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NCWA Cham­pi­onships Open in Puerto Rico

| Scott Farrell

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The 26th
annual National Collegiate Wrestling Association Championships are set to begin Thursday at the Puerto Rico Convention Center with more than 100 teams ready to compete for national titles. The tournament is an exciting venture for the association as it brings collegiate wrestling into Puerto Rico for the first time.

The NCWA Championships, with 613 wrestlers entered among its 64-man brackets in 11 weight classes including the 235-pound class, is the largest single recognized collegiate national championship each year. It is also the largest collegiate sporting event in Puerto Rico’s history.

The move to host its Nationals in Puerto Rico, approved by the NCWA’s Executive Board last September, comes as part of its bold undertaking to bring folkstyle wrestling to the colleges and universities of Puerto Rico. Seven of the island’s universities have joined the NCWA and formed its newest conference.

These newest NCWA members now form the Puerto Rico Conference: Ana G. Mendez, Caribbean Univ., Interamerican Univ. of Puerto Rico and four campuses of the Univ. of Puerto Rico in Arecibo, Humacao, Mayaguez and Rio Piedras.

They join five other universities who are competing at the NCWA Championships for the first time – Louisville, Queens Univ. of Charlotte, Treasure Valley Community College (Ore.), the Univ. of British Columbia and the Univ. of Dubuque Wrestling Club.

Wrestling will begin at 10 a.m. locally and continue Friday and Saturday. The women’s division will begin on Friday. The NCWA Finals start at 6 p.m. Saturday with all 22 championship bouts.

Puerto Rico has long advocated to host the NCWA Championships. Its site selection took place in collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico’s sports director in Río Piedras, José Betancourt, and Jerry Orsini, who will serve as the event organizer. The success of this event with the NCWA’s largest field and the support of Puerto Rico’s universities indicates the association may return again in future years.