The lineup has been finalized for the USA Wrestling National Team All-Star Dual Meet that will be held as part of the festivities at the 2011 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Philadelphia, Pa.
The event is set for Thursday, March 17, between the first and second sessions of the NCAA Championships, on the competition mats in the Wells Fargo Center. It is free of charge and NCAA fans will not have to leave their seats to enjoy the action.
There are seven matches as part of the All-Star Dual Meet. It opens with an exhibition bout between two of the United States’ top freestyle wrestlers, followed by a six-match USA vs. The World Dual Meet.
There is a strong U.S. college connection among the participants. All nine U.S. wrestlers were highly successful college wrestlers, and four of the international competitors also were talented wrestlers in U.S. college programs.
The opening freestyle exhibition match at 55 kg/121 pounds will feature Americans Troy Nickerson and Nick Simmons. Nickerson was a 2009 NCAA champion and four-time All-American for Cornell. Simmons was a four-time All-American for Michigan State. This is Nickerson’s first match since his college career ended in March 2010.
The first match in the USA vs. The World Dual Meet will be in Greco-Roman, and will feature 2005 World bronze medalist Justin Ruiz of the United States against 2006 World champion Mohammed Abdel Fatah of Egypt. Ruiz was a two-time All-American for Nebraska.
The first freestyle match will be at 60 kg/132 pounds featuring Derek Moore of the United States against Franklin Gomez of Puerto Rico. Moore now competes for the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program. Gomez competed in the 2010 World Championships for Puerto Rico. Moore was the 2007 NCAA champion for UC Davis. Gomez was a 2009 NCAA champion and three-time All-American for Michigan State.
The 74 kg/163 pound freestyle bout will feature Ryan Morningstar of the United States against Muzafar Abdurakhmanov of Uzbekistan. Morningstar was a two-time All-American for Iowa and Abdurakhmanov was an All-American for American in 2006.
Next is a freestyle bout at 84 kg/185 pounds featuring Keith Gavin of the United States against Jaime Y. Espinal of Puerto Rico. Gavin was a 2008 University World bronze medalist. Espinal was a 2010 Pan American silver medalist. Gavin was a 2008 NCAA champion and two-time All-American for Pittsburgh.
The match at 96 kg/211.5 pounds will showcase J.D. Bergman of the United States against Israel Silva of Mexico. Bergman competed in the 2010 World Championships, and Silva competed in the 2009 World Championships. Bergman was a three-time All-American for Ohio State, while Silva was an NCAA qualifier for UT-Chattanooga.
The final featured bout will be at 66 kg/145.5 pounds with Brent Metcalf of the United States facing Heinrich Barnes of South Africa. Barnes placed seventh in the 2010 World Championships and has competed in three Senior World Championships. Metcalf was a member of the 2010 U.S. World Team. Metcalf was a two-time NCAA champion and three-time NCAA finalist for Iowa. Barnes was an All-American for Oregon State in 2009.
“Any time we can get international competition in preparation for the upcoming World Championships, it is great for our program,” said USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach Zeke Jones. “This is our training phase, and it’s good to have international matches here on U.S. soil. What greater place is there to showcase our future World and Olympic champions than at the NCAA Championships? This may be the only place where we can showcase international wrestling and American folkstyle at the highest level side-by-side.”
This is the second consecutive year that a USA Wrestling exhibition will be provided free of charge to wrestling fans who are attending the championships. At the 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Omaha, Neb., USA Wrestling hosted a Big Ten vs. Big 12 Challenge.