I'll see your Ramos, and Raise a St. John

Oct. 9, 2013

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The NWCA All-Star Classic just got twice as interesting.

One week after the National Wrestling Coaches Association announced Tony Ramos would compete at its annual event, defending NCAA champion Derek St. John has joined the NWCA All-Star lineup.

St. John will wrestle Boston’s Nestor Talfur in the 157-pound match. Talfur is the defending Colonial Athletic Association champion, and enters the year ranked No. 11 at 157 pounds by WIN Magazine.

St. John is WIN Magazine’s top-ranked 157-pounder. A three-time All-American, he went 31-2 last season en route to a national title. He enters his senior season with a career record of 76-11. The match with Talfur, scheduled for Nov. 2 on the campus of George Mason, will be the first meeting between the two wrestlers.

It will also be Iowa’s first appearance at the exhibition in four years.

The Hawkeyes have made 54 appearances in the event’s 48-year history, but this year’s appearance is the first by an Iowa wrestler since Daniel Dennis earned a 9-8 decision against Maryland’s Steve Bell in 2009.

UI head coach Tom Brands said the NWCA has recently adopted a new format that gives the All-Star Classic a greater taste of being an All-Star event.

“In the past it was more of an All-Star preview,” said Brands. “Now they’ve created some matchups that have given it some momentum. They’re doing some things outside the box and thinking the right way.”

Brands said unique match-ups between wrestlers who in all likelihood won’t see each other during the season make the event all the more entertaining.

“Unless you’ve got Dake-Taylor headlining a weight class,” said Brands, “the out-of-weight class matchups are more attractive and compelling.”

Ramos is participating in one of the out-of-weight matchups Brands references. He is WIN Magazine’s top-ranked 133-pounder, but he will bump up a weight at the All-Star Classic and face third-ranked Devin Carter of Virginia Tech at 141 pounds.

The NWCA has also paired two top-rated wrestlers and defending national champions against each other. Logan Stieber of Ohio State and Kendric Maple of Oklahoma will meet at 149 pounds. Stieber is ranked No. 1 at 141 pounds, and Maple is the top-ranked wrestler at 149.

This year’s All-Star Classic will also lend positive attention to Boston University. The school announced in April its intention to no longer sponsor wrestling at the varsity level after this season. The NWCA has served as an advocate for promoting and advancing amateur wrestling at the scholastic and collegiate levels since 1928, and it intends to continue supporting Boston student-athletes in 2013-14.

“It could be an opportunity to save Boston wrestling.” said Brands. “That’s how we’re going to look at it. It puts them in the news and it creates some positive national attention.”

The 48th annual All-Star Classic begins at 6 p.m. (CT) at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com. For more information visit NWCAonline.com.