Jason Bryant, IntermatWrestle.com
The 42nd edition of the NWCA All-Star Classic presented by the United States Marine Corps comes to the Pacific Northwest for the first time in 17 years as Eugene, Ore., will host the annual wrestling spectacle.
This year’s lineup features six top-ranked wrestlers in Division I, one top-ranked wrestler in Division II, eight second-ranked wrestlers from Division I along with four #3’s and one #4. In all, 14 different schools will be represented and will comprise athletes from the Big Ten, Big 12, Colonial, EIWA, EWL, Pac 10 and Division II.
“We’re excited to have the event in an area that’s not only known for its wrestling wealth, but an area that is nationally known for putting out some of the top wrestlers in the nation,” said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer.
There is one pivotal focus of this year’s event – save the wrestling program at the University of Oregon. In June, the school announced it was cutting the sport in favor of adding baseball and women’s competitive cheer, and that 2007-08 would be the final season of Duck Wrestling in Eugene.
“This is an important event, not only for the sport of wrestling, but for the health and well-being of wrestling in the state of Oregon and around the country,” said NWCA President Ron Mirikitani.
“There is great tradition at the University of Oregon. National Champions, Olympic Medalists, Olympic Coaches,” continued Mirikitani. “We’re hoping that a great fan presence will show the administration that Oregon needs wrestling and wrestling needs Oregon.”
The lineup that’s going to be taking to the mat at McArthur Court is solid.
At 125 pounds, returning NCAA champion Paul Donahoe of Nebraska comes in ranked No. 1 in the country after his surprise run to the title last season. He’ll take on Jayson Ness, a sophomore from Minnesota ranked fourth in the nation and a fifth-place finisher at the NCAA Championships last March. It is the first appearance for both wrestlers.
At 133 pounds, two of the Big 12’s top wrestlers will square off with three-time All-American and returning NCAA runner-up Coleman Scott of Oklahoma State will take on Missouri’s two-time All-American Tyler McCormick. Scott is 2-1 lifetime against McCormick and is one of two Cowboys to be represented in the event. Scott’s making his second All-Star appearance, losing last year to Penn’s Matt Valenti.
At 141 pounds, it’s the second Cowboy, two-time All-American Nathan Morgan. Morgan, ranked third, will face second-ranked Charles Griffin of Hofstra. Griffin bested Morgan in the third-place match at the 2007 NCAA Division I Championships last March 6-2 and is the first Hofstra wrestler to compete in the main event of the All-Star Classic since Nick Gallo wrestled in the event in 1977, which conversely, took place in Corvallis.
Morgan’s making his second All-Star appearance. He fell last year to top-ranked Ryan Lang of Northwestern.
Hofstra head coach Tom Shifflet will also represent the Pride.
At 149 pounds, a pair of Big Ten opponents will tangle as top-ranked Dustin Schlatter, a two-time All-American and 2006 NCAA champion, will face off with second-ranked Josh Churella, a two-time All-American and 2007 NCAA runner-up. It will be Schlatter’s second All-Star appearance. Last season, he defeated Oklahoma’s Matt Storniolo in Dallas.
At 157 pounds, Wisconsin’s NCAA runner-up Craig Henning, ranked second at the weight, will wrestle Illinois’ Mike Poeta in another All-Big Ten tussle. It’s been six years since Barry Davis has had a wrestler compete in the event – Donny Pritzlaff in 2001.
Davis joins Shifflet, Iowa Central coach Luke Moffitt and Embry-Riddle coach Ken Ramsey as coaches for the event.
Second-ranked Eric Tannenbaum of Michigan will take on third-ranked Patrick Pitsch of Arizona State at 165 pounds. The match could draw some fans from nearby Washington as the two-time Pac-10 champion hails from Spanaway, Wash., a four-hour drive up I-5.
Two Eastern conferences are represented at 174 pounds, with returning NCAA finalist and top-ranked Keith Gavin of Pittsburgh against second-ranked Matt Stolpinski of the United States Naval Academy. Gavin is Pitt’s first representative since J.J. Fasnacht in 1996, while Stolpinski is the Academy’s first since Mark Conley in 2002.
Making his second All-Star Classic is Minnesota’s Roger Kish. Last season, Kish fell to Northwestern’s Jake Herbert, but the Michigan native will have a familiar foe in his opponent in 2007 – Iowa State’s top-ranked sophomore Jake Varner. Varner defeated Kish in overtime in the semifinals of last year’s NCAA championships at 184 pounds.
A pair of Big Ten wrestlers will again meet at 197 pounds, as second-ranked Phil Davis, a three-time All-American from Penn State, will face third-ranked Mike Tamillow of Northwestern. This will be Davis second appearance in the All-Star Classic, but he failed to make weight at last year’s event. Tamillow was seventh at last year’s NCAA championships.
At heavyweight, Division I’s top-ranked heavyweight Dustin Fox of Northwestern will have a large challenge in front of him, the top-ranked heavyweight in Division II, Nebraska-Kearney’s Tervel Dlagnev.
Dlagnev beat Fox in the finals of last year’s Midlands championships and is making his third All-Star appearance but first in the main event. In 2005 in Stillwater, Dlagnev beat Central Oklahoma’s Josh LeadingFox in the event’s only exhibition, while in 2006, the Texan beat Wartburg’s Blake Gillis in one of five exhibition matches.
Dlagnev’s the first non-Division I wrestler in the event since Emmett Willson of Montana State-Northern (NAIA) in 2004 and the first Division II wrestler to compete since Dan Russell of Portland State in 1990 – the last time Oregon hosted the event.
“We feel the All-Star Classic is one of wrestling’s greatest events because it can give you a potential NCAA final right now,” said Moyer. “We’re hoping the momentum of this event in Eugene, with people like Ron Finely among others, leading the charge to keep this valuable and historic sport in the state of Oregon.”
“Countless teachers and coaches have come through the wrestling room at the University of Oregon and it would be a shame if there was no longer a pipeline to Oregon’s youth and high school wrestlers and coaches to and from Eugene.”
“We hope the All-Star Classic not only puts the 20 best wrestlers in the nation on display, but the need for wrestling at Oregon as well,” said Moyer.
The United States Marine Corps is again partnering with the NWCA for the event and has been a win-win situation for the NWCA and the event itself.
“The United States Marine Corps and the NWCA have built a great partnership over the years,” said Moyer. “They present one of our showcase events – the All-Star Classic – and also are a key player in our leadership awards. We’re pleased to continue our relationship with them on every level.”
The event is slated for a 7 p.m. start, and tickets are available by calling the Duck ticket office at 1-800-WEB-FOOT (or 541.346.4461 locally) during weekday normal business hours.
Prices are $15 for reserved, $10 for Adult General Admission and $5 for Children General Admission (ages 2-18) and UO Students (with a valid UO student ID).
For teams of 15 or more, reserved tickets are available for $10 for each ticket if arranged in advance through the UO Athletic Department Ticket Office.
Other general ticket information is available at the online at www.GoDucks.com website.
More information on the NWCA is available at the www.nwcaonline.com website.
42nd NWCA All-Star Classic presented by the United States Marine Corps
November 19, Eugene, OR
125: #1 Paul Donahoe (Nebraska) vs. #4 Jayson Ness (Minnesota)
133: #1 Coleman Scott (Oklahoma State) vs. #2 Tyler McCormick (Missouri)
141: #2 Charles Griffin (Hofstra) vs. #3 Nathan Morgan (Oklahoma State)
149: #1 Dustin Schlatter (Minnesota) vs. #2 Josh Churella (Michigan)
157: #2 Craig Henning (Wisconsin) vs. #3 Mike Poeta (Illinois)
165: #2 Eric Tannenbaum (Michigan) vs. #3 Patrick Pitsch (Arizona State)
174: #1 Keith Gavin (Pittsburgh) vs. #2 Matt Stolpinski (Navy)
184: #1 Jake Varner (Iowa State) vs. #2 Roger Kish (Minnesota)
197: #2 Phil Davis (Penn State) vs. #3 Mike Tamillow (Northwestern)
285: #1 (D2) Tervel Dlagnev (Neb.-Kearney) vs. #1 (D1) Dustin Fox (Northwestern)
125: #1 (NAIA) Trevor Lofstedt (Southern Oregon) vs. Jake Gonzales (Oregon State)
174: Ron Lee (Oregon) vs. Luke Feist (Stanford)
Tom Shifflet (Hofstra), Barry Davis (Wisconsin), Luke Moffitt (Iowa Central), Ken Ramsey (Embry-Riddle)