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2023 Year in Review Notes for NCWA Programs

| Scott Farrell

There were 20 new NCWA programs competing in 2023, bringing the total to 336 schools with programs and/or clubs in the association’s 26-year history.

American Univ.

Univ. of British Columbia


Dubuque WC


North Carolina

Robert Morris

St. Mary’s (Md.)
West Georgia


Xavier (La.)

along with the new Puerto Rico Conference schools:

Ana G Mendez Univ.
Univ. of the Caribbean

Interamerican U. of Puerto Rico

U. of Puerto Rico – Arecibo

U. of Puerto Rico – Humacao

U. of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez

U. of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras

Puerto Rico entries’ successes

Here are the first conference champions of the Puerto Rico Conference:


125 – Derick Santiago, PR-Rio Piedras

133 – Alex Colone, Interamerican

141 – Bryan Hernandez, Interamerican

149 – Julio Bello, PR-Mayaguez

157 – Sebastian De Los Santos, PR-Rio Piedras

165 – Erick Martinez, Interamerican

174 – Joshua Santiago, PR-Mayaguez

184 – Raul Alzaga, Ana G. Mendez

197 – none

235 – Diego Ortiz, PR-Resinto de Arecibo

285 – Aniel Laguer, PR-Rio Piedras


130 – Xiomarys Ortiz, PR-Mayaguez

136 – Nathalya Betancourt, PR-Mayaguez

143 – Neishaliz Diaz, PR-Humacao

235 – Shalom Mize, PR-Mayaguez

Here's a select program-by-program look at the top 10 finishes for the 2023 season:

BELLARMINE – 2023 NCWA Champions

* Had 8 All-Americans including 4 national champions

* 206.5-point total is the lowest for an NCWA champion in the last three seasons

* 206.5 pts are the fourth-highest total for a transitioning NCWA champion.

* The 17-point margin between Bellarmine and Liberty is the closest between the champion and runner-up since 2018 when Liberty edged Apprentice by a half-point, 157-156.5.

* Bellarmine’s NCWA National Duals title ended Liberty’s record four-year run as Duals champions

Here's how previous transition-team champions fared at the NCWA Championships:

Year Team........................... Pts......... NC’s.... All-Am’s

2014 Grand Canyon................254.5........ 4........... 10

2017 Emmanuel College.......233.5........ 3............ 9

2016 Emmanuel College.......213.0........ 4........... 10

2023 Bellarmine.................206.5......4.......... 8

2012 Notre Dame College... 168.0........ 3.......... 12

2011 California Baptist.......... 156.5........ 2............ 9

2013 California Baptist.......... 145.0........ 2............ 9

LIBERTY – 2023 NCWA Runner-Up

* The Flames have either been the NCWA Champion (’22, ’20, ’19, ’18) or Runner-up (’23, ’17) at the last six national tournaments.

* Is tied with Grand Valley State for the most all-time NCWA championships with five.

* The 189.5 team points at the NCWA Championships is the highest for the runner-up team since UCF’s 191.0 at the 2016 Championships.

* It has had at least 10 All-Americans in the last four seasons.

* Its 12 All-Americans in 2023 ties for its second-most in one season during its NCWA membership (13 in 2020). The Flames have now claimed 12 All-American finishes in each of the past two seasons, 37 in the last three and 48 in the last four.

* It claimed at least 3 national champions for a fourth consecutive season.

* Liberty remains fourth but gets closer to UCF in all-time All-Americans with 58 in its history (UCF 61)

Most Wrestlers Named NCWA All-Americans

(updated through 2023)

Grand Valley State...................... 91

Apprentice.................................... 73

UCF.................................................. 61

Liberty............................................ 58

U.S. Naval Academy Prep........ 42

Liberty’s Jeff Allen – the NCWA’s first four-time men’s national champion

Allen became the most decorated male wrestler in association history when he won the 235-pound bracket at the NCWA Championships. Allen defeated Zeke Alleman of Utah Tech, 5-4, for his fourth consecutive national title – he is the first wrestler in the men’s division to win four, and the fifth wrestler in NCWA history to win four. Allen, a senior from Monroe, Va., also won national titles in 2022, 2020 and 2019.

Most National Championships, NCWA History, combined divisions

4 - 2019, ‘20, ‘22, ‘23 - Jeffrey Allen, Liberty

4 - 2015, ‘16, ‘17, ‘18 - Samantha Frank, Maine

4 - 2016, ‘17, ‘18, ‘19 - Marina Goocher, Mich.-Dearborn

4 - 2013, ‘14, ‘15, ‘16 - Yolanda Lawes, SW Ore. CC

4 - 2017, ‘18, ‘19, ‘20 - Cendall Manley, Liberty

3 - 2018, ‘19, ‘20 - Austin Amos, Liberty

3 - 2019, ‘20, ‘22 - Ty’Rae Carter, Texas A&M

3 - 2003, ‘04, ‘05 - Tom Lawlor, Central Florida

3 - 2006, ‘07, ‘08 - Adam Murray, Toledo

3 - 2008, '09, '10 - Peter Rose, So. Virginia

APPRENTICE – 3rd place
* Its 9 All-Americans this season is its all-time high for a single season.

* The third-place finish posts their fifth consecutive season among the top four teams at the NCWA Championships.

* Has placed in the top nine every season since 2013 and has finished among the top 11 teams every season since joining the NCWA in 1999, including the 2009 NCWA Championship.

* Had two national finalists for the second straight season (Bruno Alves at 125; Dillon Messick at 133) and for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

* Has had at least 6 All-Americans every season since 2018 - 4 of this year’s 9 are now 2X All-Americans.

* Has had an All-American at both 125 and 133 pounds every season since 2016.

* Just over half (37 of 73) of Apprentice’s all-time All-Americans are at least 2X All-Americans in their careers.

* Continued its string of high finishes with a fourth consecutive top-five finish (4th in 2023, 4th in ‘22, 3rd in ‘20, T-5th
in ’19). STCC has placed among the top eight teams in every NCWA Championships since joining the association in 2017.

* Its 133.5-point total was the second-highest in its NCWA Championships history, just under the 137.0 it had with its third-place finish in 2020.
* Its eight All-Americans in 2023 were a program high, with three of them (Shawn Conniff at 235, Michael Gonzalez at 133 and Stephano Magny at 197) becoming two-time All-Americans and Dylan Beddow earning a third honor.

* Dylan Beddow (fourth at 125 in 2023) is STCC’s second three-time All-American and ties for the program’s most decorated, tying former national champion Marcus Mercado (2017, ’19, NC in ’20).

* The eight All-Americans give STCC 22 all-time All-Americans and moves the Rams into a tie for 10th among all programs in NCWA history.

* Its seven All-Americans is GVSU’s highest single-season total since 2016 when it had eight and its third-highest total since its three-peat of NCWA Championships from 2006-08.

* Placed among the top five teams for the third time in the last four seasons.

*Has seven top-five finishes since 2013.

* Seth Konynenbelt, the national runner-up at 197 pounds, is GVSU’s first 3X All-American since 2019 (Brendan Hazelton 2016, ’17, ‘18).

* With Konynenbelt and Joey Murphy repeating All-America finishes in 2023, just under half of the Lakers’ all-time All-Americans (43 of 91) are at least 2X All-Americans. GVSU’s 43 repeat All-Americans are more than any other NCWA school.

TOLEDO – 6th place

* Now has consecutive top-10 finishes and its highest finish since becoming at Div. I program in 2018

* the 6th-place finish ties the highest finish in its NCWA history and its highest finish since 2006

* its four All-Americans in one season are its NCWA record with Matthew Abraham (3rd/197), Kaden Blair (NC/133), Ezekiel Burkholder (5th/157) and Jacob Meek (3rd/285).

* Kaden Blair’s national title at 133 is Toledo’s fifth in NCWA history and the first since 2018 when Zach Blevins won the 149 title.

* Abraham (2022 – 3rd/197; 2023
– 3rd/197) becomes Toledo’s fourth multi-year All-American.

UCF – 7th place

* Maintained one of the NCWA’s top nationals streaks by placing among the top eight teams again. UCF has had a top-eight finish every season since winning the NCWA Championship in 2010.

* Its four All-Americans are the most the Knights have had in a single season since 2019 when they had seven.

* Thomas McCane (RU/149) and Michael Morales (6th/285) are each now two-time All-Americans, growing UCF’s list to 37 wrestlers who have earned multiple All-American honors. That includes McCane, who earned his first All-American honor wrestling for Florida in the 2022 season.

* Their 37 repeating All-Americans are second only to Grand Valley State (43) in NCWA history.

GRAYS HARBOR – 8th place

* Its two All-Americans give GHC 21 in their history, placing them one spot out of the top 10 for most All-Americans in NCWA history.

* Elijah Gandert (2022 – 7th/149; 2023 – RU/141) is the Chokers’ second two-time NCWA All-American and its first since 2020. Octavio Alejandre was a two-time All-American in 2019 and 2020.

* Gandert is also the fifth GHC wrestler to reach the NCWA Championship match.

FLORIDA – 9th place
* Second-highest Div. I finish after placing seventh in 2022.

* First time for a Florida coach to win NCWA Coach of the Year – Trace Thome, one of two 3X All-Americans for the Gators and a big part of their 2016 Div. II NCWA Champion squad as the national champion at 157 lbs.

* This is only the fifth time for Florida to have two of more All-Americans (Riley Hackworth (2023 – 5th/174) and Alfonso Vargas (2023 – NC/141) in the same season since the program began in 2003.

* Vargas is Florida’s third national champion and gives the Gators back-to-back national champions (Thomas McCane at 141 in 2022) for the first time. McCane wrestled at UCF this season.

ALLEN UNIV. – 10th place

* Scored its highest point total at the NCWA Championships with 50.5 points.

* The second-year program from Columbia, S.C., earned its first repeat All-American in Michael Jackson (2022 – 5th/197; 2023 – 4th/184) and its first season to have multiple All-Americans along with Drevon Wallace (2023 – 4th/149).

OHIO STATE WC – Division II Champions
* Earned its first Div. II championship with 94.0 points.

* The 31-point margin over runner-up Rowan was the largest from 1st-2nd
in Div. II history, edging the 30.5-point margin between D-II champion Wichita State and Northwest Missouri State (57.5-27.0) in 2012.

* Benjamin Blickle (4th/174), now a three-time All-American, is the eighth multiple-AA in OSUWC’s history and the second to win at least three. Kyler Slade is a four-time All-American from 2016-2020.
* This is the third consecutive NCWA Championships for the Buckeyes to have at least five All-Americans, and the five from 2023 tie for the second-most in program history (six in 2022).

* Eight of the Buckeyes’ 19 all-time All-Americans have now earned AA honors in multiple seasons.

* The Div. II championship is OSUWC’s third consecutive finish in the top three and its sixth consecutive top-12 finish since refounding its club in 2015. It’s eight-year progression since the 2015 nationals is t-43rd, 22nd, 7th, 10th, 12th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st.

(Other men's program notes listed alphabetically)

Akron – Derrick Andolsek (2023 – 8th/174) gives the Zips an All-American finish in six of the last seven seasons. Akron (20th
in 2023) has placed in the top 20 in each of the five seasons since moving up to Division I in 2018.

Alabama - John Podsednik (2023 - 7th/174) is the Crimson Tide’s first All-American since 2015 when two-time All-American Frankie McKeown took fifth at 165. Alabama tied for 19th in Division II, improving by one spot for its highest nationals finish in program history. Bama had placed 20th
twice before.

Clemson - Kenneth Lambert (7th/141) gives the Tigers consecutive All-Americans for the second time but the first time with two different wrestlers. The Tigers have three All-Americans from the past two seasons. Clemson’s 26.0 points earned the Tigers their third-highest Division II finish and third-highest point total in program history.

Connecticut – Andrew Nanai (7th/197) puts UConn back on the All-American board after missing out in 2022 and is the Huskies’ fourth All-American of the last three tournaments. UConn has had at least one All-American every season since 2015. The Huskies’ fifth-place Div. II finish (50.0 points) kept their strong tradition intact after not appearing at the 2022 NCWA Championships – it’s their sixth top-five Div. II showing of the last seven seasons.

Dubuque WC
– The Spartans had a successful first season in the NCWA, taking fourth in Division II with 51.0 points with three All-Americans highlighted by Joseph Pineda placing third at 235. Tanner Higa (2023 – 7th/125) and Jesus Sanchez (2023 – 7th/133) also placed.

East Carolina - Landon Gray (2023 – 8th/235) extends the Pirates’ string of All-America seasons to five going back to 2018. Gray, a freshman, will look to repeat his AA finish next season – each of the four previous All-Americans at ECU earned at least two All-America placings. The Pirates placed 17th with 28.0 points in their first year competing in Division I.

Fresno State – Nicholas Martino (2022 – 3rd/165; 2023
– 4th/157) is the Bulldogs’ first All-Americans since 2019 and became the program’s first wrester to earn multiple All-American finishes. Martino, a senior, owns the program’s highest finish with his third-place award in 2022. Martino led the Bulldogs to their first top-10 placing in Div. II with 29.5 points one season after just missing it tied for 11th in 2022.

Georgia – The Bulldogs saw Kyle Romano (7th/157) become their first All-American since 2016. He’s the 12th all-time All-American in Georgia history, leading them to a 15th-place finish, also its highest since 2016 (13th).

James Madison - Aaron Whear (8th/184) is JMU’s first All-American since 2020 and the Dukes’ sixth of the last eight seasons back to 2015. JMU took 19th with 22.5 points in its first season in Division I.

Maine Maritime Academy – The Mariners earned their first All-American with Jeffrey Worster (6th/235) taking the spot. MMA placed 12th
in Div. I with 39.0 points, easily its best finish of its four seasons at the NCWA Championships.

North Texas – The Mean Green placed 18th in Div. II, UNT’s highest team finish since their NCWA debut season of 2015.

Ottawa Arizona – In its first season competing in Div. I, Ottawa placed 13th with 38.5. This follows 20th-, 11th- and fourth-place finishes in its first three seasons in Div. II from (2019-2022).

Rowan – The Owls won their first Mid-East Conference championship and later earned two All-Americans in a single season for the second time of the last three seasons. Caleb Corrigan (2022 – 6th/285; 2023 – 5th/285) is Rowan’s second two-time All-American and its first in 20 seasons since Tim Sorrentino in 2002-03. Joseph Miranda’s runner-up finish at 157 is the Owls’ second title-match appearance all-time and first since Sorrentino took second in 2003. Rowan has had an All-American in four consecutive seasons.

Rutgers WC – The Knights scored two All-Americans in a single season for the first time with each of them advancing to the national title match. Nicholas Franco (NC/184) defeated Ben Liss (RU/184), 5-1, for the NCWA title at 184 lbs. It was the first time since the 2020 Championships and only the sixth time overall for two teammates to wrestle for the NCWA title and left Franco (14-0) as the tournament’s only undefeated wrestler. Liss is the second two-time All-American for RWC along with Javiair White (2017-18). Rutgers WC’s eighth-place finish in Div. II was its highest since 2018 when it took fifth and its third-best overall.

Teammates Wrestling for the NCWA Championship, all-time


– 184 lbs. – Nicholas Franco, Rutgers WC, def. Ben Liss, Rutgers WC

2020 – 165 lbs. – Joe Scott, Liberty, def. David Cox, Liberty

– 197 lbs. – Aaron Thompson, Liberty, def. Nick Knowles, Liberty

2011 – 174 lbs. – Mike Dace, So. Ill.-Edwardsville, def. Deshoun White, So. Ill.–Edwardsville

2006 – 174 lbs. – Mike Paul, Grand Valley State, def. Dustin Dean, Grand Valley State

– 197 lbs. – Todd Hauser, Central Florida, def. Danny Fernandez, Central Florida

Slippery Rock – The Lions earned their first All-Americans since 2010 and had two in the same season for the first time in Keith Brubach (6th/174) and Derek Yingling (4th/197). Yingling’s fourth place is the highest finish in the school’s NCWA history, as was its third-place Div. II finish as a team with its school-record 54.5 points. It tied for 11th last season with 28.0 points.

Stony Brook – The Seawolves got another All-American with a repeat honor as Wayne Lamont (2022 – 4th/157; 2023 – 8th/157) continues to set the SBU pace, placing in the 157-lb. bracket again. Lamont, finishing his junior season, is SBU’s only All-American. In its first Div. I season the Seawolves tied for 23rd
with 12.5 points.

Texas A&M – Jacob Grogan (8th/149) became the Aggies’ sixth repeat All-American and Scott Kilian (5th/141) also placed to give Texas A&M a pair of All-Americans for a second consecutive season. It’s the first time for the Aggies to have back-to-back All-Americans since 1998-2000 in the NCWA’s three initial seasons. The Aggies have placed in the top nine of Div. II in the last five NCWA Championships (sixth this year with 44.0 points) and have now had at least one All-American each season since 2016.

Treasure Valley CC – Avian Martinez became TVCC’s second All-American and first since 2020 with an eighth-place finish at 125 lbs. He guided TVCC to a 22nd-place finish in Div. II with 11.5 points.

UNLV – The Rebels took 15th
in the Div. I standings in this their third season competing as a Div. I member. UNLV was seventh (2020) and sixth (2022) in their two prior Div. I seasons and has placed in the top 15 in all five of their NCWA seasons regardless of division.

Utah Tech – The Trailblazers earned their first repeat All-American when Zeke Alleman (2022 – 4th/235; 2023 – RU/235) tore through the 235-lb. bracket before losing in the national title match to four-time national champion Jeff Allen of Liberty. Allen is UTU’s first two-time All-American and also claims its highest individual placing. Each of Utah Tech’s three All-Americans has placed at least fourth in their All-American seasons. UTU placed 18th in Div. I with 27.5 points.

Washington State – The Cougars placed 11th in Div. I to continue their streak of nine consecutive top-20 finishes spanning its Div. I (2017-current) and Div. II (2014-16) competition at the NCWA Championships.

West Chester – WCU earned its first All-American since 2020 when Matthew Micale placed fifth at 197 lbs. The Rams have now had an All-American in four of the last five seasons. WCU took 14th
in Div. II with 22.0 points.

Williamson College of the Trades – A banner year for WCT came from Talon Pisarchuk reaching the national title match at 165 lbs. Pisarchuk’s All-America finish (RU/165) was the first for the Mechanics since 2011 and he’s the first Mechanics wrestler to reach the title match since the 2000 season, the NCWA’s third season. WCT’s 14th-place finish in Div. I was its fourth-highest finish in its 15 NCWA seasons and its highest team placing since taking ninth in 2008.


The 2023 NCWA Championships had the highest number of teams with an entry in the 15 years the NCWA has hosted a women’s competition. The NCWA began its women’s division in 2008 awarding only individual national championships. It began awarding a women’s team championship in 2009.

OTTAWA ARIZONA – 2023 NCWA Champions

The Spirit won the NCWA Championship in their third season, earning head coach Ed Cruz a second consecutive NCWA Coach of the Year accolade. Cruz is the first coach to win the Women’s COY award twice and is only the sixth NCWA coach to win at least two COY awards overall. He’s the first to win back-to-back NCWA COY awards since former UCF coach Johnny Rouse won three straight from 2003-05.

Coaches who have won multiple NCWA Coach of the Year awards

* Edward Cruz, Ottawa Arizona women, 2002-2003

* Jim Hazewinkel, Pensacola Christian men, 2000; Marion Military Academy men, 2015

* Evan Hess, Cal State Northridge women, 2018; USC men, 2020

* Dave Mills, Grand Valley State men, 2001, 2006

* Johnny Rouse, Central Florida men, 2003-2004-2005

* Beau Tillman, Kansas State men, 2007, 2009

Ottawa, also the NCWA Women’s National Duals Champions, earned eight All-Americans, its largest total in its history that includes its first two-time national champion in Hermelinda Mendoza (2022 – NC/101; 2023 - NC/109) and first two-time All-Americans in Mendoza and Trinity Robinson (2022 – 3rd/235; 2023 – 4th/191). Ottawa’s 14 all-time All-Americans puts the Spirit eighth on the NCWA’s all-time list for the women’s division and fourth among active programs and its four national champions in 2023 tie it for seventh for the most in one season.

GRAYS HARBOR – 2023 NCWA Runner-Up

The Chokers tied their program high with seven All-Americans this season (also 2020) and added to their list with now three two-time All-Americans as Renaeh Ureste won the national title at 191 pounds. GHC’s 25 all-time women’s All-Americans stands fourth on the NCWA’s all-time program list, one spot out of a tie for second place.

BIG BEND CC – 3RD place

The defending NCWA champions came in third with three All-Americans, including its first two-time All-Americans in Sitaly Macias (2022 – 4th/143; 2023 – 4th/143) and Samantha Meyer (2022 – 4th/170; 2023 – NC/170). Meyer is BBCC’s fifth all-time All-American. BBCC’s third-place finish is its second-highest NCWA finish behind the 2022 national championship season.


The Cougars had their finest season with two All-Americans and their first two-time All-American in Julie Wilson, the runner-up at 136 lbs.