National Duals Preview: Top-Ranked Wrestlers Set to Face One Another
DALLAS – The
National Duals brings most of the NCWA’s top teams together for the first time
this season, and with seven of the top eight ranked teams competing in
Mesquite, Nevada, it’s a great time to measure where each wrestler stands in
their respective weight classes.
tournament has teams from seven of its eight conferences in attendance at the
Casablanca Resort Event Center, making this the first time for most of the
wrestlers to face NCWA opponents from outside their own conference or geographic
region. This tournament will be especially important for teams from the West
Coast and Northwest Conferences, who have an all-time high of seven teams in
the 16-team field. It’s a chance for the Division I programs at Grays Harbor
College, Colorado State, UNLV, Washington State, Dixie State, Cal State
Northridge along with Richland College from the Southwest Conference to make
their mark against opponents they would not usually see until the NCWA
Championships in March.
National Duals is being hosted out west for the first time under the NCWA’s
guideline to alternate its duals championship tournament between east and west
hosts. The West Coast Conference is the official host of the tournament that begins
Friday at 10 a.m. (PST) (Noon EST) with round-robin duals within the four-team
pools, then contests its championship and consolation bracket competition at
10:45 a.m. (PST) Saturday. The brackets will play out all the way from its
championship to 15th-place matches.
four seeds based on competition criteria thus far in the season are No. 1 seed
and defending champion Liberty, No. 2 Apprentice, No. 3 Grand Valley State and No.
4 Springfield Tech CC. Liberty edged Apprentice, 26-24, in a dual match at the
Virginia Duals two weeks ago.
top-seeded teams, there are a host of anticipated individual matchups that
could occur. The top three ranked wrestlers at 125 pounds are in attendance,
including defending national champion Colton Messick (26-8) of Apprentice. He
could see second-ranked David Campbell of Grays Harbor in Saturday’s matches. Campbell
has yet to compete in the NCWA but was the NJCAA runner-up at 125 in 2017.
Springfield Tech’s Chris Vega is the ranked third at 125.
two-time All-Americans are at the top of the rankings at 133. Brenda Hazelton
(17-1) of Grand Valley State took fourth last year at 125 and is ranked just
ahead of Toledo’s De’Ante Evans (11-1), last year’s runner-up at 133.
Apprentice’s Kolin Johnson (21-9) and STCC’s David Ortiz (14-4) are third and
fourth in the latest rankings.
Florida is seeded fifth in the tournament and features one of the tournament’s
top wrestlers in three-time All-American Jesse Gaudin (2-1). Gaudin has placed
in the top four in the last three national tournaments but has seen limited
action this season. Heavyweight will be one of the featured classes at the
National Duals with six of the top nine ranked wrestlers competing. Liberty’s
Dominick Johnson (14-5) is ranked second and is a two-time All-American. Apprentice
and Springfield Tech have two outstanding freshmen in the field with Peter
Cortapasso (19-8) and Chaasadyah St. Phard (15-2), who are ranked fifth and
sixth, respectively. Grays Harbor, seeded sixth and a darkhorse in the field,
has Octavio Alejandre (8-4) in the field ranked eighth and Dixie State, seeded
12th, has its highest-ranked wrestler at heavyweight in Nathaniel
top-ranked wrestler at 149, Zach Blevins of Toledo (16-0) remains undefeated
and will get perhaps the biggest test among Friday’s round-robin matches when
he faces third-ranked Chad Cantrell (12-6) of Liberty in the final pool match.
One of Apprentice’s top freshmen, Tyler Johnson (8-3) is ranked fifth at 149.
Valley State, which has placed among the top six teams in all 13 previous
National Duals, has undefeated Brandon Turner at 9-0 wrestling at 157 pounds
and ranked fifth. He is slated to get another of Friday’s big bouts when GVSU
takes on Central Florida in pool play. Matthew Seymour (8-4) is a two-time
All-American at UCF and is ranked third at 157. Andrew Burgette (20-4) of
Liberty is one of Liberty’s 20-match winners already and is ranked fourth.
class is loaded with five of the top eight ranked wrestlers in attendance.
STCC’s Jacob Berry (10-1) leads the field with the top ranking in the class,
with Liberty’s Samuel Karel (8-8) ranked second. UCF’s Ethan Ahrens (7-4) is
ranked fourth with Grand Valley’s Joseph Posiedni (18-4) ranked sixth.
Apprentice checks in with eighth-ranked Daniel Henson (3-8).
the top eight wrestlers in the current 184 rankings are in Mesquite as well.
UCF’s Jarrod Smiley (6-1), a two-time All-American, leads the National Duals
field ranked third, followed by Apprentice’s William Sorey (19-10) and
Liberty’s Josh McIlhenny (18-9). Grand Valley’s Ahmad Khatib (4-3) and Toledo’s
Major Moore (3-0) are ranked seventh and eighth, respectively.
a three-time NCWA All-American at Apprentice, is ranked second at 141 after
spending most of the season wrestling at 149. STCC’s Marcos Mercado is ranked
fourth at 141.
has another top-ranked wrestler to 165 in Chad Simmons (24-7), a two-time
All-American coming into his senior year. Liberty’s Luke Ely is 6-8 having
wrestled at 174 most of the season. He is currently ranked fourth at 165.
Simmons took a 2-1 win over Ely at 165 at the Virginia Duals.
and Apprentice are at the top of the 197 rankings as well, and the class
features two defending national champions. Austin Amos (23-2) of Liberty
headlines the group as the top-ranked wrestler coming off a national title at
235. Apprentice’s Ross Graham (3-3) won the 197 national title last year.
Graham bumped up a weight at the Virginia Duals and missed wrestling Amos but
lost in that match to Liberty’s top-ranked 235-pounder, Jeff Allen, 6-1.
(19-6) is one of Liberty’s outstanding freshmen. He’s is top-ranked at 235
followed by Grand Valley’s Harun Bogdanic (0-0), a two-time All-American who
has yet to wrestle this season. It is not known whether Bogdanic will wrestle
at the National Duals.