NEW YORK – The Columbia wrestling team will wrap up regular season tournament competition on Dec. 29-30 when it heads to the campus of Northwestern in Evanston, Ill, to compete in the 51st Ken Kraft Midlands Championships.
The event will feature four sessions as competition begins at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 29, with session two to follow at 7 p.m. The final day of the event begins with the semifinals, consolations and seventh-place matches at 12 p.m. The championship session will begin at 8 p.m. on Dec. 30 and be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.
The field for this season’s event features over 40 teams across all divisions of collegiate wrestling, highlighted by 12 teams currently ranked in the USA Today/NWCA/AWN Division I Coaches Poll. In addition to Columbia, Brown, Princeton and Harvard will all be in action representing the Ivy League.
Columbia is competing at the Midlands for the second straight season. Led by seniors Steve Santos, Jake O’Hara and Stephen West, the Lions finished 15th last year. This year’s lineup will look to improve on that finish led by current seniors Matt Bystol and Josh Houldsworth.
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Bystol continues to rise up the national rankings. An NCAA automatic qualifier a season ago at 133 pounds, Bystol has moved up to 141 pounds and built an impressive 10-2 record thus far. The 141-pound bracket will be one stacked with ranked grapplers, including No. 1 Mitchell Port from Edinboro. Including Bystol and Port, a total of seven ranked wrestlers could take the mat at 141 pounds.
Houldsworth, also a 2013 NCAA automatic qualifier, is back on the prowl at 165 pounds this year, racking up nine wins to date. The 165-pound bracket will also provide Houldsworth numerous opportunities to go up against the nation’s best with a total of six ranked wrestlers slated to compete. No. 5 Steven Monk from North Dakota State carries the highest ranking into the Midlands.
At 125 pounds, Penn Gottfried will compete at the Midlands for the second straight season. The Hartsdale, N.Y., native is 8-4 in early season competition after posting wins over opponents from Michigan State and Clarion at the Northeast Duals on Nov. 30. Of Gottfried’s eight victories, two have come via fall and two by major decision.
Making a statement early in his Columbia career has been Markus Scheidel at 157 pounds. At 11-5, he is pacing the Lions in wins, while also posting a team-best four major decisions. At the MSU Open, where he placed third in the Open Division, he reeled off seven consecutive victories.
Following the announcement of the Midlands Championships pre-seeds, Bystol was slotted fifth, while Scheidel enters the tournament ninth in their respective weight classes.
The remainder of the probable lineup for Columbia heading to Northwestern will including: Angelo Amenta (133 pounds), Connor Sutton (149), Shane Hughes (174), Zack Hernandez (184), Matt Idelson (197) and Wyatt Baker (285). Amenta, Hernandez and Idelson all enter the weekend with .500 records or better. Hernandez, who won the freshman/sophomore 184-pound bracket at the MSU Open, leads the way with an 8-4 mark.
Cal Poly University
No. 15 Edinboro
Franklin and Marshall
George Mason University
No. 20 Lehigh
North Dakota State
No. 10 Northern Iowa
No. 16 Northwestern
No. 9 Ohio State
No. 21 Purdue
No. 25 Rider
No. 11 Illinois
No. 3 Iowa
No. 19 Michigan
No. 23 Wisconsin
No. 14 Virginia Tech
Adams State College
North Central College
University of Chicago
Wartburg College (No. 1 in DIII)
Augsburg (No. 2 in DIII)
Nebraska Kearney (No. 1 in DII)
Southern Oregon University (No. 2 NAIA)
Grand View (No. 1 NAIA)