Cortland State defends Northeast Regional title, sends six to nationals
MIDDLETOWN, CONN. -- Cortland State won its second consecutive regional title and six Red Dragons qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships -- five as regional champions -- as the NCAA Div. III Northeast Regional Championships concluded at Wesleyan.
Cortland finished first in the 18-team field with 128 points, two ahead of runner-up Ithaca. Johnson & Wales (R.I.) placed third with 105.5 points and Roger Williams was fourth with 97.5 points. Ranked ninth nationally in Div. III, Cortland will be sending six wrestlers to nationals for the second year in a row. The championship meet is March 14-15 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Earning trips to nationals with regional titles were: senior Sean Kempf at 125 pounds; senior Brian Bistis at 141 pounds; sophomore Bobby Dierna at 149 pounds; junior Lou Puca at 174 pounds; and sophomore Joe Giaramita at 197 pounds. In addition, junior Lance Moore qualified for nationals with a second-place showing at 285 pounds. The top three finishers in each weight class at regionals qualified for the NCAA championship meet.
Kempf, seeded fifth at 125 pounds, earned his first trip to nationals with a 4-0 record. After a pin and a decision on Saturday, Kempf beat the top seed, Jonathan Murray of Rhode Island College, 5-2 in the semifinals and earned a 6-2 win against third-seeded Jimmy Kaishian of Ithaca in the finals. Kempf is 13-6 on the season and 78-37 in his career.
Bistis earned his second trip to nationals with a 4-0 mark at 141 pounds. He went to the national meet in 2012 after winning the Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference (ECWC) 141-pound title and was an All-American with an eighth-place national finish. Seeded first at regionals and ranked fourth nationally, Bistis started with a pin and a decision on Saturday. He won 9-5 in the semifinals Sunday against fourth-seeded Ricondo Cole of Rhode Island College, then pinned second-seeded Dominick Giacolone of Ithaca in just 51 seconds in the championship match. Bistis will bring a 20-5 record into nationals and is 88-28 for his career.
Dierna, the nation's top-ranked wrestler at 149 pounds, won his second consecutive regional crown with a 4-0 mark. He opened the tournament with a pin and a 14-7 decision and continued his dominance Sunday with a 14-2 major decision in the semifinals versus fourth-seeded Joey Gaccione of Johnson & Wales and a 16-6 major against second-seeded Eric Hamrick of Springfield in the finals. Dierna is 23-3 this season and 58-6 in two years at Cortland. He was an All-American last year with a third-place national finish.
Puca entered the weekend as the top seed and ranked fourth nationally at 174 pounds. His Saturday's wins included a pin and a overtime tiebreaker decision. On Sunday, be blanked the fifth seed, Lucas Taylor of Coast Guard, 5-0 and won by medical forfeit in the finals. Puca, now 33-7 on the year and 84-24 in his career, won the 174-pound regional title for the second consecutive season. He was an All-American last winter with a sixth-place NCAA finish.
Giaramita, the top seed and ranked third nationally at 197 pounds, won his two Saturday matches by pin and major decision. He registered another major in the semifinals with a 15-6 win against fourth-seeded Hunter Ayen of Springfield, then beat third-seeded Petros Hologitas of Trinity (Conn.) in the finals 7-3. Giaramita is making his second trip to nationals. As a freshman in 2012, he was an ECWC wild card entry at 285 pounds and earned All-America honors with an eighth-place national finish. He did not wrestle last season due to injury. He'll bring a 35-5 season record and 59-16 career mark into nationals.
Moore, in his first season with the Red Dragons, went 3-1 to claim second place at 285 pounds. As the top seed, Moore began the tournament with a pin and a 9-2 decision. He beat fifth-seeded Shane Bartrum of Ithaca in the semifinals 3-2 to open Sunday's competition, but lost 3-2 to unseeded Kyle McGuire of Trinity in the finals. Moore is 27-6 on the season.
Freshman Mike Beckwith was still alive for a possible third-place finish at 165 pounds entering Sunday's competition but finished sixth with a 3-3 record. After a 2-1 mark Saturday, the unseeded Beckwith won 9-7 in his opener Sunday against the fifth seed. He lost, however, to the third seed from Springfield, Dylan Foley, by a 4-3 decision and fell again in the fifth-place match to the sixth seed, Stephen Jarrell of Johnson & Wales 8-5 in the first sudden-victory overtime.