ANDERSON, S.C. – Headlined by five home duals featuring one Division I opponent, Anderson University wrestling head coach Dock Kelly has announced the program’s 2014-15 schedule on Monday as expectations are high for the upcoming season.
Five Division I opponents are lined up for 2014-15, two fewer than last season’s schedule which featured seven schools that sent at least one wrestler to the 2014 NCAA Division I Championships. Also highlighting the slate are regional powers in Newberry and UNC Pembroke, which combined for five All-Americans at last year’s Division II National Championships.
The Trojans begin their grueling month of November at the Virginia Quad Meet on Nov. 2, which will feature duals with Division I opponents in UVa, VMI and George Mason. The trip to Charlottesville marks the sixth consecutive season Anderson will begin its slate at Virginia’s Memorial Gymnasium, as the Trojans fell short on posting a win at UVa a season ago, dropping to the Cavaliers, West Virginia and GMU.
“The Division I competition is a huge and vital piece of our puzzle to recruit,” Kelly said. “In order to attract quality student-athletes, you have to show them that you can wrestle Division I competition. You have to find the right balance on the schedule to get just enough fierce competition.”
Three days after its trip to Virginia, AU returns home for its earliest home match since the 2012-13 season when it welcomes St. Andrews to the Abney Athletic Center. The Trojans look to avenge a loss in Laurinburg a season ago to SAU after coming into the match winners of three of their last four over the Knights.
Anderson steps away from its dual schedule on Nov. 9 when it travels to the Pembroke Classic for an all-day tournament. A season ago, Kelly sent four Trojans to the tournament as Eric DeAngelis highlighted the squad with a technical fall.
Following the trip to Pembroke, Anderson returns to the Upstate and welcomes Spartanburg Methodist on Nov. 12. The Trojans and the Pioneers failed to meet during the 2013-14 season, snapping a long trend of consecutive matchups.
“The SMC match will be the first of two senior nights for us,” Kelly said. “We have a couple of guys graduating from the nursing program, so we want to send them off for the contributions they made for our program.”
On Nov. 16, Anderson heads south to square off against Division I power The Citadel. The Bulldogs finished 31st at the Division I NCAA Championships a season ago and placed two on the podium, headlined by Turtogtokh Luvsandorj’s sixth place finish at 165. Luvsandorj’s brother, Turbat, was part of AU’s 2014-15 recruiting class and will look to follow in his brother’s footsteps and reach the NCAA Championships.
Anderson closes out 2014 by visiting Newberry for the eighth annual Newberry Duals on Nov. 29. After a two-year hiatus from the Newberry Duals, the Trojans return seeking wins against top teams from across the country. Last year, teams from West Virginia, Georgia and Ohio visited Newberry for the duals, headlined by eventual national champion, Lake Erie.
The Trojans return to action on Jan. 5 when they head to Mount Vernon, Ga. for a tri-match with Brewton-Parker and first-year program, Huntingdon. Anderson and BPC were to square off last season, but inclement weather forced the dual to be cancelled. Huntingdon, based out of Montgomery, Ala., became the only four-year college in Alabama to sponsor a wrestling program in September 2013 and the first of two first-year programs the Trojans will face in 2014-15.
“I’m excited to be wrestling both first-year programs because we try to do what is right for the sport of wrestling,” Kelly said. “The only way to get those programs exposure is to wrestle those programs. Now we can start casting our recruiting net into New York and Alabama to say we wrestled against these teams and our future recruits will have the opportunity to wrestle people they know. Division II wrestling in the South is thriving and if we can help out another southern team, we’ll do it.”
The Virginia Duals await AU following the Georgia visit, as the Trojans return to the annual tournament on Jan. 9-10. Anderson finished seventh in the two-day tournament a season ago, posting a 30-22 victory over Central Florida in its final match.
“It’s rare at the Division II level to wrestle in front of a couple thousand people in an open arena,” Kelly added. “It kind of gives you a national feel and the tournament is a good measuring stick on where we are. There will be two teams from the region (UNC Pembroke and Limestone) that will be in that tournament this year, so if we go to that tournament to win it, which we will try to, we’ll have to go through two regional opponents.”
The Trojans conclude a long road stretch on Jan. 14 when they travel to Limestone for a regional contest. The Saints bested AU in Gaffney a season ago, despite Zane Newton and Stephen Wylie’s decisions at 157 and 165, respectively.
Back-to-back home duals await Anderson following the in-state battle, as Division I Davidson travels to the Upstate on Jan. 17 and King visits on Jan. 22. A year ago, Anderson earned a narrow 28-27 victory over the Tornado, as then-senior Cory Monteforte’s early takedown at 125 clinched the tiebreaker to give AU the victory.
Anderson closes the month of January at the Super Region 2 Duals on Jan. 30-31, which will be held in Tiffin, Ohio, the site of last year’s Midwest Super Regional. In last season’s regional duals, the Trojans came up empty in four matches, but scored a combined 52 points throughout the day.
“This is probably the most grueling trip on our schedule,” Kelly said. “Having to wrestle your best matches of the year to jockey for seeding for the regional tournament is tough. We do that because you have to put yourself in the best position at the regional tournament.”
As AU opens the month of February, the Trojans hit the road to Coker on Feb. 4 for an in-state matchup. Coker, which started its program last season, claimed a 28-17 win at the Abney Center a season ago despite major decisions from Monteforte and then-senior Ian Harper.
AU’s second tri-match of the year follows its visit to Coker, as the Trojans head to UNC Pembroke for the second time this season, as they will lock up with the Braves for the “Battle of the Belt” and first-year program LIU-Post. After the Braves retained the Belt a season ago, UNCP’s 2013-14 season was capped off by Daniel Ownbey’s win at the 141-pound title match at the NCAA Division II Championships, leading the Braves to an 11th place finish.
“(UNCP) has had the belt for several years now, but the Battle of the Belt is something we actively talk about whenever Pembroke is mentioned,” Kelly said. “Even though it will be a tri-meet, I anticipate they will have rowdy crowd like they always do. We have talked this rivalry up and this is very important to us.”
The Black and Gold will honors its seniors on Feb. 10 when Belmont Abbey comes to town, as Anderson seeks revenge against the Crusaders who nabbed a convincing victory over AU in Belmont, N.C. a season ago. BAC has won the previous two duals against Anderson after AU held a three-match winning streak over the Crusaders prior to the 2012-13 season.
“We want to establish dominance at home,” Kelly said. “The way to do that is wrestle at home early, then in the middle of the schedule and then wrestling late. Belmont Abbey makes it difficult for us at their place, so we want to try to do the same at our place. I expect us to go 5-0 at home this year and I’ll be shocked if you see anything else.”
After closing its home schedule, Anderson takes back-to-back trips to Newberry, beginning with the Newberry Open on Feb. 14. At last season’s Open, senior Dan Telhada, who wrestled unattached, placed second at 157, recording a pin, a major decision and a 9-4 decision to advance to the final. Three days later, the Trojans conclude their regular season with a dual against the Wolves on Feb. 17 at Eleazer Arena.
The Midwest Super Regional is set for Feb. 27-28 and will be hosted by UNC Pembroke. In last year’s tournament, Monteforte, Newton and Zak Hale advanced to the final day of competition as Hale was the lone Trojan to earn a berth into the NCAA Division II Championships. If Hale were to advance to the national tournament for the third straight year, the site will be at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.