How To Qualify For The NCAA Wrestling Championships

How To Qualify For The NCAA Wrestling Championships

The NCAA Wrestling Championships are the pinnacle of college wrestling. Here's how athletes qualify to compete for NCAA titles.

Sep 5, 2023 by David Bray

Before wrestlers can compete for NCAA Division 1 national titles, they have to qualify for the NCAA championships. There are 10 weight classes, and each NCAA weight class has 33 qualifiers. There are two ways to qualify for NCAAs: through conference tournaments and through at-large selection.

Qualifying For The NCAA Championships Through Conference Tournaments

Every year, each conference is awarded pre-allocation spots for that season's NCAA Championships. Pre-allocations are determined based on the regular-season performance of the wrestlers within that conference. The NCAA uses a sliding scale of three standards: a base of .700 winning percentage, top 30 coaches' ranking, and top 30 RPI ranking. The NCAA will not assign more than 29 pre-allocations per weight class across the seven NCAA conferences. The remaining NCAA qualification spots will be assigned as at-large selections.

After pre-allocations have been assigned to each conference, wrestlers must place within the pre-determined number of allocations for their weight class to auto-qualify for the NCAA Championships. For example, in 2023, the Big Ten was awarded six allocations at 125 lbs, so only the top six placers at that weight class auto-qualified for NCAAs.

Qualifying For The NCAA Championships Through At-Large Selection

Wrestlers who do not auto-qualify for the NCAA Wrestling Championships through their conference tournaments may still qualify through the at-large selection process. In 2023, between four and seven wrestlers per weight class were given at-large bids for the NCAA Championships.

After the conclusion of all seven conference tournaments, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee meets to select the remaining at-large qualifiers. The committee uses the NCAA Coaches' Rank, RPI, head-to-head results, quality wins, conference tournament placement, results against common opponents, and win percentage to determine the remaining NCAA qualifiers in each weight class.