PITTSBURGH — For the fourth straight year, Appalachian State Wrestling will have four competing entries at the NCAA Championships.
Randall Diabe (senior at 197 pounds), Cary Miller (redshirt junior at heavyweight), Codi Russell (redshirt sophomore at 133 pounds) and Matt Zovistoski (redshirt junior at 149 pounds) will begin competition Thursday at noon in Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena.
Diabe, Miller and Russell were automatic qualifiers as Southern Conference champions. Zovistoski earned an at-large berth.
“This group has been a big part of the team success that we’ve had over the last four years,” head coach JohnMark Bentley said. “The great thing about these four guys, I don’t think any of them are satisfied with just being there. All of them expect to go and compete hard and win matches and give themselves a chance to be an All-American. That’s a good feeling, when all the guys you’re taking believe they can be an All-American.”
* The 26th-seeded Russell (21-10) will face Iowa’s Austin DeSanto (18-4) in the round of 32. Their match will be Bout 39.
* The 29th-seeded Zovistoski (27-13) will face Missouri’s Brock Mauller (29-2) in the round of 32. Their match will be Bout 66.
* The 15th-seeded Diabe (26-5) will face Oklahoma’s Jake Woodley (21-8) in the round of 32. Their match will be Bout 153, and Diabe earned a 5-3 decision against Woodley when the Mountaineers hosted a dual against the Sooners in mid-December.
* The 28th-seeded Miller (23-11) will face Michigan’s Mason Parris (29-7) in the round of 32. Their match will be Bout 159.
Every one of the 640 matches will be available to watch on ESPN3 via the ESPN App. ESPN’s prime-time coverage begins with the second round on Thursday at 7 p.m. and continues with the semifinals on Friday at 8 p.m. On Thursday and Friday, ESPNU will air the first round at noon and the quarterfinals at 11 a.m.
For a closer look at App State’s four NCAA qualifiers:
RANDALL DIABE (197 POUNDS)
Storylines: Two-time NCAA Championships qualifier and two-time All-Southern Conference selection with a 77-46 career record … This week, has a first-round rematch with Oklahoma’s Jake Woodley, who lost a 5-3 decision against Diabe during a nonconference dual in Boone on Dec. 16 … Went 1-2 at the NCAA Championships in Cleveland, following a loss by a 3-2 decision against eventual third-place finisher Kyle Conel (Kent State) with an 8-4 victory against 11th-seeded Corey Griego of Oregon State.
2018-19: All-Southern Conference at 197 pounds and an automatic NCAA Championships qualifier thanks to his title at the SoCon Championship in Boone … Seeded 15th in the NCAA bracket, takes a 26-5 overall record and 77-46 career record to Pittsburgh … Went 14-1 in App State’s duals, including 14-0 against Division I programs … Went 5-0 in SoCon duals to go unbeaten for the second straight season … Entering the NCAA Championships, was ranked No. 16 nationally by the NCAA Coaches’ Panel, No. 18 in the RPI and No. 13 by InterMat … Placed seventh at the Southern Scuffle thanks to a 3-1 decision against Navy’s Josh Roetman, an NCAA qualifier … Claimed a 5-4 decision against The Citadel’s Sawyer Root in the SoCon final … Against highly ranked NC State, won a 3-2 decision against 18th-ranked Malik McDonald … Also posted wins in duals against Power Five programs Oklahoma (5-3 decision vs. Jake Woodley), North Carolina (major decision against Hunter Queen) and Duke (10-3 decision against Alec Schenk) … SoCon Wrestler of the Month for November.
CARY MILLER (HEAVYWEIGHT)
Storylines: Second straight year as App State’s heavyweight after backing up All-American Denzel Dejournette as a redshirt freshman in 2016-17 … First-time NCAA qualifier has a 63-32 career record … Will face Michigan’s Mason Parris (29-7) in the round of 32.
2018-19: All-Southern Conference at heavyweight and an automatic NCAA Championships qualifier thanks to his title at the SoCon Championship in Boone … Seeded 28th in the NCAA bracket, takes a 23-11 overall record (with nine pins) and 63-32 career record to Pittsburgh … Went 12-4 in App State’s duals and 6-0 in SoCon duals … Entering the NCAA Championships, was ranked No. 28 nationally by the NCAA Coaches’ Panel … An 8-1 decision against Campbell’s Odgerel Batkhishig capped a run in which Miller went 8-0 with three pins, one technical fall and two major decisions against SoCon opponents (regular season and tournament).
CODI RUSSELL (133 POUNDS)
Storylines: First-time NCAA Championships qualifier at 133 pounds after, as the No. 2 seed at the Southern Conference Championship in Boone, claimed a 9-4 decision against top-seeded and ranked opponent Noah Gonser of Campbell in the final round … Joins his older brother, Minnesota senior Sean Russell (Big Ten’s third-place finisher at 125 pounds), as an NCAA qualifier in Pittsburgh … Has a 34-23 career record in two years as a starter … Will face Iowa’s Austin DeSanto (18-4) in the round of 32.
2018-19: Automatic NCAA Championships qualifier thanks to his title at 133 pounds during the SoCon Championship in Boone … Seeded 26th in the NCAA bracket, takes a 21-10 overall record to Pittsburgh … Went 9-4 in App State’s duals and 5-1 in SoCon duals … Entering the NCAA Championships, was ranked No. 27 nationally by the NCAA Coaches’ Panel and No. 26 by the RPI … Claimed a 9-4 decision against top-seeded and ranked opponent Noah Gonser of Campbell to win a title at the Southern Conference Championship in Boone. That followed a semifinal win by major decision and a quarterfinal win by technical fall … Had wins in duals against Power Five conference opponents North Carolina and Oklahoma … Second-place finisher at the Appalachian Open … Went 2-1 against Campbell’s Gonser, who was ranked No. 15 during his dual win in Boone, but Russell won a 6-3 decision against him at the Hokie Open.
MATT ZOVISTOSKI (149 POUNDS)
Storylines: Two-time NCAA Championships qualifier at 149 pounds thanks to a Southern Conference title in 2017 and an at-large selection in 2019 following a redshirt season in 2018 … Returns to the national stage after going 2-2 at the NCAAs in 2017 and will face Missouri’s Brock Mauller (29-2) in the round of 32 this year … With 33 wrestlers filling every bracket, there were five at-large spots available for the 149-pound wrestlers who didn’t qualify automatically, and Zovistoski (27-13 overall) is No. 28 in the NCAA Coaches’ Panel rankings and No. 30 in the RPI … Takes a 73-37 overall record to Pittsburgh.
2018-19: NCAA Championships qualifier (at-large berth) with a 27-13 overall record … Competed early in the season at 157 pounds before returning to 149 … Had a 7-4 record in App State’s duals and a 5-1 record in SoCon duals … Third-place finish at the Southern Conference Championship in Boone, with a 3-1 record that included three major decisions and a 10-0 shutout of The Citadel’s Selwyn Porter in the third-place match … Eighth-place finish at the Southern Scuffle … 4-0 record at the Appalachian Open.