BOISE, Idaho - The Boise State wrestling team travels to Omaha, Neb. this weekend with high aspirations of making a big splash at the 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, as seven Broncos are set to compete in this year's tournament.
Boise State qualified eight wrestlers to nationals this season, though only seven Broncos will compete at the NCAA tournament. Boise State senior heavyweight Sam Zylstra earned an automatic bid to nationals after placing fifth at the Pac-10 tournament, but withdrew from NCAAs this week due to injury.
Looking at the Broncos...
Of the seven Boise State wrestlers that will be heading to Omaha this weekend, four will enter the tournament with top-10 seeds in their respective weight classes. The Broncos boast No. 1, No. 2, No. 8 and No. 9 seeds.
Junior Kirk Smith leads the way for the Broncos as he earned the top seed at 184 pounds after wrestling to a 24-0 record this season. Smith is the two-time defending Pac-10 Conference Champion, who will be making his third consecutive appearance at the NCAA tournament. As a freshman in 2007, Smith wrestled his way to an eighth-place finish at nationals which earned him All-American honors.
Junior Adam Hall received the next highest seed for Boise State as he will start the 157-pound tournament at No. 2. Hall (27-2) is coming off his first Pac-10 Conference title. He is also a three-time NCAA qualifier for the Broncos.
Rounding out the group of top-10 seeds is sophomore Jason Chamberlain (23-8) and junior Levi Jones (18-6). Chamberlain received a No. 8 seed at 149 pounds, while Jones is the No. 9 seed at 141.
Boise State's final three NCAA qualifiers are senior Nate Lee (15-6), and juniors Matt Casperson (18-14) and Alan Bartelli (24-17). Lee has qualified for his fourth NCAA tournament at 174 pounds, while Casperson is wrestling in his second national championships at 197 pounds. Bartelli is making his first appearance at nationals at 125 pounds.
Last year at nationals...
Boise State will look to improve upon a solid showing at last year's NCAA championships as the Broncos finished 12th in the final team standings. Their 2009 placing tied the school record for best team finish at the national tournament. Boise State had three wrestlers earn All-American status in 2009, as Andrew Hochstrasser (133 pounds), Tyler Sherfey (165) and Brent Chriswell (197) placed in the top-eight for their respective weight class.
Joining elite company...
The Broncos have several wrestlers looking to join elite company this weekend by bringing home just the third NCAA Division I Wrestling National Championship in Boise State history. Boise State has only seen two wrestlers capture individual national championships in Kirk White and Ben Cherrington.
White brought home the first wrestling national title in school history when he won the 165-pound weight class in 1999. Cherrington captured the second individual title at 157 pounds in 2006.
In total, Boise State has celebrated just eight individual NCAA national champions in school history. The most recent came in 2009 when women's track and field team member Eleni Kafourou won the NCAA Indoor Long Jump National Championship.
The 2010 NCAA Championships will be held at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb. This year's national wrestling action kicks off on Thursday (March 18) with the opening session starting at 11 a.m. Session II will follow Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m.
The tournament will continue on Friday with sessions be held at 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. The final rounds of the tournament will take place Saturday, with Session V starting at 10 a.m. and Session VI starting at 6:30 p.m. All times are CST.
Fans will be able to view live broadcasts of Thursday's action through ncaasports.com. Friday and Saturday's matches will air on ESPNU. Visit http://www.ncaa.com/sports/m-wrestl/champpage/m-wrestl-div1-index.html for complete tournament information.