Air Force Wrestling Prepares for 2010-11 Season
Oct. 7, 2010
USAFA, Colo. - With the entire team working hard to improve throughout the off-season, the Air Force wrestling program is looking forward to a successful season in 2010-11.
"We are excited about the off-season training opportunities our guys had this spring and summer," said head coach Joel Sharratt. "The post-season competition our upperclassmen took advantage of will help launch us into the 2010-11 competition season."
"The work our guys put in the weight room this summer is very evident in the power and strength gains made this year," continued Sharratt. "[Strength and conditioning coach] Drew Bodette did a great job putting together a developmental plan that challenged our guys every day this summer."
The Falcons will look to use their off-season training to tackle the challenges of the season ahead. Air Force will host the 2011 NCAA West Regional/Western Wrestling Conference Championships, to highlight a schedule which also features eight home duals and appearances at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Southern Scuffle, Lone Star Duals and All-Academy Championships.
For the third consecutive season, all of the Falcons' home events, including the Blue-Silver Intrasquad Match on Oct. 28, will be held in Clune Arena. The Blue-Silver Match will give fans a preview of the season to come, as the team's young wrestlers face off against seven returning conference starters and a pair of seniors who have shared the starting role in the past.
"The Blue-Silver will be a competitive battle screener for the team and staff," said Sharratt. "It will put our off-season preparation to its first test. We have several weight classes that are going to be exciting to follow, from the preliminary bouts to the finals on Thursday night. The Blue-Silver is a very good indicator of who will be in our starting lineup in March."
The frontrunner at 125 pounds is senior Andrew Zwirlein, who has held the starting spot for the past two seasons. He is likely to face off against sophomore Steven Joseph or freshman Greg Rinker in the Blue-Silver finals. Meanwhile, at 133 pounds, a pair of wrestlers who each started last season, senior Derek Gillespie and junior Tyler Untrauer, will challenge for the starting spot.
The 141-pound weight class features returning NCAA qualifier Cole VonOhlen, the unanimous pick for the 2010 WWC Freshman of the Year, who will be tough to beat out. However, newcomer Daniel Baucke, a nationally ranked prep standout from Tennessee, will look to challenge for honors.
Sophomore Gabe Martinez returns at 149 pounds, looking to retain his starting spot, while a talented group of young wrestlers, including Colorado standout Josh Kreimier, will battle for his place in the lineup. At 157 pounds, junior Alec Williams, who started at the conference meet and posted some big WWC dual victories last season, will be challenged by freshman Jesse Stafford, a two-time state placewinner in California and younger brother of team captain Joseph Stafford.
Sophomore Clayton Gable and senior Joseph Stafford both had great summers and are currently the frontrunners at 165 and 174 pounds, respectively. Meanwhile, sophomore Josh Mohr, a Wisconsin state champion, placed at several events last season and looks to be the favorite at 184 pounds. Challenging Mohr for the starting spot will be junior Karl Oeser and former 197-pounder Kazden Ikehara.
Senior Neil Delaney returns as the starter at 197 pounds, and with Ikehara's drop to 184, Delaney will find a challenger in freshman Cody Davis, who held a national ranking last year as a prep standout in Texas. Meanwhile, at 285 pounds, junior Jared Erickson will face off against senior Josh Larson for the starting spot.
After the Blue-Silver Match determines the Falcons' likely starting lineup, Air Force officially opens the season Nov. 13 at the annual Cowboy Open, hosted by Wyoming, before heading to the Kaufman-Brand Open in Omaha, Neb., Nov. 20. The Falcons also return to the prestigious Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational Dec. 3-4 to face some of the top wrestlers in the nation.
Air Force opens its home slate on Dec. 10, when it hosts Western State and Coe in a pair of dual meets. A week later, the Falcons will welcome nationally ranked Oregon State to Clune Arena for a non-conference dual on Dec. 17.
The Falcons close out the month of December by making their second trip to the annual Southern Scuffle, one of the nation's top tournaments, held in Greensboro, N.C., Dec. 28-29. Air Force then opens 2011 at the annual Lone Star Duals in Grand Prairie, Texas, on Jan. 15 with matches tentatively scheduled versus Brown, American, Arizona State and Wayland.
Next, the Falcons head to the West Coast, visiting Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 21 before facing Cal Baptist and Menlo at the Cal Baptist Duals on Jan. 22. The first league match-up of the season comes on Jan. 28, when the Falcons host WWC rival North Dakota State, followed by another home conference dual versus South Dakota State on Jan. 29.
In February, Air Force is on the road for a pair of conference duals against Wyoming (Feb. 3) and Utah Valley (Feb. 11), while heading to Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 6 for the annual All-Academy Championships, hosted this year by The Citadel. Air Force also hosts WWC foe Northern Iowa and non-conference opponent New Mexico Highlands on Feb. 13, before wrapping up its home schedule on Feb. 18 with a conference dual versus Northern Colorado.
Other competitions on the Falcons' schedule this season include the Fort Hays Open on Dec. 4, the Borah Duals on Jan. 15 and the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Open on Jan. 29.
Air Force caps off the season by hosting the NCAA West Regional/Western Wrestling Conference Championships on March 6, with the top performers earning bids to the NCAA Championships, which will be held March 17-19 in Philadelphia, Pa.