Date – Saturday and Sunday, February 24-25, 2018
Location – Five Flags Center, Dubuque, IA
Teams (17) – Augustana, Buena Vista, Central, Coe, Cornell, Dubuque, Huntingdon, Loras, Luther, MacMurray, Millikin, Nebraska Wesleyan, North Central, Simpson, University of the Ozarks, Wartburg, Westminster
Top Ten Ranked Individuals (2017 All-Americans in bold)
125 – CJ Pestano (Central, 1)
133 – Brock Rathbun (Wartburg, 3)
141 – Josh Martin (Cornell, 1)
149 – Cross Cannone (Wartburg, 1), Phillip Opelt (Cornell, 2), Jimmy Davis (Loras, 3), Bradan Birt (Millikin, 6)
157 – Logan Thomsen (Wartburg, 2), Quincy Kalkbrenner (Dubuque, 5), Cole Erickson (Coe, 6), Egan Berta (North Central, 8)
165 – Mike Ross (Wartburg, 2)
174 – Eric DeVos (Wartburg, 1), Jake Voss (Coe, 5), Nathan Fritz (Central, 6)
184 – Tyler Lutes (Wartburg, 2), Christos Giatras (Augustana, 6), Keajion Jennings (Millikin, 8)
197 – Kyle Fank (Wartburg, 2), Guy Patron (Loras, 4)
285 – Lance Evans (Wartburg, 1), Quin Gilliam (Loras, 7)
Top 30 Teams (d3wrestle.com list)
25. North Central
With seven wrestlers ranked first or second (and an eighth ranked third), Wartburg is well-positioned to defend their NCAA and Regional championships of a year ago. The Knights have five returning All-Americans including three finalists. Eric DeVos is a two-time finalist who returns to defend his title at 174 lbs., while Cross Cannone and Logan Thomsen were both 2nd last year. Lance Evans finished 4th at heavyweight, while Kyle Fank was 5th at 197. Wartburg has won their region each of the past five years and should cruise to a sixth straight title.
Loras is having a fantastic season and should be the second best team in this region. They have a 17-1 record and can put a solid wrestler on the mat at every weight while having a few stars with the potential to get on the podium. Guy Patron shook off an opening round loss at the NCAA Championships last year and reeled off six straight wins to place 3rd at 197. Jimmy Davis also lost his first match before storming back for 5th place. Quin Gilliam qualified at heavyweight last year and fell in the round of 12. This team should send a strong group to Cleveland.
Cornell, Central, and Coe are all strong teams as well that should do well. CJ Pestano is a 2x All-American for Central and he holds the top spot in the rankings at 125. Cornell has a pair of guys ranked in the top two, as Josh Martin holds the top spot at 141 and is looking to return to the tournament for the first time since 2016. Teammate Phillip Opelt is ranked 2nd at 149. He was an All-American in 2016 at 133 and is back looking for more two weight classes up. Millikin’s Chris Williams sits just outside the top ten as of today, but he is a 2x All-American who cannot be counted out at 141. North Central is another tough top-to-bottom team that will not be an easy out for anyone.