Feb. 28, 2010

Courtesy of Newberry Athletics

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - The No. 2 Newberry College wrestling team won its third consecutive Super Region I Tournament title, qualifying seven wrestlers for the NCAA Division II national tournament in the process. Newberry took one championship and placed two runners-up, three in third place, one in fourth place, one in fifth place and one in sixth place.

Newberry (18-4) earned 120 points, outpacing second-place Gannon by 16.5 points. Host Pittsburgh-Johnstown finished in third with 99 points.

Keeno Griffin (Jacksonville, Fla.) won his second straight Super Region I title and qualified for the national tournament for the fourth time. Latra Collick (Berlin, Md.) also qualified for the fourth consecutive time, both firsts in Newberry history. Matt Oliver (Toms River, N.J.), Sheridan Moran (Lafayette, La.), Sean Byrnes (Jackson, N.J.), Curtis Chenoweth (Clearwater, Kan.) and Bryant Blanton (Summerville, S.C.) also qualified for the national tournament. Jake Elkins (Trussville, Ala.) finished fifth and Josh Whitelock (Rhodesdale, Md.) finished sixth but did not qualify.

Keeno Griffin became the third Newberry wrestler of the day to qualify with an emphatic 10-2 major decision over No. 4 seed Mitch Knapp of West Liberty at 197 lbs., putting Griffin into the championship finals. Griffin then held off second-seeded Shane Nolan of UNC Pembroke, 5-1, for his second consecutive Super Region I Championship at 197 lbs.

After dropping his championship semifinal match to No. 5 seed Kenny Trumbetta of Seton Hill, 4-1, Matt Oliver found himself against No. 6 seed John Fleming of Gannon at 125 lbs. An illegal hold disqualified Fleming at the 6:42 mark, advancing Oliver to the wrestleback finals where he faced No. 4 seed Ryan Link of Pittsburgh-Johnstown. Two scoreless periods passed before Oliver scored on a takedown and added a riding time point for a 3-2 decision to claim third place and qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Oliver heads to the tournament for the third straight year and claimed sixth place all time in Newberry history with his 87th career win, coming against John Fleming in the wrestleback semifinals.

Sheridan Moran moved to the wrestleback bracket after a 7-5 loss at the hands of No. 3 seed Corey Bowers of Gannon in the championship semifinals at 133 lbs. Moran recovered for a 10-3 decision over fourth-seeded Nick Wykoff of West Liberty, putting Moran in the wrestleback finals against fifth-seeded Mike Magaha of Limestone. Moran used three reversals to overtake the Saint, 7-5, to finish in third place and book a trip to the national tournament. The qualification marks the first national tournament trip for Moran.

At 141 lbs., No. 7 seed Deral Brown (Elgin, S.C.) exited the tournament via a wrestleback quarterfinal loss to third-seeded Nate Nauroth of Shippensburg, 8-3. Brown ends his season with a 29-16 record.

Third-seeded Latra Collick became the first member of the scarlet and gray to qualify for the national tournament with an 8-6 decision in the second sudden victory period over second-seeded Kevin McElhaney of Gannon at 149 lbs.. The two swapped points in the tiebreaker after an initial scoreless sudden victory period and a Collick takedown sealed the win. Collick then took on top-seeded Mitch Smith of West Liberty in the championship finals match but found himself on the losing end, 3-2. Collick claimed runner-up for the fourth straight time with the loss and guaranteed himself a spot in Omaha.

Collick will make his fourth consecutive appearance at the national tournament. Collick also tied Sheridan Moran and Brandon Kelly on the Newberry career major decision list at the tournament by earning his 14th, which he acheived in an opening day match against Kurt McCamley of Seton Hill.

No. 5 Sean Byrnes had no easy test in his championship semifinal matchup against top-seeded Andy Lamancusa of Mercyhurst at 157 lbs. Byrnes took Lamancusa to a tiebreaker session before escaping for the point that would send Byrnes to nationals with the win, 3-2. Byrnes did have one more match to wrestle, in the in championship finals against second-seeded Michael Williams of UNC Pembroke. Byrnes led through the first two periods but Williams scored three points in the final stanza to win, 3-2. Byrnes claimed second place and qualified for the national tournament for the first time.

Josh Whitelock advanced to the wrestleback semifinals at 165 lbs. with a 5-1 decision over Trevor Sanford of Anderson before losing by fall to second-seeded Kyle Keane of Pittsburgh-Johnstown at 2:31. Whitelock also fell in the fifth place match to No. 7 seed Bryce Sopko of Limestone at 2:15. Whitelock finished the tournament in sixth place and ended the season with an 18-15 record.

Second-seeded Curtis Chenoweth dropped to the wrestleback bracket after an opening 3-2 loss to No. 3 seed Christopher Barrick of Shippensburg in the championship semifinals at 174 lbs. Chenoweth faced No. 4 seed Steve Makin of Pittsburgh-Johnstown and battled for a close 3-2 win, sending the junior to the wrestleback finals. Chenoweth dropped the third place match to sixth-seeded Anthony Patella of Gannon, 4-3, and then found himself in a battle against Limestone's No. 5 seed Casey Bradley for fourth place. The wrestlers found themselves tied through regulation, two sudden victory periods and one tiebreaker to force a second tiebreaker session. Chenoweth trailed in riding time in the second period of the tiebreaker but scored on a reversal with five seconds left to win, 4-3, securing fourth place and a trip to Omaha. The win marks the second career trip to the national tournament for Chenoweth and his first in a Newberry singlet.

At 184 lbs., Bryant Blanton lost his first match of the day in the championship semifinals to third-seeded Patrick Wlash of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, 3-2. Blanton took on fifth-seeded Landon Hall of Limestone in the wrestleback semifinals and advanced over the Saint with an injury default win at 2:25 to advance to the wrestleback finals. Blanton faced No. 4 seed Shane Mallory of East Stroudsburg in the finals and took a thrilling 2-1 tiebreaker win to claim third place and his third consecutive national tournament appearance.

Blanton's four wins at the tournament gives him 38 wins on the season, second-best all-time at Newberry. He trails Cy Wainwright's mark of 42 that Wainwright set last season.

At the heavyweight level, Jake Elkins came up short against sixth-seeded Christopher Dempsey of Pittsburgh-Johnstown in the championship semifinals, 8-1. Elkins squared off against No. 4 seed J.D. Ramsey of West Liberty in the wrestleback semifinals and, despite nearly taking down Ramsey with a fall, Elkins succumbed to a fall himself at 1:39. Elkins won the fifth place match against Erik Stancil of UNC Pembroke, 5-4, but could not challenge for fourth place. He ends the year with an 18-12 record.

Newberry's seven qualifiers will head to Omaha, Neb., for the NCAA Division II tournament on Friday, March 12, and Saturday, March 13.