NEW YORK - After taking over a month off from competition, the Columbia wrestling team will be back on the mats Dec. 29-30 at the 50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships hosted by Northwestern at the Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill. This is the first time in the history of both Columbia wrestling and the Midlands that Columbia will field a complete team at the event.
Session I kicks off the action at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 29, with Session II following that night at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30 begins with semifinals, consolation and seventh-place matches at noon. The Parade of Champions commences at 6:30 p.m. with the first, third and fifth-place matches to begin at 7 p.m. Sunday's finals will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
Fans can stay up-to-date all weekend by visiting the Midlands website. Complete brackets will be released the morning of Saturday, Dec. 29.
Widely considered the premiere winter break tournament over the last five decades, the 2012 Midlands once again features a plethora of top-level wrestling talent. Of the 32 teams that are slated to compete this weekend, 15 are ranked in the latest (Dec. 18) USA Today/AWN Division I Coaches Poll. The ranked teams in this year's field include the following: No. 6 Illinois, No. 9 Central Michigan, No. 10 Oregon State, No. 11 Virginia Tech, No. 12 Michigan, No. 13 Pittsburgh, No. 14 Oklahoma, No. 15 Northwestern, No. 17 Nebraska, No. 18 Edinboro (tie), No. 18 Maryland (tie), No. 21 Purdue, No. 22 Penn, No. 23 Wisconsin and No. 25 Lehigh.
As well the numerous ranked teams, this year's Midlands
field features 92 ranked wrestlers. Here is the breakdown by weight class:
125: 9 (No. 4, 5, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18)
133: 10 (No. 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 19)
141: 10 (No. 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 15, 16, 17)
149: 8 (No. 1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14)
157: 9 (No. 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 14, 17, 18, 20)
165: 10 (No. 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 20)
174: 9 (No. 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 17, 18, 19)
184: 10 (No. 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 14, 15, 18, 19)
197: 9 (No. 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 15, 18)
Hwt: 8 (No. 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, 13, 17, 19)
During the Lions hiatus from competition, the EIWA released its second rankings of the 2012-13 season with Columbia garnering the sixth slot. Four Columbia wrestlers also garnered top-three rankings in their respective weight classes. Steve Santos, currently ranked No. 8/15 (AWN/Intermat) holds the top spot at 149 pounds, while No. 17/15 Jake O'Hara (157 lbs.), No. 12/18 Stephen West (174 lbs.) and Nick Mills (197 lbs.) are each ranked third, respectively. In addition to their EIWA rankings, Santos, O'Hara and West were each recognized as top contenders at the Midlands Championships.
Columbia has had three individuals place at the past Midlands Championships. Most recently, Derek Sickles placed seventh at 157 pounds in 2008, while Sal Tirico (141 lbs.) placed seventh in 2006 and Matt Palmer (174 lbs.) captured sixth in 2005.
125 - Robert Dyar and Penn Gottfried have each wrestled eight matches at 125 pounds for the Lions. Dyar holds a 6-2 mark with three victories coming by way of fall. Gottfried carries a .500 (4-4) record into this weekend. At the Northeast Collegiate Duals, Gottfried notched a 4-1 win over Drexel's Jacob Goodwin.
133 - Joe Moita went 1-1 at the Northeast Collegiate Duals, using a 10-2 major decision to top Drexel's Jordan Hart. The victory improved Moita's season record to 5-3.
141 - Three Columbia wrestlers have seen action at 141 pounds. Ryan Ponte has earned a 7-4 record, including one major decision over Brockport's Joshua Brabon. Ryan Murdock wrestled his way to a 3-2 record at the New York State Championships, securing falls over opponents from Brockport and Westchester. Matt Bystol enters the Midlands with a 1-4 mark after losing a pair of matches at the Northeast Collegiate Duals.
149 - Steve Santos continues his impressive senior campaign, opening the year 11-0 overall and 3-0 in dual matches. The Brick, N.J. native has accumulated three pins and one major decision en route to titles at the Michigan State Open and New York State Championships. For his efforts, he was recognized as Columbia's male Student-Athlete of the Month for November.
157 - Jake O'Hara reached the 10-win plateau at the Northeast Collegiate Duals with victories over Maryland's Danny Orem and Drexel's Noel Blanco. O'Hara has earned three wins via major decision while also taking first at the Michigan State Open and New York State Championships.
165 - Josh Houldsworth tallied a pair of wins at the Northeast Collegiate Duals to improve to 7-2 on the year. Houldsworth topped Maryland's Josh Snook, 9-2, and then captured a major decision over Drexel's Charles Aungst, 9-0. Adam Fondale has also seen action at 165, earning two pins and a 4-2 record.
174 - Stephen West is the third Columbia wrestler to reach double-digit victories, holding a 10-2 record. Similar to Santos and O'Hara, West captured titles at the Michigan State Open and New York State Championships, rushing out to a 9-0 record. After two hard-fought losses to begin the Northeast Duals, West closed out the tournament with a 6-4 decision over Drexel's Connor Moran.
184 - A quartet of Lions have competed at 184 pounds this season, with Zach Hernandez holding the best record at 5-4. Hernandez has won three matches via pin and another by major decision this season. Shane Hughes and Drew Rebling both saw action at the Northeast Collegiate Duals, but were unable to come away with a win. Of Hughes' four wins this year, pins have accounted for three of them. Chris Loew has a 3-2 record after competing in the 'B' draw at the New York State Championships.
197 - Nick Mills is just two wins away from 10 wins, holding an 8-5 mark as the Lions head west. Mills defeated Rutgers Hayden Hrymack, 4-0, for his first dual victory of the year at the Northeast Collegiate Duals.
285 - Chris Manna and Wyatt Baker have both seen time on the mat at 285 pounds. Manna finds himself at 3-6 with one pin and one major decision, while Baker has a 2-2 record. Baker closed out the Northeast Collegiate Duals for Columbia with a 3-2 win over Drexel's John Max Wright for his first dual victory of the season.