Caldwell, Little Wrestle This Week At NCAAs
March 16, 2011
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NCAA Wrestling Championships site
Caldwell quotes from pre-championship press conference (PDF)
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RALEIGH, N.C. ? Darrion Caldwell will end his college wrestling career this week. By Saturday night, he could well stake his claim as the greatest wrestler in NC State history.
Caldwell and teammate Darrius Little are in Philadelphia this week to compete in the NCAA Championships, which will begin Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.
Brackets for the championships will be updated following each round on the NCAA?s website. Click here to follow the tournament on the NCAA site.
Caldwell won the 2009 national championship at 149 pounds, but missed his opportunity to defend his title because of shoulder surgery in the fall of 2009. Caldwell returned to action in January this year and had a perfect 14-0 season, winning his fourth ACC championship in the process.
Seeded No. 1 for this year?s tournament, Caldwell is 108-12 for his career. He holds the NC State career record for winning percentage at .900, and is second in school history with 108 career victories and 58 career pins. He has not lost to an opponent on the mat since March 27, 2008, during the medal round of that year?s NCAA Championships. He has wrestled 54 matches since then without losing to an opponent. He had a medical default at Oklahoma on Jan. 30, 2009, which is the only loss on his record in that time.
A two-time All-American, Caldwell has a career record of 11-4 at the NCAA Championships. Even as a freshman when he fell short of earning All-America, his memorable bout with top-seeded Ryan Lang of Northwestern drew a standing ovation from the sellout crowd and became a cult favorite among wrestling fans on YouTube.com. His most talked-about match, of course, was his 11-6 dismantling of previously unbeaten and heavily favored Brent Metcalf of Iowa in the 2009 championship bout.
Caldwell enters his final week of collegiate wrestling with a 21-7 career record against ranked opponents. He has pinned six of them. Even more impressive, he is 16-4 with five pins against opponents ranked in the national top 10. He has won his last eight matches against top 10 opponents, and 14 of his last 16.
Caldwell?s first tournament opponent will be UNC Greensboro?s Ivan Lopouchanski. Assuming he wins that bout, he would next face the winner of a bout between Brandon Rader of West Virginia and Eric Grajales of Michigan. Looking further ahead, fifth-seeded Jamal Parks of Oklahoma State and fourth-seeded Kyle Dake of Cornell both are on Caldwell?s side of the bracket. Caldwell defeated Parks 3-1 earlier this season in Stillwater. Dake won the national championship at 141 pounds as a freshman a year ago.
Little, who is 26-10 this season and owns a 62-43 career record, earned an at-large bid to the national tournament as a sophomore two years ago. He wrestled early in the 2009-10 season but was shut down because of injuries and was granted a medical hardship, restoring the year of eligibility, which makes him a redshirt-junior this season. He earned his bid to this year?s tournament with his second-place finish at the ACC Championships. Little will open the tournament against second-seeded Michael Thorn from Minnesota.