Hempstead, NY - Six Hofstra wrestlers, including three who received top 12 seeds, are ready to begin competition in the 2012 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The Championships begin Thursday and run through Saturday night (March 15-17).
The NCAA Championships begin on Thursday at 12 p.m. (ET) and can be viewed on ESPN3.com. On Friday, March 16, competition can be viewed on ESPNU as well as ESPN3.com. Saturday's morning session can be viewed on ESPNU as well as ESPN3.com while Saturday night's final will air live on ESPN at 7:30 ET.
Leading the three seeded Hofstra wrestlers is 184-pound senior Ben Clymer (Germansville, PA), who is seeded 11th. The two-time Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) champion (2011-12) is making his third NCAA championship appearance (2010-12) and is 29-6 on the season. Clymer will face Oregon State red-shirt sophomore Ty Vinson (20-15) in a first-round match on Thursday, March 15. Vinson placed third in the Pac-12 Championships. It will be the first meeting between the two wrestlers.
Senior P.J. Gillespie (Long Beach, NY) is seeded 12th in the 165-pound weight class. The 2011 All-American, who placed eighth in Philadelphia, is making his fourth NCAA Championship appearance. Gillespie is a two-time CAA champion, having taken home titles in 2009 at 149 pounds and in 2012 at 165 while placing second at 165 in both 2010 and 2011. He enters this year's national tournament with a 28-5 record. Gillespie will face Rutgers red-shirt junior Scott Winston (19-6) in a first-round match. Winston placed second in the EIWA Championships. The two wrestlers met in a dual match on January 27 with Gillespie winning, 2-0.
Junior Steve Bonanno (Wantagh, NY) is seeded 12th in the 125-pound weight class. Now a three-time NCAA Championship qualifier (2009, 11, 12), Bonanno is also a three-time CAA Championship finalist who captured his first conference title in 2012. He enters the 2012 NCAA Championships with a 27-6 record including nine major decisions and six tech falls. Bonanno will face Cal State Bakersfield red-shirt junior Tyler Iwamura (23-9) in a first-round match. Iwamura was one of the at-large selections at 125 pounds.
Red-shirt sophomore Luke Vaith (Hastings, MN), who is making his first NCAA Championship appearance this year, is unseeded at 141 pounds. The 2012 CAA champion enters the national tournament with a 22-8 record after winning his first conference title. He will face Duke freshman Tanner Hough (22-12) in a first round match. Hough qualified for nationals by placing fourth in the ACC Championships.
Red-shirt junior Justin Accordino (Wilkes-Barre, PA) is unseeded in the 149-pound weight class. He is making his second NCAA Championship appearance after competing at 141 pounds in 2009. Accordino, who qualified for nationals by finishing second in the CAA Championships this year, placed third in the CAA's in 2009. He is 23-11 on the season. Accordino will face 12th-seeded red-shirt junior Ivan Lopouchanski (16-6) from Purdue. Lopouchanski placed sixth in the Big 10 Championships.
Red-shirt sophomore Jamie Franco (Monroe, NY) is also unseeded and making his first trip to the NCAA Championships this year. Franco qualified for the national tournament with a second-place finish at 133 pounds in the CAA Championships. He heads to St. Louis with a 21-11 record. Franco will face 10th-seeded red-shirt freshman Christopher Dardanes (23-10) from Minnesota. Dardanes placed sixth in the Big 10 Championships.
Since 2000, Hofstra has sent six or more wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in 12 of the 13 national tournaments.