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Spartan wrestling preview

UNCG ranked 31st in national preseason poll with three Spartan wrestlers individually ranked

Published: Monday, November 7, 2005

Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010 09:01


Joe Kemmerer(pictured facing) led the team in wins last season as a freshman with 31.


Daren Burns (top) is the 8th ranked wrestler in the 197 lb. class

This year’s Spartan wrestling squad appears to be one of the best in recent memory. Despite losing senior standout David Johnson to graduation, UNCG returns three nationally ranked wrestlers and five conference champions to its ranks. This is good news given UNCG is coming off a school-record 11 wins last season (11-5), and a second place finish in the Southern Conference regular season with a close third in the tournament. Last years performance, plus some great off-season acquisitions has helped UNCG to garner 29 votes in the National Wrestling Coaches Association and InterMat Preseason rankings, locking them in at 31st nationally.

Junior Daren Burns and sophomore Joe Kemmerer look to anchor this year’s team by leading the Spartan attack. In the Individual National Wrestling Coaches Association and InterMat Preseason rankings the two managed to be noticed for last years stellar performances.

Burns, wrestling at 197 lbs., returns after an incredible season last year where he won the Southern Conference tournament for the second year in a row. He also fell one win shy of becoming an NCAA All-American. He finished the year with a 30-6 record as well as managing to pull in a Bronze medal at the Pan-American Wrestling Championships held last year in Guatemala.

Joe Kemmerer comes back this year at 125 lbs. after a Southern Conference title last year and becoming the SoCon Freshman of the Year. Kemmerer led the team with 31 wins last season and a team high nine technical falls to go with a successful NCAA tournament appearance.

As well as returning last years 165 lbs. Southern Conference champion Joe Lowe and senior Kevin Artis, who two years ago won at 141 lbs. before red shirting last year. This year’s Spartan grappling squad also made a key off-season addition by getting fifth-year senior Tyler Shovlin. Shovlin transfers from nationally ranked Cornell, where last year he went 21-14 as a heavyweight. He is ranked 14th in the preseason poll and is fresh off of a NCAA national appearance.

“They all have experience on the national level now,” said Coach Tom Shifflet of his standouts. “If these guys can stay injury free, they are going to do very well. They, like all of the guys, work hard. We definitely have some potential All-Americans.”

Given the facts, it’s hard pressed to say that UNCG doesn’t have a shot at that allusive Southern Conference team title this year. After getting its first win over Appalachian State since ’98, and bringing in a tremendous freshman class, the Spartans certainly have a chance. Not to mention so many of the Spartan wrestlers gaining national experience and the emergence and improvement of young wrestlers such as Chris Bencivinga and Kane Smith. UNCG will now have the resources to possibly match up with Southern Conference powerhouse Tennessee Chattanooga.

When asked about the possibility of a team title, Coach Shifflet concluded: “Honestly, this is the best team that I have coached so far at UNCG. We are closing the gap, we have improved every single year, and it’s just going to be exciting to see how things turn out. We are going to take it one day at a time, and with a little luck, and us, as well as the fans believing, UNCG is going to be here to stay.”

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