ODU Wrestling Ranked in Top 25 Headed Into Dual With No. 3 Iowa

November 21, 2007
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Nov. 21, 2007

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NORFOLK, Va. -- The Monarchs wrestling program was ranked No. 22 in the nation this week by W.I.N. Magazine, the highest ranking since the 1990-91 season. ODU will travel to Cleveland, Ohio to face three top programs in their respective divisions. First, ODU will face a nationally ranked Division II program, Findlay, at 11:30 am. They will then take the mat against the No. 3 team in the nation at Division I, Iowa, at 2:30 pm. They will finish the day at the St. Edward Duals with a matchup against back-to-back NJCAA Champion Iowa Central at 4:00 pm.

Ryan Williams has earned the highest ranking of the season for a Monarch, at #16 at 141 lbs by wrestlingreport.com. He is also ranked #17 overall by InterMat.

Chris Brown (165) and David Mendoza (197) are both ranked by Amateur Wrestling News, W.I.N. Magazine, TheWrestlingMall.com, and wrestlingreport.com. Mendoza is also ranked by InterMat.

ODU also has new inserts into the individual rankings on the national level. Jesse Strawn has appeared for the first time this season at #20 by AWN. In the new wrestlingreport.com rankings, ODU has seven ranked grapplers, including James Nicholson at #22 in the 125 lb class, Kyle Hutter at #23 in the 133 lb class, and Kaylen Baxter at #23 in the 149 lb class.

On To Ohio
The Old Dominion Monarchs will face three opponents at the St. Edward's Duals this Saturday, including the third ranked team in the nation, Iowa, on a neutral mat in Cleveland, Ohio. The Monarchs will wrestle the 16th ranked Division II Findlay program at 11:30 am, then No. 3 Iowa at 2:30, and will finish with a dual against back-to-back JuCo National Champs, Iowa Central at 4:00 pm.

Iowa boasts nationally ranked individuals in seven weight classes, including the number one ranked grappler at 165 lbs, Mark Perry. ODU's Chris Brown will be across the mat from the Hawkeye. Brown is nationally ranked and has gone 9-3 through the first two weekends.

The Monarchs will return to the mat next Friday, November 30 for the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. It is one of the most respected tournaments in the nation and is a two-day event in Las Vegas.

Last Weekend
ODU had more finalists than all teams at the Missouri Open other than Missouri, including more than Illinois and Northwestern, two nationally ranked teams. Roy Dragon III won the 285 weight class and five Monarchs finished as runner-up in their weight class. In all, ODU placed nine wrestlers at the tournament.

Five Monarchs have won eight or more bouts in the first weekend. Chris Brown leads the pack with nine wins. Jesse Strawn has eight wins with a team-leading four major decisions.

Next on the Schedule
The Monarchs continue to test themselves with a difficult schedule next weekend as they travel to one of the most respected tournaments in the nation, the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. The field for the two-day event will consist of wrestlers from nearly 15 nationally ranked programs. It will be the third tournament of the season for ODU.

A Will To Win
Ryan Williams has been the most consistent wrestler under head coach Steve Martin since he took over the starting job midway through his freshman year. He's the go-to at 141 lbs and was an NCAA Qualifier in 2006, just missing his second trip a year ago as he dropped a decision to CAA Champion and NCAA All-American Charles Griffin.

He has a career .716 winning percentage with 63 wins very early in his junior season. If he finishes his career with the same consistency, he has the potential to become the Monarchs 8th wrester with 100 wins in a career.

Baxter's Beginning
Kaylen Baxter has started the season with a 8-1 record, including a win of the 149-lb. weight class at the Michigan State Open and a second place effort at the Missouri Open. His only loss came to a grappler from the 6th ranked Northwestern squad. He also sealed ODU's first victory over a Big Ten team since 1990 with a decision over MSU's Eddie Skowneski.

First Year Bookends
The Monarchs have been using youth to win for several years and 2007-08 is no exception. True freshman Roy Dragon III and redshirt freshman James Nicholson will see the most mat time at the 285 and 125 weights respectively.

Dragon has already won a collegiate tournament, with his victory at the Missouri Open last weekend. He was a finalist the week before, finishing second at the MSU Open. He has started his career with an 8-2 record with two pins and one major decision.

At the other end of the scale, James Nicholson has started the season with a 5-3 record and a second place showing at the Missouri Open. He nearly won the event, but fell to the 11th ranked grappler in the country in a tight 2-4 decision.

Hometown Brown
Redshirt sophomore Chris Brown, from nearby Chesapeake, Virginia, has also gotten off to a quick start. He is 9-3 with three major decisions and one pin, and a team-leading total of wins. With one more victory, he'll have 50 for his career just over a year into his career. He slid up to the 165-lb weight class this season and has started this year much like he did a year ago, when he was named CAA Rookie of the Week three times.