photo courtesy of Sam Janicki;SJanickiPhoto.com
Last week may have opened the NCAA Division II wrestling season, but this week really starts kicking things into high gear. There are great Opens taking place as well as some very good duals. With so much to take in, here are five things you absolutely do not want to miss.
1) Kaufman-Brand/Bayly Open
A host of teams will descend upon St Louis this weekend to take part in the annual Maryville Kaufman-Brand/Bayly Open. From here on out, I will simply call it the MKBBO because it has a nice ring to it (COPYRIGHT!). Nine Division II teams will mix with teams from Division I, Division III, and the NAIA for a shot at winning one of the biggest open tournaments this season. Five of the nine Division II teams are ranked in the TOM top 25. We will get to see revamped lineups from fourth-ranked McKendree University and finally find out what fifth-ranked Lindenwood is going to do at the logjam between 133 and 157. I am wondering if coach Rollins will just enter all of them at 149 and see if he can make me lose my mind. The MKBBO will have visitors from Illinois, Mizzou, Purdue, and SIUE that will be carrying the banner for Division I. Incredibly, this tournament has traveled from the “other school” to its new home at Maryville. The legacy that Mike Denney built at the “other school” continues to grow at Maryville and we should all witness and applaud its continued success. The action will be Trackwrestling.
2) MEGA DUAL!!!!!
Come one come all to witness a battle of giants in Division II taking place at the site of one of the most famous wars in antiquity. Top-ranked Pitt-Johnstown and third-ranked St Cloud State are squaring off in Troy! New York mind you, not Turkey, but you can draw the parallels to the Iliad. Barring that, think of the movie Troy with Brad Pitt and you will get what I am talking about. It is such a great matchup that it was a no-brainer for DOW. Four number one ranked wrestlers, 13 wrestlers ranked, five head-to-head matchups between ranked wrestlers, and a partridge in a pear tree. This is a dual that could be 5-5 very easily and will be the closest match in the pair’s history. This is Achilles battling Hector beneath the great walls, I will let you choose who is whom in that scenario. Listen, far be it from me to encourage you to go to another website and follow their live stream, but I want everyone who can to watch this dual. Tune into Flo’s coverage of the Journeyman Northeast Duals.
It is the unofficial state university championships of Ohio this weekend and that means one of the best high school states for wrestling gets to showcase its collegiate talent as well. The Ohio Intercollegiate Open takes place in Cleveland, Ohio, with teams from all three NCAA divisions. The Buckeyes, Cleveland State, Ohio University, and Kent State will try to hold back ranked sides from Division II like Ashland, Notre Dame College, Tiffin, and Mercyhurst. Throw in a couple of teams from outside the state as well, Buffalo, Indiana, and Edinboro and we have ourselves a good old fashioned donnybrook. For teams like Ohio State, this will be a chance for their young studs to continue to build their resumes and give fans a glimpse of how good this team can be. For Division II athletes, it is a chance to show what they are capable of. There are always upsets at these types of opens and there are always surprises to be seen. If you happen to be in the Cleveland area, be sure to check it out. I have been there for the last two national tournaments they have hosted and Cleveland knows how to show up for wrestling. Follow along at Trackwrestling.
4) Colorado Chaos
Big things are happening in Colorado lately. The hiring of head coach Troy Nickerson has heralded in a changing of the guard at the University of Northern Colorado. Over the last four seasons, UNC has had 15 national qualifiers and is fast becoming a destination for talent in the west. This weekend they will play host to teams from all over the region, including three of the NCAA Division II schools in the Centennial State. Colorado State-Pueblo, Colorado Mesa, and Western Colorado will bring their best as they head for the mountains. Chadron State will join them as they make the trip west from Wyoming to test their own squad. Expect some community college athletes as well, Cloud College should be in attendance. And of course, there can never be a tournament in the west without at least a few cadets from the Air Force Academy showing up to represent the armed services. This tournament is important because of what is happening out west, teams are developing in-state talent to become competitive on a national scale. Keeping kids local creates sustainability and that is what coaches like Troy Nickerson and many of these Division II schools do to thrive. Follow the action on Trackwrestling.
5) Super Regional II preview
It is never too early to start looking at the top teams in each Super Regional. We will get quite the sneak peek on Sunday when four teams from SRII meet at the University of North Carolina Pembroke Classic. New programs Lander and Mount Olive will duke it out with Coker and host Pembroke to show who is the powerhouse of the Southeast. When you throw the local Division I talent into the mix, you have the setting for one of the best tournaments the region sees all year long. Teams like Appalachian State, Campbell, Gardner Webb, North Carolina State, the Citadel, and North Carolina will send athletes. NAIA teams from the area like Southeastern will mix with Division III schools like Spartanburg Methodist, making this a smorgasbord of college wrestling talent. For Division II fans, this will be a great chance to see Jake Patacsil’s Mount Olive squad and RC LaHaye’s Lander team square off with two programs they will see in the NCAA postseason. Lander features an incredible recruiting class and I know coach LaHaye has his sites set on dethroning UNC Pembroke and coach Othello this year. Here is their first chance to test how close they really are. Follow the action on Trackwrestling.