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From the National Wrestling Coaches Association
Five returning NCAA Division I champions will be among the 20 wrestlers who will compete in the 49th addition of the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s All-Star Classic, which will take place, Saturday, Nov. 1, at the historic Palestra in Philadelphia, Pa.
Among those 2014 national champions, Northwestern Jason Tsirtsis, who won his first NCAA title as a freshman, will take on Oklahoma State’s Josh Kindig in a rematch of last March’s national tournament in Oklahoma City, Okla., where the Wildcat won 3-1.
The other returning champs are:
• Ohio State’s 141-pound Logan Stieber, who became the first Buckeye to win three NCAA titles;
• Oklahoma State’s Alex Dieringer, who is moving up from 157 pounds to 165;
• Missouri’s J’den Cox, who won the 197-pound championship as a true freshman in 2014;
• North Carolina State’s Nick Gwiazdowski, whose heavyweight championship last March, came two years after he finished eighth for Binghamton in 2012.
The following is the lineup for the NWCA All Star Classic:
125 — Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) vs. Joey Dance (Virginia Tech)
133 — A.J. Schopp (Edinboro) vs. Mason Beckman (Lehigh)
141 — Logan Stieber (Ohio State) vs. Mitchell Port (Edinboro)
149 — Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern) vs. Josh Kindig (Oklahoma State)
157 — James Green (Nebraska) vs. Ian Miller (Kent State)
165 — Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State) vs. Nick Sulzer (Virginia)
174 — Robert Kokesh (Nebraska) vs. Brock Gutches (Southern Oregon)
184 — Gabe Dean (Cornell) vs. Jack Dechow (Old Dominion)
197 — J’Den Cox (Missouri) vs. Scott Schiller (Minnesota)
Hwt — Nick Gwiazdowski (N.C. State) vs. Mike McMullan (Northwestern)
The following is a closer look at all the matchups:
Garrett is an NCAA Division I runner-up a year ago and California native. Dance, a native of Christiansburg, Va., finished a surprising fourth at the Division I championships in Oklahoma City last year. He entered the tournament as the No. 16 seed.
Garrett placed third as a true freshman in 2012-13 and went through the 2013-14 season with a 34-2 record, losing only to Illinois’ two-time NCAA champion Jesse Delgado. Garrett comes into this season with a sparkling career record of 77-7.
As a true freshman last season, Dance finished 29-10 and was a catalyst for Virginia Tech’s eighth-place finish in Oklahoma City, the highest in team history. Garrett and Dance met once last season, with Garrett taking a 7-2 decision in Columbus, Ohio, at the NWCA Division I National Duals in February.
Historically, Cornell has participated in the All-Star Classic with 13 appearances, holding a 6-7 overall record. Garrett topped Jarrod Patterson of Oklahoma in 2013 in overtime, while Kyle Dake won a much-talked-about tie-breaker win over Penn State’s David Taylor in 2012 at 165 pounds.
Dance’s appearance will mark the fourth time a Virginia Tech athlete has appeared in the event. Sean Gray appeared in 2001 and 2002, while Devin Carter participated at 141 pounds last year at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Dance will try to become the first Hokie to win a match at the event.
Schopp, a senior, will make his third straight appearance in the All-Star Classic. In 2012, Schopp defeated Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes 2-1 at 133 pounds. It’ll also be the fourth straight year an Edinboro wrestler has been selected for the event. Last year, Schopp defeated Beckman, 3-1.
Schopp was the No. 2 seed at the NCAA Division I Championships last year and finished the season with a 35-3 record en route to a fourth-place finish at 133 pounds. Beckman, a junior, finished last season 28-6, was the No. 6 seed at the NCAA’s and finished in sixth place at the same weight.
Beckman’s 3-2 all-time against Schopp, with the two splitting matches while they were in high school and Beckman winning a freestyle match between the two at the 2012 University Nationals. Schopp picked up the most recent win, beating Beckman, 5-0, at the Midlands in December of 2013.
It’ll be the second straight year Stieber has appeared in the event. Last year, Stieber bumped up to 149 pounds to face returning NCAA champion Kendric Maple of Oklahoma. The match ended with an exciting 6-4 tiebreaker win by Stieber, a native of Monroeville, Ohio.
In 2013-14, Stieber went 30-1 en route to his third NCAA Division I title. He topped Virginia Tech’s Devin Carter in the finals. Stieber’s record stands at 90-3 and he’s avenged every single loss during the last three seasons. He’s also been one of the most dominant, racking up 75 bonus victories in 90 wins – good for 83.3 percent.
Port’s career has been impressive. The Tyrone, Pa., native went 32-1 last season en route to a third-place finish at 141 pounds. His lone loss on the season was an upset loss in the quarterfinals to North Carolina’s Evan Henderson, an outcome he would later reverse in the third-place bout. In 2013, Port was an NCAA runner-up and comes in with a 96-14 career record with 51 bonus victories. Of those 51 bonus wins, 23 are by fall and 14 of those came last season.
The two have never met in collegiate competition.
As Stieber steps on the mat at the event for the second time, it’ll be Ohio State’s 19th overall appearance in the event. Buckeye wrestlers have gone a combined 9-9, with Stieber picking up the most recent win last year. The first Ohio State wrestler to compete in the event was current Notre Dame College head coach Frank Romano, who wrestled at 118 pounds in 1970.
Port is one of two Edinboro wrestlers in the event. Teammate A.J. Schopp will make his third straight appearance in the event when he faces Lehigh’s Mason Beckman at 133 pounds. The first Edinboro appearance came in 1987 when Dean Hall competed at heavyweight. Fighting Scot wrestlers have combined to go 7-7 in 14 total matches at the All-Star Classic.
Tsirtsis, a sophomore from Crown Point, Ind., went 32-3 last season defeated Kindig 3-1 in sudden victory to win the Division I title last season in Oklahoma City. It’ll be the second time the two have met during their college career.
As a freshman, Tsirtsis came into last year’s NCAA Division I championships as the No. 5 seed and defeated four eventual All-Americans, including defending champion Kendric Maple of Oklahoma,, en route to the title.
Kindig was a surprise finalist, emerging from the bottom bracket and the No. 11 seed to make the finals. From Blue Mountain, Pa., knocked off No. 6 Jake Suefolhn of Nebraska, No. 14 Scott Sakaguchi of Oregon State and No. 15 Mitch Minotti of Lehigh to make the finals.
Kindig went 24-9 last season after redshirting in 2012-13. He’s a three-time NCAA qualifier and his career mark stands at 65-29. .
Oklahoma State has put wrestlers in the event more than any other wrestling program. Cowboy wrestlers have appeared individually in the All-Star Classic 85 total times with an overall record of 42-37. Oklahoma State has appeared in 38 of the 48 previous events, but this will be the first time since 2011 the orange and black will compete. In 2011, Jordan Oliver and Jamal Parks won matches in Tempe, Arizona.
Northwestern first appeared in the event in 1968 when Russ Schnieder competed at 160 pounds in Stillwater, Okla. Overall, Wildcat wrestlers have appeared 14 times with a 5-9 overall record. Jason Welch was the last Wildcat to win a match at the All-Star Classic, beating American’s Ganbayar Sanjaa 8-5 at 157 pounds in Tempe, Arizona in 2011.
All-Americans James Green of Nebraska and Ian Miller of Kent State will step to the line in what could be a preview of the NCAA Division I championship finals. Green, a native of Willingboro, N. J., comes into this season as a three-time All-American and recently competed for Team USA as part of the University World Team that competed in Hungary back in July where he won a silver medal.
Green finished third last year at 157 pounds after entering the tournament as the top seed after winning his first Big Ten Championship. He’d previously placed seventh on two occasions for the Huskers. Green went 35-2 in 2013-14 and has a career collegiate mark of 94-17.
Miller, from Oak Harbor, Ohio, will be the first wrestler from Kent State to appear in the All-Star Classic since Nic Bedelyon represented the Golden Flashes at 125 pounds in 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. Miller won the Mid-American Conference championship last season, his first since moving up from 149 pounds after he redshirted in 2012-13. Miller comes into the season with a career record of 60-11, going 31-6 in 2013-14.
The two met once last season, with Green scoring a decisive 13-1 major decision in the third-place match at 157 pounds in Oklahoma City. Combined, the two earned 35 bonus victories with Miller earning 10 falls and Green picking up 10 major decisions.
Green’s participation in the All-Star Classic will mark the 22nd time a Husker has wrestled in the event, but the first since 2009. Nebraska holds an overall record of 11-10 individually with the two most recent wins coming in 2009 at Fullerton, Calif., where Jordan Burroughs and Stephen Dwyer earned individual victories. Also in 2009, Craig Brester competed at 197 pounds.
Miller joins Bedelyon as the only wrestlers in Kent State history to compete in the event. Bedelyon gave Kent State the program’s first win in 2009 with a 7-3 victory over Jarrod Patterson of Oklahoma.
Dieringer, originally from Port Washington, Wisc., went 32-1 last season en route to the NCAA championship. His career mark is a sterling 67-4. He finished third at 157 pounds during his freshman season. Dieringer is also known for his wide-open style. He has 12 falls last season and a total of 19 victories by fall, technical fall or major decision.
Sulzer, a two-time All-American from Ohio high school powerhouse St. Edward in Lakewood, Ohio, comes in with a 90-23 career record. He went 36-3 last year and finished fourth at 165 pounds. He was eighth as a sophomore, also at 165 pounds. Sulzer is also known for his ability to put points on the board. While not the most prolific pinner, Sulzer earned 17 major decisions last year.
The two have never met in collegiate competition.
Oklahoma State has put wrestlers in the event more than any other wrestling program. Cowboy wrestlers have appeared individually in the All-Star Classic 85 total times with an overall record of 42-37. Oklahoma State has appeared in 38 of the 48 previous events, but this will be the first time since 2011 the orange and black will compete as Dieringer joins teammate Josh Kindig in the event.
Sulzer will be the first wrestler from Virginia since 2009 to compete in the event and just the fourth overall. Virginia head coach Steve Garland was the first Cavalier wrestler to compete in the event back in 2000 in East Lansing, Mich. Scott Moore has the only win by a Virginia wrestler, beating Oklahoma’s Teyon Ware in 2004 at 141 pounds. Chris Henrich competed in 2009 in Fullerton, Calif., falling to Stephen Dwyer 7-6 at 174 pounds.
Due to an injury to Pittsburgh All-American Tyler Wilps, Southern Oregon’s three-time NAIA national champion Brock Gutches will face Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh at 174.
The last time an NAIA wrestler competed in the main event was when Montana State-Northern’s Emmett Willson took to the mat at 197 pounds in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in February of 2004. Willson won that match, beating Northern Iowa’s Sean Stender 7-3.
Gutches, a Central Point, Ore., native, started his career at Division I Boise State before heading back to his home state to wrestle for coach Mike Ritchey. Southern Oregon wrestlers have competed in the showcase matches, with 125-pounder Trevor Lofstedt competing at the 2007 event in Eugene, Oregon.
In the finals of last season’s Reno Tournament of Champions, Kokesh defeated Gutches 3-1. Gutches placed fourth at the Division I-heavy Midlands championships last season. He ended his season 30-3. Gutches brings a career record of 72-11 into the match with 47 career falls. He holds a 38-0 record against NAIA competition and is 15-9 against Division I opponents in his career. Gutches is also currently on the U.S. Greco-Roman national team.
A senior from Wagner, S.D., Kokesh comes in with a stellar 105-14 career record to go along with a third and fourth-place finish at the past two NCAA Division I championships. Kokesh finished fourth last year, losing only to Minnesota’s Logan Storley in two matches that went to the tiebreaker.
Cornell’s Gabe Dean and Old Dominion’s Jack Dechow finished third and fourth respectively at last year’s NCAA Division I Championships in Oklahoma City at 184 pounds. Dean beat Dechow 5-4 in the third-place bout. Both wrestlers reached the semifinals as freshmen.
Dean was impressive all season long, finishing the season 40-3. During his stellar freshman campaign, he ended the 84-match win streak of eventual three-time NCAA champion Ed Ruth of Penn State in the finals of the Southern Scuffle. Ruth would exact some revenge, beating Dean 5-3 in the NCAA semifinals. Dean’s father Dave was a long-time assistant at Michigan State and was a two-time NCAA Division I All-American and two-time Big Ten champion at Minnesota.
Of Dean’s 40 wins 12 were by fall, five by technical fall and four came via major decision. He was also an NWCA All-Freshmen Academic Team member.
Dechow was a bit of an unknown entering the latter part of the 2013-14 season after missing a good stretch of the Old Dominion schedule with a high ankle sprain. Dechow broke out late in the year, beating Northern Iowa All-American Ryan Loder twice en route to the MAC championship. In Oklahoma City, the 13th-seeded Dechow upended fourth-seeded Max Thomusseit of Pittsburgh and then topped No. 12 Ophir Bernstein of Brown to reach the semifinals where he would eventually fall to Maryland’s Jimmy Sheptock 3-2. He finished the season 21-6.
Cornell has been represented in the All-Star Classic 13 times, holding a 6-7 overall record. Dean and teammate Nahshon Garrett’s appearances will mark the 14th and 15th time Cornell wrestlers compete in the event. Dechow will be the first Monarch to compete in the event since James Nicholson competed in 2009 at 125 pounds. Nicholson wrestled in the event twice. Dechow will try to become the first Monarch to win at the All-Star Classic in ODU’s fourth overall apperance. Wayne Bright was the first Old Dominion wrestler to appear in the All-Star Classic, losing to Iowa State’s Dan Gable in 1970.
Cox is the fourth returning national champion set to compete in the event, joining Northwestern’s Jason Tsirtsis, Oklahoma State’s Alex Dieringer and N.C. State’s Nick Gwiazdowski.
A Columbia, Mo., native, Cox ended his freshman season with a 38-2 record, winning the last 20 matches of the season and upending top-seeded Nick Heflin of Ohio State in the finals at the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City. His last loss came on January 2, 2014.
Schiller, a native of West Fargo, N.D., will wrestle in the event for a second-straight year. The two-time All-American fell in overtime last year in Fairfax to Oregon State’s Taylor Meeks. Schiller comes in as a two-time All-American, taking third last season, and holds a career record of 94-15. The two have never met in collegiate competition, but Schiller does have four wins over Iowa State’s Kyven Gadson, who was one of only two wrestlers to beat Cox last season.
Missouri’s participation in the All-Star Classic dates back to 1979 where Dave Miller first represented the Tigers at 167 pounds. The last time a Tiger wrestler took to the mat in the All-Star Classic came in 2012 when heavyweight Dom Bradley defeated Northwestern’s Mike McMullan 3-2.
Minnesota has been active in the All-Star Classic throughout the program’s history. The Gophers’ first appearance in the event came in 1967 when Jim Anderson wrestled at 115 pounds. Overall, Gopher wrestlers hold a 14-17-1 record with Tony Nelson picking up the last victory in last year’s event.
Returning NCAA Division I heavyweight champion Nick Gwiazdowski of N.C. State will take on three-time All-American Mike McMullan of Northwestern.
McMullan is looking to break an All-Star slump of sorts. The Easton, Pa., native will be making his third straight appearance in the event. He lost to two-time NCAA champion Tony Nelson of Minnesota last season at George Mason University and fell to Missouri’s Dom Bradley by a point a year prior at American University.
Gwiazdowski, a two-time All-American who redshirted in 2012-13 after transferring from Binghamton, where he finished eighth in 2012 at the NCAA Division I Championships, will be the third N.C. State heavyweight to wrestle in the event. Gwiazdowski hails from Duanesburg, N.Y.
The pair have split matches against one another during their collegiate careers. McMullan took a 2012 matchup 5-3 in the consolation quarterfinals at the NCAA Division I Championships in St. Louis, Missouri, while last season, Gwiazdowski topped McMullen 5-3 in sudden victory in a dual meet. McMullan comes in with a 71-20 overall record, including a 20-5 record last year. Gwiazdowski is 73-11 in two full seasons of college wrestling including a 43-2 record last season.
Wolfpack wrestlers have competed in the event on eight occasions, holding a 3-5 overall mark. But of the now nine appearances, it will be the fifth time an N.C. State heavyweight takes to the mat. The late Tab Thacker split to matches after he appeared in 1983 and 1984, while Sylvester Terkay was 2-0 in his career at the All-Star Classic, with a notable win coming over Olympic champion Rulon Gardner in 1993 when the event was held at Lehigh.
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