The top 16 wrestling teams in the nation will be converging on Columbus this weekend for the National Dual Championships at Ohio State. The tournament will feature some of the best and most anticipated individual matchups of the season.
No. 4 Michigan has never won the National Duals, with its highest finish being fifth in 1991, 1992 and 2000.
“Our goal is obviously to win this thing,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said. “We”re not looking at the past and how we”ve done in previous years.”
The invitees were decided last year by the way each team finished its season. For example, Michigan”s seventh-place finish at last year”s NCAA Championships earned it a coveted spot. The format of the tournament is unique in that instead of having an individual bracket at each weight class, there is one bracket with all 16 teams on it.
No. 1 Minnesota the defending tournament champion will be in attendance along with powerhouses Iowa, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
Michigan, which was seeded fourth based on its current national ranking, will face No. 13 Edinboro in its first match.
“Edinboro is a tough team,” McFarland said. “We can”t look past them. They”re undefeated, and we just have to take this tournament one match at a time.”
The highly anticipated matchup at 174 pounds between No. 1 Josh Koscheck of Edinboro and Michigan”s second-ranked Otto Olson never materialized at the Cliff Keen Invitational a month ago. It will be the battle of the undefeateds as the two wrestlers look to clash at the National Duals.
“I think Otto is definitely excited about the opportunity to wrestle Koscheck,” McFarland said.
Edinboro also features All-American David Shunamon at 197 pounds. Michigan”s Kyle Smith, currently seventh in the nation, is ranked a spot above Shunamon in the latest polls despite the fact that Shunamon defeated Smith, 4-3, at the Eastern Michigan Open earlier this year. Smith has surely not forgotten that match and will be looking for revenge.
If Michigan defeats Edinboro, it will face the winner of Central Michigan and No. 5 Iowa. Michigan”s 149-pounder Mike Kulczycki and heavyweight Matt Brink will have their hands full if they happen to face Iowa.
The Hawkeyes feature Mike Zadick at 149 and Steve Mocco at heavyweight both undefeated this season and ranked No. 1 in the nation. Mocco, a true freshman from New Jersey, has stormed the college-wrestling scene and destroyed any opponents that were unfortunate enough to wrestle him. Brink, whose physical readiness for the National Duals is still unknown, will have to be at the top of his game if he hopes to upset Mocco.