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University of Central Florida Season Preview

10/26/2011 -

After graduating standouts at several key weights, the Central Florida Knights start the 2011-2012 season with plenty of fresh faces. However, the young team isn't letting the loss of four all-americans stop them, as the Knights look to test their new talent against an increasingly tough NCWA landscape. With a pair of impressive preseason outings already in their pockets, UCF seems poised to make some noise this season.
The team is lead by Senior Captain Nick Christian, who fell just short of accomplishing his goal of landing on the medal stand last year. Christian decided to commit to a final season with the team to try and realize his vision of an all-american finish, and after placing second in Puerto Rico's Copa Sparta freestyle tournament, Christian is on his way to meeting his high standards. His young fellow captain, Alex Chiricosta, is also looking to have a notable year. The returning all-american will begin his campaign for a third national placing finish after placing at both pre-season tournaments this season. Also joining Christian in his Senior year is four-year competitor Harrison Billig. The 141 pound wrestler is a multiple-time national qualifier, and will also be searching for his first all-american finish in his final season.
Also returning is defending 235 pound champion Josh Woods. Woods will try to keep his gold this season as he returns to the division as one of its most exciting heavyweight competitors. With a runner-up finish at the Copa Sparta and a first place finish at the GNWA Gorilla Open, it is clear Woods is back and ready to repeat. Joining Woods at the top of the teams weight classes is fellow 235 pounder Brett Simonelli, Senior 197 pounder Daniel Polaski and heavyweight Tyler Turner.
The Knights enjoy one of the largest freshmen classes in their decorated history, lead by state-placers Brian Santiago, Christian Grillo, Hayden Myer and Matt Vaughn. Santiago proved to be an asset after winning both the freestyle and greco 123 brackets at the Copa Sparta. Vaughn and Myer also showed their stuff this preseason, placing first and second at the GNWA Gorilla Open, respectively. Joining the Knights' new faces is Sophomore transfer and South Florida standout Santiago Martinez. Martinez is entering his Sophomore season after spending his first year at Lindenwood University, which will be joining UCF in the NCWA this season. Martinez placed top two in both of his preseason appearances this season.
UCF opens their season in Charleston, South Carolina at the Citadel Open and will be looking to earn another national at the NCWA nationals in March.