LANCASTER, Pa. – Historic Madison Square Garden will serve as the host for this week's D1 NCAA Wrestling Tournament, where 330 of the nation's top wrestlers will convene for a shot at All-America and National Championship accolades.
For the first time since 1994, two Franklin & Marshall grapplers are among the student-athletes represented, with Rick Durso making his program-record fourth appearance at 141 and sophomore heavyweight Antonio Pelusi making his debut in the tournament.
To watch a preview video of the upcoming tournament, click here.
NCAA Championships Schedule
Thursday, March 17
Session I: 12 PM – 4:00 PM ET (TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN)
Session II: 7 PM – 11:00 PM ET (TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN)
Friday, March 18
Quarterfinals: 11 AM – 3:00 PM ET (TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN)
Semifinals: 8 PM – 11:30 PM ET (TV: ESPN/WatchESPN)
Saturday, March 19
Championship Medal Round: 11 AM – 2:30 PM ET (TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN)
Finals: 8 PM – 11:00 PM ET (TV: ESPN/WatchESPN)
Live Scoring: Track Wrestling will provide live scoring this year. A link to the tournament can be found here: http://on.ncaa.com/W2016D1
Television: ESPN will broadcast every match on every mat on ESPN3/WatchESPN, in addition to linear coverage of all six sessions. Friday night and Saturday night are on ESPN; all other sessions are on ESPNU.
A Look at the Championships: Durso is seeded ninth at 141 and will square off against Nebraska's Anthony Abidin (18-13) in the opening matchup. Oklahoma State's Dean Heil is the bracket's top-ranked grappler, and Durso could potentially match up with him in the quarterfinals.
Pelusi will be faced with a monumental obstacle right out of the gate, squaring off with No. 2 Kyle Snyder (6-0) of Ohio State in the opening round. Snyder, who started out the year on an Olympic redshirt, is a light heavyweight and one of the tournament's most decorated student-athletes after becoming the youngest World Champion in USA wrestling history last summer.
To view the complete bracket for the Championships, click here.
F&M By the Numbers (NCAAs)
78 NCAA Qualifiers | Last: Rick Durso (2014)
17 All-Americans | Last: Rick Durso (8th-2014)
2 National Champions | Last: Chris Black/John Stevenson (1972)
How Durso Got Here: Durso distinguished himself as the program's first four-time NCAA Qualifier two weeks ago when he became the only Diplomat wrestler to win his second EIWA Title with a perfect 4-0 showing at the Championships.
His other title came in 2013 and this year's conference tournament performance marked the fourth time in his career he placed at the EIWAs. The milestone was also the 10th time in program history a Diplomat captured a conference championship. He reached the first-place match with a 7-4 decision over Princeton's Jordan Laster (No. 5) in the semifinals, clinching the win with a takedown in the closing seconds.
Facing off against Harvard's Todd Preston (No. 2 seed, No. 10 in the nation) in the finals for the second time this season, Durso once again found success against the Crimson standout. Preston registered an early first-period takedown, but a reversal and pair of nearfall points gave Durso a lead he would not relinquish en route to the 7-4 decision victory.
Durso's overall record on the year sits at 37-8, including a 20-2 mark against EIWA opponents. The senior grappler has been on a tear lately, winning his last 16 matchups dating back to December 30.
How Pelusi Got Here: Pelusi won four out of five consolation matchups, including upset victories over the bracket's No.'s 4, 5 and 8 wrestlers at 285 to secure fifth place at the EIWA Championships. His performance was the best for a heavyweight at the Championships since Bob Bickelman took third in 1976.
In the battle for fifth against Cornell's Jeramy Sweaney (No. 4), two takedowns and a pair of nearfall points in a high scoring second period propelled Pelusi into the final frame with a 7-1 advantage. Sweaney fought back with a pair of takedowns to pull within two, but Pelusi hung on for the 9-7 decision to secure fifth place.
Pelusi holds a 26-19 overall record on the year and enters the NCAAs with wins in six of his previous eight bouts.
Shattering the Record: With his impressive 4-0 weekend at the conference championships, Durso improved to 37-8 and continued 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 143-26 overall record. He also has win totals of 30 or more in each of his four seasons in Lancaster and is just two wins away from tying his 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.
Pelusi's 26 wins on the season are now good for 16th all-time on the single-season list and are just three wins shy of moving him into the top 10.