Feb. 24, 2009

Courtesy of Truman Athletics

Kirksville, Mo. - Six of the top 20 Division II wrestling teams, including the defending national champion will converge in Kirksville and Pershing Arena on Sunday March 1st as Truman State University will host the NCAA Division II Super Regional.  The top four individuals in each weight class will advance to the NCAA National Championships March 13-14 at the Division II Sports Festival in Houston, Texas.

The regional tournament features nine teams and action will begin at noon in Pershing Arena.  The finals are expected to begin around 6:30 p.m.  Admission for the entire tournament is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for senior citizens.  Students with a valid ID will pay just $3.00 for the tournament.

The University of Nebraska-Omaha won the 2008 team national championship and has won four of the last five titles.  The Mavericks are expected to bring six All-Americans to Pershing Arena and will be a strong contender to claim the regional championship.

UNO will have two wrestlers in the field that have won two straight individual national championships and are both moving up a weight class.  Junior Cody Garcia (133-lbs) is a two-time national champ at 125 pounds and is currently ranked second in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association poll at 133 pounds. 

Senior Todd Meneely also is a two-time champ at 149 and has moved up a weight class this year.  Meneely is the top ranked wrestler in the nation in the 157-pound weight class and only regional competitor in the top 10.

The Mavericks have a wrestler ranked in nine of the 10 weight classes with three ranked number one.  Meneely (157), Ross Taplin (174) and Brent Pankoke (184) are also tops in the nation while Garcia (133) and Aaron Denson (165) are second in the nation.

With the new NCAA Division II regionalization plan, this will be the first time Nebraska-Omaha has competed with the other eight schools in the regional.

Hoping to stand in the Mavericks way will be the University of Central Oklahoma.  The Broncos have won seven national titles with their last coming in 2007 and are ranked seventh in the latest NWCA poll. 

UCO returns three all-Americans including second place finisher Dustin Finn at heavyweight.  Finn is ranked fourth in the big man class along with two other regional competitors, Tony Lewis (3rd) of Nebraska-Omaha and Cody Beck (5th) of Central Missouri.

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is ranked eighth in the nation and will feature two returning regional champions from last year. Cody Zimmerman won the 125 regional title as a freshman and is ranked seventh nationally and senior Cory VanGroll will wrestle down at 165 after taking the 174 regional championship.  Junior Craig Becker is also the top ranked grappler for the Rangers in the 149-pound weight class.

Three other schools in the nine team field are ranked in the nation with the University of Central Missouri sitting in 16th, University of Findlay (Ohio) at 18th and Ashland University (Ohio) in 20th.

The Mules have Grant Baker (133), Andrew Hicklin (8th/165) and Cody Beck (5th/285) ranked nationally, while Findlay has all-American Hiram Smith (3rd/184) looking to capture his first regional championship after finishing as a runner up last year.

The University of Indianapolis returns Matt Irwin (6th/141) who finished fourth at the regional that was hosted by the Greyhounds last year.

The newcomer to the tournament will be Newman University (Kan.).  The Jets are competing in their first NCAA regional tournament after making the transition to Division II this year.  Josh Fansler captured the NWCA individual national championship at 184 pounds for the Jets last season as the team finished second in the nation.  Issac Wall (125), Clay Goodloe (157) and Florian Temengil (285) were all national runner-ups last season for Newman.

The Truman Bulldogs will hope to advance someone to nationals for the 17th straight year.  Loyde Braidlow (285) is the lone returning national qualifier for the Bulldogs as the redshirt junior and did not wrestle last season.  Braidlow is 30-18 on the season and has placed at several tournaments this year.

Coach David Schutter will also look to some youngsters to prove themselves at the national level.  Two redshirt freshmen, Jeremy Minter (125/133) and Chad Kurvoski (184) could push for a national qualifier spot along with true freshman James Crone (125/133) and Alex Maus (141).

The top four places in each weight class will advance to the national championship meet that is being held in conjunction with the first NCAA Division II Winter Sports Festival in Houston, Texas on March 13-14.