The No. 14-ranked Fort Hays State wrestling team heads east to Louisville, Ky. to take on No. 4-ranked Pitt-Johnstown in the first round of the National Duals on Friday (Jan. 4). The dual is set to begin at 8 a.m. CT (9 a.m. ET). Of the 16 teams participating, 11 are ranked in the latest D2WCA National Top 25 Poll and three other squads are receiving votes.
The top five teams in the nation will be present in Louisville; Nebraska-Kearney, St. Cloud State, Notre Dame College, Pitt-Johnstown and McKendree. No. 7 Wheeling Jesuit and No. 8 Lindenwood round out the top-10, while No. 13 Central Oklahoma, No. 18 Indianapolis and No. 21 Upper Iowa complete the ranked teams in the field. Gannon, Wisconsin-Parkside and West Liberty are receiving votes in the latest poll.
The Tigers enter the weekend with two ranked wrestlers on the squad. Junior Brandon Ball is No. 2 in the 141-pound weight class and sophomore Efe Osaghae sits at No. 4 in the 157-pound weight class. Ball carries an overall record of 9-0 with individual titles at the Bethany Swede Open and the Bob Smith Open. He sits at 1-0 in duals with a 6-0 decision over Central Oklahoma's Nate Keim. Osaghae has put together a solid start to his season as well with a 12-2 overall record, including an individual title at the Swede Open. Osaghae has also captured runner-up finishes at the UNK Holiday Inn Open and the Bob Smith Open, while earning a 1-0 start to his dual season with a 5-4 decision over Dayton Garrett of UCO.
Meanwhile, the Mountain Cats enter the dual with five wrestlers ranked in the top 12 of their weight classes. No. 3 at 141 pounds, Joey Alessandro, will provide a must-see battle with Ball. Junior Chris Eddins is the top-ranked wrestler in the 149-pound weight class. Devin Austin enters as the No. 9 ranked wrestler at 165 pounds. At 174 pounds, Brock Biddle comes in as the No. 7 ranked wrestler, while Levi Niebauer (No. 6 at 197 pounds) rounds out the individuals who are ranked for Pitt-Johnstown.