The Pac-12 kicked off the Division I postseason on Sunday in Palo Alto, Calif. The six-team league was given seventeen spots for the NCAA Championships, March 20-22 in Oklahoma City. Do the math and you get sixty wrestlers battling for seventeen tickets.
Oregon State, under head coach Jim Zalesky, continued its dominance of the league by winning a third consecutive team title on Sunday. The Beavers pushed six to the finals and claimed three titles -- Joey Delgado (141), Scott Sakaguchi (149), and RJ Pena (157). Second-place Stanford went 4-for-4 in finals bouts, getting titles from Evan Silver (125), Ryan Mango (133), Jim Wilson (165), and Dan Scherer (197). Scherer beat Oregon State's Taylor Meeks in the finals.
Boise State's Jake Swartz, the champion at 184 pounds, won his third Pac-12 title.
The rest of the DI qualifiers, eight to be exact, hit the mats next weekend.
Division II Super Regionals Wrap
If ever a qualifying tournament prepared individuals for the national tournament it was the Division II Super Regional staged in Edmond, Okla. Reigning DII kings Nebraska-Kearney won a down-to-the-wire race, edging Lindenwood by seven points and St. Cloud State by another half point. The top five at each weight advanced to the DII Championships in Cleveland, Ohio, March 14-15.
Sophomore Matt Paulis of Upper Iowa provided a few head-scratching moments on Saturday. The 133-pounder pinned Central Oklahoma All-American Casey Rowell in the quarterfinals, was pinned by Ouachita Baptist's Nathan Rodriquez in the semifinals, was pinned in the consolation semifinals, but finished his day by pinning St. Cloud State's Andy Pokorny in the fifth-place bout. Pokorny, a two-time NCAA finalist, will not be in Cleveland.
UNK crowned 133-pounder Daniel DeShazer (14-1), 174-pounder Patrick Martinez (21-1), and 197-pounder Romero Cotton (19-3), with Mark Fiala (32-15) falling in the 184-pound finals to Fort Hays State rookie Jon Inman (26-6). Cotton beat Upper Iowa veteran Carl Broghammer (38-3) in the finals. UNK's Destin McCauley placed sixth at 157 pounds and did not qualify for Cleveland.
Central Oklahoma's Cory Dauphin, in winning the 157-pound title, moved his win streak to fifty-one. Teammate Chris Watson (35-2) was champion at 165 pounds. Other first place finishers were: Augustana (S.D.) sophomore 125-pounder TJ North (30-3), Fort Hays' CJ Napier (30-4) at 141 pounds, Central Missouri State's Frank Cagnina (35-2) at 149 and Lindenwood heavyweight Steve Butler (17-1). Cagnina, a DI transfer, beat Upper Iowa's Edwin Cooper (39-3) in the finals. Four of the ten champions in Edmond - DeShazer, Napier, Cagnina, and Martinez - started their collegiate careers at DI schools.
Notre Dame (Ohio) claimed top honors at Johnstown, Pa., outdistancing host Pittsburgh-Johnstown by 25.5 points. The Falcons, third at the 2013 DII Championships, pushed eight to the finals and won four titles. NDC sophomore Joey Davis (35-0) kept his perfect career rolling, edging East Stroudsberg's Brendan McKeown, 8-5, in the 174-pound finals. Maurice Miller (141), Jonathon Rivera (157), and Eric Burgey (165) also earned titles the Ohio program which qualified nine for the DII Championships.
Pitt-Johnstown senior Dave Fogle beat Gannon's Matthew Turek in the 125-pounds finals, joining teammates Travis McKillop, a two-time All-American, and Zachary Bennett, champions at 184 and 197, respectively.
Kutztown had a pair of champions, Evan Yenolevich (133) and Ziad Haddad (285), with Mercyhurst's Jerry Landowski (11-4) the champion at 149 pounds
Indianapolis won the Midwest Super Regional by 19.5 points at Tiffin. Senior Cameron Brady (33-1), an All-American last March, won the 157-pound title as expected, but the Greyhounds received a major boost from Josh and Justin Kieffer, both natives of Indianapolis. Justin, a junior, beat Newberry's B.J. Young and UNC-Pembroke's Daniel Ownbey, both All-Americans, on his way to the 141-pound trophy. Jeff Weiss (29-6) also earned top honors for Indianapolis, who broke a six-year run by Newberry of winning a regional championship.
Findlay senior and two-time All-American Adam Walters (31-3) claimed the 174-pound title, qualifying for the NCAA Championships for a fourth time. Ben Sergent (19-6), also a senior for Findlay, won the 125-pound title.
Other champions included: Ashland 133-pounder Michael Labry (31-4), Lake Erie 157-pounder Zak Vargo (30-4), McKendree 197-pounder Jon Vogt (28-12), and Maryville's Donnell Walker (33-8), a freshman who claimed the 285-pound crown.
Out west in Colorado, Western State edged California Baptist by six points in a 10-team West Super Regional. WSU crowned senior Ryan Fillingame (30-5) at 141 pounds, Eliot Copeland (13-2) at 174 pounds, Kyle Piatt (29-3) at 184 pounds and 197-pounder Sam Mangrum (27-6).
Cal Baptist's Bryden Lazaro (27-6) beat Simon Fraser's Skylor Davis (40-9) in the 125-pound finals. CBU rookie Brady Bersano (33-6) beat WSU's Daniel Kelly in the 157-pound finals, with heavyweight Jake Mitchell (14-0) also earning top honors.
Other champions were: San Francisco State's Isaiah Hurtado (28-8 at 133), Colorado Mesa's James Martinez (18-2 at 149), and Adams State's Mark Mabry (18-9) at 165.
One hundred and sixty advanced to the DII Championships, five per weight class from the Central and Midwest Super Regionals, and three per weight from the East and West.
Division III Regionals Wrap
Six Regionals were held in Division III with top-ranked Wartburg flexing its postseason muscles. The Knights outpointed second-place Coe by thirty-two points; third-place Luther College was sixty points back. Two-time NCAA champion Kenny Anderson (11-2), off the mat for a bit, avenged two seasonal losses in winning the 133-pound title. The Wartburg senior beat Coe's Jimmy Gotto in the semifinals, then beat Luther's Evan Obert in the title bout; Obert ended Anderson's 51-match win streak in a regular season dual. Gotto, an NCAA runner-up at 125 last March, finished fourth to end his season. The top-three placers at each weight at all six regionals advanced to the DIII Championships in Cedar Rapids, March 14-15.
The Knights, who qualified nine, also crowned 125-pounder Gilbert Camacho (14-1), 141-pounder Connor Campo (28-7), 165-pounder Cole Welter (30-1), 174-pounder Landon Williams (36-3), and 285-pounder Ryan Fank (34-2).
Four schools split the remaining four weight classes: Dubuque's Nick Drendel (20-6 at 149), Coe's Dimitri Boyer (28-6 at 157), Luther's Jayden DeVilbiss (31-9 at 184), and Cornell (Iowa)'s Alex Coolidge (25-4 at 197).
Augsburg edged Concordia-Moorhead in a two-team battle at the West Regional in Minneapolis. The Auggies, winners of twelve straight Regional titles, had four champions led by two-time NCAA champion Chad Johnson (31-1), the top dog at 285 pounds, 125-pounder Mike Fuenffinger (30-3), Chad Bartschenfeld (22-13 at 133), and Justin Bowland (25-14 at 165).
Concordia (Wis.) had two champions, Jacob Long (27-8) at 149 pounds, and Christian Harrison (26-8), the winner at 184 pounds.
As expected, Wisconsin-Oshkosh senior Nazar Kulchtskyy (36-2) won the 157-pound title. He was joined by teammate Dan Schiferi (29-4), who won the 174-pound trophy. Wisconsin Eau Claire's Nathan Behnke (34-9) was champ at 141. St. John's Ryan Michaelis (16-9) earned the title at 197 pounds.
A significant absence from the DIII Championships will be 2013 champion Greg Sanders of Concordia. The electric 149-pounder was injured early in the season.
One of the better team races of the weekend came at the East Regional where Wilkes edged Ursinus by a point and Delaware Valley by four in the seventeen-team field. Mark Hartenstine (149) and Kris Krawchuck (157) were champions for Wilkes, who had four others among the top three. A very tough 125-pound bracket saw Johns Hopkin's Paul Bewak beat the US Merchant Marine Academy's Michael Mui in the finals. Mui pinned highly-touted Chris Donaldson of Ursinus in the semifinals. Donaldson and Wilkes' Guesseppe Rea, two top 125-pounders, finished outside the top three and missed qualification.
Delaware Valley rookie Zach Roseberry (25-5) continued his solid season, winning the title at 285 pounds. New York University's Brandon Jones, a DI transfer from Iowa State, was champion at 141 pounds.
Also down-to-the-wire, the Northeast Regional saw Cortland State edge Ithaca College by two points. Joe Giaramita's (35-5) win in the 197-pound finals provided the difference. Sean Kempf (125), Brian Bistis (141), Bobby Dierna (149), and Lou Puca (184) were also champions for Cortland. Ithaca countered with Alex Gomez (133) and Kris Schimek (165) and five others among the top three.
Wisconsin-Whitewater, 23-5 in duals in 2013-14, was twenty two points better than Wisconsin La Crosse at the Midwest Regional at Wabash. Jimmy Nehls (133, Cedric Gibson (165) and Shane Siefert (197) were champions for UWW to lead six qualifiers. Wabash, two points behind La Crosse, also qualified six with all three Lefever brothers, Connor, Riley, and Reece, punching their tickets to Cedar Rapids. Olivet also had two champions and will take five to nationals.
The Mideast Regional at York (Pa.) saw Messiah earn a thirty-five point victory over Mount Union and fifteen others. Freshman Lucas Malmberg (125), Kaleb Loht (141) and Ricardo Plummer (174) earned titles for Messiah. Mount Union and Washington & Jefferson each had two champions.
UW-Whitewater and Messiah finished the regular season ranked two and tree. Might they challenge Wartburg in two weeks?