D-III Regionals Ramp Up
Feb. 20, 2009
Courtesy of Delaware Valley College Athletics
DOYLESTOWN, Pa. – The Delaware Valley College wrestling team, tied for second in the latest national rankings, will look to win its third consecutive NCAA Division III Midwest Regional title and qualify as many wrestlers as it can for nationals when the Aggies head to Trine University (Angola, Indiana) on Saturday, February 21.
Wrestlers from 11 teams will compete for 15 individual berths (10 weight-class champions and five wild-card selections) to the NCAA Division III Championships, which will be held at U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on March 6 and 7.
Delaware Valley finished the 2008-09 dual meet campaign with the most wins in school history as the squad went 21-1-2. Its only setback was a 25-17 loss to top-ranked Augsburg College, while its ties were against No. 2 Wartburg College (17-17) and Division II Kutztown University (19-19).
Two others teams at the Midwest Regional are ranked in the national poll as Olivet College and Waynesburg University are 19th and 28th respectively. The rest of the regional field is Case Western Reserve University, Manchester College, The College of Mt. St. Joseph, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Thiel College, Wabash College and Washington & Jefferson College as well as host Trine.
Two-time Midwest Regional Coach of the Year Brandon Totten has five nationally-ranked wrestlers on his roster, including a pair of No. 1 grapplers in 184-pounder Mike Wilcox (Buena, NJ/Buena) and heavyweight Kyle Bilquist (Toms River, NJ/Toms River South).
Wilcox won the regional title and then made it all the way to the NCAA finals a season ago. This year, the senior has won 29 of 31 matches (eight pins), including a first-place finish at the York Spartan Invitational. On January 31, he needed just 2:10 to pin defending champion Romeo Djoumessi of Wartburg on Djomessi’s home mat. That victory vaulted Wilcox into the top spot in the national rankings.
Bilquist will look to reach the NCAA Championships for the third straight year (wild-card selection in 2007, regional champion last year). The returning All-American (fifth) and senior moved into the number one position in Division III after defeating three nationally-ranked wrestlers on the Aggies’ trip to Iowa at the end of January. Bilquist sports a 25-3 record with 10 pins.
Returning regional champions Brandon Clemmer (Pottstown, PA/Upper Perkiomen) and Chris Sheetz (Barto, PA/Upper Perkiomen) are also ranked in the NCAA Division III top 10 for Delaware Valley.
Clemmer, a senior, is ranked third at 133 pounds thanks to a 26-6 record that includes a team-high 16 pins. He placed first at the York Spartan Invitational, and he enters the regional just three wins shy of 100 in his career (including his two years at Kutztown).
Sheetz was named the Midwest Regional’s Most Outstanding Wrestler as a freshman last year as he knocked off the top-ranked, 125-pound wrestler in the country in the finals. He then went on to place sixth at the NCAA Championships to earn All-American accolades. This year, Sheetz holds a 31-4 record (14 pins) and is ranked fourth in the country. He had first-place showings the Central jersey Open, the East Stroudsburg Open and the York Spartan Invitational.
Rocky Mantella (Newtown, PA/Council Rock) is the remaining nationally-ranked Aggie as the junior is fifth at 174 pounds. Mantella became the first Delaware Valley wrestler since Jason Shivak in 2003-04 to go undefeated in the regular season as he went a perfect 24-0 with four pins. Mantella’s weight class at the Midwest Regional will include second-ranked Kyle Vanderhyde of Olivet College.
Sophomore 141-pounder Eric McCann (Hatfield, PA/Pennridge) was ranked as high as fifth in Division III during the season. McCann will enter his first regional championship with a 20-9 record, including three pins.
Senior Justin Barowski (Point Pleasant, NJ/Point Pleasant Beach) and junior Martin Porter (Long Branch, NJ/Long Branch) have NCAA qualifying tournament experience on their resume.
Barowski, a transfer from Wilkes, competed at the Metropolitan Conference Championships during his days with the Colonels and finished as high as third. This season with the Aggies, he is 21-9 with two pins at 165 pounds.
Porter competed for Delaware Valley at the 2006-07 Midwest Regionals and placed sixth. After a year away, he returned to the Aggies and won the right to represent the squad at 197 pounds. He holds a 19-7 record (seven pins) and took first at the Messiah Open.
Dale Fava (Elmwood Park, NJ/Elmwood Park), Robbie Hickman (Waretown, NJ/Southern Regional), round out the Delaware Valley roster for the regional tournament. Fava, a sophomore, has won 14 of 20 matches (six pins) at 149 pounds. Hickman, a junior, is 16-11 with six pins at 157 pounds.
The NCAA Midwest Regional schedule is as follows:
Saturday, February 21, 2009
9:00 a.m. – Preliminaries
9:45 a.m. – Quarterfinals
11:15 a.m. - Consolation Preliminaries
12:30 p.m. - Semifinals and Second Round Consolations
2:00 p.m. - Consolation Semifinals
3:10 p.m. - Championship and Consolation Finals
4:30 p.m. - True Second Wrestlebacks (for NCAA wild-card consideration)
5:15 p.m. - Coaches Wildcard Selection Meeting