Having closed out its regular season schedule, Columbia wrestling will look to match last season's success at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships this weekend.
The Lions (6-5, 2-3 Ivy) finished their season on a high note—defeating both Brown and Harvard on the road—despite heading into those two matches with an 0-3 Ivy League record.
"We definitely wrestled above expectations," Light Blue head coach Carl Fronhofer said of his team's performance.
Columbia hopes to exceed expectations again this weekend.
Last season, the Light Blue finished fifth overall out of 18 teams at the EIWA Championships with 69 total points. This year, the tournament has been reduced to 16 teams as Rutgers moved to the Big Ten Conference and Boston University discontinued its wrestling program altogether.
The EIWA Championships includes both team and individual events, tallying each wrestler's individual points towards a team total. Whichever team has the most points will be named champion. This event is also the qualifying event for the NCAA Championships, which will take place two weeks after the EIWA Championships.
"You qualify for the NCAA Championships individually—so that's all based on the strength of your weight [class]. So depending on the strength of the weight—the NCAA allocates how many automatic bids that come out of that weight, so if you place in one of those spots [during the EIWA Championships], you automatically get advanced to the NCAA Championships," said Fronhofer.
There's also a national wild card pool in the event that a wrestler does not place within the specific number of bids within their respective weight class.
"Last year, we had three automatic bids, and then one of our guys got a wild card [bid]," said Fronhofer.
Currently, two of the Lions' wrestlers are within the NCAA bid allocation—sophomore Markus Scheidel in the 157-pound weight class who is seeded fifth out of seven NCAA bids and heavyweight first-year Garrett Ryan who is seeded fourth out of five NCAA bids.
Despite being plagued by an injury for most of the season, Scheidel will wrestle in the tournament after being cleared by doctors.
The tournament begins Friday at 10 a.m., and the finals will take place Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The championship will take place at Lehigh's Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.