Manheim, Pennsylvania – Seven Georgia natives and three wrestlers from Georgia colleges will highlight the showcase matches at the 50th annual Hire Heroes NWCA All-Star Classic presented by the Wrestlers in Business Network on November 1 in Atlanta, Ga. The All-Star Classic is also sponsored by Raymond James and will be held at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion at 5 p.m.
Injuries have also altered two of the main draw matches as Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez, Virginia Tech’s Nick Brascetta and Edinboro’s Vic Avery had to pull out due to early-season issues.
The new bout at 157 pounds will feature two-time All-American Mitch Minotti of Lehigh taking on South Dakota State’s Cody Pack. Minotti becomes Lehigh’s third entry, joining 133-pounder Mason Beckman and 184-pounder Nathaniel Brown.
Minotti will be the 32nd appearance by a Lehigh wrestler in the All-Star Classic. Pack will become the first wrestler from South Dakota State to compete in the event. Minotti finished eighth at 157 pounds last year after finishing sixth at 149 the year prior.
Pack was the No. 5 seed at last year’s NCAA championships and finished a match short of All-American honors.
Arizona State’s Blake Stauffer will replace Avery at 184 pounds and he’ll face returning NCAA runner-up Brown of Lehigh. It will be the first meeting between the two wrestlers. Stauffer was an All-American a year ago, finishing fourth at 184 pounds
Even with the alterations in the lineup, the main event will feature 19 All-Americans, and three returning NCAA champions.
Stauffer was originally scheduled to compete against Missouri All-American Willie Miklus in one of the showcase bouts, but was moved into the main event after Avery bowed out. Miklus will now face Gardner-Webb’s Hunter Gamble, a past NCAA qualifier, in one of the eight matches prior to the kick off of the main event.
Georgia natives Sean Russell, Chad Pyke, Kamaal Shakur, Hunter Gamble, Jason Grimes, Chance McClure and Chip Ness will have an opportunity to wrestle in their home state as part of the undercard.
Edinboro’s Russell, a four-time state champion at Collins Hill High School, will face Life University’s Devane Dodgens at 125 pounds. Russell redshirted for the Fighting Scots last year, while Dodgens was an NAIA qualifier for the new program at Life, which is in Marietta, Georgia.
N.C. State’s Pyke and Chattanooga’s Shakur will face off against one another at 157 pounds. Pyke wrestled at Woodward Academy just south of Atlanta, while Shakur hails from Parkview High School in Lilburn, which is 20 miles northwest of Atlanta.
Grimes, who wrestles for American University, was a two-time state champion at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School. He’ll face off with Cornell freshman Brandon Womack, a six-time high school state champion from Scottsboro, Alabama.
Gardner-Webb's Gamble, from McDonough, Ga., was a high school state champion at Union Grove High School. A Southern Conference champion as a freshman, he knocked off Lehigh's Brown in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Division I championships. He'll face returning All-American Willie Miklus of Missouri at 184 pounds.
McClure, wrestling unattached from the University of Virginia, was a four-time state champion from Commerce, Ga., about 90 minutes north of Atlanta. He’ll wrestle Chip Ness, who will also compete unattached for the University of North Carolina. Ness was also a four-time Georgia state champion for Buford High School in Duluth, 25 miles northwest of Atlanta.
Three other showcase matches are scheduled, with the women’s college match seeing participation from both of the women’s college programs in the state, Life and the brand-new program at Emmanuel College.
Jennifer Juarez of Life University will face Emmanuel’s Cindy Calixto at 123 pounds. Both wrestlers are New York natives. Women’s bouts have been part of the All-Star Classic for a number of years with the first coming back in 2006 in Arlington, Texas. Helen Maroulis, the 2015 women’s world champion, competed the last two years, wrestling in an international bout against opponents from abroad. This will be the first match in an All-Star Classic event with two women’s wrestlers competing for American colleges.
Two bouts without specific Georgia ties are also on the docket as Princeton’s Chris Perez will face Division III All-American Derek Arnold of Ursinus. Perez was a match away from earning All-American status last season at the NCAA Division I championships, while Arnold finished fourth at 149 pounds at the NCAA Division III championships last year in Hershey, Pa.
Army West Point’s Bryce Barnes will face off with Chattanooga’s Scottie Boykin at 197 pounds in a matchup of NCAA qualifiers at 197 pounds.
Announced #NWCAClassic50 Matchups
125- Nathan Tomasello, So. (Ohio State) vs. Zeke Moisey, So. (West Virginia)
133- Mason Beckman, Sr. (Lehigh) vs. Rossi Bruno, Sr. (Michigan)
141- Cody Brewer, Sr. (Oklahoma) vs. Dean Heil, So. (Oklahoma State)
149- B.J. Clagon, So. (Rider) vs. Alexander Richardson, Sr. (Old Dominion)
157- Mitch Minotti, Jr. (Lehigh) vs. Cody Pack, Sr. (South Dakota State)
165- Alex Dieringer, Sr. (Oklahoma State) vs. Ethan Ramos, So. (North Carolina)
174- Kyle Crutchmer, Jr. (Oklahoma State) vs. Zach Epperly, So. (Virginia Tech)
184- Nathaniel Brown, Sr. (Lehigh) vs. Blake Stauffer, Sr. (Arizona State)
197- Conner Hartmann, Sr. (Duke) vs. Max Huntley, Sr. (Michigan)
285- Adam Coon, Jr. (Michigan) vs. Ty Walz, Jr. (Virginia Tech)
125: Sean Russell, Fr. (Edinboro) vs. Devane Dodgens, Jr. (Life)
149: Chris Perez, Sr. (Princeton) vs. Derek Arnold, Jr. (Ursinus)
157: Chad Pyke, So. (N.C. State) vs. Kamaal Shakur, Fr. (Chattanooga)
174: Jason Grimes, Jr. (American) vs. Brandon Womack, Fr. (Cornell)
184: Willie Miklus, So. (Missouri) vs. Hunter Gamble, Jr. (Gardner-Webb)
197: Chance McClure, So. (Virginia-Unattached) vs. Chip Ness, So. (North Carolina-Unattached)
197: Bryce Barnes, Sr. (Army West Point) vs. Scottie Boykin, Jr. (Chattanooga)
123: Jennifer Juarez (Life) vs. Cindy Calixto (Emmanuel)