Burns travels to NCAA Championships for second-straight year; faces nation's top-ranked heavyweight

BUIES CREEK, N.C. - After winning the heavyweight title at the East Regional Championships, Campbell senior Parker Burns will compete in this week's NCAA Wrestling Championships held Thursday-Saturday (March 17-19) in Philadelphia.

Wrestling in the NCAAs for the second consecutive year, Burns will take on Lehigh's Zachery Rey - the No. 1-ranked heavyweight in the nation - in Thursday's opening session, which is slated for an 11 a.m. start.

"We're really looking forward to Parker representing us this year," said first-year head coach Joe Boardwine. "There's two ways to look at the draw - you could just say, 'Wow, that's a tough draw' or you could go out and wrestle well against a top guy. He seems confident and healthy, and our plan is to get him ready to wrestle right out of the gate."

Burns clinched an automatic bid to the NCAAs after winning a pair of matches at the East Regional Championships on March 6. Burns picked up a fall in 1:27 over Millersville's Bradley Ladd in his first match, and won a 7-1 decision over Sacred Heart's Paul Schweighardt in the championship match to earn the individual crown at 285 pounds.

Last year, Burns became the first Camel to qualify for the NCAA tournament since 2002 after winning the 197 pound championship at the East Region tournament. He fell to seventh-seeded Anthony Biondo of Michigan in his opening-round match.

The Everett, Wash., native moved up a weight class this offseason and is just the second Campbell wrestler to qualify for the NCAA tournament twice; Anthony Cox accomplished the feat in 1987 and '88.

Burns holds a 17-13 record this year, including five wins by fall.

"This is exciting for Campbell wrestling," said Boardwine. "It's a good springboard for our program, and we hope to do a lot more of that in the future."

Rey, the top-ranked heavyweight in the nation and top seed in the bracket, won his first 29 bouts of the year for Lehigh before falling in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) championship last week. Of the junior's 29 wins, seven have come by fall.

A total of 330 wrestlers will compete (33 per weight class) at the NCAA Championships, which are being held at the Wells Fargo Center.

Sessions 1-5 will be aired on ESPN3.com, and Session 6 will be broadcast on ESPN Saturday at 7:30.

81st NCAA Championships Schedule:

Dates: March 17-19, 2011

Session 1: Thursday, March 17, 11 a.m. (pigtail round, round of 32)

Session 2: Thursday, March 17, 6:30 p.m. (round of 16 and wrestle-back prelims)

Session 3: Friday, March 18, 10:30 a.m. (quarterfinals and wrestle-backs)

Session 4: Friday, March 19, 7:00 p.m. (semifinals and wrestle-backs)

Session 5: Saturday, March 19, 11:00 a.m. (consolation semifinals and medal rounds - 3rd-8th)

Session 6: Saturday, March 19, 7:30 p.m. (national finals)