NATIONAL DUALS NOTES College teams in all divisions go the extra mile to face top competition

By Craig Sesker | Jan. 11, 2008, 11:04 p.m. (ET)
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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - The West Liberty State wrestling team boarded a bus Thursday at their West Virginia campus and traveled nine hours before stopping at a hotel in central Illinois.

They journeyed the final four hours of the trip on Friday.

The returning NCAA Division II tournament champions from Central Oklahoma logged half of their 10-plus hour trip Thursday before spending the night in a Kansas City hotel. They finished their lengthy trek Friday.

Stories like these are commonplace at the National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals. Especially at smaller schools, where teams with shoestring budgets do whatever they can to be able to take part in this event.

The reasons are simple. Traveling by bus is cheaper than flying and you can't beat the competition at the National Duals. Especially when you pack teams from NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA, Junior College, NWCA (club) and women's college wrestling onto 18 mats at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

For the third straight year, all college divisions will be represented in the spacious UNI-Dome in northeast Iowa. The two-day National Duals kick off Saturday morning at 9.

"This is just a tremendous event," said Nebraska-Omaha coach Mike Denney, whose team won the Division II National Duals in 2005 and 2006. "This is a wrestling fan's paradise. You can watch all the best wrestlers on all the best teams in college wrestling. Putting all the teams together like this was one of the best ideas they've ever had in college wrestling. We're really excited about competing in this event."

Nebraska-Omaha enters the event as the No. 2 seed in Division II behind 2007 National Duals champion Nebraska-Kearney.

"Obviously having all the teams in the same venue, you can't get any better than this," said UNK coach Marc Bauer, as he watched his team work out Friday afternoon at the UNI-Dome. "This change has been a great thing for wrestling. It's in the heart of wrestling in the Midwest where there is a huge fan base in Iowa. It's really exciting for our kids to take part in it. This is what is going to determine who has the best dual team in the country."

Traditional Division II power Central Oklahoma is seeded third.

"We're anxious and excited to see how we measure up against some of the other top teams," Central Oklahoma coach David James said. "This is always a very good event with some great matchups. This is great competition for our team and it will be a great test for us."

The top two seeds in this event come in at less than full strength. Bauer said his team will be missing past NCAA champion Brett Allgood (133) from its lineup as well as returning All-American Kelsey Empting (197). UNK also will be missing starters at 174 and 184.

Bauer said returning NCAA champion Tervel Dlagnev, who recorded a pin at heavyweight to give the Lopers the 2007 National Duals title, has come back strong from a knee injury. Dlagnev returned to competition last weekend and went undefeated at the Lone Star Duals.

Denney said his team will be without 2006 national champion Cody Garcia (125). Garcia is out with a knee injury.

Eight of the top nine ranked teams in Division II are in Cedar Falls. The only team in that group not here is No. 5 Adams State.

Wartburg, Augsburg draw 1-2 seeds in Division III

Like Division II, it's the usual suspects again in Division III with No. 1 seed Wartburg and No. 2 seed Augsburg once again expected to meet in the finals.

Augsburg won the Division III National Duals last year.

Other returning champions at the National Duals include Minnesota (Division I), Lindenwood (NAIA), Iowa Central (Junior College) and the University of the Cumberlands (Women).

Plenty of tickets still available for National Duals

The National Duals drew more than 15,000 total fans for the two days of the event last year.

A possible semifinal matchup between No. 2 Iowa and No. 3 Iowa State could help push the National Duals to an even bigger attendance figure. Barring an upset in the first two rounds, the Hawkeyes and Cyclones would meet at 11 a.m. Sunday in the semifinal round.

Iowa defeated Iowa State last month in Ames.

The Waterloo Courier reported that, as of Monday, 1,200 all-session passes had been sold for the event. The event traditionally has done well with walk-up sales on the days of the event.

Tickets are $30 for all sessions, $22 for seniors. Single-session tickets are $20 and $15. Wrestling starts at 9 a.m. on both days.

Dan Gable Wrestling Museum open on Saturday and Sunday

Wrestling fans coming into town for the National Duals also can check out the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Waterloo.

The museum is scheduled to be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The museum is located at 303 Jefferson Street in Waterloo, about a 15-minute drive away from the UNI-Dome. The phone number for the museum is 319-233-0745.

The museum's new location in Waterloo has been open for just over a year. The museum previously was located in Newton, Iowa.

The museum was renamed for Gable when it moved to his hometown of Waterloo. Gable was a state, NCAA, World and Olympic champion before he coached Iowa to 15 NCAA titles.

National champions in the field

There are three wrestlers in the Division I field who already own NCAA titles.

They includes Nebraska's Paul Donahoe (125), Minnesota's Dustin Schlatter (149) and Iowa's Mark Perry (165). Donahoe and Perry won titles in 2007 and Schlatter won in 2006.