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College Update for November 29: Respect for Hofstra, more EIWA qualifiers and rankings chat

By Jason Bryant

Turkey, with a side of Pride
There was not too much in the way of wrestling over the Thanksgiving holiday. It included only a handful of open tournaments and it was really an uneventful week.

That was, until Saturday.

Everyone's consensus No. 1 Minnesota fell at the hands of Hofstra, a private school situated on Long Island with a new head coach and a lot of history, but little respect.

The Pride finally earned some attention in defeating the top team in the land, but not complete respect. Sure, Minnesota was without NCAA championship contender Mack Reiter at 133 pounds and Mitch Kuhlman's yet to hit the lineup at 165 pounds, but Hofstra did win six of the ten bouts contested and new coach Tom Shifflet found his team ranked in the top five in this week's USA Today/InterMat/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll.

How about some respect now?

In the past, Hofstra has defeated then #2 Lehigh, Michigan and a score of Big Ten opponents under previous coach Tom Ryan, but now with Shifflet at the helm, Hofstra seems poised to not just control the rest of the Colonial Athletic Association, but making a serious run at some hardware come the NCAA championships.

A deeper look into the Hofstra lineup shows some solid NCAA experienced wrestlers. Dave Tomasette is already a two-time qualifier and CAA champion, while Charles Griffin has won two CAA titles already, followed by returning champs James Strouse at 157, Mike Patrovich at 165, Joe Rovelli at 184. Add in Franklin & Marshall transfer Mike Parziale and returning All-American Chris Weidman and the Pride are more than capable of beating their fair share of teams straight up in a dual.

Rider, which beat Lehigh to start the year, fell to Pitt and had a subpar showing at the Keystone Classic, gives the CAA a shot at picking up more bids when the NCAA rolling allocation comes into play.

Speaking of qualifiers
The EIWA picked up three more qualifiers to the NCAA championship this season, bringing the conference total to 47 bids, second only to the Big Ten's 72.

In 1996, the conference had 26 bids and didn't get more bids until 2000. Every year since 2000, the EIWA has received more bids each season. Last season, the EIWA had 12 All-Americans and 17 wrestlers reach the Round of 12, the round which the rolling formula is calculated.

This information is courtesy of Denny Diehl's Lehigh Wrestling News, a worthy subscription for anyone out there that's a fan of Mountain Hawk wrestling or the EIWA in general.

It's only November
Each season, there is always some dissention about college wrestling rankings. This season, this is no different with scores of highly-ranked wrestlers getting knocked off by unheralded wrestlers and even backups from respective teams. This could be attributed to many things, but the fact remains everyone is still getting into competition shape.

This week's Las Vegas Invitational in Primm, Nev., is the first real test for many of the top programs in the nation. A brutal field and some NCAA previews are likely to occur. Last season, it was Edinboro's Gregor Gillespie that blast onto the national scene with his title at 149 pounds. Now, no longer a mystery, Gillespie's ranked #3 in the nation and the Fighting Scots are ranked 14th. Eight of the 10 Pac 10 teams will be in the field and it will be a good mix of East, West and Midwestern teams in Vegas.

Expect a rash of rankings changes next week as well.

Speaking of rankings
We failed to mention the new #1 team in the nation - Oklahoma State. While the Cowboys have several unproven starters in their lineup, the votes in the coaches poll were scattered with four teams receiving first-place votes. Oklahoma State, Missouri, Hofstra and Iowa State all got votes for the top spot.

Quick hits
Ohio State coach Tom Ryan picked up his first win as head coach of the Buckeyes with an 18-17 win over Cornell on Sunday in Ithaca… Two of wrestling's most heated rivalries get renewed on Sunday as Iowa State takes on Iowa in Iowa City and its Bedlam in Norman as Oklahoma hosts Oklahoma State. … Northern Colorado gets treated to Division I wrestling as they host second-ranked Minnesota on December 1.
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