KUTZTOWN, Pa. – The Newberry Wolves had nine wrestlers place in the top six of their respective weight class to roll to their sixth consecutive Super Regional I championship Saturday at Keystone Arena. Eighth Wolves qualfied for the NCAA Division II Champsionships on March 8-9 in Birmingham, Ala.
Newberry collected 147.5 team points to establish a program record at regionals. The eight national qualifiers also ties a team record. Pitt-Johnstown finished in second place with 119 points, while Mercyhurst was third with 85 points.
Two Newberry wrestlers claimed the championship of their weight class — 149-pounder Deral Brown and 165-pounder Blake Ridenour.
Brown took a 10-3 major decision against Pitt-Johnstown’s Jack Bachman in the semifinals then took a 3-2 decision versus Seton Hill’s Nick Nichols in the championship bout to earn his second trip to the national tournament. He also was a national qualifier in 2011.
Ridenour was dominant in the tournament, going 4-0 with three pinfalls. Ridenour’s matches did not make it out of the first round Saturday, as he pinned Millersville’s Zach Pincus at the 1:16 mark in the semifinals and pinned Mercyhurst’s Clint Schaefer at the 1:04 mark of the championship bout. Ridenour collected more points toward his team’s total than any other wrestler in the tournament.
Mitch Brown also made the championship match at 184 pounds before claiming runner-up honors. In the semifinals, Brown took a 5-3 decision over Gannon’s Zack Zelcs, but he lost a 7-0 decision to Pitt-Johnstown’s Travis McKillop in the championship bout.
Four Wolves claimed third place in their respective weight class to advance to the national tournament. At 141 pounds, B.J. Young took Pitt-Johnstown’s Dave Cawley to overtime, but dropped a 6-4 decision in the second tiebreaker period. Young rebounded with a 13-8 decision against Shippensburg’s Cody Myers in the consolation semifinals and took third place with a 4-2 decision versus Kutztown’s Even Yenolevich.
Taylor Knapp (157 pounds) was a hard-luck loser in the semifinals, as UNC Pembroke’s Justin Pencook took a 7-6 decision with a late takedown. Knapp came back with a vengeance, pinning Kutztown’s Matt Martoccio in the consolation semifinals. Knapp took third place with a win by medical forfeit against top-seeded Braden Turner of East Stroudsburg.
Joey Grisko battled Kutztown’s Vinny Campanile in the semifinals. Neither wrestler was able to earn any points, but Campanile earned a riding-time point for a 1-0 win by decision. Grisko took a 5-3 decision against Pitt-Johnstown’s Nikos Garofola in the consolation semifinals and earned a 9-3 decision versus top-seeded Tyson Shearer of East Stroudsburg in the third-place match.
In the heavyweight class, Matt Wade was the victim of a 12-3 major decision by West Liberty’s Mike Carpenter in the semifinals. Wade then took a 4-1 decision against Millersville’s Brad Ladd in the consolation semifinals. In the third-place match, Wade got revenge for a loss in the dual with a 9-5 win by decision against Pitt-Johnstown’s Josh Duplin to earn third place.
Jeff Vesta added to his nation-leading pin total while placing fourth in the 125-pound class. He dropped an 8-0 major decision to Pitt-Johnstown’s Evan Link in the championship semifinals, then needed only 25 seconds to pin Millersville’s Sam Oberlander in the consolation semifinals. In the third-place match, Vesta battled Gannon’s Matt Turek but dropped a 12-10 decision to take fourth.
Joe Pittman took fifth place at 174 pounds. In the consolation quarterfinals, Pittman won with a 1:39 pin against Millersville’s Dane Woodruff. In the consolation semifinals, Pittman lost a 6-4 decision in the sudden-victory period to Pitt-Johnstown’s Gary Lantz. Pittman needed only 52 seconds of the fifth-place match to pin Shippensburg’s Neal Grudi.
Nick Lankford (133 pounds) lost a 21-5 technical fall to Kutztown’s Brandon Davis in the consolation quarterfinals. Lankford went 2-2 in the tournament.
Newberry was the only school with eight national qualifiers from the region, while Pitt-Johnstown will send seven to Birmingham.
Other individual winners included: Willie Bohince, Mercyhurst (125 pounds); Cameron Throckmorton, Shippensburg (133); Daniel Ownbey, UNC Pembroke (141); Pencook, UNC Pembroke (157); Brendan McKeown, East Stroudsburg (174); Campanile, Kutztown (197); and Carpenter, West Liberty (285).