The 2021 NCAA Wrestling Championships are slated to get underway Thursday, March 18 at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinal's expected travel party grew on Tuesday with the addition of Real Woods (141) and Requir Van der Merwe (157) as at-large selections. Woods and Van der Merwe join Jackson DiSario (125), Jaden Abas (149), Shane Griffith (165), Nick Stemmet (197), and Nathan Traxler (Hwt), bringing the number of Cardinal NCAA Qualifiers to seven--the second most in program history. Below is a brief synopsis of our NCAA qualifiers and their first-round opponents, listed in weight class order.
True sophomore Jackson DiSario qualified for his second NCAA Championships, having earned a spot at the 2020 event prior to its cancellation. As the #26 seed, he will start things off against #7 Taylor Lamont of Utah Valley. Lamont bested DiSario 12-8 in a dual earlier this season, so DiSario will be looking to flip the outcome in tournament format.
Redshirt sophomore Real Woods also qualified for his second NCAA Championships, having been the #3 seed a year ago. The 2020 NWCA All-American will start from the #21 position against a familiar foe in #12 Grant Willits of Oregon State. Willits defeated Woods for the 141-pound title at the recently contested Pac-12 Championships, so this is another matchup where the Cardinal will be looking for revenge.
Fresh off his Pac-12 title, redshirt freshman Jaden Abas earned the #8 seed heading into his first NCAA Championships. Abas's first-round opponent will be Yahya Thomas of Northwestern. Abas and Thomas have yet to cross paths, due in part because Thomas spent the first part of his career at 141 lbs.
Fifth year senior captain Requir Van der Merwe will partake in his second NCAA Championships, having also competed in the 2019 event. Van der Merwe will start this year's event from the #17 position against Virginia's #16 Justin McCoy. This being Van der Merwe's first season up at 157 lbs, he has not previously competed against McCoy in college.
Redshirt sophomore Shane Griffith also qualified for his second NCAA Championships, having earned the #3 seed last year. The 2020 Hodge Trophy finalist and NWCA All-American received the #8 seed for his shortened season body of work. Griffith will get things underway against #25 Jake Tucker of Michigan State. Griffith and Tucker have yet to cross paths, as Tucker has spent most of his collegiate career at 157 lbs.
True freshman Nick Stemmet will be entering his first NCAA Championships as the #27 seed. His first round match will be against the #6 seed Nino Bonaccorsi of Pittsburgh. Stemmet and Bonaccorsi have had no prior match-ups.
Fifth year senior captain Nathan Traxler will begin his fourth NCAA Championships from the #26 position in the bracket. The 2020 NWCA All-American at 197 lbs will be making his heavyweight debut against #7 Ethan Laird of Rider. Traxler was able to find success against Laird in past meetings at 197 lbs, so he'll look to replicate those results at heavyweight.
ESPN is expected to carry every match of the 2021 NCAA Championships across their platforms. The finals are scheduled to take place in the evening on Saturday, March 20. A press release on the initial brackets can be found here.
36 Sports Strong Support
36 Sports Strong collected 1,300+ alumni signatures for a letter that is being sent to the Stanford University Board of Trustees this week. Included among those signatures are:
Senator Cory Booker
Ohio State University President Kristina Johnson
NBA veteran Josh Childress
Malin Burnham (as in Burnham Pavilion)
Tony Joseph, who endowed the head basketball coaching position
Tennis coach Dick Gould
How You Can Help
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