January 11, 2012

College wrestlers returning to Dalton this month

The National Collegiate Wrestling Association will hold its 2012 National Dual Championships Jan. 27-28 at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center.

This is the second straight year the NCWA will hold this event in Dalton.

Among the 24-team field are five of the NCWA’s top six programs in its most recent coaches’ poll, and seven of the top 10 teams.

Mercer University, ranked No. 12 in the most recent poll, is one of the co-hosts, along with No. 10 Middle Tennessee State. Georgia Southern and East Tennessee State are also in the field.

The other top-10 schools scheduled to compete are No. 2 Grand Valley State, No. 3 Central Florida, No. 4 Liberty, No. 5 The Apprentice School, No. 7 Marion Military Institute and former NAIA power No. 9 Lindenwood University-St. Charles. Grand Valley State and Marion Military are past champions, winning the 2009 and 2010 titles, respectively. California Baptist won the 2011 championship.

Auburn, Bowling Green, Carroll, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Lindenwood-Belleville, MIT, Maryland-Baltimore County, North Florida, Southern Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Toledo and Wichita State round out the 24-team field.

Competition will begin at 2 p.m. on Jan. 27, with two rounds the first day, and pick up again at 9 a.m. the next day. The championships and place duals are slated for 6 p.m. on Jan. 28.

Following last year’s tournament success in Dalton, this year local businesses will adopt one of the teams and decorate their store fronts with that school’s mascot, colors or other images.

The NCWA’s free clinic for local youth wrestling organizations was a solid hit in 2011, and the association has scheduled a similar clinic this year with six to eight of the NCWA’s top coaches offering sessions.

There will also be a high school tournament running alongside the NCWA event. Two top teams from Alabama, two from Tennessee and two from Georgia are expected to compete, among others.

Of note at this year’s NCWA National Duals is each team’s participation in the NCWA’s “6:12 Project,” which will serve City of Refuge Dalton. Each team will contribute to the charity’s food pantry, and will send volunteers to the shelter to assist in serving lunch and dinner on Jan. 26.

This is the third time the NCWA has had its national championship events in Georgia. In addition to last year’s duals in Dalton, Mercer hosted the 2011 NCWA Championships last March in Macon.

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