LEWISBURG, Pa. – The NCAA announced the field for the Division I Wrestling Championships on Wednesday, and Bucknell’s Victor Lopez and Garrett Hoffman received at-large bids to compete in St. Louis on March 16-18. Those two join automatic qualifiers Tom Sleigh and Tyler Smith to give the Bison four wrestlers making the trip to the national tournament.
Lopez, listed 20th at 157 pounds in the latest Intermat national rankings, took fifth at the recent EIWA Championships, but put together a regular season resume that that was impossible for the at-large committee to ignore. Including the conference tournament, the senior went 27-7 with wins in 10 of his final 12 matches. Lopez had two victories over highly-ranked opponents, beating then-No. 11 Russell Parsons (Army West Point) 7-2, and then-No. 8 Andrew Atkinson (Virginia) 7-3.
Hoffman was right on the bubble as an at-large selection after a solid freshman season at 184 pounds. He helped earn the EIWA one of its eight automatic bids with his performance during the regular season, but a tough loss in the consolation bracket ended his conference tournament run earlier than expected. In the end, his 18-14 record, including a 5-1 mark in EIWA dual matches, was enough to qualify in his first season with the Bison.
Sleigh and Smith secured their spots to the NCAA Championships by earning automatic bids at the EIWA Championships. Sleigh, the 15th-ranked wrestler at 197 pounds, advanced to the finals before dropping a 4-4 TB2 decision to Penn’s Frank Mattiace. Smith, ranked 14th at 141 pounds, won his first two matches to advance to the semifinals and went on to finish fourth. Sleigh is 31-5 on the season, while Smith enters nationals at 28-8.
The group of four Bison wrestlers have qualified for the NCAA Championships a combined nine times. Sleigh and Smith will make their third trip to the national tournament, Lopez will compete for a second time, and Hoffman will make his debut.
Tickets to the event, which will be held at the Scottrade Center, can be purchased here.