Hempstead, NY - The Hofstra Wrestling team will face their seventh and eighth Top 25 ranked opponents of the season this Sunday, December 16 in the Grapple at the Garden. The Pride will face fifth-ranked Iowa (7-0) at 10:30 a.m. and fourth-ranked Ohio State (3-0) at 12:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Hofstra will square off against the two perennial national championship contenders in a historic, first-ever collegiate wrestling event at the World's Most Famous Arena. The eight-mat, two session affair, which benefits the Beat the Streets program, features seven teams currently ranked in the USA Today/NWCA/AWN Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll including #2 Oklahoma State, #4 Ohio State, #5 Iowa, #7 Missouri, #8 Cornell, #9 Nebraska, and #18 Maryland, in addition to Hofstra, Bloomsburg, Rutgers, Drexel, George Mason, Bucknell and Chattanooga.
The action begins at 10:30 a.m. with Hofstra vs. #5 Iowa, Drexel vs. George Mason, Rutgers vs. #9 Nebraska, #18 Maryland vs. #4 Ohio State, #8 Cornell vs. #7 Missouri and #2 Oklahoma State vs. Chattanooga. Session two, which begins at 12:30 p.m., feature Ohio State vs. Hofstra, Iowa vs. Bucknell, Rutgers vs. Chattanooga, Nebraska vs. Maryland, Cornell vs. Oklahoma State and Missouri vs. Bloomsburg. In addition, a New York City Public School Athletic League (PSAL) Holiday Tournament will be conducted on mats one and eight during both sessions.
The Grapple at the Garden will showcase the talents of many top collegiate wrestlers. There will be more than 60 nationally-ranked wrestlers who are expected to compete for their teams in the tournament. Every weight class will have at least five ranked individuals, presenting numerous top 20 expected match-ups.
Hofstra (0-9), which has been idle since dropping matches at Penn and Drexel on December 2, has four Hofstra wrestlers ranked in one or several national polls this week. Seniors Steve Bonanno and Paul Snyder, junior Luke Vaith and graduate student Justin Accordino are among the top 30 in the four national weekly rankings.
Senior All-American Steve Bonanno (Wantagh, NY) is ranked in the top 20 in all four polls, coming in at 17th in the Division I Wrestling Report, 18th in the Amateur Wrestling News and WIN Magazine and 19th by InterMat at 125 pounds. Bonanno, who placed eighth in the NCAA Championships last March, is 7-5 this season.
Junior Luke Vaith (Hastings, MN) is also ranked in all four polls at 141 pounds this week. He is ranked ninth by WIN, 13th by InterMat, 15th by Amateur Wrestling News and 16th by Division I Wrestling Report. Vaith is 9-5 on the season including 5-4 in dual matches.
Graduate-student All-American Justin Accordino (Wilkes-Barre, PA) is ranked in two polls at 149 pounds this week despite not wrestling in a match this season. He is ranked sixth by InterMat and seventh by WIN. Accordino, who placed sixth in the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, was expected to compete at the Northeast Duals on November 24 but tweaked his leg just days before the four-match event.
Senior Paul Snyder (Greensburg, PA), who is off to the best start of his career, is ranked 28th at 285 pounds by the Division I Wrestling Report again this week. He leads the Pride starters with a 10-3 record including a 6-3 slate in dual contests.
The Hawkeyes of the University of Iowa enter the Grapple at the Garden with a 7-0 dual record and ranked fourth by InterMat, and fifth in the USA Today/NWCA/AWN Coaches Poll this week. Iowa has wins over Cumberland (52-0), Virginia (26-12), Chattanooga (37-6), SIU-Edwardsville (49-0), Cornell College (49-3), Iowa State (32-3) and Lehigh (26-9). The Hawkeyes, who have captured 23 national titles and placed third in last March's NCAA Division I Championship Tournament in St. Louis, have eight wrestlers ranked in the top 20 of their respective weight classes. Leading the way for Iowa is top-ranked senior, 125-pounder and two-time NCAA champion, Matt McDonough (7-0). The Iowa native is a three-time NCAA finalist and grabbed titles in 2010 and 2012. He is 107-4 during his college career. The Hawkeyes also have a another number one-ranked grappler in junior, 157-pounder Derek St. John. (7-0). Iowa has five more undefeated wrestlers in the top 11 as 133-pound junior Tony Ramos (7-0) comes in at number three, sophomore Bobby Telford (7-0) is ranked fifth at 285, junior Ethan Lofthouse (7-0) and sophomore Mike Evans (5-0) are ranked seventh at 184 and 174 pounds, respectively and senior Mark Ballweg (7-0) is ranked 11th at 141 pounds.
Hofstra is facing the Hawkeyes for the seventh time in program history on Sunday with Iowa winning each of the previous six meetings. The two programs last met during the 2006-07 season (26-10) at the National Duals in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Hofstra and Iowa faced each other in three consecutive seasons with the Hawkeyes winning in 1999-200 (34-3), 2000-01 (40-3), and 2001-02 (24-15). The Pride and Iowa met for the first time during the 1974-75 season (42-0). Their next encounter, in 1976-77 (39-6) was the first and only meeting with the legendary Dan Gable as Iowa Head Coach.
The Buckeyes of Ohio State University, who will host Kent State on Friday before coming to the Grapple at the Garden, are 3-0 entering the week and ranked fourth in the USA Today/NWCA/AWN Coaches Poll and fifth by InterMat. They have victories over Davidson (40-3), Virginia Tech (23-10) and Pittsburgh (26-13). Most recently, Ohio State, coached by former Hofstra Head Wrestling Coach Tom Ryan, is coming off a defense of their team title at the Cliff Keen-Las Vegas Invitational on November 30-December 1. The Buckeyes have seven wrestlers ranked in their respective weight classes in this week's InterMat rankings. Leading Ohio State is top-ranked, sophomore 133-pounder Logan Stieber (12-0), who is coming off the CKLV Invitational title at 133 and the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler award recipient. He is also the defending NCAA champion at 133 pounds. His brother, Hunter (15-0), is ranked second at 141 pounds while All-American junior, 174-pounder Nick Heflin (6-0) is ranked second at 174 pounds. All-American sophomore Cam Tessari (7-5) is ranked 10th at 149 while classmate Andrew Compolattano (10-4) is 10th-ranked at 197 pounds.
The match-up between Hofstra and Ohio State is the fifth meeting between the two programs. The Buckeyes have won all four previous meetings. The last time the two programs met was during the 2009-10 season in Hempstead with Ohio State winning 32-6. The two programs first met during the 1979-80 season (26-13) and then met for three consecutive seasons, one year after Ryan left Hofstra for Ohio State. The Buckeyes posted a 25-16 win at the National Duals in Iowa in 2007-08, a 19-13 win on Long Island in 2008-09, and a 32-6 victory at Hofstra in 2009-10.