Foley: Four matchups to watch at Northeast Duals

The 2012 Journeymen/ASICS Northeast Duals are back and this year's event will once again feature some of the NCAA's top teams squaring off in some of the nation's most compelling early season matchups. Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y., will host the event, organized as always by Journeymen head man Frank Popolizio, with first round dual meets beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Round 1: 9:30 a.m. ET
Round 2: 11:25 a.m. ET
Round 3: 1:40 p.m. ET
Round 4: 3:30 p.m. ET

As with every Journeymen event, Popolizio has filled the Journeymen Duals with marketable talent from top teams like No. 6 Illinois, No. 8 Cornell, No. 9 Central Michigan, and No. 11 Oklahoma. While watching only those teams might give you your fix, for a nice balance of talent and good storylines check out these four matchups.

Round 1 Matchup to Watch: Purdue vs. Army
In addition to rocking the black and gold singlets, these squads also share the high shine finish of successful and relatively new head coaches in Scott Hinkel (Purdue, fifth season) and Joe Heskett (Army, third season). Though Purdue has enjoyed more success in recent years, the Army program has produced talent in the last ten years, most notably NCAA finalists Maurice Worthy and Phillip Simpson as well as All-American Matt Kyler. Purdue created some positive momentum in 2012 with Brendan Atwood (197), Camden Eppert (125) and Ivan Lopuchanski (149) all qualifying for the NCAA tournament. Army's squad returns two-time NCAA qualifier Jordan Thome (133), as well as Daniel Young (149), who notched a win over returning All-American Cam Tessasri of Ohio State earlier this season. Look for these physical teams to wrestle with intensity and give the duals the type of competitive opening salvo it deserves.

Other Round 1 Matchups:
No. 6 Illinois vs. Princeton
No. 8 Cornell vs. Drexel
No. 22 Maryland vs. Columbia
No. 25 Hofstra vs. Bloomsburg

Round 2 Matchup to Watch: No. 8 Cornell vs. No. 9 Central Michigan
The Chippewas are coming off an early season upset of in-state rival Michigan and should be making big moves in Binghamton. Tom Borrelli's team will be facing one of the Cornell's youngest squads of the past ten years. The Big Red are led by returning NCAA champions Steve Bosak (184) and Kyle Dake (165), but has added several new wrestlers to their lineup this season. Rob Koll teams compete regardless of years in the lineup and though you can be assured Dake and Bosak won't be the only Cornell wrestlers to take the podium in March, it'll be interesting to see how the young guys respond to their first tough dual meet test of season.

Central Michigan is led by three-time All-American Ben Bennett (184) and two-time All-Americans Scotti Sentes (133) and Jarod Trice (285). To upend Cornell in the second round Borrelli's team will need to win where expected, find a mild upset, and get at least one set of bonus points. For example, if Bennett can outwrestle Bosak, it should signal a Central Michigan victory. If not, the match should down to the final two weight classes.

Other Round 2 Matchups:
No. 11 Oklahoma vs. No. 25 Hofstra
No. 22 Maryland vs. Purdue
No. 23 Binghamton vs. Army
Rutgers vs. Columbia
Princeton vs. Bloomsburg

Round 3 Matchup to Watch: No. 6 Illinois vs. No. 22 Maryland
Illinois is heading into the 2013 season after an impressive seventh-place NCAA finish in 2012. Coach Heffernan's squad returns All-Americans Jesse Delgado (125), B.J. Futrell (141), Conrad Polz (165), and Jordan Blanton (174), along with a few more NCAA qualifiers. The Maryland team they'll be facing isn't as stacked with proven veterans, but has more-than-serviceable stars peppering their lineup.

Jordan Blanton and Josh Asper are expected to meet again (Photo/Tony Rotundo,
The marquee matchup of the event should be 174 pounds where Jordan Blanton and Josh Asper face off for the first time since Asper's 3-1 overtime victory at the NWCA All-Star Classic in early November. Also, Tony Dallago and Christian Boley, NCAA qualifiers from 2012, are expected to meet at 197 pounds. Also be on the lookout for Maryland's Shane Gentry, who could give Illinois' Delgado a run at 125 pounds. For the Terps to have a chance they'll need to win all three of these contests and earn bonus points in at least one of the matches.

Even though the Illini are clear favorites to win, Kerry McCoy's Terps are sure to be ready to wrestle. And when a McCoy coached team is ready for competition, anything is possible.

Other Round 3 Matchups:
No. 8 Cornell vs. No. 11 Oklahoma
No. 9 Central Michigan vs. No. 25 Hofstra
No. 23 Binghamton vs. Rutgers
Purdue vs. Princeton
Columbia vs. Drexel

Round 4 Matchup to Watch: No. 9 Central Michigan vs. No. 11 Oklahoma
Mark Cody loves upstate New York, so it's no surprise that he'll bring his squad back to the region only two weeks after their visit to the Brockport Open. Three of Oklahoma's top wrestlers are redshirting -- Jarrod Patterson, Andrew Howe, and Travis Rutt -- but there is still plenty of talent on the Sooner squad. This year's team is led by All-Americans Kendric Maple (141) and Nick Lester (149).

If Oklahoma stays healthy throughout the day they should challenge Central Michigan, with the individual matchups and varying styles making for a highly entertaining, highly competitive dual meet.

Other Round 4 Matchups:
No. 6 Illinois vs. No. 23 Binghamton
No. 25 Hofstra vs. Purdue
Rutgers vs. Army
Drexel vs Bloomsburg


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