Hempstead, NY - The Hofstra Pride wrestling team will be looking to defend its Colonial Athletic Association Championship this Saturday, March 9 at the 2013 CAA Wrestling Championships at Boston University's Case Gymnasium.
The one-day conference championship begins at 10 a.m. Competition begins with quarterfinals on two mats. Consolations start at 1 p.m. with championship semifinals set for 3 p.m. Consolations and finals will start at approximately 7 p.m.
Hofstra has captured 10 of the last 11 CAA titles, missing out on the gold only in 2010 as Binghamton grabbed that championship. The CAA Championships will advance 19 wrestlers, down four from last season, to the 2013 NCAA Division I Championships March 21-23, held at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA. The weight class allocation has the CAA receiving three spots each at 133 pounds, 141 and 197 pounds, two each at 149, 157 and 285 pounds and one at 125, 165, 175 and 184 pounds.
But the Pride enter the 2013 CAA Championships in a different position than previous conference tournaments. Specifically, there may not be a definitive team favorite to win this year's title. After being the number one-ranked team in the CAA's final pre-Championship rankings for most of the last decade, the Pride are tied for third, with Binghamton and Boston University.
The Pride, who finished the regular season with a 6-15 dual match record including a 4-2 mark in the CAA, enter Friday's seeding meeting with five wrestlers ranked in the final CAA regular season ranking report, as of February 26. Among the five are two number one seeds in senior All-American Steve Bonanno (14-10, 6-0) at 125, and classmate Paul Snyder (18-8, 5-0), who won't compete after suffering a season-ending knee injury against Cornell on February 2, at 285.
Hofstra has only one other top two seed and that is sophomore Jermaine John (17-12, 6-0), who is second at 174 despite being 6-0 against conference foes. Junior Luke Vaith (19-11, 4-2), the defending conference champion at 141 pounds, is ranked third at 141 while classmate Jamie Franco (14-13. 3-1), who made it to the finals last year, is ranked fourth at 133 pounds.
In 2012, the Pride entered the seeding meeting with five ranked in the top two and eight picked in the top four of their respective weight classes.
Including Snyder, five Hofstra wrestlers were ranked in the top 33 in NCAA RPI rankings and four in the NCAA Coaches' Panel rankings. Heading the list is Vaith, who is ranked eighth in the RPI and 16th in the Coaches rankings. Bonanno is ranked 32nd in the RPI and 17th in the Coaches Poll. Franco is ranked 26th in the RPI and 29th in the Coaches rankings. John, who made it to the third-place match at 174 last year, is ranked in only the RPI, coming in at 32nd. Snyder was also ranked at 24th in the RPI and 25th in the Coaches Poll.
The Monarchs of Old Dominion (11-7, 6-0), who are not eligible for the team title but their wrestlers can win individual titles, are the top ranked team in the final CAA rankings. ODU, which defeated the Pride in a dual match, 19-12 in January, has nine ranked wrestlers including two number ones on Scott Festejo (22-13, 6-0) at 133 and Billy Curling (18-10, 1-0) at 174.
Rider (10-8, 3-3) is ranked second in the CAA with seven rated wrestlers. The Broncs, who were edged by Hofstra, 17-15 in a January dual, also have two number ones in 20th-ranked Ramon Santiago (27-7, 6-0) at 165 and Ryan Wolfe (22-10, 5-1) at 184. Boston University (9-9, 2-4) has seven ranked wrestlers but only one number one in Nestor Taffur (31-7, 6-0) at 157. Binghamton (5-13, 3-3), like Hofstra, has five ranked wrestlers including two number ones in fourth-ranked Donnie Vinson (27-1, 6-0) at 149 and fifth-ranked Nate Schiedel (24-2, 6-0) at 197.
The Dragons of Drexel (8-12, 3-3) are sixth in the CAA rankings and have six wrestlers ranked including one top seed in 20th-ranked Frank Cimato (28-7, 6-0) at 141. George Mason (4-20, 0-6) is seventh in the CAA rankings with one wrestler ranked.
Twenty-nine of the 33 spots in each of the 10 weight classes for the NCAA Championships have been allocated to the qualifying tournaments with the CAA Championships receiving 19 spots. The Big Ten Conference received 74 spots, followed by the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) with 45, the Mid-American Conference (MAC) with 30, the ACC with 30, the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) with 23, the Pac-12 with 21, the Big 12 with 19, the CAA with 19, the West Regional with 16 and the Southern Conference with 13.
After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining 40 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 13. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers. Hofstra has qualified seven or more wrestlers for the NCAA Championships in 10 of the last 12 seasons including a school-best nine in 2005.