NEW YORK - Welsh-Ryan Arena will be rocking once again, as the Columbia wrestling team will visit Northwestern for the 54th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships.
Wrestling will get under way on Thursday morning, in a field that features 71-ranked wrestlers across the 10 weight classes.
A pair of Lions advanced to the second day of competion a year ago at the Midlands, as Columbia hopes to have multiple athletes take the medal stand. Juniors Garrett Ryan and Tyler Ponte have found success previously in the tournament, as Ryan finished seventh in his rookie season, the same year Ponte won a pair of matches.
The last time the Lions took the mats was in a dual at Drexel on Dec. 10. Although Columbia came away with victories in four of the 10 matches, the Dragons prevailed, 26-12.
Jacob Macalolooy (141) earned the first Columbia win in an 8-5 decision over David Pearce, while Ponte (157) and Tyrel White (165) both earned decisions, 2-1 and 2-0. rounded out the match with a 7-4 victory over former NCAA qualifier, Joey Goodhart, in the heavyweight bout.
In the 125 pound bracket at the Midlands, Johnson Mai's return will hopefully spark the Lions, as the senior will take the mats for the first time since the 2014-15 season. The Torrence, California, native endured a season-ending injury last year, after posting 12 victories his junior season as the starter at 125.
The Midlands will serve as the final warm-up to the dual season, which starts next weekend. Columbia will take on Buffalo on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 1 p.m., followed by a match the next day, also at 1 p.m., at Binghamton.