Sports, Wrestling

Wrestlers prepare for Miller’s final season, look for second straight NCAA title

[pb_vidembed title=”SportsKnight: 2012-13 Wartburg Wrestling Preview” caption=”” url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nZzwJer_nQ” type=”yt” w=”480″ h=”385″]

It is not a typical year for the defending NCAA Division III champion Wartburg wrestling team.

Legendary co-head coach Jim Miller announced in September that he will retire at the end of the year. Yet co-head coach Eric Keller said the team is treating it as just another season.

“The main goal for us as coaches is to approach the season with our team as if it’s business as usual,” Keller said.

The preseason No. 1 ranked Knights return seven of ten starters from last year’s squad, including three of six conference champions and three of four national champions.

Juniors Kenny Anderson (125) and Landon Williams (165) and senior Kodie Silvestri (149) return as national champions.

“We’ve had plenty of returning national champs but not three in one year like that. But none of that matters. Everything that we did last year, none of that is gonna matter going into this year,” Keller said.

Byron Tate (197) graduated after winning three national championships in a row.

“You don’t replace a Byron Tate,” Keller said.

“And I say that not just performance wise but I say that also as far as what that guy brought to the table,” Keller said.

“He came in everyday and you knew what you were gonna get. He set the tempo a lot of times so it’s hard to replace that.”

IIAC champions Anderson (125), Silvestri (141) and Ryan Fank (285) return while Bradley Banks (174) and Tate (197) will have to be replaced. Dylan Azinger (184) will be eligible to compete second semester.

Other starters returning include Tommy Mirocha (133), Drew Wagenhoffer (149) and Cole Welter (157).

Despite the returning starters, the Knights have a deep roster, making it difficult to determine starters at this point in the season.

“Right now I think we are still trying to sort out how that is all gonna play out. There’s a few weights in there that there are several guys competing at a high level,” Keller said.

Wartburg has won 20 straight Iowa Conference championships.

“We had the opportunity this year to kind of look up and see what happened, all of a sudden we had won 20. But that’s over. That was a couple months ago and now our heads are back down and it’s back to work,” Keller said.

2012-13 WARTBURG WRESTLING SCHEDULE

Nov. 10- at Luther Open

Nov. 10- at Harold Nichols Open (Iowa State)

Nov. 15- vs. Waldorf (6 p.m.)

Nov. 17- at Augsburg Open

Nov. 17- at Concordia (Wis.) Invite

Nov. 30- at Simpson (5 p.m.)

Nov. 30- vs. Williams (at Simpson)

Dec. 8- Dick Walker Invite

Dec. 16- at Desert Duals (Las Vegas, Nev.)

Jan. 12-13- at NWCA National Duals (Springfield, Ill.)

Jan. 17- vs. Luther (7 p.m.)

Jan. 18- at Coe (7 p.m.)

Jan. 22- at Loras (7 p.m.)

Jan. 24- Cornell (7 p.m.)

Jan. 26- at IIAC Duals (Dubuque)

Jan. 31- at Augsburg (7:30 p.m.)

Feb. 2- at Duhawk Open (Loras)

Feb. 8- IIAC Championship Dual (7 p.m.)

Feb. 9- at UW-Eau Claire Open

Mar. 2- at Regional Tournament (Dubuque)

Mar. 15-16- at NCAA Tournament (Cedar Rapids)

NCAA PRESEASON RANKINGS

1. Wartburg

2. Augsburg

3. Coe

4. Elmhurst

5. Wisconsin-Whitewater

6. Wisconsin-La Crosse

7. Cortland State

8. Centenary (N.J.)

9. Luther

10. Ohio Northern

11. Ithaca

12. Olivet

13. Wilkes

14. Concordia-Moorhead

15. Wisconsin-Stevens Point

16. Wabash

17. Augustana (Ill.)

18. Johns Hopkins

19. St. Olaf

20. Wesleyan (Conn.)

21. Dubuque

22. Springfield (Mass.)

23. St. John’s

24. Cornell

25. Messiah

26. TCNJ

27. North Central (Ill.)

28. Johnson & Wales

29. Central

30. Stevens Institute

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