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Wrestlers head to St. Louis for NCAA Championship
Five Bearcats ready to compete when three-day tournament begins at noon Thursday
March 13, 2012Tweet
VESTAL, N.Y.—Five Binghamton wrestlers are set to embrace the national spotlight when the NCAA Championship gets underway Thursday at noon (ET) at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Head coach Pat Popolizio and his quintet of elite wrestlers met the media Monday afternoon before departing for Missouri on Tuesday.
Senior 157-pound Justin Lister, junior 149-pound Donnie Vinson, junior 184-pound Nate Schiedel, sophomore 197-pound Cody Reed and freshman heavyweight Nick Gwiazdowski will represent Binghamton.
“The guys have a lot of confidence right now,” head coach Pat Popolizio said. “We’ve been focusing on sharpening up some things and fine-tuning our mental approach this past week. The mental focus is very important at NCAAs. I’ve seen some of the best wrestling of the year in the practice room this past week and that’s a perfect time for it. We are hitting stride and are excited to get to St. Louis.”
Vinson (No. 4) and Lister (No. 9) give the Bearcats two seeded wrestlers for the first time in the program’s Division I history. Both are three-time NCAA qualifiers, as is Schiedel. Reed and Gwiazdowski are making their first appearance at the NCAA Championship.
Vinson, who drew unseeded Nick Lester of Oklahoma in his first bout, is 33-4 this season. He captured his first CAA title and will enter the NCAAs having won 17 of his last 18 matches. His No. 4 seed is the highest of any BU wrestler at the national championship.
Lister is looking to duplicate his magical run to the semifinals from the 2010 NCAA Championship, where as an unseeded wrestler, he won four matches – including two dramatic pins – to place fourth. Lister, a dangerous wrestler with 38 career pins (15 this season), is 26-5 this season and captured his third straight CAA crown. He will face unseeded Aaron Sulzer of Eastern Michigan in his first match.
Schiedel is 28-8 this season and has won nine of his last 11 matches. A now-seasoned NCAA participant, Schiedel is eager to post his first win at the national tournament and will open against unseeded Brad Dieckhaus of Northern Illinois.
Reed earned an at-large NCAA berth after an impressive season that included a key win over Oklahoma’s NCAA qualifier. Reed is 23-16 and is one of four 197-pounders from the CAA to advance. He will face fourth-seeded Christian Boley of Maryland in the opening round.
Gwiazdowski, ranked No. 17 in the latest Intermat poll, is 25-6 in his first collegiate season and is one of just two “true” freshmen in the heavyweight field of 33. Gwiazdowski, who won the CAA title and has won 11 of his last 13 matches, was given a tough opening draw against No. 2 Anthony Nelson of Minnesota.
Popolizio has sent 17 wrestlers to the NCAA Championship in the last three years and his program is gaining rapid notoriety with its dual meet success (15-4 this season, win percentage of 72% in last three years) and individual talent. The 2011-12 Bearcats were ranked as high as No. 18 in the country and are currently No. 19.
The first-round matches begin Thursday at noon (ET) with second-round and consolation matches continuing Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Friday’s morning session begins at 11 a.m. and evening session at 7 p.m. On Saturday, the morning session begins at 11 a.m. and the finals will start at 7:30 p.m. All times are Eastern Standard.
The three-day championship will be shown on ESPN’s family of networks. All six sessions will be broadcast on ESPN3.com (four mats) and Friday’s two sessions along with Saturday’s morning session will also be show on ESPNU. The finals will be broadcast live on ESPN.
First-round NCAA matches
149 – #4 Donnie Vinson (33-4) vs. Nick Lester (Oklahoma) (20-10)
157 - #9 Justin Lister (26-5) vs. Aaron Sulzer (Eastern Michigan) (19-9)
184 – Nate Schiedel (28-8) vs. Brad Dieckhhaus (Northern Illinois) (14-1)
197 – Cody Reed (23-16) vs. #4 Christian Boley (Maryland) (30-1)
Hwt – Nick Gwiazdowski (25-6) vs. #2 Anthony Nelson (Minnesota) (27-2)