LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall's wrestling team heads into this weekend's Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships looking to accomplish a feat that has eluded the program since 1994 and perform well enough at the tournament to qualify multiple wrestlers for the NCAA Championships.
EIWA Tournament Schedule
Saturday, March 5 – Jadwin Gym – Princeton, N.J.
9:00 AM – Championship First Round
12:00 PM – Champ. Quarterfinals and First Round Cons.
3:00 PM – Second Round Cons.
Sunday, March 6 – Jadwin Gym – Princeton, N.J.
10:00 AM – Champ. Semifinals and Third Round Cons.
11:45 AM – Consolation Semifinals
12:30 PM – Seventh-Place Matches
3:30 PM – First, Third, Fifth-Place Finals
A Look at the Championships: This year's 112th EIWA Championships are being hosted by Princeton University. F&M has found success at the tournament throughout its illustrious history, producing 101 place winners and nine EIWA Champions. The last Diplomat to find his way atop the medal stand was Rick Durso in 2013 when he captured first at 141.
Tournament seeds and brackets will be announced Friday evening following the seeding meeting.
NCAA Qualifier Allocations: The NCAA announced the 284 total automatic qualifier allocations for the upcoming tournament. The EIWA will receive a total of 51, second only to the Big Ten Conference with 71. The breakdown per weight class is as follows: 125 (3), 133 (3), 141 (6), 149 (5), 157 (6), 165 (4), 174 (7), 184 (7), 197 (4), 285 (6).
After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining 46 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 9. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers. The at-large selections will be made based on the following criteria: head-to-head competition; quality wins; coaches ranking; results against common opponents; RPI; qualifying event placement; and winning percentage.
Last Year at EIWA Tournament: Several members of the team picked up wins on the opening day of last season's EIWA Tournament, however, none managed to advance into the final day of action.
Representing the Diplomats at 197, Charles Kerkesner faced a tough draw in his opening match and was taken down by the No. 1 seed Abraham Ayala of Princeton by a 19-4 tech. fall score. Kerkesner was solid in his first round consolation matchup, defeating Harvard's Michael Mocco with a nail-biting 3-2 tally. His season came to a close in the next round, dropping a heartbreaking 10-9 decision to Columbia's Matt Idelson after being edged out on riding time.
To read a full recap of the 2015 Championships, click here.
Who to Watch: Durso enters the tournament making a strong case for the top seed at 141. A three-time NCAA Qualifier and 2014 All-American, Durso is riding a 12-match winning streak that includes quality wins over such EIWA opponents as Lehigh's Randy Cruz (2-1 Dec.), Harvard's Todd Preston (2-0 Dec.) and Princeton's Jordan Laster (2-0 Dec.).
Antonio Pelusi has the potential to grab one of the six automatic qualifying bids at 285. He holds a 22-16 overall record on the year with a 4-12 mark against conference opponents. He comes into action with a two-bout winning streak, including a thrilling 3-1 sudden victory decision over Sacred Heart's Ray Sherwood that sealed a 19-17 senior day win on Feb. 20.
Coaches' Rankings and RPI: Last week, the NCAA released its final coaches' panel rankings and second release of the ratings percentage index (RPI). Both are major tools in the selection process for determining the qualifiers and seeding for the 2016 NCAA Championships.
Durso moved up to No. 11 in the coaches' rankings while falling to No. 11 in the RPI. Harvard's Todd Preston is the only EIWA competitor with a higher ranking in the coaches' poll, currently sitting at No. 9.
Get Your Tickets: Fans can still get their tickets for both the EIWA Championships and the NCAA Championships. The NCAA's will take place at historic Madison Square Garden on March 17-19.
EIWA Streaming (Subscription Required): Every match of the tournament will be available for viewing, starting with the championship first round at 9:00 a.m. on March 5, and concluding with the single-mat championship finals on March 6, at 3:40 p.m. Flowrestling as part of its Flo Pro live streaming programming is producing the live streams in their entirety.
For those not already subscribed to the Flo Pro service, a monthly subscription costs $20.00, and a yearly subscription costs $150.00. To sign up, click here.
Shattering the Record: With his pair of wins to close out the regular season, Durso improved to 33-8 and continues to distance himself from the school's previous all-time wins record, held by Craig Blackman's '81 with a career mark of 117-31-2. Durso now holds a 139-26 overall record. He also has win totals of 30 or more in each of his four seasons in Lancaster and is just six wins away from tying his own season wins record of 39, set back in the 2012-13 season.
Moving up the Chart: Durso has accumulated six pins during his senior campaign and now sits tied for fifth on the program's all-time list with 24 in his career. Justin Herbert '09 holds the record with 35.
Where Durso Stacks up at 141
No. 9 – Amateur Wrestling News (AWN)
No. 10 – Wrestlingreport.com
No. 10 – FLO Wrestling
No. 11 – InterMat Wrestling
No. 15 – The Open Mat (TOM)