The 2023-24 NCAA Division I wrestling season kicked off on Nov. 1. The NCAA Division I calendar is filled with can't-miss events this season. Let's examine 10 can't-miss college wrestling events. Note: This does not include stand-alone dual meets.
WrangleMania kicks off two straight days of Division I competitions put on by Journeymen Wrestling held at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pa. Ten Division I wrestling programs will compete in WrangleMania, which consists of 10 dual meets on three mats. The field includes NC State, Arizona State, UNC, Purdue, Army West Point, Buffalo, Lock Haven, Bloomsburg, LIU and Sacred Heart. The final session, scheduled for 4 p.m. ET, will include NC State vs. Purdue and Arizona State vs. UNC.
After a day filled with dual meets, Journeymen Wrestling hosts an individual event called the Journeymen Collegiate Classic also held at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pa. Nine of the 10 teams from the previous day's WrangleMania are slated to compete in the Journeymen Collegiate Classic, along with some additional powerhouse programs like Penn State, Cornell and Lehigh. The event uses non-traditional bracketing. Each weight class consists of multiple pools with round-robin competition in an attempt to set up competitive matches between wrestlers who might not otherwise see each other during the regular season.
Eight teams will compete at the Armbar at the Armory, a one-day dual meet event held on Nov. 17 in Albany, N.Y. The field is comprised almost entirely of East Coast teams, with the exception of Northern Colorado, a program coached by New York native Troy Nickerson. The other participating teams are NC State, Virginia, Binghamton, Sacred Heart, Buffalo, Presbyterian and LIU.
The NWCA All-Star Classic has a rich history dating back to 1967. This college wrestling spectacle pits highly ranked wrestlers against each other in highly-anticipated matches that are not officially counted by the NCAA. The NWCA All-Star Classic took a four-year hiatus from 2018 to 2021 but returned last season with a loaded card in Austin, Texas, that featured six NCAA champions in the men's matches and six college national champions in the women's matches. This year's NWCA All-Star Classic will take place on the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving at Rec Hall on the campus of Penn State. This year's card is once again loaded with talent and includes six No. 1-ranked wrestlers in The Open Mat's NCAA Division I wrestling rankings. There are also four premier women's wrestling matches on the card.
The Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational is the nation's premier regular season college wrestling tournament. The two-day event in early December brings together many of the nation's top NCAA Division I wrestling programs and shakes up the NCAA Division I wrestling rankings every season. All 10 weight classes are filled with ranked wrestlers. For many Division I wrestling programs, it's the first major test against top-flight competition. This year's CKLV field of 35 teams includes five of the top 10 teams in The Open Mat NCAA Division I tournament rankings: Nebraska, Cornell, Michigan, Arizona State and Oklahoma State.
The inaugural Collegiate Wrestling Duals -- an event put on by Journeymen Wrestling -- was held last December in New Orleans, La. A dozen teams competed in pool play before determining placement matches. Penn State and Iowa State faced off in the championship match, with the Nittany Lions coming away with a 22-12 victory. The most stunning result of the dual meet and perhaps the entire collegiate wrestling season came at 184 pounds, where Iowa State's Marcus Coleman upset Penn State Aaron Brooks, a three-time NCAA champion. The event has moved from New Orleans to Nashville (Tenn.). It's a smaller field (eight teams) than last season but includes some powerhouse programs once again. The eight participating teams are Ohio State, NC State, Cornell, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Pitt, Lock Haven and Little Rock. Unlike last season, teams will not compete in placement matches. The matchups have already been determined. The opening day will conclude with a battle between Cornell and Iowa State, while the final day will close with a showdown between Ohio State and NC State.
The Soldier Salute is a second-year college wrestling individual tournament with men's and women's competitions. The event is hosted by the Iowa City Area Sports Commission and held at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa. The Soldier Salute recognizes and honors former, current and future service members. Iowa headlines a 10-team field that also includes Minnesota, North Carolina, Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, Wyoming, Columbia, Navy, VMI and Bellarmine.
The Midlands Championships is a college wrestling event hosted by Northwestern University with a rich history dating back to 1963. It was long considered the premier midseason college wrestling event. Many of the sport's biggest names have competed at the Midlands, including Dan Gable, Cael Sanderson, Jordan Burroughs and David Taylor. The event has lost some luster in recent years because of other midseason events being added to the calendar but it's still a marquee event. One of the unique features of the Midlands is that post-graduates can compete. Ranked teams slated to compete in this year's event include Arizona State, Penn, Illinois and Wisconsin.
The Southern Scuffle is among the most competitive events on the college wrestling calendar. It kicks off the new year. The Scuffle was held in Greensboro, N.C. from 2003-10 and moved to Chattanooga in 2012, where it has been held ever since. The field of teams changes from year to year, but always packs a punch. Penn State was a staple in the event for several years but has not competed in the event since 2019. Oklahoma and Indiana are among the top teams competing in the 2024 edition of the Scuffle.
The Virginia Duals is an event held in Hampton, Virginia, with a strong tradition. The 2024 edition will mark the 43rd anniversary of the event. The event has college and high school competitions. The college competition has two divisions, National College and American College. From 1989-1991, the National College Division served as the National Dual Championships. The event has attracted top teams like Penn State, Oklahoma State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Virginia Tech, among others, over the years. This year's field has representation from four different Division I wrestling conferences and includes Oklahoma, Wisconsin, South Dakota State, Navy, Virginia and Kent State.