The University of Iowa now has two wrestlers involved in an annual select exhibition.
The Hawkeyes' defending national champion Derek St. John has joined teammate Tony Ramos as competitors in the National Wrestling Coaches Association's 48th Annual All-Star Classic, which is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 2 at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
St. John and Ramos will be the first Hawkeyes to compete in the event since Daniel Dennis beat Maryland's Steve bell, 9-8, in the 133-pound match in 2009. Iowa Coach Tom Brands complimented event organizers, including Wade Schalles, for creating match-ups that were attractive to fans and more indicative of an "all-star" competition.
"It's a big deal," Brands said. "They gave us a reason to go.
St. John will face Boston University's Nestor Taffur in the 157-pound bout of the 10-match event. St. John won the 157-pound NCAA title as a junior, going 31-2, and opens this season ranked first. He is 76-11 in his college career.
Taffur was the Colonial Athletic Association 157-pound champion, qualifying for the NCAA Championships. He finished the season 36-9, including a 2-2 mark at the national tournament. He is just the second Terrier wrestler to compete in the event, and could be the last due to Boston University's administration announced earlier this would be the final season for its wrestling program. Terriers head coach Carl Adams, a former two-time national champ (1971-72) and three-time All-American at Iowa State University, will be an honorary coach for the dual.
"St. John's match is important, because it is exposure for Boston University," Brands said.
Ramos, who is ranked No. 1 at 133, will bump up to face Virginia Tech's Devin Carter. Ramos had wanted to face Ohio State's Logan Stieber, but accepted the invite to wrestle Carter, who beat Ramos in their first meeting in the 133 final of the 2011 Midlands Championships.
"Ramos is up for any challenge," Brands said. "He's fired up for it."
According to results posted at the NWCA's all-time meet list, dating back to 1967, Iowa is 52-18-4. St. John and Ramos try to claim multiple wins at this event since Charlie Falck (125), Brent Metcalf (149) and Phil Keddy (184) all won in 2008.
"We have to be ready," Brands said. "We have to go out and wrestle the way we can."
St. John wrestled for former Iowa NCAA champion Mark Reiland at Iowa City West. Reiland claimed a 9-8 win over West Virginia's Mark Banks in the 167-pound match of this event in 1991.
The entire list of matches, according to the NWCA:
125: Nahshon Garrett, So. (Cornell) vs. Jarrod Patterson, Sr. (Oklahoma)
133: A.J. Schopp, Jr. (Edinboro) vs. Mason Beckman, So. (Lehigh)
141: Tony Ramos, Sr. (Iowa) vs. Devin Carter, Jr. (Virginia Tech)
149: Logan Stieber, Jr. (Ohio State) vs. Kendric Maple, Sr. (Oklahoma)
157: Derek St. John, Sr. (Iowa) vs. Nestor Taffur, Sr. (Boston U.)
165: Michael Moreno, Jr. (Iowa State) vs. David Taylor, Sr. (Penn State)
174: Andrew Howe, Sr. (Oklahoma) vs. Matt Brown, Jr. (Penn State)
184: Jimmy Sheptock, Sr. (Maryland) vs. Ed Ruth, Sr. (Penn State)
197: Taylor Meeks, Jr. (Oregon State) vs. Scott Schiller, Jr. (Minnesota)285: Mike McMullan, Jr. (Northwestern) vs. Tony Nelson, Sr. (Minnesota)