MTSU Places 9 at the MAC Championship
In a field that featured NCAA Division 2 school St. Andrews University, which is transitioning to the NAIA, former NCAA Division 1 school Liberty University, NAIA school West Virginia Tech, which is transitioning to NCAA Division 2, as well as NCWA powerhouses The Apprentice School and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC), the Middle Tennessee State University Wrestlers placed 5th overall in a very difficult NCWA Mid-Atlantic Conference championship tournament, which held four of the top seven schools from this season’s NCWA National Duals and four of the top fifteen schools in the NCWA Coach’s Poll, with nine wrestlers placing in their respective weight classes.
In the 125lb weight class, team captain Anthony Patnode earned a 6th place finish, and freshman Shane Shaffner, wrestling the best match of his season in the consolation semifinals against UMBC’s Kris Dutt, walked away with a 4th place finish and looks to make an impact during next week’s NCWA National Tournament with an automatic qualification. The two wrestlers become the first two wrestlers to place at the same weight class in the conference tournament since 2009.
MTSU also had two wrestlers place in the 133lb weight class. Freshmen Eric Feuerbacher and Jacob Ramirez placed 5th and 7th, respectively, with Feuerbacher becoming only the second 30 match winner in team history, and Ramirez placing in his first tournament of the season after joining the team at the beginning of the Spring semester. Feuerbacher, last season’s TSSAA 125lb state champion, automatically qualifies for the national tournament with his 5th place finish, as he tries to become the first ever 133lb All-American in team history.
The Blue Raiders didn't place any wrestler at either 141 lbs or 149 lbs. Patrick Chadwick (141, 1-2 on the day) and Kyle Chandler (149, 0-2) both wrestled well, but fell shy of a top 8 finish.
MTSU’s first 30-match winner, Everett Colbert, who fell victim to two very controversial stalling calls within a brief 15 second window during the consolation semifinals against The Apprentice School’s Will Sexton, ended the tournament with a 6th place finish. Everett finished with an impressive NCWA record of 24-1 outside of the Mid-Atlantic conference, with the lone loss coming at the hands of the University of Lindenwood-St. Charles during this season’s National Duals.
Team Captain and two-time National Qualifier, Nick Appleby, failed to place after two heartbreaking and narrow losses to 5th seed Junior Monzey from UMBC and 3rd seeded Hardey from VMI. Appleby’s 14-6 record in the regular season left him with a highly difficult draw due to very questionable seeding.
Freshman Jonathan Roberts earned a 7th place finish in the 174lb weight class despite injuring his ribs during the consolation semifinals that nearly forced him to injury default the 7th/8th place match. Roberts ended that match with a pinfall nine seconds into the second period against Southern Virginia and ended the day with 2 pins (10 on the season) and one tech fall. The team has 10 tech falls on the season, which is a team record.
Freshman Mike LaBadie was the only Blue Raider to place in every tournament this season. He became the first Blue Raider to place in both the Cumberland Open at Cumberland University (NAIA) as well as the Roman Open at Shorter University (NAIA), and was equally as impressive in NCWA tournaments, earning placements in the Bear Invitiation at Mercer University and the Shipbuilder Invitational at The Apprentice School. LaBadie would keep his streak alive this weekend with tough wins against East Carolina and The Apprentice School, placing 4th and becoming an automatic qualifier in the 184 lb weight class after defaulting due to illness in the consolation finals. With one more tournament placement, LaBadie would earn NCWA All-American status, joining only 6 other wrestlers in team history.
Joining the team after the winter break, Robert Anderson came up short in his quest to place in the 197 lb weight class. Anderson wrestled tough against two strong opponents in St. Andrews University and the College of William & Mary, but didn’t make it to the top 8.
Freshman Adam Wells took 6th place in a deep 235 lb weight class with victories over The Apprentice School, Liberty, and William & Mary, but lost a tough 3 point match in the consolation semifinals against a second Liberty opponent, and a pinfall loss to in-state rival ETSU left him in 6th place. Fellow 235 pounder Miles Taylor elected to wrestle up to the 285 lb weight class, but the size difference proved to be too much and left last season’s 235 lb national qualifier on the outside of the top 8 after two tough losses.
Also in the 285lb weight class, freshman Tyler Bond wrestled out to the quarterfinals until a loss against The Apprentice School dropped him to the consolations. A hard fought 4-1 victory over Liberty University placed him into the consolation semifinals, but two tough losses against St. Andrews and Bridgewater College sealed up his 6th place finish.
With 3 automatic qualifiers, 8 other Blue Raiders now wait to see if they will receive Wildcard berths in their respective weight classes to the National tournament from March 8-10 in Daytona Beach, FL. With 11 possible entrants, the Blue Raiders look to end their 2011-12 campaign on a high note by adding to their all time count of 6 All-Americans and 2 Academic All-Americans, as well as a potential top-10 finish.
1. Liberty – 191
2. Apprentice – 139
3. St. Andrews – 137
4. Maryland-Balt Co – 124
5. Middle Tennessee – 88
6. South Carolina – 53
7. Southern Virginia – 49
8. East Tennessee – 40.5
9. West Virginia Tech – 40
10. William & Mary – 34
11. Bridgewater – 32.5
12. Tennessee – 19
13. East Carolina – 10.5
14. VMI (club) – 7
15. Virginia Tech (club) – 4
Notes: Jesse Castro of Liberty University was named MAC Coach of the Year; Scott Clymer (141, Liberty) was named Most Outstanding Wrestler