Seven national top-10 team finishes
PELLA—Central College sophomore Daniel Page (Yelm, Wash., Tumwater HS) is at his best on a big stage and the stage doesn’t get any bigger than the NCAA Division III wrestling championships.
Page will compete for all-America honors Friday and Saturday in a 125-pound bracket which features eight of the nation’s top 10-ranked wrestlers, six returning NCAA participants and four returning all-Americans. The top eight wrestlers land a spot on the podium.
Schedule—Cornell College plays host to the tournament at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids. Action begins at 11 a.m. Friday and the doors will open at 9:30 a.m. Friday’s evening session of quarterfinal matches starts at 6 p.m. Championship semifinals start at 10 a.m. Saturday and the championship finals are at 7 p.m.
Pairings—Page is one of four wrestlers that must compete in a pigtail to earn a spot in the 16-man bracket. He faces Isaac Balsiger of Wis.-La Crosse. Balsiger, 23-2, knocked off the top seed at the Midwest Regional en route to a second-place finish.
“We don’t know anything about Balsiger but with the new regional alignment we know that the NCAA meet will bring in the best wrestlers from all over the country and every match will be competitive,” coach Eric Van Kley said.
The winner meets sophomore Sean Ambrocio of Concordia (Wis.). The fifth-ranked wrestler in the nation, Ambrocio is 29-5 and won the West Regional title. He was one match out of receiving all-America recognition at the 2012 championships.
Ambrocio edged Page in a 3-2 decision in the finals of the MSOE (Wis.) Invitational earlier this year, while Page tripped Ambrocio in a 7-4 decision at the MSOE tourney last year.
“We have to get by the first match but he’s definitely someone we can compete with,” Van Kley said.
The loser drops to the consolation bracket and will take on the loser of junior Delian Schneider (18-8) of Heidelberg (Ohio), and all-American senior Charlie Frankel (17-7) of Delaware Valley (Pa.).
But to Page, the matchups make no difference.
“Daniel is a terrific competitor and how the bracket falls doesn’t mean a whole lot to him,” Van Kley said.
Page power—Page punched his ticket to the championships with a runner-up finish at the Central Regional. Staying aggressive on offense, Page advanced to the regional final with an 11-0 major decision and a 4:10 pin. He’ll need to do the same at the NCAA meet.
“Daniel needs to get on offense in the first period,” Van Kley said. “It will lend well to success if he comes out aggressive and can get on the board right away.”
At 22-6, Page has competed with the best all year. He knocked off two ranked wrestlers from Coe and Wartburg during the regular season.
“Daniel is a big-match wrestler,” Van Kley said. “He embraces the challenge and has proven he can compete well with wrestlers on a national level. He brings his best effort in the biggest matches and we can expect the same thing this weekend.”
Page will take it one match at a time.
“We need to focus on wrestling our best in the first match, and we’ll take care of what’s next when it comes,” Van Kley said. “Daniel is excited and ready to enjoy the overall experience, but also very focused on the task at hand and ready to put his best effort out there.”
Dutch wrestlers have captured all-America honors 43 times and won four individual titles. Central’s last all-American was Kevin Owens in 2004.