After a three-year hiatus, the University of Iowa will again be represented at the annual NWCA All-Star Classic as reigning 157-pound Division I champion Derek St. John has accepted an invitation to compete on November 2 at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
St. John will face Boston University senior Nestor Taffur as the final weight was released for the 10-match main event.
St. John will be Iowa's 74th all-time participant in the event, while Taffur is only the second Terrier wrestler to compete in the main event. The last time Boston U. coach Carl Adams had a wrestler compete came back in the 1995 season, when Earl Walker wrestled Seton Hall's Joe Burke at 158 pounds. Adams will also serve as one of the honorary coaches for the event.
St. John's inclusion brings the total number of past NCAA champions to seven as Logan Stieber (Ohio State), Kendric Maple (Oklahoma), Andrew Howe (Oklahoma), David Taylor (Penn State), Ed Ruth (Penn State) and Tony Nelson (Minnesota) have all accepted invitation to the showcase event.
St. John becomes the first Hawkeye to compete since Dan Dennis defeated Maryland's Steve Bell 9-8 at 133 pounds at the 2009 All-Star Classic held in Fullerton, Calif.
Taffur, a New Jersey native, was 36-9 last season at 157 pounds and went 2-2 at the NCAA Division I Championships. He was the Colonial Athletic Association champion at 157 pounds and earned eight falls on the year. He was ranked by Amateur Wrestling News periodically last season. He comes into the event with a 77-40 career record. He wrestled at 149 pounds as a freshman and sophomore before redshirting during the 2011-12 season.
Last spring, Taffur finished fifth at the ASICS University Freestyle Nationals in Akron, Ohio at 74 kilos.
While Taffur hasn't yet earned NCAA All-American status, his inclusion in the All-Star Classic is important for Boston University's visibility as the program struggles to stay alive. Last spring, the BU administration announced the 2013-14 season would be the last for Terrier wrestling.
St. John has been one of the most consistent wrestlers in the Iowa lineup the past three seasons. Already a three-time All-American, the Iowa native defeated Northwestern's Jason Welch 3-2 in the finals of the 2013 NCAA Division I championships at 157 pounds. St. John went 31-2 and comes in with a career record of 76-11.
As a sophomore, St. John reached his first NCAA final, falling to eventual four-time Division I champion Kyle Dake in the finals. St. John was also the Big Ten champion as a junior
As a redshirt freshman, St. John finished second at the Big Ten championships and fourth at the NCAA Division I championships.
The completed main event draw features 18 All-Americans with a combined 10 NCAA Division I titles and 32 medals. Three two-time NCAA champions (Logan Stieber, Ohio State; Ed Ruth, Penn State; Tony Nelson, Minnesota) and 15 total finals appearances.
125: Nahshon Garrett, So. (Cornell) vs. Jarrod Patterson, Sr. (Oklahoma)
133: A.J. Schopp, Jr. (Edinboro) vs. Mason Beckman, So. (Lehigh)
141: Tony Ramos, Sr. (Iowa) vs. Devin Carter, Jr. (Virginia Tech)
149: Logan Stieber, Jr. (Ohio State) vs. Kendric Maple, Sr. (Oklahoma)
157: Derek St. John, Sr. (Iowa) vs. Nestor Taffur, Sr. (Boston U.)
165: Michael Moreno, Jr. (Iowa State) vs. David Taylor, Sr. (Penn State)
174: Andrew Howe, Sr. (Oklahoma) vs. Matt Brown, Jr. (Penn State)
184: Jimmy Sheptock, Sr. (Maryland) vs. Ed Ruth, Sr. (Penn State)
197: Taylor Meeks, Jr. (Oregon State) vs. Scott Schiller, Jr. (Minnesota)
285: Mike McMullan, Jr. (Northwestern) vs. Tony Nelson, Sr. (Minnesota)
The All-Star Classic, presented by the Marine Corps, will take place on Nov. 2 at 7:15 p.m. on the campus of George Mason University. To purchase tickets to the event, visit the Ticketmaster website. For more information on the All-Star Classic, visit the NWCA website and follow the NWCA on Facebook and Twitter.
About the NWCA
Founded in 1928, the NWCA strives to promote and provide leadership for the advancement of amateur wrestling, primarily at the scholastic and collegiate levels. The association is headquartered in Manheim Pa. The three core competencies are coaching development, student-wrestler welfare, and promotion/advocacy. The NWCA has 10,000 members and educational programs that serve 230,000 students each year.
About George Mason University (GMU)
George Mason University was established in 1957 and obtained university status in 1972. Located in Fairfax Va., GMU has 32,000 students. The GMU wrestling program has a rich tradition as evidenced by having advanced 41 different wrestlers to the NCAA Division I Championships, two wrestlers achieved All American status one time and one wrestler achieved All American status two times. The head coach is Joe Russell and he is in his 2nd year.
About Wrestlers in Business Network (WIBN)
The WIBN-Washington DC Chapter consists of prominent business leaders in the Washington DC metropolitan region. The organization was originally formed in September 2012 under the name of the Greater Washington Wrestlers in Business Network and more recently merged with the Wrestlers in Business Network (headquartered in Cleveland OH) to form a national Wrestlers in Business Network. The purpose of this organization is to support amateur wrestling activities in major cities across America.