EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The NCAA announced the complete list of qualifiers and the brackets Wednesday for the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships to be held March 20-22 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
SIUE's David Devine, who won the Southern Conference title at 285 pounds this past weekend, learned his first-round opponent will be 14th-seeded Jonathan Gingrich (22-8) of Penn State. Gingrich placed sixth at the Big Ten Championships.
"I'm excited about David's chances because he stays even keel," said SIUE Head Coach Jeremy Spates. Especially as a first-time competitor, Spates expects Devine to approach the event in the same way he has all season long.
There will be 33 entrants in the heavyweight class. NCAA officials announced that four heavyweights earned at-large bids to the Championships. They are Utah Valley's Adam Fager, Nebraska's Collin Jensen, Oklahoma's Ross Larson, and Chattanooga's Dawson Peck.
Devine defeated Peck in the semifinals at the SoCon Championships as well as earlier during the SoCon regular season. Two other competitors in the field – Campbell's Eloheim Palma and West Virginia's Anthony Vizcarrondo – also have losses this season to Devine.
With the top competition from all over the country, Devine's goal will be to become SIUE's first Division I All-American since Tim Wright in 1987 when Division II champions were allowed into the field. First and foremost, Devine will have to place his focus on his opening match.
"You always say one match at a time but especially at a national tournament," said Spates. "You can't look past anybody. It doesn't matter if it's the No. 1 seed or the 33rd-ranked wrestler. Everybody at the tournament deserves to be there."
Only nine of the 33 wrestlers in the weight class have as many wins (26) as Devine. The senior is 4-6 this season against fellow heavyweight wrestlers in the field.