Minnesota Gopher wrestlers Jayson Ness, Dustin Schlatter and Roger Kish will compete in the 2007 National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) All-Star Classic, the premier one-day collegiate wrestling event in the country. The 43-year old competition will take place on Monday, Nov. 19 at the University of Oregon’s McArthur Court in Eugene, Ore.
Including the defending national champion Gophers’ three participants, the field will welcome six top-ranked wrestlers, eight second-ranked seeds and four third-ranked selections from the recent Intermat / USA Today preseason national rankings. It will also include 18 All-Americans from the 2006 NCAA Championships, which includes all three of Minnesota’s representatives.
The University of Oregon announced this July that the wrestling program would be eliminated after the 2007-08 season to revive the baseball team and to satisfy Title IX compliance issues.
Ness, an All-American sophomore out of Bloomington, Minn., will take on defending national champion Paul Donahue of Nebraska in the opening match of the event at 125 pounds. Ness sports a 2-0 career record against the junior, earning an 11-5 decision at the Kaufman-Brand Open 11/11/06 and an 8-6 dual meet win Feb. 11 of last season. Donahue upset Sam Hazewinkel of Oklahoma to win the 2007 national championship at 125 pounds. Ness is No. 4 in the Intermat preseason poll, while Donahue claims the No. 1 spot.
Dustin Schlatter is a two-time All-American and ranked No. 1 at 149 pounds in the current Intermat / USA Today preseason poll. After winning the national championship as a freshman in 2006, Schlatter had a 65-match winning streak snapped in the quarterfinals of last season’s NCAA Championships and finished in third place for the eventual national champion Gophers. His opponent, Josh Churella of Michigan, is a two-time All-American and was the runner-up at last year’s national championships. Schlatter owns a 2-0 career record against Churella, with both of those victories coming last season. Schlatter defeated Churella 3-2 for the 2007 Big Ten Championship.
The match-up at 184 pounds will be a fierce one between the Gophers’ Kish and Jake Varner of Iowa State. Kish and Varner have met three times in their careers, with all three matches coming last season. Kish earned a 7-2 dual meet win over Varner Dec. 8 of last season and followed that with a 5-2 decision at the 2007 National Duals, before falling 4-2 in the 2007 NCAA national semifinals. Varner fell to Northwestern’s Jake Herbert in the national title match, while Kish earned his second All-American certificate with a third-place finish. Varner and Kish are No. 1 and 2 in the recent Intermat preseason rankings.
In the 2006 NWCA All-Star Classic, held in Dallas, Texas, Schlatter defeated Matt Storniolo (Oklahoma) and Kish was topped by Northwestern’s Hebert. Previous Gopher participants 43rd annual event in the include Cole Konrad (2005), Brock Lesnar (2000), Leroy Vega (2000) and current Gopher assistant coaches Brandon Eggum (2000) and Marty Morgan (1990).
Below is a list of the entire 2007 NWCA All-Star Classic field:
125: Paul Donahoe (Nebraska) vs. Jayson Ness (Minnesota)
133: Tyler McCormick (Missouri) vs. Coleman Scott (Oklahoma State)
141: Charles Griffin (Hofstra) vs. Nathan Morgan (Oklahoma State)
149: Dustin Schlatter (Minnesota) vs. Josh Churella (Michigan)
157: Craig Henning (Wisconsin) vs. Mike Poeta (Illinois)
165: Eric Tannenbaum (Michigan) vs. TBA
174: Keith Gavin (Pittsburgh) vs. Matt Stolpinski (Navy)
184: Jake Varner (Iowa State) vs. Roger Kish (Minnesota)
197: Phil Davis (Penn State) vs. Mike Tamillow (Northwestern)
285: Tervel Dlagnev (Nebraska-Kearney) vs. Dustin Fox (Northwestern)
The Golden Gophers will begin their national title defense on Nov. 10 when they travel to Fargo, N.D. for the Bison Open. Minnesota’s dual meet season starts on Dec. 2 against 2006-07 national runner-ups Iowa State.