley or seventh-seeded Campbellsville, which won the women's combined tournament back in 2018.  
 
Third-seeded Grand View will open up with Indiana Tech in the first round. The Vikings bring seven wrestlers to Cedar Falls who have postseason All-American honors, including top-ranked 170-pounder Abby McIntyre, who was third at the NAIA women's championships last year. The Vikings also have three wrestlers ranked third in the nation – Maya Davis at 123, Andrea Schlabach at 136 and Olivia Brown at 191 pounds. With both teams combining for 22 ranked wrestlers, the entire dual should have plenty of head-to-head ranked battles, with one possible one to watch coming at 109 where Grand View could mat wither eighth-ranked Lita Cruz or No. 11 Tristan Nitta against All-American and ninth-ranked Tehani Soares of Indiana Tech. The winner here will face either Eastern Oregon or sixth-seeded Texas Wesleyan.
 
Returning champion Southern Oregon surprised the wrestling world last year by winning the NAIA Women's National Duals title and then backed up their performance by winning the school's first NAIA women's national championship. The Raiders, seeded fourth, will again be a threat as the bring back six All-Americans in their opening round dual against Doane. There's a lot of power in this lineup as the Raiders have six wrestlers ranked among the nation's top four, including returning national champion Carolina Moreno, who's ranked No. 1 at 130 pounds. Caitlyn Davis, a returning All-American, is ranked first at 155, while Fernanda Lopez comes in second at 115 pounds. All-American Bella Amaro is ranked third at 143. Doane has top-ranked Christelle Rodriguez at 123 pounds and fifth-ranked Karina Vang at 101. Rodriguez could face off with fourth-ranked Skyla Zimmerman of Southern Oregon. The winner of this dual will face either Oklahoma City or fifth-seeded Providence (Mont.).  
 
Providence returns four All-Americans, including top-ranked Erin Hikiji at 101 pounds. Texas Wesleyan has four returning All-Americans; two wrestlers ranked third – Camille Fournier at 116 and Elizabeth Duvall at 130.
 
Individually, William Penn has two top-ranked wrestlers, 109-pounder Mia Palumbo and 136-pounder Adaugo Nwachukwu. Oklahoma City's Avery Ashley is ranked No. 1 at 116 pounds.

NCWA Men's Division
Despite being somewhat confusing with the transposition of the organizational lettering, the NCWA returned to the NWCA National Duals last year. The NCWA truly is the most unique wrestling division in the country. This year's seven-team field features one school transitioning from Division II to Division I, a stalwart trade school, a club program at a Division III school with an existing varsity program and four well-organized club programs from Division I schools. The NCWA also has an 11-weight class format, which adds a 235-pound class to the traditional college weights.
 
Bellarmine is the top seed and returning champion, followed by the Newport News Apprentice School, Liberty and the University of Dubuque's wrestling club. Central Florida, Washington State and Colorado State are also competing. Apprentice has the most ranked wrestlers coming in with 15, followed by Liberty's 14 and Bellarmine's 13.
 
Bellarmine has five top-ranked wrestlers, while Liberty has two. This year's format is a full round robin as every team will face one another across the two days.
 
Brackets & Results (via Trackwrestling.com)
Division II Men, Division III Men & NAIA Men's Divisions
NCWA Men's Division
NCAA & NAIA Women's Divisions
 
WHAT: NWCA/USMC Multi-Division National Dual Meet Championships presented by A Better Way Athletics, Capital Construction and Defense Soap hosted by NUWAY.
WHERE: UNI-Dome, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa
WHEN: January 5-6, 2024
WHO: 62 men's college teams from Division II, Division III, NAIA and NCWA & 31 women's college teams from the NCAA and NAIA.
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