As the Boise State wrestling team prepares for the highly anticipated NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals in Cedar Falls, Iowa this Saturday and Sunday (Jan. 10-11), the Broncos will do so riding the success of sophomore Andrew Hochstrasser, who earned the No. 2 national ranking at 133-pounds, according to the Jan. 6 USA Today/InterMat/NWCA Division I Individual Rankings.
Hochstrasser is one of five Broncos ranked in the top 20 for their respective weight class heading into the weekend. He has a 20-1 record this season, including a perfect 8-0 dual record. Boise State currently has three wrestlers ranked in the top 10 with No. 4 Kirk Smith (184-pounds) and No. 6 Adam Hall (157) joining Hochstrasser. The Broncos also have two wrestlers ranked No. 18 for their respective weight classes - freshmen Brian Owen (125) and Jason Chamberlain (149).
The Broncos head into this weekend with high hopes of making a big impact on the national wrestling scene. No. 16 Boise State will open the tournament against No. 9 Wisconsin (USA Today/InterMat/NWCA). The Broncos’ (7-1, 1-0 Pac-10 Conference) opening round dual against the Badgers (5-1, 0-0 Big Ten Conference), who are the No. 7 seed in the tournament, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the University of Northern Iowa Dome.
The 16-team double elimination tournament will feature 14 teams ranked in the national top 25. It will be headlined by the current top six teams in the country; No. 1 Iowa, No. 2 Iowa State, No. 3 Cornell, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 Missouri and No. 6 Ohio State. Rounding out the tournament field will be No. 11 Minnesota, No. 14 Penn State, No. 17 Michigan, No. 19 Indiana, No. 20 Northwestern, No. 21 Northern Iowa, Wyoming and Buffalo.
“Last year at the Iowa meet [in Boise], I think we were kind of overwhelmed by the Iowa mystique,” Boise State Head Coach Greg Randall said about the importance of this weekend’s tournament. “Right then and there I decided that we had to get to the National Duals and face this type of competition early.”
The Broncos enter the weekend with a 7-1 dual record. Their only conference dual of the season resulted in a 25-13 win against Oregon State on Dec. 12. Oregon State is the only common opponent between Boise State and Wisconsin this season, as Wisconsin also defeated the Beavers 24-13 on Nov. 30. The Badgers only dual loss came at the hands of No. 2 Iowa State, 7-27.
Boise State will look to take advantage of a long Christmas break, as the Bronco starters have not been on the mat since the Oregon State dual. Coach Randall did send a group of wrestlers to the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 18, but none of the Bronco starters competed.
“We’ve been holding some of these guys out quite a while, just for this event,” Randall said. “We try to get them as healthy as we possibly can. But it is a national tournament, so whether they’re banged up a little bit or not, they’re wrestling.”
Coach Randall will travel with 14 wrestlers to the National Duals and is projecting his starting line-up to be: Owen (125-pounds), Hochstrasser (133), Cory Fish (141), Chamberlain (149), Hall (157), Tyler Sherfey (165), Nate Lee (174), Smith (184), Brent Chriswell (197) and Sam Zylstra (HWT). Alan Bartelli, Kurt Swartz, Eli Hutchison and Ryan Allen will also travel with the team as backups.
Depending on Boise State’s success against Wisconsin, the Broncos are set to face either the winner or loser of Indiana and Iowa State. Regardless of the opponent, however, Boise State’s second dual is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday. To follow the Broncos through tournament action, visit http://unipanthers.cstv.com/sports/m-wrestl/spec-rel/niwa-09-nwca-main.html for updates after each set of duals.