MANHEIM, Pa. – Even though the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships were canceled, the National Wrestling Coaches Association wanted to recognize the student-athletes who qualified for the event. Six Johnson & Wales University wrestlers were honored by the coaches association with All-America accolades.
All-America honors were based on each wrestler's overall body of work through the regional tournaments and up to the national championships. When the championships are held, the top eight wrestlers in each weight class are named All-Americans.
Making it onto the First-Team was Hayden Brown (133 pounds), Jordan Robinson (141 pounds), Da'mani Burns (149 pounds) and Michael DiNardo (285 pounds). Second-Team honors went to Tommy Wrzesien (197 pounds) and Darius Joyce (157 pounds) was a Third-Team selection.
DiNardo was making his third trip to the NCAA Championships and only needed a pair of victories to become the JWU all-time leader in victories. Seeded seventh, the four-time All-Region selection was scheduled to open the tournament with Richard Knapp of SUNY Brockport. Last season he won his initial bout but dropped the next two.
Similar to DiNardo, last year Burns was one victory away from earning All-America honors. The number five seed, he was scheduled to take on Daniel Ruiz from Loras in the opening round. He finished his career as a two-time All-Region and All-NEWA selection.
Both seeded fifth, Brown and Robinson were making their NCAA Championship debuts. Named NEWA Rookie of the Year, Brown was to face North Central's Ian Mullen in the opening round. A First-Team All-NEWA selection, Robinson had a first-round match with Cortland State's Chandler Merwin.
Wrzesien was hoping to have a better 2020 championship after going 0-2 in his first trip. He was to open with a pigtail match against Gabriel Zierden from Concordia-Morehead. Joyce punched his first ticket to the NCAA Championships thanks to a quarterfinal upset at the NCAA regional. He was to take on the winner of the number two seed Ryan Epps from Augsburg and Messiah's Stephen Maloney.
With a majority of the line-up back for 2020-21, Johnson & Wales should be poised to win a fifth-straight NCAA Regional Championship. Head coach Lonnie Morris will have to replace DiNardo and Burns as well as All-Region wrestlers Tim Higginson (165 pounds) and Giovani Santiago (1814 pounds) next year.