A year ago in Fort Wayne, Indiana, three teams stood above all the others in their divisions. All three will look to defend their titles when they return to the Hoosier state next week for the 2018 NWCA National Duals. St Cloud State was the top DII team at the event and they will look to win again despite 2016-17 DII national champion Notre Dame attending. St Cloud State is ranked first in the country and after falling short of the three-peat at last year’s NCAA national tournament they can begin building momentum for another run at the title. Wartburg returns looking to win their eighth DIII national dual championship in a row and 12th overall. They will be “underdogs” this year entering the event ranked second after a surprising loss to the University of Wisconsin Whitewater at the Candlewood Suites duals. They were undermanned at that event, but that should not be the case next week and teams will need to be ready for the team that has only lost two individual matches since that shocking defeat in Wisconsin. Perennial NAIA number one Grandview won 33 of their 40 matches against their competition at this event a season ago. For them, it may not be a matter of if they win, but how dominating they will look doing it. Missouri Valley and Indiana Tech have narrowed the Vikings lead in the national polls, but when the lights are on it is usually showtime. The winner of the semifinal matchup between Missouri Valley and Indiana Tech will either prepare the winner for the battle to come or deplete their reserves and assure Grandview’s repeat.
We'll take a look at each of these three divisions over the next few days and try to pick the upsets that always seem to happen along the way before the eventual champions from Division II, Division III, and the NAIA are crowned. A dual tournament can be unpredictable in much the same way a national tournament is, but the losses here eliminate an entire team, not just a single wrestler. Each match has even further-reaching repercussions when that is the case. This pressure cooker is the first test before the upcoming regional tournaments as coaches try to test their athletes. Will the usual suspects rise to the top or will this signal the end of these champions reigns at the NWCA national dual tournament? We'll see January 4th and 5th in Fort Wayne, Indiana.