American Head Wrestling Coach Teague Moore enters his sixth season leading the Eagles. He’ll be looking to replace all three of his national qualifiers from a year ago while trying to find the school’s first EIWA champion since 2012. The program loses its most recognizable wrestler in David Terao (125), but little brother Josh is coming off an excellent red-shirt campaign and is one of a few potential bright-spots for 2016-17.
Anyone who remembers last year’s NCAA tournament remembers David Terao. He reached the semi-finals, two weeks after a disappointing fifth place finish at EIWAs, on his way to a fourth place finish. His results were great, but it was his attacking style and seeming willingness to constantly go for anything against the best in the nation that won over the crowd. He received a standing ovation, even after he lost his third-place bout. He and John Boyle (157) were the best wrestlers on last year’s team, but both were seniors that must be replaced in nest season’s line-up.
The replacement for Terao should be the 11th ranked high school 113 in the country, Gage Curry from North Hills, PA. Curry looks like the best option if he can get big enough to be a decent sized 125. Esteban Gomez-Rivera (Sr, 133) had an injury-plagued season last year, but if he can stay healthy he is a quality competitor. Michael Eckhart (Jr) is still listed as a 149 on the roster, but took one for the team a year ago battling at 174 pounds. With 157 and 165 clearing out for the Eagles, I’d expect to see him wrestling a more natural weight in 2016-17. It will be interesting to see how much better he can be. Jason Grimes (Sr), who started at 184 last season, may also drop a weight assuming Eckhart moves down.
Jeric Kasunic (197) returns for his junior year with a 42-22 career record. He’ll be looking for his first trip to the NCAA tournament. Two other starters, Tom Page (Sr, 149) and Jake Scanlan (So, 285) return as well. Aside from Curry, American brings in a couple of Florida state champs, Kizhan Clarke (133/141) and Conner Allshouse (174/184), as well as an Arizona state champ in Anthony Wokasch (157) among their seven total recruits in the Class of 2016.
While the Eagles are not a perennial power on the mat, they are one of the best programs in the country in the classroom. They have finished in the top 10 in GPA among Division I wrestling programs eight of the past nine years. In addition, they have been in the top 10 percent in Academic Progress Rate four straight years, earning them the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award each season.
The 2016-17 American University wrestling schedule features duals against Wyoming (Jan 6th), North Carolina (Jan 6th) and Lehigh (Jan 14th) among others. The Eagles start their season at the Hokie Open (Nov 6th) and hit the NC State Open (Nov 20th) after that. A challenging December sees them in Vegas for the Cliff Keen Invitational, on the 2nd and 3rd, before heading to Evanston for the Midlands on the 28th and 29th. The EIWA Championships are March 3rd and 4th at Bucknell, while the NCAA tournament returns to St. Louis March 16th, 17th and 18th.