Wrestling Heads To Midlands


Dec. 28, 1999

The University of Illinois wrestling team will compete in the Midlands Wrestling Tournament on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., on December 29-30. The action is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday with wrestling on eight mats. The championship and consolation matches will continue at 7:30 p.m. that evening. The third session will begin with semifinal action, consolation and seventh-place matches beginning at noon on Thursday, December 30 with the championship, third- and fifth-place matches at 7:30 p.m.

Last Year

The Fighting Illini placed fourth out of 55 teams and had four placewinners. Steve Doerrer placed second at 125 pounds, Adam Tirapelle was third at 149, Nate Patrick was fifth at 184 and John Lockhart was sixth at heavyweight.

1999 Midlands Wrestling Tournament Preview

The last Midlands of the 20th century may well be the most competitive in its 37-year history. Seven of the 1998 champions return to defend their titles and each weight is filled with top-ranked competitors from throughout the country. Nineteen teams ranked in the Top 25 will be battling for the prestigious Midlands title.

Here is a breakdown of each weight class entering the event:

125 POUNDS - Defending champion Jody Strittmatter is the early favorite. He won last year while at Pitt-Johnstown and went on to capture the NCAA Division II championship. Jody now represents the University of Iowa as he goes for his second straight Midlands title. Other strong contenders for the 125 title include Tim Dernlan (Ohio International Wrestling Club), Moses Delfin (Cal State-Bakersfield), Matt Azevedo (Iowa State), Paul Gomez (Nebraska), Justin Bravo (Penn), Jeremy Sluyter (E. Stroudsburg), Michael Kawamura (Arizona State) and Mike Mena (Hawkeye Wrestling Club).

133 POUNDS - David Morgan, a Michigan State grad, won at 118 in 1996 and '97. Eric Juergens of Iowa is currently No. 1 and Cody Sanderson of Iowa State is No. 2. These are the top three seeds, and the winner could come from this trio. Also in the picture are Joe Warren (Michigan), Charles Walker (Oklahoma State), Roman Fleszar (Hofstra), Zach Zimmerer (Stanford), Ryan Egan (Northern Illinois) and Rob Loper (Pittsburgh).

141 POUNDS - Last year's champion, Chris Marshall of Central Michigan, returns but No. 1-ranked Doug Schwab of Iowa is the man to beat. Schwab is the current NCAA champion. Another challenger is Mark Ironside, a three-time champion and Iowa grad. Other contenders are Mark Angle (Clarion), Damion Logan (Michigan), Jamill Kelly (Oklahoma State), Carl Perry (Illinois), Scott Schatzman (Northwestern) and Jon Archuleta (Cal State-Bakersfield).

149 POUNDS - Six of the eight medalists from 1998 return to the Millennium. However, the finalists have moved up to 157. It is a wide open weight class, with the top competitors being Adam Tirapelle (Illinois), Dave Esposito (Lehigh), Reggie Wright (Oklahoma State), Ryan Shapert (Edinboro), Billy Maldonado (Iowa State), Quinn Foster (Arizona State) and Stan Spoor (Clarion).

157 POUNDS - A classic matchup could be T.J. Williams (Iowa) and 1997 champion Chris Bono (Sunkist Kids). Other challengers include Brian Snyder (Nebraska), Jason Ramstetter (Schultz Wrestling Club), Brett Matter (Penn), Griff Powell (Illinois), Ryan Bernholz (Lehigh), Nathan Vasquez (Cal State-Bakersfield) and Terry Murphy (Wildcat Wrestling Club).

165 POUNDS - Joe Heskitt of Iowa State won as a freshman in 1998. He will be challenged by Steve Blackford (Arizona State), Joey Killar (Harvard), Travis Doto (Lehigh), Bill Zeman (Illinois), Carl Fronhofer (Pittsburgh), Greg DeGrand (Michigan State) and Yoshi Nakamura (Penn). Thirty-year-old former champion Ken Ramsey (Ohio International Wrestling Club) also stands to be a factor in this weight.

174 POUNDS - Joe Williams (Hawkeye Wrestling Club) returns in an attempt to gain his sixth straight title, a feat achieved by only two other wrestlers, Dan Gable and Bruce Baumgartner. Several top ranked collegians have the opportunity to stop Joe's streak. They are Otto Olson (Michigan), Josh Kosheck (Edinboro), Ed Mosley (Harvard), Mark Bybee (Northwestern), Ryan Cunningham (Central Michigan), Andy Varner (Cal State-Bakersfield) and Mike Feeney (Eastern Michigan).

184 POUNDS - Another freshman winner from a year ago, Cael Sanderson (Iowa State), has continued to win ever since, including the 1999 NCAA title. His competition will come from Will Hill (Michigan State), Nick Preston (Ohio State), Kevin Welsh (Edinboro), Nate Patrick (Illinois), Pat Popolizio (Oklahoma State), Lionel Halsey (Cal State-Bakersfield) and freshman Damion Hahn (Minnesota).

197 POUNDS - The current top five wrestlers in this category - Nick Muzashvilli (Michigan State), Zach Thompson (Iowa State) and Brad Vering (Nebraska), Mark Munoz (Oklahoma State) and Pat Quirk (Illinois) - are considered the favorites, but two recent grads could impact. Ohio State grad Mitch Clark (1997 Midlands and 1998 NCAA champ at 184) is a capable contender as well as John VanDoren (Lehigh '99), who placed second at the Midlands in 1998. Other contenders are Turk Lords (Montana State Northern), Chris Vike (Central Michigan), Todd Palmisano (Rider) and Mike Fickell (Penn).

HEAVYWEIGHT - A new champion will be crowned in 1999 after three-in-a-row for Steve Neal. He will be unable to defend his title due to minor surgery this fall. Neal won two NCAA crowns and, in his first try, the World title this fall in Anakara, Turkey. He has joined nine others in the Midlands Triple Crown circle (Midlands, NCAA and Worlds or Olympics). The favorite could be 1998 runner-up, Angelo Borzio, the current East Stroudsburg coach. Other leading challengers are Trent Hynek (Iowa State), Bandele Adenizi (Penn), John Lockhart (Illinois), Wes Hand (Iowa), Dave Anderton (Oklahoma State), Garrett Lowney (unattached, Minnesota), Matt Brink (Michigan) and Brian Keck and Airon Richardson (Wildcat Wrestling Club).

Midland Notes

  • The 7,000th Midlands competitor will step on the mat in the 1999 event. 6,983 entered the tournament in its history, and 231 have won Midlands titles. A special gift will be presented to number 7,000.

  • Dan Gable will be coaching one of the favored teams, the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, and if they should win they will become just the second wrestling club to win the team title. The Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club won in 1984, 1987 and 1988.

  • Joe Williams will be representing the Hawkeye Wrestling Club and is moving toward some very special categories. If he wins, it will be his sixth straight title, and only two have done that - his coach, Gable, and Bruce Baumgartner. Joe can also tie Dan's 31 straight Midlands wins with five consecutive victories.

  • The brother combination continues as Joe's younger brother (T.J.) and older brother (Steve) are also scheduled to compete T.J. has a fifth place and a championship after his second Midlands, the same as Joe after his first two. Steve is still looking for his first Midlands medal. The three Sandersons (Iowa State) look to have another good year in 1999. They placed first (Cael), second (Cole), and sixth (Cody) in last year's meet and may improve on that as a family in the Millennium.

  • Steve Neal, the heavyweight champion in 1996, 1997 and 1998, became the 10th man in history to join the Midlands Triple Crown Class. The wrestlers in this category have won a Midlands, an NCAA Division I title, and a World or Olympic gold medal. This fall, Steve won the 1999 World title in Ankara, Turkey, and he will be the favorite for the 2000 Olympic championship which would give him the Grand Slam (Midlands, NCAA, World, Olympic). This week, however, Neal is recovering from minor surgery and will not compete in the Midlands Millennium meet.

  • The Midlands Millennium logo was created by the Optima Group, a distinguished design firm that has won many awards for their work. The logo captures the passage of time past, present and future with its hourglass design.

Midlands Millennium Pre-Tournament Seeds

The 1999 Midlands Millennium final seedings will be concluded tonight 28.

1. Jody Strittmatter, Iowa
2. Moses Delfin, Cal.-Bakersfield
3. Tim Dernlan, Wildcat WC
4. Mike Kawamura, Arizona State
5. Matt Azevedo, Iowa State
6. Jeremy Sluyter, East Stroudsburg
7. Jason Gabrielson, Edinboro
8. Ryan Escobar, Illinois
9. Mike Mena, Hawkeye WC

1. Eric Jurgens, Iowa
2. Cody Sanderson, Iowa State
3. David Morgan, Unattached
4. Roman Flezar, Hofstra
5. Joe Warren, Michigan
6. Zach Zimmerer, Stanford
7. Rob Loper, Pittsburgh
8. Danny Felix, Sunkist Kids
9. Ryan Egan, Northern Illinois

1. Doug Schwab, Iowa
2. Mark Angle, Clarion
3. Mark Ironside, Hawkeye WC
4. Dwight Hinson, Sunkist Kids
5. Scott Schatzman, Northwestern
6. Chris Marshall, Central Michigan
7. Florian Ghinea, Montclair State
8. Damian Logan, Michigan
9. Jason Debruin, Hofstra

1. John Fisher, Sunkist Kids
2. Adam Tirapelle, Illinois
3. Dave Esposito, Lehigh
4. Bill Zadick, Iowa
5. Ryan Shapert, Edinboro
6. Mike Zadick, Iowa
7. Billy Maldonado, Iowa State
8. Stan Spoor, Clarion
9. Joe Henson, Nebraska

1. T.J. Williams, Iowa
2. Chris Bono, Sunkist Kids
3. Jason Ramstetter, Unattached
4. Bryan Snyder, Nebraska
5. Brett Matter, Penn
6. Alex Coriano, Wildcat WC
7. Griff Powell, Illinois
8. Cole Sanderson, Iowa State
9. Ben Boozer, Edinboro

1. Joe Heskett, Iowa State
2. Steve Blackford, Arizona State
3. Joey Killar, Harvard
4. Yoshi Nakamura, Penn
5. Tod Surman, Schultz WC
6. Ken Ramsey, Ohio Int. WC
7. Travis Doto, Lehigh
8. Bill Zeman, Illinois
9. Terry Murphy, Wildcat WC

1. Joe Williams, Hawkeye WC
2. Otto Olson, Michigan
3. Josh Koscheck, Edinboro
4. Ed Mosley, Stanford
5. Rick Springman, Penn
6. Mark Bybee, Northwestern
7. Ryan Cunningham, Central Michigan
8. Andy Varner, Cal.-Bakersfield
9. Mike Feeney, Eastern Michigan

1. Cael Sanderson, Iowa State
2. Nate Patrick, Illinois
3. Will Hill, Michigan State
4. Kevin Welsh, Edinboro
5. Rost Aizenberg, Cornell
6. Rob Rohn, Lehigh
7. Damion Hahn, Minnesota
8. Andy Hrovat, Michigan
9. Lionel Halsey, Cal.-Bakersfield

1. Zach Thompson, Iowa State
2. Turk Lords, Montana St.-Northern
3. Nick Muzashvili, Michigan State
4. Brad Vering, Nebraska
5. Pat Quirk, Illinois
6. John Van Doren, Lehigh WC
7. Barry Weldon, Sunkist Kids
8. Chris Vike, Central Michigan
9. Mike Fickell, Penn

1. Angelo Borzio, New York AC
2. Brian Keck, Wildcat WC
3. Wes Hand, Iowa
4. John Lockhart, Illinois
5. Trent Hynek, Iowa State
6. Bandele Adeniyi-Bada, Penn
7. Tom Erikson, Sunkist WC
8. Airron Richardson, Wildcat WC
9. Garrett Lowney, Unattached