LANCASTER, PA -- The Franklin & Marshall Mayser Center was abuzz with pageantry unseen in 23 years as the 2001 edition of the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic took place on the campus of Franklin & Marshall College.
Twenty-three years earlier, F&M hosted the annual event during a driving blizzard which cut the anticipated 3,600 crowd to only 800 to witness the best wrestlers in Division I battle it out on the mat.
However, the new millennium edition would be considerably different in terms of weather and crowd, as a maximum capacity crowd of 2,800 people walked or drove through sunny conditions and a rosy dusk to witness the best collegiate wrestling in the history of the NWCA All-Star Classic series.
Beginning at 141 pounds, the action never stopped as #1 nationally ranked Doug Schwab decisioned Sean Gray of Virginia Tech 12-7. Gray came out aggressively scoring two takedowns and locking up a solid cradle on Schwab to end the first. The action remained fast and furious in the second period as Schwab began to take control. After scoring a takedown late in the second off a wild scramble, Schwab took a one-point lead into the third. Schwab's relentless forcing of the pace began to wear on Gray who succumbed to two takedowns and a set of backpoints for the final.
At 149, #14 ranked JaMarr Billman of Lock Haven fell to Lehigh's #4 ranked Dave Esposito 6-4. Following an exchange of takedowns in the first, Esposito scored a late takedown in the second with a body lock to Billman's back, but scored no back-points as the Lock Haven wrestler's shoulders were out of bounds. Esposito would attempt to take control of the match in the third, but Billman came close to scoring a late takedown with an outside shot. Adding a riding point, Esposito narrowly escaped with the victory.
In an exhbition 149 match, Lancaster native Marc Hoffer of American upset #5 ranked Eric Schmiesing of Hofstra 6-4. In the first period, the match was marked by pushing and shoving as the duo battled to a draw. Hoffer would get on the board first courtesy an early escape, but Schmiesing would fire back with a takedown on the edge of the mat. Late in the second, Hoffer would bring the Lancaster crowd to its feet with a takedown off a leg shot, and tallied another single leg takedown before the end of the period. Schmiessing would press the action in the third and nearly scored on several occassions, but great defensive wrestling by Hoffer held him off for the win.
At 157, Penn's Yoshi Nakamura battled Iowa State's Cole Sanderson to a scoreless first as the Penn coaches looked for a stall call as Nakamura stalked Sanderson for much of the first period. The second continued the pattern, as Nakamura scored the first takedown after missing with his inside trip. In the third, Nakamura would pad his lead courtesy another takedown. Sanderson would begin to grow tired, as Nakamura capitalized with a late takedown and back-points for the 9-3 win.
In the local feature bout, Isaiah Hankel fell to Millersville's Mike Bookwalter 5-2 in a tight match. Showing no signs nerves for performing before a national FOX Sports audience, the two attacked each other throughout the match. Following a scoreless first period, Bookwalter used two takedowns in the second period to record the 5-2 win.
In a re-match of the NCAA Finals a year ago, #1 ranked Joe Heskett of Iowa State and #2 ranked Don Pritzlaff of Wisconsin put on the match of the evening. After scoreless first and second periods, the duo began to attack each other non-stop looking for a point. Pritzlaff hit a single leg off a headsnap for a takedown on the edge of the mat with 20 seconds to go, but Heskett would record a late escape to send the match into sudden victory. In the sudden death period, the two wrestled to a draw, thus forcing a thirty-second period. Pritzlaff would take bottom in the rideout and registered an escape in only six seconds for the astonishing 3-2 win.
At 174, #1 ranked Josh Koscheck of Edinboro used a punishing first period ride to build up 2:30 in riding time versus #2 ranked Otto Olson of Michigan. Koscheck would continue his ride to victory as he finished up with nearly five minutes in riding time to win going away 6-1 and solidify his number one ranking.
The next match was over in seconds, literally, as national phenomenon Cael Sanderson of Iowa State extended his winning streak to 107 after pinning Shawn Scannel of Rider University in just 39 seconds. The winning pin came off a scramble that Sanderson converted into a cradle for the fall. Sadly, Scannel was invited to the All-Star match this morning following #3 ranked Dan Cormier of Oklahoma State elected not to travel in the wake of the Oklahoma State basketball team crash on Saturday. A moment of silence was held following the national anthem at the beginning of the night in remembrance of the lost lives.
The meet moved on to 197 as #1 ranked Brad Vering of Nebraska and #4 ranked Mark Munoz of Oklahoma State met for the 10th time in the last two years. Due to their familiarity, both wrestlers battled for position in a scoreless first period. After swapping escapes in each of the next two periods, the match became more heated as the two slugged it out for the win. Munoz would use a late single leg takedown to grab a two-point lead and seal the win. Veering would register a late escape, but Moons would hold on for the 3-2 upset win.
At 285, #1 ranked Tommy Rowlands of Ohio State knocked off #11 ranked Josh Pearce of Edinboro 5-3 in a showcase of heavyweight agility. Rowlands would leap onto the mat and score two first period takedowns. The action slowed down dramatically in the second as the only scoring occurred on a Rowlands' escape. In the third, Rowlands demonstrated a dynamic ability to scramble away from Pearce to defend a late Edinboro scoring chance to earn the 5-3 win.
At 125, Pennsylvania's own Jody Strittmatter of Iowa, ranked second nationally, would dominate A.J. Grant of Michigan 10-3. Strittmatter would score early in the first off a takedown. In the second, Grant chose the neutral position to start, but Strittmatter would apply enough pressure to register his second takedown as he ended the period with 1:30 in riding time. The third would showcase Strittmatter's ability to escape and turn the advantage as the 125 senior would quickly turn it into a takedown and set of backpoints to close out the scoring.
In the final match of the night, defending NCAA Champion and #1 ranked Eric Juergens of Iowa took on #4 ranked Todd Beckerman. Juergens would pressure Beckerman throughout the match, scoring on a double leg takedown with four seconds left in the first for the only points he would need. The second was a rodeo for the Hawkeye as Juergens rode Beckerman throughout the period. Juergens would continue to control the pace as he wore down Beckerman resulting in three third period takedowns and added a riding point for the 10-2 final.
Overall, the meet was one of the largest athletic events ever held on the campus of Franklin & Marshall College and marked the most #1 seeds to ever participate in the NWCA All-Star Match.
Franklin & Marshall College, founded in 1787, was founded in 1787 and was named for Benjamin Franklin, whose original gift of 200 pounds marked the beginning of the college's endowment. Marshall College, founded in Mercersburg in 1835, was named in honor of John Marshall. The two colleges merged in 1853 in Lancaster under the guidance of a board of trustees headed by James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States.
The college sponsors 26 varsity sports as well as a variety of club, intramural and recreational activities and teams, including a Division I wrestling program.
2001 NWCA ALL-STAR CLASSIC RESULTS
Doug Schwab (Iowa) dec. Shawn Gray (Virginia Tech) 12-7
149 Dave Esposito (Lehigh) dec. Jamarr Billman (Lock Haven) 6-4
149 Marc Hoffer (American) dec. Eric Schmeising (Hofstra) 6-4
157 Yoshi Nakamura (Penn) dec. Cole Sanderson (Iowa State) 9-3
157 Mike Bookwalter (Millersville) dec. Isaiah Hankel (F&M) 5-2
165 Don Pritzlaff (Wisconsin) dec. Joe Heskett (Iowa State) 3-2 TB
174 Josh Koscheck (Edinboro) dec. Otto Olson (Michigan) 6-1
184 Cael Sanderson (Iowa State) dec. Shawn Scannell (Rider) Fall, :39
197 Mark Munoz (Oklahoma State) dec. Brad Vering (Nebraska) 3-2
285 Tommy Rowlands (Ohio State) dec. Josh Pearce (Edinboro) 5-3
125 Jody Strittmatter (Iowa) dec. A.J. Grant (Michigan) 10-3
133 Eric Juergens (Iowa) dec. Todd Blackman (Nebraska) 10-2