Wrestling Announces 2013-14 SlateAugust 20, 2013
ANDERSON, S.C. – Featuring three home duals this season, Anderson University wrestling head coach Dock Kelly has announced his 2013-14 schedule that will be highlighted by five Division I duals and the “Battle of the Belt” returning to the Upstate.
The Trojans will seek better results from a season ago, finishing the year with a 4-18 dual record. Throughout the season, AU was led by then-freshman Zak Hale who finished the season with a 22-7 record and was the lone Anderson wrestler to advance to the NCAA Division II Championships in Birmingham, Ala. Hale posted a 1-2 at the NCAA Tournament after taking third-place at the Super Region I Championships to qualify for the national tournament.
With not having a home dual scheduled until December, the Trojans begin the season with a string of six road contests, and two neutral site duals sandwiched within the stretch. This year’s schedule gets off to a fast start with a trip to Charlottesville, Va. to face off with Division I and ACC power, Virginia, on Nov. 2. The Cavaliers are coming off a 21st place finish at the 2013 NCAA Division I Championships while placing two as All-Americans. One of the two All-Americans returns for the 2013-14 season, as redshirt junior Nick Sulzer, who placed eighth in 165 pounds, looks to lead UVa throughout the season.
While in Charlottesville, the Trojans will also go against SoCon opponent, Gardner-Webb.
“I tell my guys when I recruit them that ‘if they are ever going to beat the best, they’re going to have to wrestle the best,’” Kelly said. “If you beat one of the Virginia or Gardner-Webb guys, it instantly puts you on the map. We’re going to give it our all there.”
AU continues its road stretch with a match at Truett-McConnell on Nov. 6. Last season, the Trojans picked up a 30-18 victory over the Bears, highlighted by four AU pins. From Georgia, AU then heads to the UNC Pembroke Open slated for Nov. 9.
Anderson will not have much time to rest, as the following day, the Trojans head to Boone, N.C. for duals with Appalachian State and Cumberland University on Nov. 10. The Mountaineers bested AU in last year’s contest, while the Trojans meet Cumberland for the first time since the 2010-11 season, where they faced a 24-14 loss at the Newberry Duals.
“I love the atmosphere at Appalachian,” Kelly said. “This gives our guys an early test of how to compete in an adverse gymnasium. This match will help grab your ability to focus in and wrestle when there are distractions around. If our guys are going to be champions, we have to learn how to wrestle through distractions.”
The schedule does not ease up, as two of the next three duals are against Division I opponents. The road test begins by the beach, as the Trojans face The Citadel in Charleston on Nov. 16. The Bulldogs conducted one of their best seasons in school history a season ago, sending three to the NCAA Tournament and two earning All-Americans.
Kelly’s team gets away from Division I opponents with a trip to St. Anderws on Nov. 20. Anderson came away with a 29-19 win over the Knights a year ago, matching the four-pin performance against TMC.
The grueling road stretch comes to end on Nov. 24, as AU heads to its fourth SoCon opponent in Davidson for a 1 p.m. start. The Wildcats took a 39-12 victory in Anderson a season ago, as the Wildcats will be led by SoCon champion, Anthony Elias at 133 pounds, setting up a projected Hale and Elias matchup as one of the most anticipated bouts of the season.
“With the way this schedule lays out, it feels like we’re in the Southern Conference and we wrestle a conference schedule in November,” Kelly said. “I think wrestling Division I competition gives us the experience and allows us to make some adjustments early in the season.”
After November comes to a close, the Trojans open their home schedule trying to get revenge against Spartanburg Methodist on Dec. 3, a team that knocked off the Trojans a year ago.
“This match is two days before exams start, so typically guys’ minds are not on wrestling,” Kelly said. “We like to give our home crowd a taste of what AU wrestling is going to be like and this match will be the first peak for our guys.”
Before closing 2013, AU will make a trip to the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships in Evanston, Ill. on Dec. 29-30, hosted by Big Ten power, Northwestern. This year’s tournament will be the 51st edition of the annual event, as Kelly looks to send multiple wrestlers to the annual event.
“The Midlands is like having an NCAA Tournament in December,” Kelly said. “This tournament will tell you where you are and if you’re not careful it will tell you where you’re not going to go. We’re hoping for a good representation from our guys.”
With the trip to The Prairie State bringing in the New Year, it also begins a stint of five straight road trips. AU opens 2014 with a visit to the Virginia Duals in Hampton, Va. on Jan. 10-11. Anderson went 1-2 in last season’s Virginia Duals, highlighted by a 28-25 victory over the Apprentice School.
The Trojans begin region play with back-to-back road meetings with Belmont Abbey (Jan. 15) and King (Jan. 18). BAC squeaked out a narrow 23-22 tiebreaking victory over the Trojans last season at the Abney Athletic Center, the first time Kelly’s squad was on the negative end of the new tiebreaking rule since being installed before the 2011-12 season.
A huge test for AU comes on Jan. 24 for the two-day Super Region 2 Duals, hosted by Newberry. The event will bring the top teams from the Midwest and southeast to The Palmetto State, as the Trojans went 1-4 in last year’s tournament.
“The advantage for us is that Newberry is two hours down the road and Midwest teams will have to travel eight-plus hours,” Kelly said. “Wrestling the best from Midwest is critical because winning a match against those teams may determine the difference between a three seed or a six seed.”
With the grueling Region Duals complete, the Trojans host their final two home duals of the season, welcoming Coker to the Upstate for the first time, as the Cobras begin their inaugural season in 2013-14. After the dual with Coker, the Trojans close their home schedule with the “Battle for the Belt” against UNC Pembroke. AU was only able to scrap together 10 points against the Braves a season ago, as UNCP retained the belt for the seventh-straight year.
The regular season comes to a close with consecutive away duals with Brewton-Parker on Feb. 12 and a highly anticipated contest with Newberry on Feb. 18. The Wolves are coming off an impressive 19-2 record from a season ago, as they finished sixth at last season’s NCAA Championships.
With the regular season coming to a close, the regional qualifier is scheduled for Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at the Heminger Center in Tiffin, Ohio. The top four placers in each weight class will advance to the NCAA Division II Championships in Cleveland, Ohio.