NEWTON, Iowa — The wrestling programs at Missouri and Illinois made the...
Land of Lincoln welcomes NWCA National Duals
By Mike Finn
Some people consider wrestling the sport of Abraham Lincoln, considering the 16th United States president first made his name known when Lincoln squared off against Jack Armstrong in this Midwest state years before Abe entered the White House.
If this is indeed true, than what better place for the National Wrestling Coaches Association to hold its National Duals in the town — Springfield, Ill. — where Lincoln was buried and in the Prairie Capital Convention Center on Jan. 7-8, 2012.
“Not only will you find an excellent facility but will draw on Abe Lincoln, who was a well-known wrestler,” Jeff Berg of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau said in a Dec. 22 teleconference to promote the event. “We have so many tourist attractions, the most Lincoln related in the country.”
Unfortunately, there is one thing that Springfield does not have: a college wrestling program.
“That was a little bit of a concern in the beginning,” said Mike Moyer, the executive director of the NWCA. “When we were at the University of Northern Iowa (the past five years) that was in the backyard of a very strong Division III conference (Iowa Conference).
“Springfield is very, very accessible and it is a great high school wrestling area. We do have college teams (competing) within easy driving distance that have very strong spectator following. It’s my best guess that people will jump in the car and drive 4-5 hours without thinking about it.”
This community — located 100 miles northeast of St. Louis (the site of this year’s NCAA Division I national tournament) — was selected by the NWCA to host this year’s National Duals that will involve 64 teams in five different divisions: NCAA’s Division II and III, NAIA, NJCAA and Women’s Wrestling.
Unlike the past few years where every college wrestling division competed in the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls — including 16 Division I programs — the largest division will compete is a separate event — now called Mat Mayhem by the NWCA — where 16 teams will first compete in four regional locations (Feb. 11-12) with the final four teams vying for a similar championship, Feb. 19, at a location to be determined.
“The fastest growing aspect of college wrestling, as far as getting new programs started, is at the Div. II, Div. III, NAIA, junior college and women’s divisions,” said NWCA executive director Mike Moyer. “With the Division I programs not competing, this is giving us a chance to showcase the other divisions that much more.”
“Down the road, we hope to get to the point that the national championship will be a culminating where teams have to qualifying for the national tournament,” Moyer said. “We figure we will try it with one and set up a structure where regular season dual meets will matter.
“Right now we’re focused on making this event the very best it can be. Maybe this is the way this event needs to be and we need to improve on it every year.
I just think anytime you get this much excitement under one roof, where you have 12 wrestling mats going over five divisions … that if you are sitting up in the stands and you can’t find something exciting going on, then something is really wrong.”
Moyer said that the NWCA will take it one year at a time and added that attendance would not necessarily be whether the event is successful or not.
“Certainly, we are looking for good attendance,” said Moyer, adding that the Duals will be televised on a tape-delayed basis and webcasted. “To me, the willingness of 64 of the top colleges in five divisions to circle the wagon and come under one roof for the overall good of the sport speaks volumes about this collaboration and willingness to put wrestling’s best foot forward.”
Jon McGovern, the head coach at the University of Dubuque – 250 miles north of the Illinois capital city — and the rest of the coaches in this year’s National Duals will be asked to promote the event to their local fans as much as those in Springfield.
“We (coaches) need to rally behind this event,” said McGovern, who is also promoting the tournament to his alumni. “We use it as a measuring stick. We want the largest attendance in both the NCAA Division III tournament and now the National Duals.”
Once McGovern learned that Springfield would be the destination for this event, he asked his wife, Lis, to get the National Wrestling Advancement Association — with whom she works — to help promote the event.
“Given what we do, this is perfect synergy for us to take on the event because of our mission,” she said.
“At the end of day,” added Moyer, “we envision two primary events: the individual tournaments, no matter the division, and the dual meet championships.”
The following is information on the 2012 NWCA National Duals:
Date: January 7-8, 2012
Divisions: DII, DIII, NAIA, NJCAA, Women
Place: Prairie Capital Convention Center – Springfield, Illinois
16 Division II Teams:
1. Newberry College (S.C.)
2. Upper Iowa
3. St. Cloud State (Minn.)
4. Nebraska Kearney
6. Augustana (S.D.)
7. Central Oklahoma
Others: Central Missouri, Findlay (Ohio), Kings (Pa.), Limestone (S.C.), Maryville (Mo.), Northern State S.D.), San Francisco State, Truman State (Mo.), UM- Mankato and UW-Parkside
16 Division III Teams:
1. Wartburg (Iowa)
2. UW- Lacrosse
4. Ithaca (N.Y.)
7. Augsburg (Minn.)
9. Olivet (Mich.)
10. Elmhurst (Ill.)
13. Concordia (MN)
Others: Centenary (N.J.), Dubuque, Johnson and Wales (R.I.), Mount Union (Ohio), North Central (Ill.), Rhode Island, St. John’s (Minn.), UW – Stevens Point and UW- Whitewater
16 NAIA Teams:
1. Great Falls (Mont.)
2. Grandview (Iowa)
3. Southern Oregon
4. Oklahoma City
5. Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
6. Montana St.-Northern
7. Midland (Neb.)
8. Campbellsville (Ky.)
9. Missouri Valley
10. Baker (Kan.)
11. Morningside (Iowa)
14. Univ. of the Cumberlands (Ky.)
16. Dakota Wesleyan
Others: Cumberland (Tenn.), York College (Pa.), Waldorf (Iowa)
8 NJCAA Teams:
1. Clackamas (Ore.)
2. Iowa Central
3. Lincoln (Ill.)
4. Labette (Kan.)
9. Northwest (Wyom.)
10. Muskegon (Mich.)
Others: Harper (Ill.) and Rend Lake (Ill.)
7 Women’s Teams:
1. Oklahoma City
2. King College (Pa.)
3. Simon Fraser University (B.C)
4. Lindenwood University (Mo.)
6. Missouri Valley
7. University of the Cumberlands (Ky.)
8. Jamestown College (N.D.)