Kearney, Neb. – The 5th-ranked Nebraska-Kearney wrestling team qualified eight individuals for the NCAA Championships after winning Super Regional IV (West) Saturday in Gunnison, Colorado.
The two-day meet, hosted by Western Colorado State, featured 14 schools. The top four finishers in each weight class advances to the NCAA's, held March 11-12 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Racking up 144.50 points, UNK had three first place finishers in seniors Devin Aguirre (165 lbs.) and Daniel DeShazer (133 lbs.) and junior Destin McCauley (149 lbs.). California Baptist (112.5) and Western State (87.0) came in second and third, respectively, in the team race.
Coming in second for the Lopers were seniors Connor Bolling (125 lbs.) and Romero Cotton (197 lbs.) and sophomores Calvin Ochs (174 lbs.) and Keith Surber (141 lbs.). Also heading to Sioux Falls will be senior Chase White, who placed third at 157 pounds.
Redshirt freshman Zach Stodden (Broomfield, Colorado) was hoping to punch his NCAA ticket at 184 pounds but he dropped third and true fourth place matches. He ends his first regional with a 2-3 mark.
In all seven first place matches, UNK scored first.
DeShazer (Wichita, Kansas) was up 4-0 just 23 seconds into his match against Chadron State's Taylor Summers. Eventually ahead 10-4, DeShazer pinned Summers with nine seconds left to improve to 33-5. He also wins a rare fourth regional title.
McCauley (North Sioux City, South Dakota) tallied eight of his nine points in the first period, recording two takedowns and picking up four near-fall points. Central Oklahoma's Spencer Rutherford managed only two escapes in a 9-2 decision.
At 165 pounds, Aguirre (Ponca City, Oklahoma) had a tougher road, using a takedown with 10 seconds left in the second to get past California Baptist's Nolan Kistler, 3-1. Like McCauley, he'll try and become a two-time All-American in a couple of weeks.
Both Bolling (Central City) and Surber (O'Fallon, Illinois) had 2-0 leads but ended up falling 7-2. This will be the second straight NCAA meet for both.
In his first NCAA regional, Ochs (Hoxie, Kansas) was poised for a thrilling 13-11 victory over Western's Austin Harris. However, a video review wiped off a last second Ochs reversal and Harris managed a quick takedown in sudden victory to win at 174 pounds.
Cotton (Hutchinson, Kansas) was seemingly in control of sixth-ranked Paul Wilson of Colorado School of Mines at 197 pounds. He used two takedowns in the first minute and then recorded another to lead 7-3.
However, Wilson scored the next seven points and then managed a fall at 5:33. Cotton is still going to the NCAA's for a fourth year in a row and hopes to join DeShazer as a three-time national champion.
Finally, White (Lincoln, Nebraska) will be in his third meet after a tough overtime win over Western State's Ian Steen. Just seconds into the sudden victory period, White took Steen down for a 3-1 win.