Thanks to a record-breaking performance at its conference tournament two weeks ago, AU will send four wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, which begin today in St. Louis.
It will be the largest delegation ever for AU at the championships, and its first trip since 2002. Muzaffar Abdurakhmanov, who ranks No. 5 nationally, will have the fourth seed in the 157-pound class after being the first AU wrestler to win an Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association title, beating Lehigh’s Derek Zinck in narrow 14-13 decision.
No. 18 Josh Glenn will also be in Missouri after battling to second place in the 184-pound class. He will be joined by the No. 18 heavyweight Adam LoPiccolo, who placed third, and 174-pound Daniel Waters, who ranked No. 14 and took fourth place.
With AU returning to the tournament in unprecedented numbers, coach Mark Cody is eager.
“This is what we train for,” he told aueagles.com. “For each of these wrestlers, it is a first trip to the NCAA Championships, and if they can keep in mind that we approach this like any other tournament, we should do well.”
AU’s best showing in the tournament came in 1999, when Marc Hoffer reached the quarterfinals. Abdurakhmanov, one of the most touted wrestlers in AU history, is in position to challenge this mark. He will bring his 27-1 record against Rider’s Dave Miller (18-2) in the first round.
Waters, a 28-year-old former Navy SEAL, will end his college career in his first NCAA tournament as he faces Carlos Ponce (14-21) of Loch Haven in the first round, whom he beat with a major decision in November.
LoPiccolo (21-10) begins the tournament against Oklahoma State’s Steve Mocco (32-0), the top-ranked heavyweight who won it all in 2003 with Iowa.
Glenn (27-6) opens with Virginia Tech’s Steve Borja (32-8).