Date – Saturday, February 25, 2017
Location – Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota
Teams (11) – Augsburg, Concordia-Moorhead, Concordia Wisconsin, Eau Claire, Lakeland, MSOE, Oshkosh, Pacific, Platteville, St. John’s, St. Olaf
Top Ten Ranked Individuals (2016 All-Americans in bold)
125 – #9 Gliva (Augsburg)
133 – none
141 – none
149 – #8 Epps (Augsburg)
157 – #7 Sladek (Concordia-Moorhead)
165 – none
174 – #4 Goetz (Platteville), #10 Mergener (Concordia Wisconsin)
184 – #2 Webster (Augsburg)
197 – #7 Baumgartner (Concordia Wisconsin)
285 – #3 Longendyke (Augsburg), #6 Bellile (MSOE), #10 Davis (Concordia-Moorhead)
Top 30 Teams (d3wrestle.com list)
Augsburg will again be a heavy favorite in what is again the weakest region by far. The Auggies have nine wrestlers who appear in the d3wrestle.com rankings, while no other team in the region has more than four. They also have the only two returning All-Americans in the region in two time finalist Longendyke at 285 and 7th place finisher Parker at 157. Concordia-Moorhead is the host and has finished in second place each of the past three years, while Platteville had five qualifiers last season and could qualify a big group again.
Heavyweight is where the action will be in the West region this year, as there are three top ten ranked wrestlers including the already mentioned Longendyke. He won the NCAA championship in 2015 before dropping the finals match last year. Davis of Concordia-Moorhead was a 2015 qualifier, while Bellile of MSOE is 21-2 and has avenged one of those losses late this season. Also in the mix could be Johnson of Platteville who qualified at this weight last season.
Augsburg has a trio of highly ranked freshmen in the lineup this year in Gliva (125), Epps (149), and Webster (184). All three were Minnesota state champions before heading to Augsburg and have combined for just 5 total DIII losses among them. Webster was the #40 overall recruit in his class and is currently ranked 2nd in the d3wrestle.com rankings and will be a title contender for sure in La Crosse.
With only 11 teams, the brackets will be small, but there will also be a good number of brackets with fewer than 11 wrestlers. Beyond that, there could be 15 or more wrestlers in the tournament with fewer than five wins on the year. It seems likely that there will be fewer than 100 entries overall. Thirty of these will qualify for the NCAA Championships. This is a problem in need of a solution.