Four regional qualifiers determined who will be in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for the 2016 NCAA Division II Championships, March 11-12. The top four finishers at each weight class in each of the four regions provide the final tournament of the season with its 160 participants. Pittsburgh-Johnston, Marvyille (Mo.), Nebraska-Kearney, and Wisconsin-Parkside earned team titles with Maryville the only squad to place all 10 wrestlers inside the top four. Forty-eight schools qualified at least one. For links to results at all four Super Regions, go HERE.
UPJ holds off top-ranked Falcons
In Erie, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh-Johnstown outdistanced Notre Dame College by 12.5 points to win top honors at Super Region I. Two Mountain Cats ― Evan Link (125) and Nick Roberts (133) ― won titles and two others lost in the finals. Link beat All-American Willie Bohince and Roberts beat NDC’s David Bavery in finals matches. Both UPJ and NDC, ranked No. 1 entering the postseason, advanced nine wrestlers to the Division II Championships in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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NDC senior Joey Davis (16-0) remained unbeaten in college, beating UPJ’s Travis McKillop (31-1) in the 184-pound final. Falcon rookie 149-pounder Isaac Dulgarian (23-2) also claimed a title, along with 2014 NCAA champion Garrett Lineberger at 197 pounds. NDC’s other 2014 NCAA king, Jonatan Rivera dropped his finals match to Kutztown senior Matt Martoccio (27-3).
Mercyhurst (Pa.) finished a distant third with the Mizia brothers, Francis and August, each claiming championships. The two are combined 51-5 this season.
Among the surprises were Kutztown’s Ryan Appleby knocking off UPJ’s top-seeded DJ Sims in the semifinals at 285 pounds and 125-pounder Zach Brown of West Liberty. Brown, a junior who was seeded fourth, lost in the quarterfinals, but rebounded with a pin and two overtime decisions, the second over All-American Dustin Warner of Wheeling Jesuit. Warner, fifth at the 2015 NCAA Championships, lost a 2-1 bout to Link in the semifinals before falling in the second tiebreaker to Brown.
Alderson Broaddus 184-pounder Cody Spinks, seeded seventh, was pinned in 46 seconds by McKillop in the quarterfinals, but rebounded with four wins to take third.
Mercyhurst qualified five for Sioux Falls. Gannon and Kutztown will each take three, with Seton Hill and Shippensburg sending two. Alderson Broaddus, LIU-Post, and West Liberty each qualified one wrestler.
Maryville back in No. 1 form?
In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, site of the 2016 NCAA Championships, preseason No. 1 Maryville (Mo.) liked the mats, edging 2015 NCAA champion St. Cloud State, 151.5-145.5, to claim Super Region III honors. All 10 of head coach Mike Denney’s squad qualified with Nate Rodriguez (24-1 at 141) and Zeb Wahle (16-3 at 174) claiming regional championships. Three others ― Dakota Bauer (133), John Hagerty (149), and Ryan Beltz (197) ― lost in the finals.
St. Cloud State qualified seven, but took a significant loss at 157 pounds when All-American Larry Bomstad was injured and defaulted out of the tournament. Austin Goergen (32-1 at 285), Clint Poster (35-1 at 165), Jay Hildreth (30-4 at 149), and Brent Velasquez (21-2 at 125) each won titles for the Huskies. In 2015, Tim Prescott won the NCAA title at 125 pounds.
Other champions included Minnesota-Morehead’s Blake Bosch (28-5 at 133), Lindenwood senior Terrel Wilbourn (21-0 at 157), Augustana’s Aero Amo (184), and Northern State’s Joe Gomez (197). Top-seeded heavyweight Cole Wilson (30-5) lost in the quarterfinals and again in the consolation semifinals. A fourth-place challenge match victory put him inside the top four. Wilson, a senior for Southwest Minnesota State, is the only wrestler to beat Goergen this season.
Upper Iowa qualified six with Lindenwood, McKendree, and Minnesota State-Mankato each sending four to the national tournament.
Lopers strong in Gunnison
In Gunnison, Colorado, Nebraska-Kearney punched eight tickets to Sioux Falls with a strong showing in Super Region IV at a tournament that included plenty of surprises. Colorado School of Mines’ Paul Wilson (24-2) pinned two-time NCAA champion Romero Cotton of UNK in the finals at 197 pounds and 2015 NCAA finalist Corbin Bennetts of Western State, after getting pinned in back-to-back matches, had to win a pair or challenge bouts to finish inside the top four at 141 pounds. The top seed at 125 pounds, Newman’s Dustin Reed, lost in the semifinals and was pinned a round later; he won a pair of challenge matches and earned a spot in the final four.
The Lopers got titles from two-time NCAA champion Daniel DeShazer (33-5 at 133) and All-Americans Destin McCauley (18-5 at 149) and Devin Aguirre (16-2 at 174). Along with Cotton, Conner Bolling (125), Keith Surber (141), and Calvin Ochs (184) each dropped finals bouts.
California Baptist finished second, 33 points behind UNK. Jacob Waste (12-2) was tops at 184 pounds and Brady Bersano (19-5) was champion at 157 pounds; three others finished inside the top four. Other champions included Western State’s Ronald Wardleigh (28-14 at 125) and Austin Harris (33-7 at 184), Colorado Mesa’s Daniel Salazar (30-4 at 141), and Colorado State-Pueblo’s Jacob Mitchell (285), who beat CBU’s Joe Fagiano in the finals.
Thirteen schools qualified at least one wrestler. Western State and Colorado Mesa each qualified five, with Central Oklahoma at four. Simon Fraser, in British Columbia, Canada, will be represented by Tyler McLean (41-11), who finished third at 165 pounds.
UW-Parkside, Newberry, Ashland lead Super Region II
Newberry (S.C.) may have lost the regional battle in Indianapolis, but put itself in position to compete two weeks. Twenty-four points behind team champion Wisconsin-Parkside and without an individual champ, the Wolves qualified a region-high seven for Sioux Falls. Sophomores Jordan Simpson (133) and Huston Evans (184), plus redshirt-freshman Mike Kennedy (285) each dropped finals matches. Evans, an NCAA finalist in 2015, lost to UW-P’s Montrail Johnson in the final.
Wisconsin-Parkside crowned three champions led by unbeaten 174-pounder Nick Becker (38-0), who beat UNC-Pembroke’s Blaze Shade, 9-1, in the finals. Nick Fishback (31-4 at 165) and Pernevlon Shepperd (28-9 at 141) also won titles. Shepperd knocked off top-seeded Bryce Killian of King College, 11-10, in the semifinals.
Ashland, like UW-P, qualified six and had a strong weekend led by senior 197-pounder Joe Brandt (24-2), who beat fellow senior Jake Cramer of Tiffin in the title bout. Robert Mason (141) and All-American Brent Fickel lost finals bouts with 133-pound freshman Chandler Minnard making an unexpected run for fourth place. After losing by technical fall in the quarterfinals, Minnard won a pair of matches before falling to UW-P’s Joseph Her. When Her beat Coker College’s Derrick Nelson, the top seed, for third place, Minnard was allowed to challenge for true fourth where he beat Nelson, 14-2.
Tiffin qualified five led by heavyweight Garrett Grey (40-2), who had three pins. The beauty of the all-or-nothing regional qualifiers belongs to Guiseppe Penzone, unranked and unknown entering the weekend. The sophomore from Columbus, Ohio, beat Newberry’s Trung Duong, 16-10, in the semifinals after beating second-seeded Sebastion Vidika in the quarterfinals.
Indianapolis’s Josh Kieffer (23-4 at 125) and Nick Crume (20-6 at 133), Findlay’s Nic Goebel (36-4 at 149), and Belmont Abbey’s Scott Bosak (22-5 at 157) also won Super Region II titles.
Thirteen schools qualified at least one wrestler for Sioux Falls.
Qualifiers for 2016 NCAA DII Championships
10 ― Maryville (Mo.)
9 ― Notre Dame College (Ohio), Pittsburgh-Johnstown
8 ― Nebraska-Kearney
7 ― St. Cloud State, Newberry (S.C.)
6 ― Upper Iowa, Wisconsin-Parkside, Ashland (Ohio)
5 ― California Baptist, Colorado Mesa, Western State (Colo.), Tiffin (Ohio), Mercyhurst (Pa.)
4 ― Lindenwood (Mo.), McKendree (Ill.), Minnesota State-Mankato, Central Oklahoma, Indianapolis, Wheeling Jesuit (W.V.)
3 ― Ft. Hays State (Kan.), Colorado State-Pueblo, Findlay (Ohio), Gannon (Ohio), Kutztown (Pa.)
2 ― San Francisco State, Lake Erie College (Ohio), Limestone (S.C.), Seton Hill (Pa.), Shippensburg (Pa.)
1 ― Minnesota State-Morehead, Ouachita Baptist, Augustana (S.D.), Northern State, Southwest Minnesota State, Chadron State (Neb.), Adams State (Colo.), Simon Fraser, Colorado Mines, Newman, Belmont Abbey (S.C.), UNC-Pembroke, King (Tenn.), Shorter (Ga.) Coker (S.C.), West Liberty (W.V.), LIU-Post, Alderson-Broaddus (W.V.)