5000 Attend NWCA All-Star Classic at Princeton
ARTICLE BY: GARY ABBOTT, USA WRESTLING | NOV. 05, 2017, 7:18 P.M. (ET)
PRINCETON, N.J. – Oklahoma State NCAA All-American Nick Piccininni and Simon Fraser WCWA national champion Mallory Velte were named the Outstanding Wrestlers at the historic 52nd NWCA All-Star Classic held before a crowd of over 5,000 fans at Jadwin Gymnasium at Princeton University on Sunday.
Piccininni defeated 2017 NCAA champion Darian Cruz of Lehigh, 8-5. Piccininni scored six points on a single exchange. Cruz led 2-1 after the first period, scoring a takedown. In the second period, Cruz attempted a cradle, Piccininni stopped the move, scored a two-point reversal and got four back points to turn the match around.
“It was a good first match, is all I can say about it. We just got after it. I felt (the cradle coming). He reached over the top so I knew to look up, attack the hands and post first, and caught him on his back,” said Piccininni.
Velte, a WCWA champion champion two times, just opened up her offense in scoring a 10-0 technical fall over tough Grays Harbor competitor Desiree Zavala. Velte hit a pair of ankle laces on the way to a first-period stoppage. Just a few days ago, Zavala gave Velte, who was a 2017 Senior World Team member, a tough match at the Dave Schultz Memorial International.
“It’s the beginning of the season. It has its ups and downs. SFU is going through a coaching transition. It has been kind of hard but it is going good. I am ready to peak for the things that count this year. Senior Nationals is a lot more important in April,” said Velte.
This was the first time a full card of 10 women’s college matches were held at the NWCA All-Star Classic, and the men and women competed side-by-side on two mats. Two additional showcase matches were held prior to the featured bouts.
Cruz was not the only 2017 NCAA champion to lose this year at the All-Star Classic. In the final match of the evening, 2017 NCAA runner-up Zahid Valencia of Arizona State edged 2017 NCAA champion Mark Hall of Penn State, 3-2. It was a reversal of the NCAA semifinals, won last year by Hall. Valencia scored a takedown with 20 seconds to go to break a 1-1 tie and secure the win.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way. Go out and wrestle the No. 1 seed right away. Start my season off with a bang. I took him out. It is a long season. I just have to stay disciplined and keep wrestling at my best,” said Valencia.
Velte was not the only WCWA champion to win their match today. Among the other winners were three-time WCWA champion Kayla Miracle of Campbellsville at 136 pounds at 136 pounds and Marina Doi of King at 101 pounds.
Miracle was dominant in a 10-0 technical fall over Solin Piearcy of Menlo College early in the second period. Doi jumped to an early lead, scored a turn and used a headlock finish to pin Hiba Salem of Menlo in 1:51.
The dominant team on the men’s side was North Carolina State, which had three individual winners, Kevin Jack at 141, Pete Renda at 184 and Mike Macchiavello at 197.
Jack wrestled former teammate and long-time college rival Bryce Meredith of Wyoming, and in a active match, scored a reversal with eight seconds left to win 8-7.
Renda scored the last takedown of the match, to defeat Drew Foster of Northern Iowa, 4-2. Foster scored the first takedown to lead 2-0, then Renda got an escape. The takedown by Renda put him ahead 3-2, and he added a point when Foster was hit with stalling.
Macchiavello also needed some late heroics to beat Frank Mattiace of Penn, getting a takedown with 30 seconds left to break a 1-1 tie and go on to a 3-2 win.
Also on the men’s side, it was a good day for the Rider wrestling program, which is just a few miles away from the Princeton campus, as two of their past All-Americans won matches, B.J. Clagon at 157 pounds and Chad Walsh at 165.
Clagon scored a takedown and an additional four-point turn, powering to a 8-1 lead in the first period over Alec Pantaleo of Michigan, ultimately winning 10-4. Walsh scored an escape in the third period to break a 3-3 tie and defeat Jonathan Schleifer of Princeton, 4-3.
Three different college teams won two bouts on the women’s card: Campbellsville, Simon Fraser and McKendree.
Joining Miracle from the Campbellsville team with a win was Charlotte Fowler at 109, who opened up her offense on the way to a 14-3 technical over Maria Vidales of Emmanuel. Trailing 2-0, Fowler got a takedown and three gutwrenches to open up the match.
Joining Velte as a Simon Fraser winner was Dominique Parrish at 123, who scored a technical fall over Amber Pair of Eastern Oregon.
The two McKendree winners were Megan Black (130) and Brandy Lowe (170). Black controlled Campbellsville’s Shelby Hall, 6-0, and Lowe shut out Kacie Moorehouse of Grays Harbor, 7-0.
Other All-Star Classic winners on the men’s side were NCAA runner-up Seth Gross of South Dakota State (133), Max Thomsen of Northern Iowa (149) and Nick Nevills of Penn State (285).
Gross scored the first takedown and went on to beat Stevan Micic of Michigan, 7-1. Thomsen scored a takedown at the buzzer to edge Matt Kolodzik of Princeton, 4-3. Nevills scored an escape and added riding time to defeat Tanner Hall of Arizona State, 2-0.
Other All-Star Classic women’s winners were Victoria Gutierrez of Emmanuel at 116, Niauni Hill of Lindenwood-Belleville at 155 and Paige Baynes of Grays Harbor at 191.
Guttierez piled on the points in a 12-0 technical fall over Makayla Bourbon of the University of the Cumberlands. Hill, a WCWA runner-up last year, was in control throughout over Kiera Gabaldon of Warner Pacific, 7-1. Baynes was dominant in her 10-0 technical fall over Alyssa Cantu of Missouri Valley.
Winners in the preliminary showcase bouts were Gordon Wolf of Lehigh (165) and Yousif Hamida of Maryland (285).
There were 12 different college programs represented among the women’s division. Among the men’s Div. I programs, there were 14 different programs on the card.