NCAA champion Cruz, World teamer Velte highlight first two matchups released for 52nd NWCA All-Star Classic

Manheim, Pennsylvania — The first two matches for the 52nd NWCA All-Star Classic have been released and they feature a 2017 NCAA Division I Champion and a two-time women’s college champion and U.S. Women’s World Team member. The NWCA All-Star Classic is hosted by Wrestlers in Business Network and sponsored by Princeton Brain and Spine and Northwestern Mutual Life.

The first men’s matchup announced is at 125 pounds where returning NCAA Division I champion Darian Cruz will make the 90 trek to Jadwin Gym on the campus of Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey on November 5 to take on another All-American, Oklahoma State’s Nick Piccininni.

Cruz went 31-2 en route to his second All-American finish last season. He defeated Minnesota’s Ethan Lizak 6-3 at 125 pounds to win Lehigh’s 28th individual NCAA championship. Piccininni placed fourth last season coming into the NCAA championship in St. Louis as the No. 8 seed. He went 27-8 on the year.

Cruz was a two-time high school state champion in Pennsylvania at Bethlehem Catholic, while Piccininni was four-time high school state champion in New York for Ward Melville High School in East Setauket, New York.

The two have not met in NCAA competition.

Lehigh is 17-15 all-time in All-Star Classic matches and 2-0 in head-to-head matches against wrestlers from Oklahoma State. The last head-to-head meeting at the event came in 2003 when Jon Trenge of Lehigh topped Muhammad Lawal of Oklahoma State 6-4 in overtime. The Cowboys are 44-40-6 individually.

Simon Fraser’s Mallory Velte will take on Grays Harbor College’s Desiree Zavala at 143 pounds in the first women’s match announced.

Velte, a native of Sacramento, California, represented the United States at the 2017 World Championships in Paris and will be the first wrestler from Simon Fraser to compete in the event. Simon Fraser is the only school in Canada that’s a member of the NCAA.

A three-time Women’s College Wrestling Association All-American, Velte has captured WCWA championships each of the last two years. This past August, Velte was part of the U.S. Women’s World Team that finished second in the world — she placed 14th at 63kg/138 pounds.

Velte was third at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials and a fifth-place finisher at the 2015 Junior World Championships in Salvador, Brazil.

Zavala, a sophomore at Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Washington, finished third at the 2017 WCWA championships while wrestling at Southern Oregon University. A four-time high school state champion from Grandview, Washington, Zavala went 30-3 last year as a freshman and also qualified for the U.S. World Team Trials.

The two met twice last season with Velte taking both matches including a 12-0 technical superiority victory in the WCWA semifinals in Oklahoma City.

WHAT: 52nd NWCA All-Star Classic hosted by Wrestlers in Business Network
WHEN: Sunday, November 5, 3 p.m.
WHERE: Jadwin Gym, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.
TICKETS: $20 (group discounts available)
SOCIAL MEDIA: #ComeBackToJadwin #allstarclassic2017 #wrestleback

125: Darian Cruz, Sr. (Lehigh) vs. Nick Piccininni, So. (Oklahoma State)

143: Mallory Velte, Sr. (Simon Fraser) vs. Desiree Zavala, So. (Grays Harbor)
Note: Women’s college wrestling competes under international freestyle rules.

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