Oklahoma City University finds itself in an unaccustomed spot entering the Women's College Wrestling Association Championships.
The Stars have captured the past four national championships while holding the No. 1 ranking for much of that time. OCU sits at No. 2 behind Simon Fraser (British Columbia) in the latest national rankings.
The WCWA Championships start 11 a.m. CST Friday with two rounds in the first session, then continue 9 a.m. CST Saturday with the consolations and semifinals at the Student Center Complex on the campus of King College (Tenn.). The championship finals happen 3 p.m. CST Saturday.
OCU figures to be in the mix for the national crown. The Stars boast of 14 ranked individuals, including top-ranked Emily Webster at 101 pounds and Joey Miller at 116 pounds. Miller, a senior from Woodward, Okla., and Webster, a sophomore from Sedalia, Mo., will strive to repeat as national champions after earning 2012 titles at their respective weights.
"The tournament itself has evolved so much in the last five or six years," OCU coach Archie Randall said. "It's a three- or four-team race. We're going to have to have some girls step up and perform. We're going to have to have some upsets. We're going to have to have some of the other teams upset some of the other girls.
"The race is tight. It's within one or two points between three teams. You have to throw in the other factor that there's teams like Missouri Valley and Lindenwood (Mo.) and Jamestown (N.D.). They're there for the same purpose. They're there to win matches and get all-Americans. It's going to be a really interesting tournament this year."
The Stars have five wrestlers sitting at the No. 2 ranking at their weight – Beatrize Martinez at 136, Stephanie Geltmacher at 143, Brittney Roberts at 155, Demi Strub at 170 and Heather O'Connor at 191. Other OCU competitors ranked in the top five are Brieana Delgado, rated fourth at 123, Kristi Garr, ranked third at 109, and Audrey Morehouse, ranked fourth at 130.
Miller, Morehouse, Roberts and Logan Rich – ranked seventh at 116 – are seniors who have grown accustomed to winning at OCU.
"It means a lot to the program that we continue our success," Randall said. "There's three or four of them that have an opportunity to be national champions this year. They suffered some losses during the season. I think that with our schedule, as tough as we wrestle, that they have a good opportunity to do it. I think you're going to see some surprises, and you're going to see some new faces as national champions this year."
Simon Fraser brings five No. 1-ranked individuals to the tournament. OCU extended its dual winning string to 75 and unbeaten streak to 90-0-1 before Simon Fraser defeated the Stars 22-10 on Nov. 17 in the Harry Giese Duals in London, Ontario, Canada. The Stars had won the past five NWCA National Duals championships, but Simon Fraser prevailed over OCU 27-13 on Jan. 13 in Springfield, Ill.
"It's a lot of pressure to stay undefeated for that long," Randall said of the Stars' streak. "We just didn't wrestle at the potential we needed to. I think at the National Duals, I think I made a mistake. I tried to get extra bonus points and move some people around. I probably shouldn't have moved Garr and Joey Miller and left them where they're at. We would have kept the momentum in our corner."
In 2012, OCU captured the national championship behind program-best performances with six individual national champs and 141 points plus 15 all-Americans in Bristol, Tenn. King finished as national runner-up, while Simon Fraser took third.
Women's College Wrestling Association Championships
At Bristol, Tenn.
Student Center Complex, King College
Order of events
Friday, Jan. 25
Round of 32, Round of 16, 11 a.m.
Quarterfinals, Consolations Round 1, 1 p.m.
Consolations, Rounds 2, 3, 3 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 26
Semifinals, Consolations Round 4, 9 a.m.
Consolation Quarterfinals, Consolation Semifinals, 11 a.m.
Placing matches (third through eighth), 1 p.m.
Championship finals, 3 p.m.
Awards, 5 p.m.