U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - Air Force head wrestling has announced the schedule for the upcoming 2017-18 season. The Falcons will see action in 14 dual meets and numerous national tournaments en route to the Big 12 Conference tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Six events will be hosted at USAFA; the annual Black and Blue exhibition and five dual meets will all take place in Clune Arena.
“We feel like it’s a great schedule,” claimed head coach Sam Barber “It’s going to help us turn out Big 12 and NCAA podium-prepared athletes.”
The Falcons’ season kicks off at the Cowboy Open, hosted by the University of Wyoming, Nov. 4.
“The Cowboy Open is a great regional competition where all the athletes on the roster will get a chance to get competition matches in Laramie,” explained Barber. “Based on performances at the Cowboy Open, we can start to determine our lineups for the season.”
Air Force’s first dual meet on the slate will be against perennial top-20 program, University of Minnesota, Nov. 12.
“Minnesota consistently battles to a top-20 position,” Barber continued. “Getting a chance to square off against a Big 10 powerhouse this early in the season will let us know where we stand and where we need to go as the season unfolds.”
The first home action for the Falcons will be the annual Black and Blue exhibition, Nov. 16, in which 20 wrestlers will battle for spots on the starting dual meet squad. Less than a week after the Black and Blue meet, the squad will travel to San Diego, California, to take on the Big 12’s newest affiliate school in Fresno State. The teams are slated to battle it out on the deck of the USS Midway, a maritime museum located in downtown San Diego, at Navy Pier.
“It will be an amazing event,” said Barber. “It’s a marquee event on our schedule and it goes to show what the Big 12 affiliate schools can bring to the conference, and it’s also a great opportunity for our cadet athletes to do something special in a military environment.”
Following the dual on the USS Midway, the Falcons will send their top wrestlers to compete in two of the nation’s most renowned Division I wrestling tournaments; the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Dec. 1-2 and the Southern Scuffle, Jan. 1-2.
“The Cliff Keen Invite and the Southern scuffle are two of the most competitive regular season tournaments in season,” claimed Barber. “We’ll be competing against most of the major wrestling conferences at those two tournaments; Big 10, Big 12, ACC, EIWA, and Pac 12 to name a few. The schedule provides a lot of opportunity for guys to see some of the best competition in the country”
The Falcons’ dual slate goes into full swing in the New Year; with seven duals slated between Jan. 14 and Feb. 21. Six of the seven duals are Big 12 Conference meets and five are at home.
“We’re excited to bring a couple top-25 teams out of the Big 12 Conference to Clune Arena,” said Barber. “One of our marquee home duals will be against a traditional Big 12 school in West Virginia.”
In the midst of the dual meet schedule, the Falcons will travel to Charleston, South Carolina, to compete in the annual-All Academy Championships, hosted this year by the Citadel.
“We’ve been neck-and-neck with Army and Navy at this event in the past,” explained Barber. “Last season we were only separated by a few points, so we’re looking to make some adjustments and do what it takes to bring another championship home.”
The pinnacle of the season will take place at the Big 12 Conference championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, March 3-4. The conference’s 12 teams will battle it out for automatic bids to the NCAA tournament which will be held in Cleveland, Ohio, this year.
“In our first year in the conference we placed two on the podium at the Big 12’s and sent two to the NCAA championships in New York,” explained Barber. “Last season we put three on the Big 12 podium, so we are look forward to continuing the upward trend.”
Barber continued, “We’ve got over 10 Ohio athletes on the roster and they’re hungry for the chance to wrestle in front of their home crowd in Cleveland.”
The complete 2017-18 schedule can be viewed here.