Face it, if you're a wrestling fan, you already know what happened. There isn’t really much need to explain. Since that’s the whole point of the wraps that we do, here’s a quick synapse of the weekend’s events that had everyone glued to their computer screens.
The University of Northern Iowa hosted the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals presented by CSG Sports Coatings for the third consecutive year and the event was a big hit. Several improvements were made to give both the fan at the UNI-Dome and the fans at home all the wrestling information they could stomach – and there was some great wrestling on top of it, too.
Iowa recaptured the top spot in the most recent USA Today/InterMat/NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll mainly due to the dominant effort the Hawkeyes put on display at the National Duals. Now 11-1 on the season, it would appear the Iowa contingent has put to bed the memory of its home loss to Oklahoma State two weeks ago. While Tom Brands and staff aren’t going to just pass the loss to the Cowboys off as a fleeting recollection, it definitely lit a fire under the Hawks and it was apparent in their performances.
Iowa went 32-8 in individual matches and bested unseeded (but then 10th-ranked) Nebraska 24-6 in the final.
The event wasn’t without its share of upsets, at least on paper. Top-seeded Penn State didn’t matchup well with Nebraska coming in and the Huskers followed through, knocking the Nittany Lions into the consolation bracket in the quarterfinals.
Lou Ruggirello’s fall over Nick Fanthorpe at 133 pounds ended up being the deciding criteria factor allowing Hofstra to move past third-seeded Iowa State in the opening round. The Cyclones would ultimately finish seventh after losing to Penn State in the consolations.
Central Michigan and Minnesota were both missing starters, but both won their opening round matches. Minnesota topped the Chippewas 20-16 to move to the semis where Nebraska reversed an early season loss to the Gophers to reach the final.
Mark Manning’s squad became only the second unseeded team to reach a National Duals final in the 19 years of the event, dating back to when it started out at the Virginia Duals. Oklahoma was the other in 2003 when the event was in Columbus, Ohio.
Scores of individual upsets littered the mats in Cedar Falls. Returning NCAA champion Paul Donahoe was beaten twice, as were then-No. 1 Kellen Russell of Michigan and Jake Strayer of Penn State. Iowa’s Brent Metcalf was the Outstanding Wrestler in Division I, while the rest of the 149 pound weight class was further complicated.
Jordan Burroughs beat Ryan Lang, Lang beat Lance Palmer, Palmer beat Bubba Jenkins, and Jenkins beat Burroughs. Have fun with that.
In Division II, fourth-seeded Minnesota State-Mankato won the championship in a final over Nebraska-Omaha that came down to the last match. Brady Wilson’s takedown in overtime against UNO’s Tony Lewis gave coach Jim Makovsky the team championship in a match between two schools nicknamed the Mavericks. Have fun with that, too.
For the first time since the tournament was expanded to include all wrestling divisions, Division III did not have an Augsburg vs. Wartburg final. Wartburg, the top seed, cruised into the finals, but Augsburg was upended by Wisconsin-La Crosse. Wartburg went on to win its fourth Division III duals championship by dispensing UW-Lax 25-8.
Lindenwood squeaked past Great Falls to claim the NAIA crown, while Iowa Central reclaimed the top spot in the NJCAA division by topping St. Louis-Meramec in the final.
Grand Valley took the NCWA crown and the first-year women’s wrestling program at Oklahoma City University topped the University of the Cumberlands for the women’s freestyle championship.
In other duals…
Oklahoma State won its first Virginia Duals title since 1998, the last time the Cowboys attended, by beating Illinois in the final. The only three ranked teams in the field finished 1-2-3, as Oklahoma State, last week’s #3 was followed by Illinois, last week’s #17, and Old Dominion, last week’s #23.
Newberry College of South Carolina was flawless in picking up the championship in the American College Division of the Virginia Duals. Seriously, flawless. The Indians shut out McDaniel, Apprentice and Gannon to finish 30-0 in individual matches.
On the air
Media Sports Productions first broadcast of Wrestling 411 is set to air on Thursday at 10 a.m. Eastern on College Sports Television Network. The 30-minute highlights show will recap much of last weekend’s action from the National Duals.
CSTV will also broadcast the finals of the National Duals on January 20. Check your local listings to see when it will air in your respective area.
Iowa gets no rest as the Hawkeyes travel to #6 Ohio State and host #7 Penn State over the weekend as the Big Ten regular season dual schedule gets going. Wisconsin will travel to Ames for a non-conference dual with Iowa State in a match between two teams ranked in the top 13 in the nation.
Oklahoma State takes on Missouri on Saturday; Wisconsin shoots south to take on Oklahoma, while the Cowboys join in to wrestle Nebraska in Oklahoma City in a match between the second and third-ranked teams in the nation.
The CAA Duals also kick off at George Mason University with all eight teams taking to the mats. The reason for the event is due to the large geographical footprint of the conference, which extends from Massachusetts to North Carolina. It’s a step aimed at making sure teams see each other before the conference tournament and to save teams money from traveling long distances for a single dual. It’s nearly 750 miles from Boston University to Campbell.