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Photo: The Shelbourne Wrestling Center is the practice room of Wabash College, which was ranked No. 1 in the NWCA NCAA Division III Coaches Poll. Unfortunately, the Little Giants and other Division III wrestlers will not be able to compete for a second straight year after the NCAA cancelled the national tournament, which was slated to take place March 12-13 in La Crosse, Wisc.
By Mike Finn
For a second straight year, the top wrestlers on the NCAA Division III level will not be able to compete for national championships and All-American honors after the NCAA announced on Feb. 4 that all winter sports championships were being cancelled. That’s because the percentage of programs participating at this point in the season was too low compared to a Presidents Council threshold set last fall.
Even though 61.8 percent of wrestlers were competing this winter, the highest among the nine winter sports, it fell below the 70 percent threshold set by the NCAA.
This comes one year after the NCAA announced that the 2020 national tournament was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also delayed the start of the 2020-21 season to January and was supposed to end March 12-13 with the national tournament in La Crosse, Wisc.
Among the more top teams that will not get a chance to win a national team title are the Top 5 teams in the NWCA Division III national rankings: 1. Wabash College (Ind.); 2. (tie) Wartburg College (Iowa); John Carroll University (Ohio), Coast Guard Academy (Conn.); 5. Wisconsin-La Crosse.
The top-ranked wrestlers at all 10 weights are: 125-Robbie Precin (North Central); 133-Matt Berlin (UW-Stevens Point); 141-Jordin James (Mt. Union); 149-Ryan Anderson (Centenary); 157-Ryan Whitten (Otterbein); 165-Kyle Hatch (Wabash); 174-Cornell Beachem (Mt. St. Joseph); 184-Paul Detwiler (US Coast Guard); 197-Isaac Lahr (UW La Crosse); Hwt – Max Bishop (Wabash).
CLICK HERE TO VIEW 2021 NWCA DIV. III RANKINGS
The following is the release from NCAA.com on the cancellation of the 2021 Div., III winter championships:
Due to low participation numbers among member schools, NCAA Division III winter championships are canceled for the 2020-21 academic year.
The Division III Administrative Committee, acting on behalf of the Division III Management and Presidents Council, approved the recommendation from the Division III Championships Committee to cancel all winter championships. The committee has been closely monitoring and discussing the membership’s winter sport participation for several months, and it has been providing updates to the councils.
The Championships Committee decision was based on the results of a winter declaration form distributed to members about their intention to compete this season in a capacity that would permit them to meet the minimum contest requirements to be eligible for championship selection by the established selection dates. The declaration form was sent to Division III athletics directors Jan. 19 and completed by 98% of the membership.
The national championships affected are men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s and women’s ice hockey, and wrestling.
During its review of the declaration data, the Championships Committee determined participation numbers in all nine winter sports are well below the established threshold to provide a national championships experience. These established thresholds are 60 percent for men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s and women’s indoor track and field and 70 percent for men’s and women’s ice hockey and wrestling.
Percentage of NCAA Division III teams currently competing this season
|60% THR||70% T|
“Today, we made the difficult decision to cancel our Division III winter championships. While some institutions have been able to safely return to sport, the recent declaration form data show that more than half of our division has not returned to winter sport practice and competition to be in a position for NCAA national championship participation,” said Fayneese Miller, chair of the Presidents Council and president at Hamline. “This was a very difficult decision to make, and we are saddened to do so. However, none of our winter sports meet the Championships Committee’s established thresholds of participation to hold a championship. We are committed to ensuring that our student-athletes have the best possible experience, and, for us, this means having a meaningful number of competitions. We hope this is possible for our spring championship.”