Cornell coach Rob Koll

Roger Moore,

The annual NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals are usually a pretty good indication of who can win the NCAA title in March. Last year’s champion in each division went on to claim top honors after Iowa (Division I), Nebraska-Omaha (Division II) and Augsburg (Division III) earned titles in Cedar Falls last January.

However, at least in Division I, a repeat won’t be the case in 2011.

Iowa, winners of the last three Division I championships, beat Iowa State in the 2010 National Duals final. The Hawkeyes, ranked seventh and 7-0 in duals this season, will not be in the field this weekend. They host Division II Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Friday night.

Cornell has been ranked No. 1 in the DI poll since about an hour after Iowa lost eight starters from a dominating 2010 squad. The Big Red will have to get through Ohio State and most likely Missouri on Saturday. The Tigers won the Midlands team title last month. Iowa State, Boise State and Minnesota are also in Cornell’s portion of the bracket.

Oklahoma State and Wisconsin are the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds, respectively, in the bottom half of the bracket. The Cowboys have won eight National Duals titles, the most by any school.
Nebraska-Omaha is certainly the favorite again in DII with St. Cloud State possibly ready to challenge. Augustana (S.D.) and Western (Colo.) State could also have something to say this weekend.

DIII might be the most wide open. Augsburg regained the No. 1 ranking on Jan. 4 and will be among at least six teams with title hopes joining Wartburg, St. John’s, UW-La Crosse, Coe, Ithaca. St. John’s beat Wartburg and Coe at the Desert Duals in Las Vegas last month. UW-La Crosse is the only other program to wrestle in the DIII final other than Augsburg and Wartburg.

Of the 48 total teams in Divisions I, II and III this weekend, 41 are ranked among the nation’s top 25.

Need to Know
• They may not meet but three of DIII’s top 149-pounders will be at the National Duals. NCAA champions Myanganbayar Batsukh (St. John’s) and Matt Manseth (UW-La Crosse) and former runner-up Tony Valek (Augsburg) will all be suiting up. Valek is 9-0, Batsukh is 7-0 and Manseth is 8-5 with one of his losses to Kevin LaValley of Bucknell and another to Batsukh on Dec. 10.
If the seeds hold Augsburg and UW-La Crosse could meet in Sunday’s semifinals.

• The National Duals are not the only game in town. Perhaps the nation’s hottest team, Penn State highlights the field for the 2011 Virginia Duals in Hampton, Va. The Nittany Lions, tied for second with Oklahoma State in the latest NWCA/USA Today Top 25 poll, are 7-0 and the top seed in the 16-team dual tournament. Pennsylvania rival Lehigh (7-2) is ranked ninth and the No. 2 seed ahead of Michigan and Kent State. Wyoming, which won the Reno Tournament of Champions, is seeded seventh.
The two-day tourney is Friday and Saturday.

• Darrion Caldwell, a 2009 NCAA champion for North Carolina State, finally made his debut on Tuesday night. The 149-pounder missed 16 months due to injury. Caldwell, a New Jersey native, pinned Bloomsburg’s Josh Roosa in 4:54 on Tuesday and moved to 2-0 on Wednesday with a narrow 10-7 decision of Rider’s Zac Cibula. The Wolfpack senior is now 96-12 for his career.

• Minnesota has a solid tradition of wrestling, providing USA Wrestling with plenty of Greco-Roman talent. The state also does just fine in folkstyle. In Cedar Falls, the University of Minnesota is seeded fourth in Division I; St. Cloud is seeded second in DII; Augsburg is seeded first in DIII; and St. John’s is seeded third in DIII.

Quick Hits
Nebraska-Omaha is 26-1 in duals over the last two seasons and the Mavericks are 302-110-5 under head coach Mike Denney, who is in his 32nd year… Alex Meade, who qualified for the 2010 NCAA Championships for Oklahoma State at 165 pounds and was a two-time Cadet freestyle national champion, was given his release by the school on Tuesday… Iowa’s Montel Marion, a finalist at 141 pounds in 2010, was reinstated to the team this week after being suspended in the first semester… If Oregon State and Wisconsin each win in the first round of the National Duals they will face off in the quarterfinals, making for an interesting matchup as Oregon State head coach Jim Zalesky and Wisconsin head coach Barry Davis were teammates at Cedar Rapids Prairie High School and the University of Iowa.