SUNY Cortland claims ECWC title
Red Dragons qualify four competitors for nationals
BROCKPORT, N.Y. -- Two SUNY Cortland wrestlers won individual conference titles and four others finished second to lead the Red Dragons to the team title at the Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference championships.
Cortland, ranked 13th nationally, finished with 128.5 points to wins its fifth league title overall and fourth in the last six years. The Red Dragons stunned No. 5 Ithaca, which finished second with 127 points despite winning six of the 10 weight class individual titles.
Rounding out the team standings was No. 19 Brockport in third (105.5), No. 22 Messiah in fourth (97), SUNY Oneonta in fifth (81.5), Lycoming in sixth (56.5), SUNY Oswego in seventh (36) and Rochester Institute in eighth (30.5).
Cortland’s Jared Myhrberg and Brian Bistis earned automatic berths to the NCAA Div. III Championships with individual weight class titles. Myhrberg repeated as the league's 197-pound champion with three victories, all by pinfall. In the finals Myhrberg was tied 1-1 with Brockport's Paul Glover before recording a late takedown that led to the winning pin, and improved his record to 29-0 on the season.
Bistis went 3-0 with two major decisions and will take a 24-6 record into the national championships. He defended his top seed with a 14-0 win against Oneonta's Brian Barry, a 15-2 win against fourth-seeded Victor Bracey of Messiah and a 3-0 win in the finals against second-seeded Alex Gomez of Ithaca. Leading 1-0, Bistis recorded a takedown with 10 seconds left versus Gomez to secure the victory.
Two of Cortland's second-place finishers were voted into nationals by the league's coaches following the championship. Troy Sterling finished second at 157 pounds with a 3-1 record and earned a wild card spot for the second consecutive season. Currently 16-5, Sterling lost in the finals to Ithaca's Derek Brenon, 3-2 but won 11-8 in the "true second-place" match versus Oneonta's Dan Graff.
Carl Korpi earned his first trip to nationals after finishing second at 184 pounds with a 3-1 mark. He lost to Messiah's Tim Stewart in the finals, 11-3 but won 12-1 in a true second-place match against Lycoming's Tyler Cunningham. Korpi is 28-7 on the season.
Joey Giaramita and Sean Kempf also posted second-place finishes but did not earn NCAA berths.
Giaramita was chosen as the first alternate from the conference to go to nationals.
The third seed at 285 pounds lost his first match by one point to the sixth seed Russ Jones of Messiah, but rebounded to win his final four matches. He avenged the loss to Jones with a 9-2 decision in the consolation finals, and then beat second-seeded John Wilkinson of Brockport in the true second-place match, 3-2. Giaramita record is 22-8.
Kempf, seeded sixth at 133 pounds, knocked off third-seeded Ben Mikac of Oneonta in the quarterfinals, 7-4 and second-seeded Kaleb Loht of Messiah in the semifinals, 10-5. He lost by pinfall to defending national champion Seth Ecker of Ithaca in the finals. Kempf finished the season 20-10.
Lou Puca finished in third place at 174 pounds. Seeded third, he won his opening match before losing to the second seed in the semifinals. He pinned both of his opponents in the wrestlebacks, including a fall in 4:26 against fourth-seeded Jimmy Neal of Oneonta in the third-place match.
Cortland trailed Ithaca in the team standings, 127-124.5, prior to the true second-place matches. The Red Dragons, however, won all three of their matches in that round -- victories by Sterling, Korpi and Giaramita -- to pass the Bombers. Despite Ithaca's dominance with six titles, Cortland scored well with bonus-point victories. The Red Dragons' 26 individual victories at the tournament included six pins, two injury defaults, a technical fall and five major decisions.