Cyclones Heading to Nationals

It's March Madness for college wrestling as well as basketball. Today, five Cyclones are heading to Oklahoma City to take part in the NCAA Wrestling Championships. Read a preview here.

Bobby Douglas and his five wrestlers who qualified for the NCAA Wrestling Championships fly down to Oklahoma City today with a quality, not quantity mind set.


"We feel really excited! We hoped to get more guys to the tournament than five, but with our situation it's quality not quantity. All five of us should be All-Americans and could be national champions if we wrestle to our potential," said Trent Paulson before practice last week.


Trent Paulson


Trent Paulson earned a #1 seed in this week's national tournament and hopes to capitalize on that.


"This just helps me sit better in the tournament. Knowing that I am the #1 seed means that coaches or people are believing in me, and according to the seedings, I'm that #1 person that people don't want to wrestle."


Iowa State received #1 seeds for top-ranked wrestlers Nate Gallick and Trent Paulson, a 7th seed for Kurt Backes, 8th for Travis Paulson, and Jesse Sundell has the unenviable task of wrestling the #1 seed in his first match on Thursday.


Nate Gallick


Undefeated Big 12 Champion Nate Gallick is the #1 seed but may not have an easy path to an anticipated match up with 2nd seed Teyon Ware of Oklahoma.


Gallick will have to get through a tough Joshua Churella of Michigan or Andy Simmons of Michigan State in the semis just to have another shot at an NCAA Championship. Gallick faced Simmons in the championship match of the Midlands Championships in December with Gallick winning a tight 5-3 decision in double overtime.


"I think the biggest thing is making sure that I'm healthy and I'm at least 90 to100% of my strength and capabilities conditioning wise. I'm wrestling to win. I'm training to win the NCAAs," said Gallick.


Kurt Backes


Kurt Backes seems to have a tough draw with the 7th seed but, in all reality, the 184 pound weight class is up for the taking and Backes is ready to snatch it.


"I plan on being in the finals. You have to stay a little selfish (this time of the year) and take care of your job and do what you are supposed to do."


If Backes can get by Alex Clemsen of Edinboro in the first round, he will look for some revenge in the second round from an earlier loss to C.B. Dolloway of Arizona State. Dolloway defeated Backes by fall at only the 1:06 mark. 


Backes can beat Dolloway but the road doesn't get any easier after that match. Backes would have to face the #2 seed Roger Kish of Minnesota in the third round. Kish and Backes have split two close matches this year.  


Travis Paulson


Travis Paulson took third place at the Big 12 Championships and that may have been good enough to place third at the NCAAs. The 165 pound weight class is one of the toughest classes this year and Travis is going to have to wrestle his very best in order to have a shot at a national championship.


After the first round Travis is going to be in a dog fight for the rest of the tournament. Starting in the second round, Travis will have to wrestle 9th seeded Michael Poeta of Illinois. Travis lost a close 5-4 decision to Poeta at the National Duals earlier this season.


In the third round Travis would have to face the #1 seed Ryan Churella of Michigan and if he could scratch his way past him, Travis would probably face 5th seed Matt Pell of Missouri. Pell has been a tough match up for Travis as Pell has had the best of Travis twice this year.


Travis could survive this side of the bracket but names like Matt Nagel of Minnesota and Johnny Hendricks of Oklahoma State would be there to meet him in the finals.


Jesse Sundell


Jesse Sundell has a major task ahead of him on the first day of the tournament. He must beat the #1 seed Shawn Bunch of Edinboro in order to stay in championship contention. If Sundell can fight past Bunch he will probably have to face Tyler McCormick of Missouri, who Sundell has lost to three times this season, in the second round.


If there is any 500 wrestler who could fight through this extremely tough start and make it to the medal stand, Jesse Sundell is that wrestler. Sundell already proved that he has this type of capability with an amazing second-place run at the Midlands Championships.


Sundell has the chance to make a mark in his final NCAA Tournament and hopefully he will do just that.


In order for the team to do well, the Cyclones need to at least take home two individual champions, have Backes place in the top three, and Travis Paulson place in the top five. Sundell has the potential to be an All-American, but his placing in the bracket is not favorable.


A top three finish is a legitimate goal for the 2006 NCAA Wrestling Championships and this team can achieve it.

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