Kyler, Starks Ready for NCAA Championships

Article courtesy Army Communications

Matt Kyler and Richard Starks will begin their quests for All-American honors Thursday when the 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships get underway at Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb.

Kyler is a four-time NCAA qualifier and Starks earned a trip to nationals for the third time. Kyler finished sixth during his sophomore season to earn All-America honors.

A four-time EIWA finalist, Kyler secured his trip to the NCAA’s by winning his second EIWA title and first at 149 pounds. He is seeded sixth this year.

“Matt has tremendous confidence in his ability and really knows wrestling and position very well,” said Army head coach Chuck Barbee. “You can see that Matt is not always the quickest or strongest but he knows position, he knows how to get angles and he is extremely determined. He always believes he can win.”

Starks, who was injured in the finals last season at EIWA’s and did not compete at NCAA’s, finished third at the conference tournament to earn his trip to Omaha.

“Richard is a ‘match time’ competitor,” said Barbee. “When it comes time to step out under the lights he consistently executes which is a tremendous attribute. It’s not that he isn’t nervous, it is the fact that he channels all of that nervous energy into intense focus and determination.

“Most importantly for both of them is that they wrestle with a relaxed intensity, they have fun and embrace the challenges, knowing that it is going to be an all out war to get up on that NCAA podium,” said Barbee.

HOW TO FOLLOW: Video streams and national television are scheduled for all six sessions either through the NCAA or espn360.com. A list of broadcast information can be found on page 4.

In addition, the NCAA will provide updates and blog entries on its site, ncaasports.com.

FOUR TIMES: Matt Kyler became the first Army wrestler since Phillip Simpson to qualify for nationals in all four of his seasons.

Simpson, a member of the Class of 2005, was a three-time All-American.

Kyler is a four-time EIWA finalist and two-time champion.

THREE TIMES: Richard Starks earned his third trip to NCAA’s but will be wrestling for the second time. Starks was injured in the EIWA finals during his junior season and did not compete at nationals. He is 2-2 all-time and looking for his first All-America honor.

WINNING WITH CLASS: Senior Matt Kyler established a new Army record for career victories at the “Shorty” Hitchcock Memorial Classic in Lancaster, Pa.

A four-year starter and three-time EIWA finalist and national qualifier, Kyler now has a career record of 144-30.

Phillip Simpson went 137-29 before graduating in 2005.

100 TIMES: Senior Richard Starks eclipsed the 100-career win mark with an 11-0 major decision against Sacred Heart on Valentine’s Day.

Starks is now 104-22 in his career and stands seventh on Army’s all-time wins list.

VETERAN ARMY MENTOR: Chuck Barbee enters his 10th season as the Army head coach. Barbee owns an 87-60-4 record dual meet record while coaching 26 national qualifiers and 48 EIWA placewinners.

Ryan Wilman returns for his third year with the title of head assistant coach. Rafael Vega is the newest member of the staff and is in his first year with the Black Knights. Volunteer assistant coach Paul Merritt begins his 18th season with the team.

BRANCHING OUT: Both Matt Kyler and Richard Starks will enter the Infantry branch of the U.S. Army following graduation.

Kyler is a Civil Engineering major and will join the Engineers branch with a branch detail in Infantry. He will serve as an athletic intern at the U.S. Military Academy prep school next season and choose his post next season.

Starks is a Mathematics major and will post to Fort Bragg, N.C., following graduation.

INSIDE THE 149- POUND BRACKET: Army’s Matt Kyler is seeded sixth in one of the toughest brackets in the tournament.

Ohio State senior Lance Palmer is the top-seed with a 31-1 mark while Iowa’s Brent Metcalf is second with a 27-2 record. Metcalf is a two-time national finalist.

Oklahoma’s Kyle Terry enters the tournament with a 26-2 mark and the third seed while Wisconsin’s Kyle Ruschell is 28-3 and the fourth seed.

Kyler will open his tournament against Brandon Bucher of George Mason, a junior with a 17-16 mark. Boucher earned his first trip to the NCAA’s with a third-place finish at the CAA Championships. A Dillsburg, Pa., native, he lost his first match and then placed third with three straight wins.

“After learning some tough lessons last year, Matt realizes that he can score on anyone and if he wants to be an NCAA champion he is going to need to go out every match and try to put at least six to eight points on the board,” said Barbee. “I think it is also important for Matt to ride tough at the NCAA’s and ensure he gets a riding time point every bout.”

If Kyler beats Bucher, he will face the winner of the Desmond Green of Buffalo and Shawn Harris of Virginia match. Green is the #11 seed and has a 27-6 mark during his redshirt sophomore season while Harris is 16-11 in his redshirt sophomore season.

Kyler could potentially face Terry in the quarterfinals and Metcalf in the semifinals.

INSIDE THE 197-POUND BRACKET: Iowa State senior Jake Varner, the defending national champion, is the top seed at this weight class with a 26-0 mark while Nebraska’s Craig Brester is the second seed at 26-2.  Hudson Taylor of Maryland (38-2) is seeded third with Cam Simaz of Cornell (37-6) fourth.

Starks will open his tournament against Logan Brown, a redshirt junior from Purdue who is 32-11. Brown, a three-time qualifier, finished fourth at the Big Ten Championships.

“Richard needs to continue to execute to keep the opposition thinking about him and wrestling proactively instead of reactively,” said Barbee. “He needs to be tough on top and be willing to battle hard in that third period to either hold a lead or build on it.”

Brester will wrestle the winner of the pigtail match between Appalachian State’s Dylan Temple and Rider’s Tyler Smith. The winner of Starks’ match will compete against the winner of Brester’s match in the second round.

TEAM RACE: Iowa, the top-ranked team in the country and Big Ten champions, is the favorite to win its 23rd national championship.

The Hawkeyes qualified all 10 wrestlers for the event and are the two-time defending champions.

Minnesota is second in the latest poll, followed by Oklahoma State, Cornell and Iowa State.

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