A total of 24 college wrestling teams – including five of the top 20 NCAA Division I mat programs – will return to Madison Square Garden for only the third time in the storied New York City arena’s 135-year history for the 2014 Grapple at the Garden dual-meet tournament on Sunday, December 21, MSG Sports announced Friday via emailed press release.
The third edition of Grapple at the Garden – which has been annual December event for amateur wrestlers and fans since its debut in 2012 – will welcome its largest field of college wrestling programs, including 14 NCAA Division I, three Division II, three Division III, and two community colleges.
Among the D1 participants are five schools which placed among the top 20 in the team title race at the 2014 NCAA championships, including fifth-place Edinboro University, No. 7 Cornell University, No. 15 University of Northern Iowa, eighteenth-place Lehigh University, and No. 20 University of Maryland. In addition, other D1 schools at Grapple at the Garden 3 include Bucknell, Davidson, Drexel, Duke, George Mason, Army, Hofstra, Princeton, and Rutgers. The Division II programs include Minnesota State-Moorhead, Wheeling Jesuit, and the newly resurrected program at Long Island University-Post. Stevens Institute of Technology, Mount Saint Vincent and University of Southern Maine are the participating Division III schools, while SUNY Sullivan and Middlesex are the two community colleges. Two club programs from Stony Brook and Montclair State will also take to the mats at Grapple at the Garden 3.
Thanks to a larger field of participating programs, this year’s Grapple at the Garden will be expanded to three sessions. The first session at 8:00 a.m. Eastern will include Northern Iowa vs. Duke, Stony Brook vs. Montclair State, Mount Saint Vincent vs. Wheeling Jesuit, LIU Post vs. Minnesota State Moorhead, Southern Maine vs. Stevens, and SUNY Sullivan vs. Middlesex Community College. Session two begins at 10:00 a.m. and will include Northern Iowa vs. Drexel, Edinboro vs. Cornell, Rutgers vs. Army, Maryland vs. Hofstra, Lehigh vs. Princeton, Duke vs. George Mason, and Davidson vs. Bucknell. The third session starts at noon and will showcase Drexel vs. George Mason, Northern Iowa vs. Cornell, Maryland vs. Duke, Army vs. Princeton, Lehigh vs. Edinboro, Hofstra vs. Bucknell, and Davidson vs. Rutgers.
In addition to being a dual-meet tournament featuring top college teams, the 2014 Grapple at the Garden will be a showcase for some of the nation’s top individual collegiate mat stars, including top-ranked Nahshon Garrett and Gabe Dean from Cornell, and A.J. Schopp of Edinboro, all slated to participate at the 2014 NWCA All-Star Classic in November. Also on hand for the all-day event will be No. 2 ranked and two-time All American, Mitchell Port from Edinboro; No. 3 ranked wrestler Dylan Peters from Northern Iowa; No. 4 ranked Christopher Villalonga from Cornell and Cooper Moore from Northern Iowa as well as No. 5 wrestler David Habat from Edinboro. Additionally, Rutgers put its first All-American on the podium since 2002 in redshirt junior Anthony Perrotti.
Tickets for this year’s Grapple at the Garden are currently on sale and may be purchased online at www.thegarden.com, all Ticketmaster locations and the Madison Square Garden box office.
The success of the two previous Grapple at the Garden events helped open the door to Madison Square Garden being announced as the host of the 2016 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
The choice of Madison Square Garden for the 2016 NCAAs is historic for a number of reasons. It’s not only the first-ever NCAA wrestling championship to be held at the midtown Manhattan arena; it’s the first collegiate championship in any sport at MSG in more than 60 years, the last being the men’s basketball final four in 1950.