The conference and regional championships will be taking place this week in Division III, and d3wrestle.com will be posting previews of each of the nine qualifying tournaments throughout the week, looking briefly at each weight class and the team race. Today, we start with the Centennial Conference.
Centennial Conference Championships – 11 qualifiers
Saturday, February 26, 2011 at Washington & Lee
Returning Qualifiers/AA: Jordan Alfaro (USMMA, 8th, 125), Paul Marcello (JHU, 133), James Beshada (141, USMMA), Ryan Bridge (Stevens, 5th, 141), Connor McCormick (Ursinus, 149), Dan Twito (157, USMMA), Vincent Renaut (USMMA, 1st, 165), Ryan Dormann (Stevens, 174), Patrick Stanley (JHU, 174), Nate Murren (Ursinus, 184), Brock Glotfelty (McDaniel, 8th in 2009, 285)
The US Merchant Marine Academy has won the last three Centennial Conference championships and has not lost a Centennial dual in four years. This year, the 12th ranked Mariners are undefeated against Division III opponents, and they return a pair of All-Americans in Jordan Alfaro (8th, 125) and Vincent Renaut, the first NCAA champion in conference history (1st, 165). Past multiple time NCAA qualifiers James Beshada (141) and Dan Twito (157) will be on hand to help USMMA go for four in a row. Three teams tied for second in the dual meet season, and each will try to either take down Merchant Marine or fight off the others for second place. Stevens has 2010 All-American Ryan Bridge (5th, 141) and 2009 qualifier Ryan Dormann (174) along with a solid 133-174 core. Johns Hopkins has some experience led by 2008 qualifier Patrick Stanley (174) backed up by some solid underclassmen like sophomore Reid Mosquera (197) and their lone returning qualifier Paul Marcello (133). Ursinus is always in the thick of things, and they return both of their NCAA qualifiers in Nate Murren (184) and Connor McCormick (149). They usually finish high by consistently getting most of their lineup into the top four places. It would not be a shock if all eleven Centennial qualifiers came from these top four schools, but McDaniel’s All-American Brock Glotfelty may have something to say about that.
d3wrestle.com Ranked Wrestlers – none
Even though Merchant Marine’s Alfaro placed 8th last year, he has had an up and down season that has left him looking up at the other top contenders in the nation at this weight. A rough start to the year has gotten him there, but he has been better as of late. All that said, he has defeated everyone in the conference and should earn the top seed in what is looking to be a six man weight class. Yagloski of Johns Hopkins and Evans of Gettysburg should come in at 2 and 3 in some order, though they have not yet wrestled. Yagloski has has the better season, getting 24 wins as a freshman, but Evans has some common opponent wins including Bentley from Elizabethtown who has defeated Yagloski and Alfaro. Regardless of what happens here, it is pretty much assured that only the champion will make it to La Crosse.
d3wrestle.com Ranked Wrestlers – Curtiss (Stevens, HM)
This is another weight where the defending champ has not had a great year. Marcello of Hopkins has harldy competed, putting up a 5-5 record (4-1 vs DIII), and losing to Curtiss of Stevens in his last match of the regular season. Curtiss started competing in January and was at 141 until the very end when he defeated Marcello. Goretsas of McDaniel is the first contender at this weight to have put in a full season, and he could definitely win this weight with a good performance. The fourth contender at this weight is Blank of Ursinus. He defeated Goretsas in the Ursinus-McDaniel dual but has not seen Curtiss or Marcello this year. He has lost his last two matches coming into the tournament, but he looks to rebound.
d3wrestle.com Ranked Wrestlers – Bridge (Stevens, 5th), Beshada (USMMA, HM), Stauber (JHU, HM)
Ryan Bridge nearly toppled the eventual champ but settled for 5th place at last year’s NCAA championships. This year, he is just 8-2 after missing a big chunk of the year following an injury in his first match. His only other loss besides that default are to the returning NCAA runner-up Stierly of Ithaca, and he has wins against his top competition in the Centennial and will be a heavy favorite. Beshada was a two time conference champ in 2008 and 2009 but missed last year. Stauber is a freshman who lost to both Beshada and Bridge on the season’s last weekend, but has had a good first year. Tancredi of McDaniel, last year’s runner up Homan of Muhlenberg, and Watkins of Ursinus come in right behind the top three and will make this a deep weight.
d3wrestle.com Ranked Wrestlers – none
Defending champ McCormick was abroad for the first semester, but he returned in January and has not lost since that first week back. He will be the favorite in comparitively weak weight class for the conference. It should be competitive, however, as Caserta of Stevens and Barilla of Johns Hopkins have had close matches with McCormick this year and could pull the upset. Bell of Merchant Marine is back at this weight, and Swanson of Muhlenberg may appear here, though he has been competing at 157 for most of the second semester.
d3wrestle.com Ranked Wrestlers – Twito (USMMA, Contender), Fusaro (JHU, Contender), Dormann (Stevens, Contender)
Twito is a three time NCAA qualifier who has won titles the last two years, but he has yet to make it onto the NCAA podium. He will be challenged, to say the least, by a strong field, as he has already been defeated once by Stevens’ Dormann, and he slipped past Fusaro 3-2. Twito started the season a little late after the Merchant Marine soccer team made it deep into the postseason, but he came back quickly and has just the one DIII loss. Dormann missed last year with an injury, but he returned this season and dropped to 157 after a semester at 165. He defeated Twito, but lost to Fusaro on the season’s last day. Fusaro started strong but had a fairly long layoff due to injury, only wrestling a handful of times since the first of the year. Twito’s experience makes him the pick here, but he is by no means a lock.
d3wrestle.com Ranked Wrestlers – Renaut (USMMA, 5th), Levenseller (JHU, HM)
Vencent Renaut is the sole NCAA champion in Centennial history, and he will certainly be looking to repeat. An opening weekend loss and injury put him on the shelf for a good two months, and he comes into the championships with an 8-4 record. He will be the favorite to win the conference, but one wonders how his truncated season, along with a very tough national weight class, will affect his finish in La Crosse. Top competition for Renaut will come from Washington & Lee’s Dennis and Johns Hopkins’ Levenseller. Dennis was a finalist at 157 a year ago, and Levenseller has a good amount of experience to go alone with his 26 wins. Renaut has not faced Levenseller, but won by injury default over Dennis, while Dennis defeated Levenseller in their only meeting this year.
d3wrestle.com Ranked Wrestlers – Dormann (stevens, 10th), Diesel (USMMA, Contender), Stanley (JHU, HM), Leon (Gettysburg, HM)
As stated in the intro, Dormann was a 2009 qualifier who missed last year, and Diesel was a finalist, losing to Dormann’s teammate Bishop. Dormann had defeated Diesel twice this year while also majoring Leon. His only losses are to the two wrestlers right above him in the d3wrestle.com rankings. Diesel has also had a good season, with his only DIII losses coming against Dormann, and one of his wins coming against Broderick, who defeated Dormann. Stanley is a bit of an enigma here. After winning the conference his freshman year, he transferred to UNC for a year before coming back to Hopkins last year and wrestling just twice before making the final at 184, losing to Murren. This year, his only DIII losses are to Diesel and Messiah’s Plummer. Leon comes in next as a freshman having a good year, but he is a definite step below the likes of Diesel and Dormann.
d3wrestle.com Ranked Wrestlers – Murren (Ursinus, HM), Lowe (USMMA, HM)
Murren was the champ last year and will come in as the favorite in a weight class that lacks depth. Lowe will be here after spending much of the season at lower weights. After those two, anything can happen, as Neri of Gettysburg is the only remaining wrestler with more wins than losses, but he was defeated by Forrester of McDaniel. Finelli was a placewinner two years ago at 174 before transferring from Ursinus to Johns Hopkins and should probably be considerd the third best guy. It looks like a two man race with a few guys looking to play spoiler.
d3wrestle.com Ranked Wrestlers – Mosquera (JHU, Contender)
Neither of last year’s finalists are back as the runner up graduated and the champ has been out all year after briefly wrestling at the beginning of the season. That leaves Mosquera as a clear favorite with a 17-1 DIII record and wins over most of the top contenders. Schott of Merchant Marine made a late move to this weight class, but Mosquera defeated him in the last match of the year. Yeo of McDaniel has moved up from 184 last year to have a pretty successful year at 197, though he has three losses to Mosquera and one to Termini of Stevens. Yost of W&L has not wrestled much in the second semester, but could challenge for a spot on the podium. It looks to be Mosquera as a definite favorite with Schott the one most likely to upset him while Yost, Yeo, and Termini fight for the other places.
d3wrestle.com Ranked Wrestlers – Connell (USMMA, 3rd), Glotfelty (USMMA, 4th), Cornely (Ursinus, HM), Christopher (Gettysburg, HM)
This is the best weight in the conference and the only one with multiple top ten individuals. After 285 cleared out last year, that left only three wrestlers in the country who had previously been All-Americans, and one of them is 2009 8th place finisher Glotfelty. He was, however, defeated for the first time in the dual meet with Merchant Marine by 2x runner-up Connell. That was Glotfelty’s only loss of the year so far. Connell has a single DIII loss back in November, and has only lost one other match to a DI opponent since then. He has proven he can score on Glotfelty in prevous matches, and the last match proved he can win. Cornely and Christopher make up the next two contenders. Cornely stopped Christopher in a close match in November, and he has lost to the other two. Christopher has not seen Connell this year, but was caught and pinned quickly in his match with Glotfelty. Three of his six losses have come in overtime. Depending on how things go, this is the likely weight for the Centennial’s lone wildcard.