Jan. 6, 2010

By Amy Farnum

No. 1 Nebraska-Omaha is ready to defend its title at the NWCA/Cliff Keen Division II National Duals as the top-seeded squad in the 16-team field on Jan. 9-10 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

The Mavericks have yet to compete in a dual meet this season, but are coming off a 13-0 dual record last year.  The field includes seven other squads ranked in the top 10, and all but one team in the field is listed in the latest Division II rankings.

After a three-week hiatus, UNO wrestled at the Ron Beaman Open hosted by Dana College on Jan. 2, but did not show signs of rust as the Mavericks claimed six individual titles on the day.  Senior 133-pounder Cody Garcia went 5-0 with four pins at the tournament.  Ranked second nationally in his weight class, Garcia paces the Mavericks with a 24-0 record and 19 pins on the year.

Adams State’s Josh Hensley turned in a 4-0 mark – each bonus-point victories – as he captured the 141-pound title at the Midwest Classic in Indianapolis, Ind., last weekend.

The sophomore from Alamosa, Colo., was named the Michael Horton Most Outstanding Wrestler at the tournament for his performance, and also was selected Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Wrestler of the Week.  Hensley, who was seeded fifth in the tournament, pinned eighth-seeded Jake Strausbaugh of Wabash in the semifinals and downed sixth-seeded Deral Brown of Newberry by technical fall in the title match.

Hensley, who is fourth in the latest weight-class rankings, has compiled a 15-3 mark with 12 bonus-point wins on the year.  He has posted bonus-point victories in each of his last 10 wins.

FROM ALL SIDES:  UW-Parkside climbed up to No. 6 in the latest Division II poll after winning the Midwest Classic team title, outdistancing second-ranked Newberry College by 9.5 points in the standings.  It is the third time the Rangers won the event, but the first time since 1983.  They have been the runner-up seven times including last year.

The Rangers claimed just one individual title, but posted two second-place finishers, one third, fifth, sixth and seventh-place finisher and two eighth places for a balanced scoring attack.  Nine squads in the 22-team field were nationally-ranked.

Freshman Matt Gille took home the Rangers’ lone title at 165 pounds after pinning Newberry’s Josh Whitelock in the final match.

  West Liberty University’s Mitch Smith had a strong showing at the Midwest Classic as the senior cruised to the 149-pound title, moving him up to No. 1 in the latest Division II rankings.

Smith finished a flawless weekend by pinning top-ranked Craig Becker of UW-Parkside at 4:53 in the championship match.  

The No. 13 Hilltoppers had only eight wrestlers competing due to injury, but still finished sixth in the team standings.  They will now travel to the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals on Jan. 9-10.