Little Rock Wrestling Prepared for 2024 NCAA Championships

(All images via

LITTLE ROCK – The Little Rock wrestling team has returned to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships for just the second time in program history, qualifying five wrestlers for the three-day tournament beginning Thursday, March 21 and running through Saturday, March 23.

“It’s awesome being back, especially in my hometown,” said head coach Neil Erisman. “The first time I ever watched the NCAA Tournament was in Kansas City, and it’s the first time I’m here at the T-Mobile Arena. It’s a full-circle moment.”

“I’m excited for the guys, especially the older ones that have experienced where we came from and where we are now,” Coach Erisman added. “It’s been a test of perseverance that’s paid off. I’m also excited to see these younger guys experience it right away, and throw them in the fire. I believe and expect great things to happen based on how we’ve trained and competed all year. I know the guys are going to do everything they can to be successful.”

Nasir Bailey, Joseph Bianchi, Matty Bianchi, Josiah Hill and Stephen Little will represent the Trojans in each wrestler’s first National appearance. The squad makes up one of 14 schools that only have first-time qualifiers, and Little Rock has the highest number of qualifier in that group with five.

In addition, the Trojans are one of 37 schools to qualify five or more wrestlers, as 68 of 78 championship-eligible teams qualified wrestlers to the 2024 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. The team’s improved performance this season has been proven from their second-place finish at the Pac-12 Conference Tournament to their national ranking, finishing no. 18 in the country at the end of the regular season.  
Before this year, the team finished 5th at the Pac-12 Championships with a program-high five dual wins and had never been ranked nationally. The only Little Rock wrestler to ever compete at the NCAA Tournament was Paul Bianchi in 2021. He went 1-2 on the week, advancing to the second day of competition.
How to Watch
The first session of the 2024 NCAA DI Wrestling Championships kicks off at 11 a.m. Thursday, while the second session begins at 6 p.m. that same evening. Wrestlers that win at least once on Day One will advance to competition on Friday, March 22. View the full schedule of events here.

Who’s In for the Trojans

Two Trojans have collected top-10 seeds going into the week: Nasir Bailey and Stephen Little. Bailey earned the no. 7 seed at 133 pounds while Little checks in at no. 9 at 197 pounds. Bailey is one of just 26 true freshmen to qualify for the NCAA Tournament out of the 330 total wrestlers, while Little is one of just 31 redshirt freshmen. Bailey boasts the number 27 win percentage in the country at 92% with a 23-2 record against DI opponents. Meanwhile Little is not far off at 36th with a 90.9 win percentage coming from a record of 20-2 against DI opponents.

Joseph Bianchi is the next-highest seed, coming in at no. 13 in the 165-pound bracket. He’s followed by Josiah Hill, no. 27 at 285 pounds and younger brother Matty Bianchi, the no. 31 seed at 157 pounds. In total, the Little Rock wrestlers make up five of the 28 representing the Pac-12 Conference at the tournament. In addition, Tyler Brennan is the first alternate at 174 pounds.

Bailey, the older Bianchi and Little were all Pac-12 Conference champions in their respective weight classes. Both Bianchi brothers will have Pac-12 matchups in the First Round of the bracket: Joseph and Stanford’s Garvin for a Pac-12 Championship rematch while Matty will take on Pac-12 Champion Teemer from Arizona State. View the full brackets here.

Joseph and Matty are one of nine pairs of brothers attending the tournament, while the older brother is the fifth-most improved wrestler attending the championships. He was 9-14 last year at 149 pounds before jumping to 23-5 against DI opponents this season, a 43% difference. Matty is one of 47 at-large selections to compete in the tournament.

Wrapping up the group, Hill is the other upperclassman on the Trojan roster along with the older Bianchi, a redshirt junior having been on the roster four years and the starter at heavyweight for the past three years. His 24 wins against all opponents this season ties Bailey for the most wins on the team going into the NCAA Tournament, while his nine falls leads the group set for the championships. Get all stats and additional information on the Little Rock roster here.

More Links for Fans
2024 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Program 
Official NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships merch
2024 Mat Talk Online NCAA Division I Fan Guide
Download the 2024 NCAA DI Wrestling Championship app
NCAA event preview
For the latest information on Little Rock Wrestling, make sure to check out You can also find the team on social media at @LittleRockWRES on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.


Print Friendly Version

What do you think?

Written by Arkansas Wrestle