Caldwell Earns Berth on USA World Team

In a storied history that includes five national champions, 26 All-Americans and too many conference champions to mention, NC State wrestling has never had a member of the U.S. National team. Until now, that is.

Rising senior Darrion Caldwell, the defending NCAA champion at 149 pounds, earned a spot on the U.S. World National team with a third-place finish in the 66 kg/145.5 pound weight class at the U.S. World Team Trials, held in Council Bluffs, Iowa, this past weekend. The World Team will compete in September's World Championships in Herning, Denmark.

"I don't know if Darrion will attend the World Championships, but I'm sure they'll want to take him along," said NC State head coach Carter Jordan, who accompanied Caldwell to the trials. "He had an incredible weekend, and to make the national team while he's still in college is remarkable. A lot of people here think he's got a good chance to make the Olympic team in 2012, which would be amazing. He'll be 24 years old then, which would be really young to make that team."

Caldwell defeated 2008 Olympian Doug Schwab in his first match of the qualifying Challenge Tournament. The match vs. Schwab was Caldwell's first freestyle bout in three years, and send the Wolfpack's two-time All-American into the semifinals of the Challenge Tournament.

"[Schwab]'s last year's Olympian and I just wanted to go out there and see where I was and see if I can compete with the best," Caldwell told "The way I'm wrestling right now, I feel like I'm really confident."

Caldwell defeated Arizona State's Brian Stith in the semifinals before advancing to the finals and dropping a close match to Jared Frayer, a former two-time All-American at Oklahoma and an experienced, savvy 30-year-old with a wealth of experience in the international field.

By winning the Challenge Tournament, Frayer advanced to the championship bout againstU.S. Nationals champion Trent Paulson, who easily defeated Frayer to win the trials championship. Caldwell's second-place finish in the Challenge Tournament equated to a third-plae finish and a spot on the U.S. National team.

"Darrion was just incredible against some of the best competition in the world and people noticed," Jordan said. "Every time I would introduce him to someone here, someone from USA Wrestling, they would say to him, ‘Hey, you're the future of the sport. You're going to win a world championship.' It was amazing the respect he received out here. He's just on an incredible run right now."

Caldwell won the NCAA championship at 149 pounds and was named Most Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA Championships in March. He finished his season with a 38-1 overall record, the one loss coming on an injury default. His career mark stands at 94-12 with 50 pins.

Caldwell's name already figures prominently in the NC State wrestling record book, and figures to be the dominant name there before his career is over. Owner of two of the school's six longest winning streaks, Caldwell is tied for third in school history in career victories, 28 behind all-time leader Sylvester Terkay, who went 122-14 from 1990-93.

Caldwell owns the school record for victories by a sophomore with 36 a year ago, and is tied for the most wins by a junior with Brian Jackson, who won 38 in 1989. In winning 38 matches en route to the national championship this past year, Caldwell won 29 consecutive matches, fourth longest streak in school history, before losing on an injury default.

Caldwell also has a chance to set the school record for pins. With 50, he ranks third in school history behind Terkay (64) and Tab Thacker (54 from 1981-84). He owns the third and fourth-spots on the single-season list for pins with 23 a year ago and 17 this season. His .887 carrer winning percentage is third in school annals, just behind Terkay (.897) Thacker (.889).

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