BOONE, N.C. - Redshirt sophomore Dominic Parisi and redshirt freshman Zack Strickland hit the road to Des Moines, Iowa for the 83rd annual NCAA Championships, beginning on Thursday, March 21 and concluding on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Arena.
Both wrestlers make their first appearance at the NCAA Championships, as each earned a berth in Des Moines via different routes. Both took advantage of the Southern Conference's extra-bid spots at the conference tournament, as Strickland captured second-place at 165 pounds, while Parisi defeated Campbell's Eric Montoya in a true second-place match at 125 pounds.
Strickland enters the 33-wrestler field with a 24-11 record and became the 34th wrestler in App State history to be named to the all-SoCon team following the regular season. Strickland also joined classmate Colin Hedash on the all-freshman team, as the duo became the second and third Mountaineers to make the team in the program's history, joining teammate Paul Weiss.
Since Wednesday's Selection Show, Strickland's match-up has changed, as the Muncy, Pa. native will face Rutgers' Nicholas Visicaro. Visicaro carries a 15-9 overall record into the NCAA Championships and finished fifth at the EIWA Championships. The redshirt sophomore is 46-21 for his career and Visicaro and Strickland have never met on the collegiate mat.
Parisi's route to Des Moines was well-deserved after finishing third at the SoCon Championships before capturing a true second-place bout and finishing 4-1 for the tournament. Parisi leads Appalachian with 28 wins on the season after bouncing back from a season-ending injury last year. The Concord, N.C. native will have a difficult task in front of him as he is slated to face the No. 5 seed, Jarrod Garnett of Virginia Tech.
App State's redshirt-sophomore has met Garnett twice during his career, as the series is even at 1-1. In Parisi's freshman year, Garnett picked up a win at the Hokie Open with a 12-4 major decision. Last season, once again at the Hokie Open, Parisi pinned Garnett in the third period en route to a second-place finish for the Mountaineers.
The pin over Garnett from a season ago was just one of his 26 losses the senior has accumulated over his four years with the Hokies. Garnett is second on Tech's active roster with the most career victories with 121, six short of No. 3 seed at 165 pounds, Pete Yates.
This is the second-straight year Appalachian will have representatives for 125 and 165 pounds, asand both made the final-33 from a season ago. Blevins made the most of the trip, finishing fourth and becoming the fifth All-American in App State history. became the sixth member when he ended up third at 184 pounds.
Thirteen automatic qualifiers, along with at-large selection Montoya, will represent the Southern Conference. Chattanooga's Nick Soto, who captured the 125-pound conference championship will face No. 12 seed Tyler Cox of Wyoming. Should Parisi and Soto win their opening bouts, they will meet in the second round.
On Thursday, beginning at noon, all the action from Des Moines can be viewed on ESPN3, while Friday and Saturday matches can be seen on ESPN3 and ESPNU. Saturday's finals will begin at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.