Five things to watch
Possible rematches and Iowa boys highlight the championships
Wartburg could be chasing … Wartburg this weekend. The Knights already own four of the top-five point totals at an NCAA Division III Championships. In 2003, head coach Jim Miller’s squad totaled 166 ½ points and outdistanced second-place Augsburg by 72 points. Augsburg’s 2005 total of 162 points sits at number two on the list with Wartburg’s 156 ½ in 2004, 147 in 2008, and 145 ½ in 2006, rounding out the top-five all-time point totals. The Knights qualified all 10 wrestlers for the 2013 Championships.
The Battle for Gold at 165 Pounds
This weight class features six All-Americans, including two national champions. Wartburg junior Landon Williams is 30-1 and the defending champion at 165. A native of Davenport, Iowa, he lost a match to Oklahoma State signee Zach Skates, who now wrestles for NAIA Oklahoma City University. Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Nazar Kulchytskyy, also a junior, is 40-1 with his lone loss coming to a member of the Wisconsin roster. From Ukraine, he won the 157-pound gold last March.
Also up from 157 pounds is John Darling of The College of New Jersey, who is 32-4 as a senior. He finished sixth in 2012. The other three All-Americans in the bracket are Stevens Institute senior Joey Favia (30-1), Olivet’s James Myers (17-6) and Springfield’s Derek Longo (32-6).
Division I is so sure of an impending Kyle Dake-David Taylor rematch in the 165-pound final they changed the order of the finals, putting the “feature” bout as the last of 10 on Saturday night. Two weight classes at last week’s Division II championships featured possible rematches of 2012 finals that never materialized.
Two-time champion Trevor Franklin of Upper Iowa and St. Cloud State’s Andy Pokorny met in the finals at 133 last March. Pokorny held up his end of the bargain last week, but Franklin dropped a first-round match. The previous two seasons, Northern State’s Jake Meuleners and SCSU’s Jake Kahnke met for gold at 285 pounds. Mueleners made the final, but like Pokorny, was beaten. Kahnke did not make the big stage for a third consecutive year.
Will Division III see a rematch of the 125-pound finals – at 133? Wartburg’s Kenny Anderson and North Central’s (Ill.) Nathan Fitzenreider are a combined 54-1 this season. Last March, Anderson beat Fitzenreider in the 125-pound finals. They are the top two seeds at 133 this weekend.
The Race for OW
Six champions return from 2012 – Anderson, Williams, Kulchytskyy, Wartburg’s Kodie Silvestri, Ohio Northern’s Kyle Kwiat and Augsburg’s Chad Johnson. That group is a combined 222-8 this season. Odds are, the annual Outstanding Wrestler Award will come from one of those six.
Those Iowa Boys
Any time a wrestling tournament is held in the state of Iowa it is wise to pay attention to those entrees who grew up with the American Goldfinch as their state bird. Only 10 student-athletes from Iowa will be in the field this weekend. But they pack a powerful punch. Six of them suit up for Wartburg, located in Waverly. Coe’s Dimitri Boyer (157) and Jimmy Gotto (125) will compete along with Luther’s Jayden DeVilbiss, a freshman 184-pounder. The only wrestler from Iowa but suiting up for a non-Iowa school is New York University’s Brandon Jones, a 133-pounder who started his career at Iowa State. Jones is from West Des Moines.