DURHAM, N.C.—The 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships get underway next week in St. Louis and Duke redshirt junior Jacob Kasper will open the tournament as the nation’s No. 4 seed at heavyweight. Kasper is joined by teammates Connor Bass and Jake Faust at the upcoming championship event.
The No. 4 seed matches the highest by a Blue Devil in program history. Two-time All-American heavyweight Konrad Dudziak also earned the fourth seed in 2010, en route to a fourth-place finish.
Kasper, earning an automatic berth after taking runner-up behind NCAA No. 3 seed Ty Walz, will wrestle against Gage Hutchinson of Eastern Michigan in his opening match. The Blue Devil standout is 27-3 overall on the season, while Hutchinson heads to St. Louis with a 25-13 mark. A win for Kasper would pit him against the winner of No. 13 seed Collin Jensen of Nebraska and Mike Kosoy of NC State. The quarterfinal could feature a rematch between Kasper and eighth-seeded Michael Kroells of Minnesota. Kasper defeated Kroells to capture the Southern Scuffle title in January.
At 157 pounds, Faust is matched up against No. 4 seed Tyler Berger of Nebraska. Berger recently took third at the Big Ten Championships to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA field. He is 32-4 overall on the year, took second at the Midlands and is making his second appearance in the NCAA Championships. Faust also earned his second consecutive bid to the NCAA event by advancing to the consolation final at the ACC Championships. He finished the 2016 NCAA Championships with a 1-2 record.
Bass, earning a podium spot and automatic bid at 174, will wrestle No. 16 seed Christian Brucki of Central Michigan. It will be the first meeting between the wrestlers, both of whom are making their debuts at the NCAA Championships. Bass is 21-11 after his performance at the ACC Championships, while Brucki is 29-8 and took third at the MAC Championships. The winner likely will have to wrestle top-seeded and undefeated Zahid Valencia of Arizona State.
Wrestling gets underway March 16 at 10 a.m., at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Every match at the NCAA Championships will be carried on ESPN3 with television coverage being spread across the various ESPN platforms.