Notre Dame holds 10-point lead after Day Two
DAYTONA BEACH – Never mind the beach and the sun, or even a short break from their normal wrestling regimen. While the rest of the teams exited the Ocean Center for Friday’s afternoon break, Notre Dame College’s athletes were just coming back in.
The extra time in the arena together paid off, as the Falcons extended their lead to stay in command of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association Championships. Notre Dame sent six wrestlers into Saturday’s semifinals, and have four more still alive in the consolation rounds. The Falcons posted a 10-5 mark in the round following the break, earning a 30-point bump in the standings.
Notre Dame leads the 79-team pack with 107 points, 10 ahead of defending NCWA champion California Baptist (97 points) and comfortably in front of Liberty (86) and Lindenwood-St. Charles.
“It’s still too close,” said Notre Dame coach Frank Romano. The Falcons won the 2011 NAIA Championships by 29 points last year, the second of back-to-back national titles. Notre Dame transitions to compete in NCAA Division II next season.
California Baptist is giving chase to Notre Dame with eight wrestlers alive in the brackets but only four in the semifinals that begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. Two of the most dominant performances thus far have come from the Lancers’ top-seeded heavyweight, Zach Merrill, who has won three matches with two pins inside of 90 seconds and a 16-0 technical fall. Cal Baptist’s Dylan Cataline, the top seed at 149 pounds, has won by 4-2, 19-1 and 19-4 counts.
Their results make up for absorbing two of the tournaments’ biggest upsets as the Lancers lost second-, third- and fourth-seeded wrestlers in the first two rounds.
Liberty is in position to make a move in the morning with six semifinalists, including a pair on opposite sides of the 197-pound bracket in top-seeded Aaron Thompson and Nick Knowles. The Flames have two others still wrestling in consolations.
Lindenwood-St. Charles has two wrestlers facing each other in the semifinals at 141 pounds in Jacob Janes and Craig Chiles. The Lions had nine quarterfinals, advancing five to the semifinals.
Wichita State is the leader in the Division II bracket.
The championship finals in the men’s and women’s divisions begin at 4 p.m. Saturday.