2017 Central Region Preview

Date – Saturday, February 25, 2017

Location – Five Flags Center, Dubuque, Iowa

Teams (15) – Augustana, Buena Vista, Central, Coe, Cornell, Dubuque, Huntingdon, Loras, Luther, MacMurray, Millikin, Nebraska Wesleyan, Simpson, University of the Ozarks, Wartburg

Top Ten Ranked Individuals (2016 All-Americans in bold)
125 – #2 Pestano (Central), #10 Rosenberg (Coe)
133 – #2 Williams (Millikin), #10 Timok (Central)
141 – #9 Cannone (Wartburg)
149 – #1 Martin (Wartburg)
157 – #4 Thomsen (Wartburg), #10 Kalkbrenner (Dubuque)
165 – #2 Vandall (Central)
174 – #2 DeVos (Wartburg), #8 Maksimovic (Cornell)
184 – #4 Kreiter (Luther), #6 Levsen (Wartburg), #7 Giatras (Augustana)
197 – #2 Fank (Wartburg), #10 Patron (Loras)
285 – #2 Evans (Wartburg), #7 Jones (Augustana)

Top 30 Teams (d3wrestle.com list)
#1 Wartburg
#11 Central
#21 Augustana, Millikin
#26 Cornell

Wartburg won this region by 30 points last year and followed it up two weeks later by winning the NCAA Championship by 29.5. The Knights look to run away with the regional title again this year. They have seven wrestlers ranked in the top ten with two more lurking just outside. One of those just outside the rankings is returning All-American Olea at 125 who is certainly a threat to be back on the podium this March. Central has come a long way since head coach Eric Van Kley took over, and they will be the top challenger with three top ten individuals including last year’s surprise finalist Pestano at 125. Coe does not have many top ranked individuals, but the Kohawks have seven wrestlers appearing somewhere in the d3wrestle.com rankings.

Kenny Martin returned at 149 for Wartburg in January and has only wrestled ten matches, but he has managed to go undefeated so far in his quest for a third consecutive NCAA championship. In each of the past two seasons, he has managed to be at his best when the lights are brightest. Wartburg’s other returning finalist, Eric DeVos, has had a similar season to Martin with only 12 matches to his name. Only one opponent has manager to avoid giving up bonus points, however. Wartburg will hope that the lack of matches this season will not slow these two down as they work toward the top of the podium.

There are several returning All-Americans whose seasons have not warranted top ten status at this point in the year, Olea has already been mentioned, but his teammate Campo (133) has gone just 7-9 this year after a 7th place finish in 2016 and an 8th place finish in 2015. Similarly, Harrington of Coe placed 3rd at 174 last year and 4th the year before, but he dropped to 165 this season where he has gone 10-7. Both of these competitors have shown the ability to get the job done in February and March, and neither will be an easy out this weekend or, potentially, in La Crosse two weeks later.