The 2018 NCAA Division II National Wrestling Championships descends upon Iowa along with 160 of the best wrestlers in DII. These are the athletes that avoided the tomfoolery, anarchy, and downright chaos that took place two weeks ago during the Super Regional qualifying tournaments. There were upsets galore that sent All-Americans and national champions home without even a chance to return to this tournament. The top four wrestlers from each Super Regional have advanced and they are now closer to their dreams of a national title than they have been at any point during the season. All it takes to stand on the podium now is winning your first two matches.
This tournament is made up of only 16 wrestlers per bracket. Further adding to the intrigue is the lack of traditional tournament seeding. Instead, it uses a method common to high school state tournaments that matches up the wrestlers from each region with someone who placed in a different region. Win your region and your first match is against the wrestler who finished fourth somewhere else. Take second and you face the wrestler who finished third in another qualifying event. The Super Regionals were not a good time to have a bad day on the mat. It also means that wrestlers could be facing a very difficult opponent early on. No match is a given and like every other national tournament, expect the blood round (round of 12) to be nothing short of phenomenal as wrestlers leave it all on the mat knowing a win means they are an All-American while a loss means their season is over.
The team race is sure to be exciting as Saint Cloud State tries to hold off Notre Dame College in what seems to be a two-team race for the trophy. Saint Cloud State advanced all 10 of their wrestlers through to the national tournament and that may be the difference as they all are ranked in the final top 12 rankings. Notre Dame College, however, has closed the point gap to just four despite just seven ranked wrestlers in the tournament. Every bonus point is going to be crucial and the team that can avoid the upset will be victorious. All it takes is one or two wrestlers to outperform their ranking and the team title could be won. In this tournament where ranked wrestlers face each other early and often, no match is a given and I expect the best out of both these teams. Should they both or even just one of them stumble, look for Cal Baptist to seize the opportunity and secure their own team trophy. It is sure to be an exciting affair as
Follow along below as we break down each weight class and predict the All-Americans.
Western Regional Champ: Elijah Hale (Central Oklahoma)
Central Regional Champ: Blake Glogouski (Lake Erie)
Eastern Regional Champ: Ivan McClay (Notre Dame)
Wrestling fans are going to want to be in their seats early on Friday morning to make certain they do not miss any of the action as the tournament gets underway. Maleek Williams (Upper Iowa) takes on Blake Glogouski (Lake Erie) in a match that could set the tone for the entire tournament.
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