ERIE, Pa. – For the fourth year in a row, the 12 other teams had no answer for No. 4 Newberry at the Super Region One tournament.
The Wolves used a pair of first-places finishes, five second-place medals, a third-place finish and a fifth place en route to the tournament title.
“We are very proud of these young men and how they performed,” said seventh-year head coach Jason Valek, who was named the Super Region coach of the year after the tournament. “Four Super Region championships in a row is a tremendous feat, and with nine place winners and eight national qualifiers we have positioned ourselves nicely for a shot at a national championship.”
Following an 8-4 loss at the Super Region I Duals, No. 1 seed Connor McDonald faced Ryan Bohince from Mercyhurst in his semifinal bout. The pair battled through a close pair of periods before McDonald sent the Laker to the mat and registered the first pin of the day for the Wolves at the 6:38 mark of the bout.
In the final, McDonald faced Chris Kochinsky from Shippensburg. McDonald struck first with a takedown in the first period before Kochinsky answered right back in the second. The bout wound up tied 4-4 at the end of the match, but thanks to more than 1:30 of riding time, McDonald captured the 125 pound championship 5-4.
In the 133 pound weight class, BJ Young found himself up against the No. 2 grappler in the nation in Pittsburgh-Johnstown’s Ryan Link. The pair competed in tight match when they faced off during the Super Region I Duals, and the semifinal match was no different. Young appeared to have taken the lead midway through the first, sending Link to the mat, but no takedown was awarded and the pair wrestled on. The battle went right down to the wire, and Link walked away with a 5-4 decision.
In the wrestleback bracket, Young shook off the close setback to post a 2-0 record to earn third place and became the second national qualifier for the Wolves.
Deral Brown picked up a win in his semifinal match to punch a ticket to the 141 pound final. The sophomore eked out a 3-2 win against Seton Hill’s Dallas Evans before facing Pittsburgh-Johnstown’s Jack Bachman in the championship. Bachman struck first, taking a 2-0 lead via a takedown in the second. Brown battled back to tie the match with a pair of escape points setting the stage for a tight final frame. Bachman scored an escape point to begin the frame, and Brown battled back, but could not find an opening through the defense of Bachman as the Mountain Cat went on take a 3-2 decision.
After winning his first wrestleback match the previous day, Seiji Borja took the mat once again in the 149 pound weight class. Borja ran over Christopher Robins of Ohio Valley by a score of 16-7 to enter the wrestleback semifinals against Nathan Link of Pittsburgh-Johnstown. Unfortunately, Borja could not keep the momentum going from his previous match, dropping a 10-5 decision to Link. Borja took fifth place after a 3-2 victory against Shane Foster from Mercyhurst.
No. 1 seed Sean Byrnes was well on his way to a national tournament berth after beating Zach Lundgren of UPJ in his semifinal match. Byrnes walked away with a 7-0 decision. In the final, Byrnes faced Jordan Shields from Mercyhurst, but the match was concluded early. Shields score a takedown and Byrnes’ knee twisted at an odd angle to force the junior to retire and take an injury defeat.
Blake Ridenour fell in his opening-round match of day two by a 7-3 decision West Liberty’s Jarrod Shaw. Ridenour suffered a deep cut in the match, and his competition in the tournament was concluded.
Josh Whitelock qualified for his second national tournament after a runner-up finish in the 174 pound weight class. The senior used a 7-4 decision against Trevor Sanford from Anderson to move onto the final where he faced East Stroudsburg’s Jeff Jacobs, who won 4-0.
No. 1 at 184 pounds, Bryant Blanton shook off a slow start in his semifinal match against Gannon’s Chris Boyd and piled up 10 points before finally pinning the Golden Knight at the 5:30 mark of his bout. In the final, Blanton met the grappler who had terminated the 24-match win streak Blanton was riding coming into the Super Region I Duals. A.J. Brentzel of UPJ and Blanton were battling for a high seed in the national tournament, and the ensuing match was one of the more memorable of the day.
Upon the conclusion of the scheduled three periods, they were tied at 1-1 and had to wrestle in a sudden victory match. The pair were still deadlocked after the sudden victory session so the bout was settled in a tiebreaker session. Blanton recorded an escape in his session, and fended off Brentzel’s many escape attempts in the second tiebreak session to walk away with a 184 pound championship.
Karl Reed won his semifinal bout against Ed Ebewo of East Stroudsburg to propel himself into the final against West Liberty’s Mitch Knapp, who went on to win the title.
In heavyweight action, Jake Elkins opened his day with a 4-3 victory against Mercyhurst’s Fred Hale. Chris Dempsey from UPJ, the reigning heavyweight champion at the Super Region I tournament, awaited in the final. The pair were tied 1-1 after the three periods and a sudden victory session was required to settle the match. Dempsey produced a takedown in the period for a 3-1 win.