The following preview was provided to d3wrestle.com by the Wheaton College Wrestling staff. The Pete Willson Wheaton Invitational starts today at noon Eastern and concludes on Saturday. Unfortunately, the tournament is a little behind the times and will not have live results. Bracket updates are typically posted every few hours at the link below under 2015 Results.
Pete Willson Wheaton Invitational Homepage (including link to finals live video)
On January 30-31, Wheaton College will host the Pete Willson Wheaton Invitational, which is shaping up to one of the best in tournament history. Initially a private college tournament hosting NCAA DI, II, III, and NAIA institutions, the PWWI over the last 20 years transformed into a competition modeled after the NCAA tournament and has over 30 NCAA Division 3 teams and one Division 2 team. The premier DIII tournament has been running since 1938 and is only outmatched in length by the NCAA D1 Tournament.
If teams are full strength, there are several possible matchups worth getting a good seat at King Arena on Friday and Saturday. Winning by over 35 points in 2014, Whitewater will try to repeat as Team Champion but will contend with a field featuring 10 teams ranked in the top 25 in the country. UWW (2 NWCA, 2 d3wrestle.com), Messiah (9,3), Wabash (3,4), La Crosse (4,5), Mount Union (7,9), John Carroll (NR,16), Alma (12,11), Baldwin Wallace (13,16), Ohio Northern (NR,23), Olivet (26,NR) and Heidelberg (NR,28) are all entered into this year’s field.
In addition to a great team race, there are several possible matchups in every single weight class that will have national significance. Let the battle for the individual weight class championships begin….all rankings are from the latest NWCA poll and these are all probable matchups as official entry doesn’t happen until Friday. It is incredible that there could be as many as 40% of the countries ranked wrestlers and five top ranked individuals entered into the 2015 Pete Wilson Invitational. Here is a brief look at the weight classes with special note that there are 5 number one ranked individuals scheduled to wrestle at PWWI
125—The three top ranked individuals are Lucas Malmberg (2, Messiah College), Jesse Gunter (3, Baldwin Wallace), and Nick Mancini (8, Mount Union). You could also see 2014 NCAA qualifier Cole Ferguson (Platteville) as well as returning placewinners from the tournament last year in Zac Denny (Whitewater) and Ronzel Darling (Parkside). Malmberg is the returning champion at this weight class where he beat Gunter in the finals. Malmberg finished as NCAA runner-up and Gunter was 3rd in the same tournament last year.
133—This weight class features the returning Pete Willson champion and top ranked wrestler in the country at this weight, Jerermy Border (1, Mt. Union). The field is deep, and several ranked wrestlers will be looking to knock off Border. Ronny Hauser (Whitewater), Sean Ambrocio (7, Concordia, WI), Dustin Weinmann (10, LaCrosse) are having great years with Ambrocio a returning All American at 125 in 2014 and Weinmann a 2014 NCAA Qualifier. 2014 place winners Joe Her (Parkside) and Brandon Preston (Trine) could add excitement.
141—This weight class features returning Pete Willson champion, returning NCAA Champion and the top ranked wrestler in the country at this weight, Kaleb Loht (1, Messiah). Even better, we could see the NCAA championship finals rematch with NCAA runner up Matt Adcock (10, Whitewater) as an entry. 2014 NCAA qualifiers Bryant Roby (Mt. Union), Logan Meister (Ferrum-schools first ever!), and Nathaniel Behnke (Eau Claire, All-American 2013) could also be here.
149—Dan Mirman (5) from John Carroll University looks to make it back to back championships. He will face a stiff challenge from Elroy Perkin (3, Whitewater). They met twice in the NCAA tournament in 2014 with Mirman winning the quarterfinal matchup and Perkin winning the 5th place match. Also in contention for a title is Kasey Einerson (4, La Crosse) who just suffered his first loss of the season to Perkin. Nathan Segal (North Central) and Kyle Witgen (Olivet) are former PWWI place winners.
157—With the most returning All Americans, this is a very deep weight class with some quarterfinals potentially matching top ten ranked competitors. Reece Lefever (3, Wabash), Jon Garrison (5, Mt Union), Larry Cannon (8, Messiah) and Tom Gerszewski (10, Whitewater) are all nationally ranked. Lefever was 4th at the NCAA tournament while Garrison was 6th in the same bracket. Throw in Wheaton’s All-American Mark Savenok and there should be fireworks on Friday night!
165—The ranked wrestlers at 165 are Terner Gott (5, John Carroll), Matt Tuttle (6, Alma), Tyler Schneider (7, LaCrosse), and David Shapiro (9, Baldwin Wallace). In addition, this weight will have Parkside’s Nick Fishback who is ranked in Division 2 and placed high in past PWWI. Fishback may be a top seed but Gott and Tuttle have not lost in the current season and Wheaton’s Stephen Aiello was 7th at the 2014 NCAA tournament.
174—Once again, nationally ranked wrestlers could be meeting in the quarters on Friday night. Connor Lefever (2, Wabash), Josh Thomson (3, Messiah), Nick Allen (6, Olivet), Jamie Jakes (7, Alma), and Jordan Newman (9, Whitewater) are the five ranked wrestlers at this weight. Allen, Lefever, Jakes and Thomson were all 2014 NCAA Qualifiers. Thomson is a two time All-American and Jakes was Alma College’s first NCAA qualifier.
184—You have probably noticed the Lefever name in the above analysis and the third member of that family comes in as returning NCAA Champion and top ranked sophomore Riley. Riley had an amazing undefeated freshman year for Wabash and fans will enjoy his style of wrestling. Challenging for the top spot will be Richard Carlson (5, La Crosse) and Ryan Aprahamian (7, Whitewater). Former placers include Thomas Reyhons (Augustana), Richard Dowdley (Heidelberg) and Wheaton 2013 All-American Dan Olsen.
197—There are two former PWWI champions at this weight in Eric Twohey (5, La Crosse) and Shane Siefert (1, Whitewater). Twohey won the title last year at 184 and has moved up to challenge defending champion Siefert at this weight. These two may be on a collision course unless someone in the field, including Jake Reuteler (9, Concordia, WI) can slow them down.
285—Fans of the heavyweight class, the top three ranked wrestlers in the country will enter and contend for a championship. Cody Lovejoy (1, Ohio Northern) leads Division III wrestling with 17 pins this season. Also ranked in the weight are Mackenzie Green (2, Trine), Nino Majoy (3, Heidelberg) and Anthony Edgren (8, Whitewater). Lovejoy, Green and Edgren are all past All-Americans and the winner of this weight class could leave the tournament ranked first in Division III.