SAN FRANCISCO – Eighth-ranked Nebraska-Kearney scored 127.5 points to win the 2011 RMAC/NCAA Super Regional Four at San Francisco State University on Sunday.
UNK ended Western State’s two year reign as RMAC champions in the 11-team race. Before Western State’s back-to-back wins, UNK won the tournament from 2000 to 2008.
The Lopers qualified six individuals for the 2011 NCAA Championships, hosted by UNK at the Health & Sports Center on March 11-12.
Juniors T.J. Hepburn at 149 pounds, Dalton Jensen at 141 pounds and Joey Wilson at 165 pounds all earned their first RMAC championships. Hepburn was named RMAC Wrestler of the Year as well.
Hepburn is now 33-3. He pinned Mariano Montoya of Highlands in the first round, earned a major decision against Auesten Moore from Grand Canyon and then in the semifinals, picked up a 10-4 decision against Kenny Jordan of Adams State. In the final, he pinned Mitchell Means of Fort Hays State in 2:29.
Jensen improved his recorded to 25-4 by getting a 16-3 major decision against Bery Tack of Mesa State; earning a 4-2 decision against Chadron State’s Jimmy Savala in the semifinals and taking an injury default in the final against Naveed Bagheri of host San Francisco State.
Wilson started the tournament with an 8-2 decision against Briston Brenton from Chadron State, then won 8-4 vs. Jordan Larsen of Colorado Mines to advance to final versus Dylan Granard, where he picked up a 14-11 decision.
Junior Caleb Kociemba entered the tournament with 7-1 record and earned back-to-back decisions without giving up any points to Zack Frazier of Western State and Trent Zempel of Chadron State to advance to the final. There he fell to Victor Carzo of Grand Canyon. Carzo was the only opponent to score against Kociemba as he won the 174 165 pound championship on a 9-2 decision.
Senior Ben Hohensee earned a pin and two decisions to advance to the final where Charlie Alexander of Western State, who earned a 3-1 sudden victory win in a dual three weeks ago. Like the previous meeting, the score was tied at 1-1 going to the overtime period where Alexander got an escape to prevail with 2-1 victory.
Ross Brunkhardt was the final qualifier for UNK at 184 pounds. Brunkhardt went 3-1 in the tournament with his only loss coming to eventual RMAC runner-up Ryan Becerra of Grand Canyon in the semifinals.