The NWCA all-star match is pitting some of the top wrestlers in the nation against each other in their annual All-Star classic. This event is obviously headlined by the super match at 165lbs between 3x NCAA champion Kyle Dake of Cornell and returning undefeated NCAA champion and Hodge Trophy winner David Taylor of Penn State. We would be foolish to let this match over shadow all of the other great match ups that will take place at this event too. Here are the 10 match-ups and the order in which I am most excited about them.
Chris Dardanes won his way into the Minnesota line-up midseason at the Southern Scuffle and ended up making his way to the third place match at the NCAA's where he fell to Tony Ramos of Iowa. His opponent, AJ Schopp of Edinboro was an EWL champion last year. The two wrestlers faced off in the second round of the NCAA tournament last year where Dardanes won 7-3. In a typical dual meet this could easily be the feature match-up, but here is gets the #10 spot.
Jordan Blanton is a 2x All-American who was fourth last year with both of his losses at the NCAA tournament coming to Oklahoma State's Chris Perry. Josh Asper had strong season last year and capped it off with a 6th place finish at 165lbs. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts moving up a weight, something that has really benefited certain guys in the past.
Here we have an interesting match up on our hands with two NCAA third place finishers. Mike McMullan ended this past season in third place at the NCAA tournament while Dom Bradley was taking an Olympic redshirt year. In 2011 Dom Bradley was the third place finisher at the NCAA tournament and they will both be making runs at the title this year. In a battle of bronze medalists, who will come out on top?
Jason Chamberlain is another guy who took an Olympic redshirt last year after a third place finish at the 2011 NCAA championships. He will face Nick Lester of Oklahoma who earned All-American honors for the first time last year when he finished 8th at the NCAA's. This should be an interesting match up as Chamberlain is very tough on his feet and Lester is a monster on top.
Kendrick Maple had a breakout season in 2012 and held the #1 ranking at 141 for a good part of the season. Maple ended up fourth at the NCAA championships and still has two seasons to go. His opponent was also fourth at last year's NCAA's but it was at 133, BJ Futrell is a 2x All-American at 133 taking 8th in 2011. Like Josh Asper it will be interesting to see how BJ Futrell adjusts to being up a weight class.
This should be another great battle between a couple of two time All-Americans. Robert Hamlin was a finalist in 2011 and finished fourth at last year's NCAA tournament. He will be facing off against Kevin who was 8th in 2011 and finished fifth last year. Both of these guys own wins over NCAA champions and they are very evenly matched, and it very well could come down to who shows up the better man on that day.
Quentin Wright is a talented wrestler who really seems to turn it on when it matters. He was an NCAA champion in 2011 and a runner up last year. But both of those finishes were at 184lbs and due to the depth of Penn State wrestling he has moved up a weight class to help his team. Matt Wilps is a rock solid wrestler who was fourth at last year's NCAA tournament and is looking to move to the top of the podium this season. Will Quentin Wright be just as competitive up 13 pounds or will Matt Wilps continue to make his case as a top contender at 197?
3. 157lbs Dylan Alton (Penn State) vs Jason Welch (Northwestern)
This bout will be a rematch of the third place match at last year's NCAA championships where Alton came out on top. Jason Welch went through his entire regular season without a loss last year before dropping one in the Big Ten finals to St. John of Iowa, whom he lost to in the NCAA semifinals, who also beat Alton in the quarterfinals. It will be interesting to see if Welch can make some adjustments and change the outcome of this one.
There are other match ups in this dual meet where the wrestlers have more credentials, but as far as entertainment I think this match is going to be awesome. Nico Megaludis had a great run at the NCAA tournament last year, making it to the finals before falling to Matt McDonough of Iowa. Jesse Delgado had a solid season, including a win over McDonough and finished the NCAA tournament in seventh place. Both wrestlers were just freshmen last year, both wrestle styles that produce a lot of action, and the lightweights are the most fun to watch, yes I am biased.
There is no doubt about it, this is the match everyone wants to see. The match everyone has been talking about. Two highly decorated wrestlers on a collision course for Washington DC on November 3. We have Kyle Dake, a three time NCAA champion in three different weight with four career losses on his record in three seasons of competition. Then we have David Taylor who in two seasons has just a single loss on his record to go along with his NCAA runner up finish, NCAA title and 2012 Dan Hodge trophy. Yes they wrestled in freestyle but the game changer here is that they are both extremely good folkstyle mat wrestlers which we didn't get to see in Iowa City. This is the most anticipated match up since Hulk Hogan wrestled Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3 in front of 90,000+ at the Pontiac Silver Dome in Detroit, MI… a close second would be #1 Cary Kolat (11-0) vs #2 Mark Ironside (21-0) at the 1996 All- Star match.