SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly will send a small group of wrestlers to compete in the 49th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on Thursday and Friday at Welsh-Ryan Arena on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
Head coach Brendan Buckley will take with him six wrestlers, including Ryan Smith at 197 pounds and Atticus Disney (pictured at right) at 285 pounds, but will keep a pair of No. 3 nationally ranked wrestlers, Boris Novachkov, ranked No. 3 at 141 pounds by WIN Magazine, Amateur Wrestling News and WrestlingReport.com, and Ryan DesRoches, the No. 3-ranked wrestler at 174 pounds by WIN Magazine, InterMat and WrestlingReport.com, home for the rest of the holidays.
Also representing Cal Poly in the prestigious two-day tournament which annually attracts many of the nation's top-25 teams are Jake Tanenbaum (6-5) at 133 pounds, Damien Arredondo (1-2) at 149, Dominic Kastl (4-1) at 165 and Kelan Bragg (4-5) at 285.
Competition will be held in two sessions each day, Thursday's matches get underway at 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Central Time. Semifinals will be conducted Friday at noon with the championship finals (first, third and fifth places) set to begin at 7:20 p.m. Central Time.
More than 40 Division I, II and III teams will send wrestlers. This year's event includes 17 teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the latest NWCA/USA Today Division I Coaches Poll. Additionally, seven teams that placed in the top 10 at the 2010 Midlands Championships return for the 2011 edition.
The field includes No. 1 Iowa, No. 7 Illinois, No. 10 Lehigh, No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 13 Maryland, No. 14 Virginia Tech, No. 16 Rutgers, No. 17 Northwestern, No. 19 Central Michigan, No. 22 Penn and No. 24 American.
Both Novachkov and DesRoches earned titles at the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 18 and surpassed the century mark in career wins. Novachkov is now 17-2 on the year and 104-21 in his Mustang career while DesRoches sports a spotless 17-0 record this season and 100-31 career mark.
Cal Poly is receiving votes in the NWCA poll and is ranked No. 15 in tournament power index rankings by both WIN Magazine and WrestlingReport.com. The Mustangs, tied for No. 9 in this week's National Wrestling Media Association Division I Mid-Major Poll, placed 11th in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and sixth in the Reno Tournament of Champions.
A year ago, Cal Poly finished 11th in the Midlands and Novachkov captured the 141-pound title with two decisions, a major decision, a technical fall and a medical forfeit.
Earlier this month, DesRoches earned the 174-pound title in the Las Vegas Invitational while Novachkov and 285-pounder Atticus Disney both placed fifth in their weight classes. At the Reno Tournament of Champions, Novachkov and DesRoches were champions and 197-pounder Ryan Smith placed fourth.
DesRoches is a two-time NCAA qualifier and twice has placed third in the Pac-12 finals. Novachkov is a two-time NCAA All-American (second in 2011, seventh in 2010), two-time Pac-12 champion and three-time NCAA qualifier. He placed third in the Pac-12 finals as a freshman in 2008.
Smith (9-6) is ranked No. 24 by WrestlingReport.com this week while Disney (6-5) sports a No. 17 ranking by InterMat and No. 18 by both WIN Magazine and WrestlingReport.com.
Following the Midlands Championships, Cal Poly returns home for its only four dual meets inside Mott Gym, beginning Friday, Jan. 6, against American at 7 p.m. The Mustangs also host Boise State on Sunday, Jan. 8, at 1 p.m., followed by Stanford on Jan. 15 and Arizona State on Jan. 27.