Published January 31. 2014 4:00AM
New London - Some of the top college wrestlers in the nation will compete Saturday when Coast Guard Academy hosts the 20th annual All-Academy Wrestling Championships.
The event, featuring Division I and Division III programs, begins at 10 a.m. at Merriman Gymnasium in Roland Hall and concludes with championship matches at 4 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for ages 15-and-under.
Coast Guard has hosted the tournament only one other time (2003).
Navy is the defending champion - the Midshipmen have won the last five tournament titles and nine of the last 10 - and will be joined by Army, Air Force, Virginia Military Academy and The Citadel from Division I, as well as Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and Norwich University from Division III.
Navy returns four champions from a year ago in Colton Rasche (133 pounds), Raymond Borja (149), Peyton Walsh (157) and Matthew Miller (174). Borja, Walsh and Miller went on to qualify for the NCAA Division I tournament.
Air Force, the 2013 runner-up, features returning champion Josh Martinez, who is currently ranked fifth in the nation at 125, as well three wrestlers who placed second a year ago - Josh Kreimier (157), Dan Barringer (174) and Devin Hightower (184). The Citadel has a defending champion in sophomore Ugi Khishignyam (141) and is coming off the best season in program history when it placed 20th in the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs also welcome back Turtogtokh Luvsandorj, the 2011 champion at 165 and runner-up in 2012 at 174.
Army also returns three second-place finishers in Tyler Rauenzahn (141), Paul Hancock (165) and Bryce Barnes (197).
Merchant Marine was the top Division III finisher in the tournament last year. Coast Guard, meanwhile, returns junior All-American Nate Giorgio (133), who has missed most of this season with an injury but placed second at 125 a year ago. Freshman Matt Vieira (149) and senior captain Luke Taylor (174) are the Bears' other hopefuls.
Coast Guard will be led by interim coach Rob McKnabb, who took over earlier in the week when Steve Eldridge announced his retirement after 47 years.