There is no margin for error in the Division II postseason. Four Super Regionals are contested and student-athletes must finish among the top four at their respective weight classes in order to advance to the DII Championships.
Rankings and records are not considered. There is no at-large, wild-card or second chance. Finish fifth and your season is finished.
After a rugged weekend of competition, the field was narrowed to 160 individuals divided between 10 weights. A handful of title contenders will not be in Kearney, Neb., on March 11-12.
The biggest surprise in Region One came when Gannon’s second-ranked Anthony Petrella was tripped up before reaching the NCAA meet, where everyone expected him to have a strong showing. The senior 174 pounder entered Friday with a 15-2 record and as the top seed but lost a 3-2 decision to East Stroudsburg’s Jeff Jacobs in the semifinals. A round later, Pittsburgh-Johnstown’s Steve Makin eliminated Petrella with a 10-5 setback.
It was nearly the same fate for North Carolina-Pembroke’s Russell Weakley, who entered the weekend with a 19-1 record and ranked No. 1 in the country at 125 pounds. The senior from Ft. Madison, Iowa, had 14 bonus-point victories and placed eighth at the 2010 Division II Championships. But on Saturday at the Super Region One qualifier in Erie, Pa., Weakley lost to Shippensburg’s Chris Kochinsky 5-2 in the semifinals. A round later, he lost to Gannon’s fifth-ranked Jose Matos 5-4. Weakley was nearly knocked out of the top four, but won the fifth-place bout and then grabbed a 3-2 decision against Seton Hill’s Kenny Trumbetta in a true fourth-place match to barely advance to Kearney.
Only three No. 1 seeds in the region – Pitt-Johnstown’s John Paukovits (149), UNC-Pembroke’s Mike Williams (165) and Newberry’s Bryant Blanton (184) – cleared the field and won titles.
Pitt-Johnstown redshirt-freshman Jack Bachman, a No. 6 seed, won the 141-pound title.
• Top-ranked 174 pounder Luke Rynish of Wisconsin-Parkside suffered a 10-7 defeat to St. Cloud State’s Shamus O’Grady in the Region Three semifinals. Rynish (21-2) came back to finish in the top four and will be at the NCAA meet.
• Central Oklahoma’s Derrick Adkins entered the weekend ranked eighth in DII at 165 pounds. He went 1-2 at Super Region Two, getting pinned in 33 seconds by Richard Manwarren of St. Andrews Presbyterian in the consolations.
• University of Chicago 133 pounder Francisco Acosta entered the Division III Great Lakes Regional with a 6-8 record. The sophomore from Don Bosco Prep in New York upset the fourth seed in the first round and eventually finished fourth by winning three of five matches this weekend. Acosta, however, did not receive one of the nine wild-cards given by the conference’s coaches.
• Elmhurst heavyweight Mark Corsello moved to 31-0 with three wins to claim a title in the same tournament.
• Division III Centenary College won the Metropolitan Conference Tournament for the first time in program history, holding off defending champion College of New Jersey by 12 points. Centenary’s top-ranked 133 pounder Will Livingston won his second consecutive conference title and will head to the Division III Championships with a perfect 22-0 record.
A few things did remain the same over the weekend.
• Two-time defending Division II team champion Nebraska-Omaha ran away with the Super Region Two title, qualifying all wrestlers 10 for the national meet and outdistancing second place Ashland by 30.5 points at Findlay, Ohio. The Mavericks crowned five champions. Newberry, St. Cloud State and Nebraska-Kearney claimed top honors at the other three Super Regionals in Division II. It was Newberry’s fourth consecutive Super Regional title.
• In Division III, Wartburg ran away with a 19th consecutive Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title, crowing seven champions and qualifying all 10 for the DIII NCAA meet in La Crosse, Wis.
• Defending DIII team champion Augsburg won its ninth consecutive Great Lakes Regional championship. AU will have to defend its national title with just five wrestlers in La Crosse, Wis., on March 11-12.
• UW-La Crosse won its 14th consecutive Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title; Merchant Marine Academy had six champions in winning a fourth consecutive Centennial Conference trophy by 40 points; and Ithaca won the ECWC title, its third in four years.
• Division I saw the first of 11 qualifiers hit the mats on Sunday in Corvallis, Ore. At the Pac-10 Championships, Boise State claimed top honors for the third time in four years. After the 149-pound title bout won by Boise State’s Jason Chamberlain, the Broncos led Oregon State by 7.5 points in the team race. BSU senior 157 pounder Adam Hall (25-0) then edged Arizona State’s Bubba Jenkins in triple overtime, followed by teammate Kurt Swartz’s victory in the 165-pound title bout to clinch the team championship for Greg Randall’s squad.
• Arizona State 125-pounder Anthony Robles (31-0) continued his magical season, beating Oregon State’s Jason Lara in the final.
• Boise State’s Kirk Smith, injured in his final regular-season match, dropped a 9-2 contest to Oregon State’s Brice Arand in the 184-pound semifinals and injury defaulted out of the tournament. The 2010 NCAA runner-up will have to rely on an at-large berth to get into the NCAA field in Philadelphia. The Pac-10 received 26 allocations from the NCAA.
• The other 10 Division I qualifiers will be held on March 4-6 at various locations around the country.