Iowa is a hotbed for wrestling.
The National Wrestling Coaches Association hope to capitalize on it.
NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer confirmed the 2014 Cliff Keen/NWCA Multi-Divisional National Duals will be held at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. The dual tournament, featuring teams from NCAA Division II and III, NAIA men and women and NJCAA is scheduled for Jan. 11-12.
The last two seasons the tournament had been held in Springfield, Ill. It was held at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls before then, running in conjunction with the NCAA Division I competition.
“Iowa is such a tremendous wrestling region,” said Moyer, noting the strong programs from the state and its neighbors. “It’s a great location. We’re hoping we can really ramp up the spectator part of this so we give it the pageantry a national championship deserves.”
The five divisions represent the strongest levels of college wrestling. NCAA Division I has dropped to 77 programs, but other levels exhibit better trends for the sport.
“It’s the fastest-growing segment of new college programs,” Moyer said. “The truth of the matter is that’s where we’re seeing the healthiest growth.”
The tournament is growing slightly from a year ago. The NJCAA field will jump from eight to 16 teams, matching the D-II, D-III and NAIA fields. The goal is for the women’s bracket to reach 16 in the future.
“That’s been a big plus,” Moyer said about the larger venue that allowed for the additional teams. “We’re hoping we can expand the women’s division.”
Invitations have been sent, according to Coe Coach John Oostendorp. He said the Kohawks will be in the field. Oostendorp said he looks forward to the opportunity to compete in front of home-state fans.
“We’re very excited to be competing in it,” Oostendorp said. “I think we should be able to get a good crowd for it. Anytime you have something here in Iowa you get a lot better fan support.”
Oostendorp said fans will be in for entertaining competition like previous years. He said the wrestlers thrive on that atmosphere and feed it with better performances.
“Hopefully, they do a good job of promoting it and I think there will be some good wrestling to watch,” Oostendorp said. “It’s more fun and enjoyable when you wrestle in front of good crowds, too.”
Wartburg won its third straight National Duals crown in D-III and seventh overall last year. Grand View, coached by former Knight three-time All-American and NCAA runner-up, Nick Mitchell, won its second straight NAIA title. Upper Iowa (D-II), Luther (D-III), University of Dubuque (D-III), Iowa Central (NJCAA), Iowa Lakes (NJCAA), Morningside (NAIA) and Waldorf women’s team participated in the event last year.
The state’s schools don’t own an advantage, but it is nice to have it closer to home.
“I think the nicer thing is not having to travel so far and the familiarity of the area,” Oostendorp said. “The big part is it helps wrestling in your area.”
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