Eight college national championship events slated for March
Posted by eric.gerold on Monday, February 19, 2024 4:15 PM UTC

College wrestling's championship season, also known as March Matness, is quickly approaching. Eight national championship events will take place over four weekends in March. Below are previews of each of the 2024 collegiate national championship events.

NAIA Men's Wrestling National Championships
Date: Feb. 29-March 2, 2024
Location: Park City, Kansas (Hartman Arena)

Grand View has been the dominant program in NAIA men's wrestling for more than a decade. The Vikings have won 11 national championships since 2012. Coach Nick Mitchell is cementing his legacy as one of the all-time great college wrestling coaches. The only program to stand in the way of Grand View winning every national team title since 2012: Life University. Life, led by former Grand View wrestler Omi Acosta, captured the team championship in 2021, halting Grand View's run of 10 national championships in a row. Grand View and Life are expected to battle it out for the championship this season in what many are expecting to be a very competitive team race. Grand View is ranked No. 1 in the tournament rankings, with Life sitting at No. 2. In the dual meet rankings, however, Life is ranked No. 1 after defeating Grand View to win the NWCA National Duals title in January. Both Grand View and Life have 12 ranked wrestlers. Grand View has four wrestlers ranked No. 1, while Life has three.

NJCAA Men's and Women's Wrestling Championships
Date: March 1-2, 2024
Location: Council Bluffs, Iowa (Mid-America Center)

Western Wyoming broke through last season to win its first NJCAA men's wrestling national championship. Coach Art Castillo's squad finished with eight All-Americans. The Mustangs are primed for another national championship run in 2024 with wrestlers ranked in the top 10 in every weight class, including six wrestlers ranked in the top three. Perennial power Clackamas will look to play the role of spoiler. Clackamas won four straight national titles until Western Wyoming snapped its streak last season. The Cougars are ranked No. 2 in the tournament rankings and have seven wrestlers ranked in the top 10, led by No. 1 Ane'e Vigil (125). Clackamas won the NJCAA Coaches Duals this season. 

On the women's side, top-ranked Indian Hills is the favorite to repeat as national champion. The Warriors won team titles at the 2021 and 2022 Junior College National Championships and last season claimed the team title at the inaugural NJCAA Women's Wrestling Invitational in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Indian Hills advanced five wrestlers to the national finals and crowned four national champions and 17 All-Americans. This year's Indian Hills women's team is led by Eliana Bommarito (235), the most dominant wrestler in the division. At the NJCAA Women's Wrestling Invitational, Bommarito picked up first-period pins in the quarterfinals and semifinals before winning by technical fall, 11-0, in the finals. She was named Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.

NCWWC (NCAA) National Championships 
Date: March 8-9
Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Alliant Energy PowerHouse Arena)

The National Collegiate Women's Wrestling Championships (NCWWC) is the annual national championship event for NCAA women's wrestling programs. One of the major storylines in the division this season has been the much-anticipated arrival of the University of Iowa women's wrestling program, coached by 2012 Olympic bronze 6medalist Clarissa Chun. Iowa became the first Power Five program to add a women's wrestling program. The Hawkeyes are loaded with talent up and down their lineup. Iowa has 11 wrestlers ranked in the five, led by pound-for-pound No. 1 Kylie Welker (170). Iowa won the team title at the 2024 NWCA National Duals, beating returning national champion North Central in the championship. Still, North Central remains the favorite to win the national title again next month. The Cardinals sit atop the tournament rankings and have 11 wrestlers ranked in the top three, including three wrestlers ranked No. 1: Kendra Ryan (109), Yele Aycock (136) and Brittyn Corbishley (191). Interestingly, North Central has the No. 1 and No. 2 wrestlers in two weight classes, 136 pounds and 191 pounds. King and McKendree have strong teams and should also figure into the mix.

NAIA Women's Wrestling National Championships
Date: March 8-9
Location: Jamestown, North Dakota (Harold Newman Arena)

Last season, Southern Oregon captured the national title at the inaugural NAIA Women's Wrestling National Championships. The Raiders, coached by Gabrielle Weyhrich, entered the national tournament ranked No. 3 but left no doubt they were the top team by winning the tournament by 20.5 points. Carolina Moreno (123), Emily Se (143) and Grace Kristoff (191) won individual national titles for Southern Oregon. Seven SOU wrestlers earned All-America honors. While Southern Oregon is positioned to challenge for another national title (currently ranked No. 5), Menlo and Life sit No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the tournament rankings. Menlo has a balanced team with 13 ranked wrestlers, led by top-ranked Tavia Heidelberg-Tillotson (191). 2024 NWCA National Duals champion Life has a dozen ranked wrestlers, with five ranked No. 2 in their respective weight classes. Grand View finished third at last year's national championships and currently sits at No. 3 in the tournament rankings.

NCWA National Championships
Date: March 14-16
Location: Bossier City, Louisiana (Brookshire Grocery Arena)

In 2023, the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) experienced a 14% growth in the men's division to 1,651 athletes while the women's division increased by 40% margin up to 290 wrestlers. The 2024 NCWA National Championships, which will be held in Bossier City, Louisiana, is expected to be the NCWA's largest national championship event ever, surpassing the 2023 championships held in Puerto Rico. Since 1997, 336 schools with programs and/or clubs have participated in the NCWA. 

NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships
Date: March 15-16
Location: Park City, Kansas (Hartman Arena)

Last season, Central Oklahoma placed nine of their tournament-high 10 national qualifiers in the top seven to help propel them to their 16th national championship. The Bronchos enter the postseason ranked No. 1 in the tournament rankings. Six UCO wrestlers are ranked in the top five of their respective weight classes, led by a pair of top-ranked upperweights, Dalton Abney (197) and Shawn Streck (285). The two UCO upperweights are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in The Open Mat's NCAA Division II pound-for-pound rankings. Lander University, coached by R.C. LaHaye, is expected to challenge for the national title. The Bearcats held the No. 1 ranking through December until UCO leapfrogged them with the return of national champion Streck to the lineup. Lander has a loaded lineup with all 10 starters ranked in the top 20, including a pair of No. 1s: James Joplin (125) and David Hunsberger (165). Division II wrestling power St. Cloud State has a strong team capable of contending. The Huskies have won five NCAA Division II titles, with the last one coming in 2021. All 10 SCSU starters are ranked in the top 20, led by No. 1 Nick Novak (157). Other teams expected to contend for team trophies at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships include West Liberty, McKendree, Nebraska-Kearney, Lake Erie, UW-Parkside, Pitt-Johnstown and Augustana, among others.

NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships
Date: March 15-16
Location: La Crosse, Wisconsin (La Crosse Center)

The NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships have been a 'Battle of the Burgs' for nearly 30 years. In one of the most incredible streaks in collegiate athletics, Wartburg and Augsburg have combined to win every NCAA Division III national team title since 1995. Since 2018, the two programs have alternated winning national championships, with Augsburg running away with lasty year's title by 34.5 points. The Auggies are ranked No. 1 heading into the postseason, with Wartburg No. 2. Wartburg defeated Augsburg to win the NWCA National Duals in January. The Auggies came back to avenge the loss later in the month. Augsburg has eight wrestlers ranked, while Wartburg has nine. Both programs have No. 1-ranked wrestlers and national champions. North Central and championship host UW-La Crosse will look to spoil the 'Battle of the Burgs' party. North Central has eight ranked wrestlers, including top-ranked lightweights Christian Guzman (125) and Robbie Precin (133). UW-La Crosse has four wrestlers ranked in the top five, including No. 1 Nolan Hertel (157), a returning national champion.

NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships
Date: March 21-23
Location: Kansas City, Missouri (T-Mobile Center)

The 2024 NCAA Division I national tournament is expected to be one of the most exciting in recent years, with several weight classes up for grabs. The 125-pound weight class has seen a revolving door of No. 1 ranked wrestlers. The 133-pound weight class has an undefeated freshman (Ryan Crookham of Lehigh) who defeated world champion and NCAA champion Vito Arujau of Cornell, not to mention top-ranked and undefeated Daton Fix of Oklahoma State. Fix, a world medalist in freestyle, has been dominant all season long. The 165-pound weight class has a pair of national champions in Keegan O'Toole of Missouri and David Carr of Iowa State, plus an undefeated freshman in Mitchell Mesenbrink of Penn State. Penn State's Carter Starocci (174) and Aaron Brooks (197) will both be chasing their fourth national titles. While the individual competition in Kansas City is full of intrigue, the only intrigue in the team competition is which team will finish runner-up to Penn State. The Nittany Lions have five No. 1-ranked wrestlers and are expected to run away with the team title. Among the teams expected to battle for second include Oklahoma State, Iowa State, North Carolina State, Michigan, Iowa, Virginia Tech, Missouri, Cornell and Nebraska.