LA CROSSE, Wis. – Case Western Reserve University senior Isaac Dukes (Ravenna, Ohio/Ravenna) is set to make his fourth-consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament this weekend, and the two-time All-American will enter the 157-pound bracket as the No. 6 seed.
"I'm in great shape and finally feel like I am 100 percent," said Dukes. "I didn't have a lot of matches this year, so it took me a little longer to get to this point. Being the six seed and wrestling a 'rat tail' will also give me another round to warm up."
Dukes qualified for the tournament as a "wild-card" after posting a runner-up finish at 157 pounds at the 2012 NCAA Midwest Regional Championship that was held at CWRU on February 25.
His performance this season has earned Dukes the No. 6 seed in this weekend's championship bracket with a first-round bout versus John Darling from The College of New Jersey at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. That match is one of two "rat tail" matches that will feed into the round of 16. Last season, Dukes entered as the top-seed in the 149-pound bracket.
"Where I'm seeded won't change the way I approach the tournament," said Dukes. "I'm still a returning champ and two-time All-American. I know what I can do, and my goals will be the same. You don't go to nationals just hoping to be an All-American. You don't work this hard just to get there. You want to perform at your best and win."
Dukes' previous three NCAA Championship appearances have yielded a national title at 149 pounds in 2010 and a third-place finish in 2011. As a freshman in 2009, his only other national tournament at 157, Dukes drew the No. 1 seed in the opening round and fell by a 7-6 decision.
Since moving up a class to 157 in early January, Dukes has posted an 8-2 record with three technical falls. His only loss at the NCAA Regional came by a point to the eventual Midwest Wrestler of the Year.
Overall in his career, Dukes has a 116-19 record, ranking seventh in school history in wins and third in winning percentage (.859).
"I've been having fun, and I plan to go out and have fun this weekend -- regardless of winning or losing," said Dukes. "I've done just about everything I can do in my career. Knowing it is all winding down, I'm going to leave it all out there."
The opening rounds of the 2012 NCAA Division III Championship begin at 11:00 a.m. (CDT) on Friday, March 9. The quarterfinal round is slated for 6:00 p.m. (CDT) that evening, while the semifinals and championship matches open at 10:00 a.m. (CDT) on Saturday, March 10.