Finding a home one year later
Notes: Three contenders fell from the unbeaten ranks last week
Roger Moore, NCAA.com
This time last year Barrett Abel and Ricky Alcala were preparing for the stretch run of their junior seasons at UC Davis. Abel would go on to win the Pac-10 Championship at 149 pounds with Alcala taking third at heavyweight. Both competed at the 2010 NCAA Championships for the Aggies.
A month after the tournament in Omaha, UC Davis announced it was dropping four sports, including wrestling, sending Abel and Alcala scrambling to find a program for one season.
Abel landed at Cal Poly and is 21-8 this season for the Mustangs, who compete at the California Collegiate Championships on Saturday in San Francisco.
Alcala has fit right in at Indiana, compiling a 23-7 mark for the Hoosiers, who wrestle at Iowa on Friday night. The Bakersfield native beat ninth-ranked Ben Apland of Michigan last week and was No. 14 in the first NCAA Coaches Panel Rankings released Jan. 18. The new Hoosier heavyweight is working towards his Master’s Degree after graduating from UC Davis before leaving last August.
“I had about five minutes of thought about not wrestling again,” said Abel, who was ranked 27th in the Coaches Panel Rankings. “But I did alright last year and couldn’t imagine not giving it that one last shot.
“After the shock and all the emotions, I stepped back and realized that I could turn this into a positive. It’s bad for Davis and California that another program was lost but if wrestling has taught me anything it’s that the answer is not to turn tail and run but to fight back. I see the issues, some of the reasons programs are being dropped, but I don’t agree. Decisions are being made by people not involved in athletics.”
Former UC Davis head coach Lennie Zalesky, an All-American for Iowa during his competing days, has transitioned from coach to Athletic Development Officer at Davis.
Need to Know
• Division III will have its own Super Bowl weekend with No. 1 Wartburg (18-1) visiting No. 3 Augsburg (7-4) on Friday night. The Knights extended their IIAC dual win streak to 150 last weekend with three victories. The Auggies dropped a dual to No. 7 Concordia-Moorhead at the Minnesota Duals last Saturday. It was only AU’s fourth loss in 198 duals against MIAC schools since the 1975-76 season.
On Sunday, Augsburg welcomes second-ranked Wisconsin-LaCrosse (10-3) to Selby Hall.
• Three contenders fell from the unbeaten ranks last weekend -- Northwestern’s Brandon Precin, Penn State’s Andrew Long and Cornell’s Kyle Dake.
Precin entered last Friday with a 25-0 mark and ranked No. 1 at 125 pounds but was pinned by 2010 NCAA champion Matt McDonough of Iowa, who avenged a loss in the Midlands final in December.
Long was 6-0 at 133 pounds entering Sunday’s dual against the Hawkeyes but was beaten 3-2 by Tony Ramos.
Dake, the NCAA champion at 141 last March, dropped a 3-2 decision to Binghamton’s Donnie Vinson last Friday. It was Dake’s first loss in 26 bouts this season and ended a streak of 49 wins in a row.
• Only three freshmen are ranked among the top 10 at their respective weights in Division III -- Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Nazar Kulchytskyy is No. 5 at 149; Luther’s Daniel Mendoza is No. 9 at 125 and Augsburg heavyweight Chad Johnson is No. 10. Kulchytskyy, a native of Ukraine, is 6-0 with a victory against 2009 DIII champion Matt Mauseth of Wisconsin-LaCrosse on his resume.
Only two rookies are among the Top 8 in DII -- Newberry’s B.J. Young is No. 5 at 133 and Mitchell Means of Fort Hays State is No. 3 at 149.
• Iowa (11-0-1) moved to No. 2 in this week’s NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll after giving Penn State its first loss in 14 starts. The return of 2010 NCAA finalist Montel Marion, who rallied to beat Nittany Lion rookie Andrew Alton, will certainly put them back in the national conversation. The Hawkeyes take a 73 match unbeaten streak into Friday night’s dual against Indiana.
• Cornell, who returned to No. 1 in the rankings, beat Iowa State last Sunday. Two of the top 174-pounders in the country met with Cyclone senior Jon Reader (27-0) beating Mack Lewnes (26-2), 7-6.
• Division II No. 18 Adams State beat No. 19 Fort Hays State Thursday afternoon. The Grizzlies continue their travels east facing No. 11 Nebraska-Kearney on Friday. The Adams State-UNK dual will feature a pair of former DI starters at 141 pounds when ASU’s Kenny Jordan faces UNK’s Dalton Jensen, both ranked among the top eight.
• No. 446 will have to wait until Saturday. Ursinius head coach Bill Racich, in his 30th year at the DIII school, was set to lead his squad against Muhlenberg on Wednesday but weather postponed the match until Saturday. Racich has 446 career victories and with one more would tie John Sacchi for 14th all-time in coaching victories.
• DII’s top-ranked Nebraska-Omaha visits No. 9 Minnesota-Mankato on Friday. The Mavericks’ Esai Dominguez (27-3), George Ivanov (21-3) and Ryan Pankoke (30-2) are a combined 78-8 this season.
• The state of Oklahoma welcomes No. 12 Missouri this weekend. The Tigers face No. 5 Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Friday and No. 10 Oklahoma (11-1) in Norman on Saturday. MU (14-6) beat the Cowboys (9-2-1) in January at the NWCA National Duals.