By Jim & Tony Nordland

     Defending NCAA team champion,
Iowa, will be led by returning NCAA titlist and OSW winner, junior Brent Metcalf (39-1) at 149 pounds. The Hawkeyes also point to NCAA runner-up, Joey Slaton (133) along with returning All-Americans, Charlie Falck (6th at 125), Jay Borschel (3rd at 174) and Phil Keddy who finished sixth at 184 pounds. Other challengers are Ohio State, Iowa State, Cornell, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Penn State, Nebraska, Illinois and Michigan.
     The field features five reigning champions, the aforementioned Metcalf, junior
Angel Escobedo (125) of Indiana, J Jaggers (141) of Ohio State, Jordan Leen (157) of Cornell and Buckeye junior Mike Pucillo at 184 pounds. Northwestern's  three-time All-American Jake Herbert went unbeaten (32-0) en route to the 184-pound NCAA championship in 2007 and last year took an Olympic redshirt. Other NCAA champions include Paul Donahue (a 2007 winner from Nebraska, who was dismissed for discipinary reasons) is now at Edinboro, and will be eligible the second semester, probably at 125 pounds; teammate Gregor Gillespie claim the NCAA crown in 2007 at 149 and will move up to 157 pounds this season. Minnesota's Dustin Schlatter won his NCAA title in 2006 and has added  NCAA medals in the past two tournaments, he will seek redemption in his final season at either 149/157, or possibly take a redshirt year.
     Six NCAA finalists also return to action for the 2008-2009 campaign, the aforementioned Slaton, junior Jayson Ness (Minnesota), now at 133, junior Bubba Jenkins (Penn State) in the tough 149-pound class, Illinois senior Mike Poeta (157), Steve Luke (Michigan) at 174 and Iowa State's Jake Varner, a two-time runner-up, now a junior at 197 pounds.
New York State has strong representation in NCAA competition this season, as two-time All-American Troy Nickerson (Chenango Forks), now a a junior with a 60-5 career mark, returns after a medical redshirt, he will probably be at 125 pounds for fourth-ranked Cornell University. Hofstra junior Lou Ruggirello (Valley Central) was one match away from All-American honors but captured the Manny Gorrarian Award for Most Falls and finished the season with a 38-7 mark and will be at 133 pounds. Two-time All-American J.P. O'Connor (Oxford Academy) now at Harvard has move up to 157 and could face former NCAA champion Gregor Gillespie (Webster-Schroeder) of Edinboro during the season. Another 157-pounder from the Empire State is tough Jonny Bonilla-Bowman (East Ramapo), a junior from Hofstra who missed an NCAA medal by one match. All-American Alton Lucas (West Babylon), also from Hofstra finished eighth at 174 pounds and hopes to reach the finals in his senior campaign. Other New Yorkers to watch are; Jasen Borschoff (Pittsford), a junior from American University at 125, Dave Marble (Harpursville) of Bucknell at 133, Harvard's Corey Jantzen (SW- River), at 141, and some top 149-pounders; Trevor Chinn (Canandaigua) of Lehigh and Torsten Gillespie (younger brother of Gregor), also at American, along with Hofstra's Ryan Patrovich (Islip) at 165 and Josh Patterson (Wayne) of Binghamton at 184 pounds.

Hofstra, now ranked 16th in the nation, will travel to face 5th-ranked Missouri. The Pride hosts SUNY-Binghamton (Dec. 12th), NCarolina State (Jan. 11th), Ohio State, and the return of former coach Tom Ryan on January 25th, and Cornell on February 8th. When the Big Red come in, possible match of former NYS champions could see Nickerson vs Ruggirello at 133 pounds. Eight NCAA bronze medalists are eligible for the 2008-2009 season. A look back at the 2005 Asics All-American HS team had a myriad of blue chippers that have  emerged as the top NCAA wrestlers of today. First team selections include Olympic champion Henry Cejudo (Colorado Springs, CO) at 119, Troy Nickerson (125), Adam Frey (Blair Academy, NJ), at 130, Angel Esobedo (Griffith HS, Indiana) at 135, Cyler Sanderson (Wasatch HS, UT) at 140, Dustin Schlatter (Perry HS, OH) and Mike Pucillo (Walsh Jesuit HS, OH) at 189 pounds. Interesting to note some the Second Team selections; Mike Grey (Delbarton HS, NJ) at 119, Jayson Ness (Kennedy HS, MN) at 125, Brent Metcalf (Davison HS, MI) at 145 and Jake Varner (Bakersfield HS, CA) at 189. A look at some Third Team picks, Gregor Gillespie (145), Alton Lucas (West Babylon HS, NY), Phillip Keddy (Uintah HS, UT) and Max Askren (Arrowhead HS, WI) at 189 pounds. Of that elite group, there has been one Olympic gold medalist and five NCAA champions, along with numerous NCAA place-winners.
Brent Metcalf led Iowa to the team title last year by winning the 149 pound championship and capturing the Outstanding Wrestler Award.
Edinboro's Gregor Gillespie.
Hoftsra's Lou Ruggirello
Hofstra's Alton Lucas (left) with Cornell's Troy Nickerson.