As it prepares for the heart of both the Ivy League and EIWA seasons, the Princeton wrestling team is splitting into two groups to compete over the next three days.
A group of five will head to Northwestern for the prestigious Midlands Championships, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this weekend. Freshmen Max Rogers (125) and Scott Gibbons (184) will join upperclassmen Zach Bintliff (149), Ryan Callahan (174) and Dan Santoro (197) in the star-studded field.
These five don't need to look too far back in Princeton history to see just how important a strong Midlands run can be for your season. Last year, sophomore Adam Krop made an unseeded run to third place, which his only loss coming by one point to the top seed; that performance propelled him into the national Top 20, and he built on that confidence with a strong second half and his debut at the NCAA Championships.
While Krop finished third, senior teammate Daniel Kolodzik placed eighth overall in his final Midlands competition. Over the next two months, he became Princeton's first honoree on the All-Ivy League First Team since 2003 and finished one match short of All-America honors.
Gibbons currently leads the team with 11 victories, though Bintliff made a strong run before the holiday break and comes in with eight wins, including one in the December dual finale against UT-Chattanooga. Callahan, who also won that day, has a 4-3 record after preseason injuries limited him competition schedule. Rogers has three victories at 125, while Santoro is working himself back into form after an injury-plagued start to his sophomore season.
The 50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships take place Dec. 29-30 at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tickets for the event are available by calling 888-GO-PURPLE.
Meanwhile, Princeton will send 10 wrestlers to the 2012 Wilkes Open, held Dec. 28 at Wilkes University. Competing for the Tigers will be: Jake Intrator, Kevin Moylan, Nick Maselli, Kyle Roddy, Seth Hazleton, Steven Leshinger, Grayson Shepperd, Charles Fox, Josh Ellis, and Judd Ziegler.