Top-Ranked Teams Highlight National Duals Field
Lindenwood-St. Charles is the early favorite among a tight list at the top of the NCWA rankings. The Lions are the top-ranked team in this week’s NCWA Coaches’ Poll, and are 3-2 this season in dual matches. Matt Greene lead the Lions in wins at 15-8 in the 174-pound bracket, and Jacob Janes, a 141-pound junior, also has double-digit wins on the season thus far.
Defending champion Liberty, which topped Lindenwood-St. Charles 25-15 for the duals title last year, is back with a No. 3 ranking in this week’s poll. The Flames took fifth place at the Virginia Duals last week, losing to Central Florida 35-18 in its last match. Liberty’s strength lies in its middle weights, anchored by Keyshaun Ward (174), last year’s NCWA runner-up Royal Brettrager (184), and defending NCWA champion Aaron Thompson (197). All three were undefeated in Virginia.
Central Florida, runner-up at the Duals in 2011 and 2009 and the only team to reach the finals twice in the four previous National Duals, is back with one of its strongest teams. The Knights have wrestled a strong dual schedule, and had its most successful finish yet at last month’s UNC-Pembroke Invitational. Santiago Martinez (157 lbs.) is the NCWA’s top point-earner through mid-season, and is 24-1 on the season with 11 pins. Josh Woods is sixth on the NCWA point list and is 16-5 on the season.
Maryland-Baltimore County lead the NCWA in team points earned thus far, and is ranked sixth in the coaches’ poll but is an underdog pick for the title. UMBC placed eighth at the Ursinus/Will Abele Invitational last week. The Retrievers also won their own duals tournament with wins over nationally-ranked NJCAA team Gloucester CC (26-24), and topped Apprentice, Penn State-Mont Alto and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Wrestling begins at 2 p.m. Friday, with the round of 16 bracket opening at 6:30 p.m. The finals are at 5 p.m. Saturday.
The National Duals’ high school division has expanded this year and includes teams from three states - Auburn (Ala.), Fort Campbell (Ky.), Wayne County (Monticello, Ky.) and Pigeon Forge (Tenn.). They will wrestle a round-robin schedule on Saturday.
The list of schools at the NCWA Duals are:
The Apprentice School (Va.) Lindenwood-St. Charles (Mo.)
Auburn Marion Military Institute (Ala.)
Central Florida Maryland-Baltimore County
Cincinnati Mass. Institute of Technology
East Tennessee State Mercer
Georgia Middle Tennessee
Georgia Southern North Florida
Grand Valley State (Mich.) South Carolina
Liberty (defending champion) South Florida
Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) Tennessee Temple