6 Middle Tennessee State wrestlers Qualify for '09 Nationals
In its second year of the current wrestling program, MTSU has twice as many National Qualifiers (6) as in the first year (3). The Mid Atlantic Conference Championship was held on February 28, 2009 at Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista, VA. 19 teams competed for the conference championship with MTSU finishing fourth overall competing with only 5 point scorers due to an injury-riddled lineup.
The top 5 MAC teams were The Apprentice School (177 pts-8th straight Conference Championship), University of Marlyand-Baltimore County (122 pts), Tennessee Temple University (64.5), Middle Tennessee State University (62.5), and Southern Virginia (58.5).
Cory Watson (Sr-Lebanon) was seeded #4 at 125lb and gutted out an 11-9 overtime decision against Solomon Addico (Univ. of South Carolina) in the consolation semifinals to secure his 2nd straight Nationals appearance (133lb in '08). Cory then went on to lose a close match to in-state rival Timmy Mason of Tennessee Temple 6-3 to take 4th place in the conference.
Matt Houglum (Fr-Riverdale) had the #2 seed in the 133lb bracket and scored a first round pin in 2:20 against Jerome Ingram (Univ. of Maryland-BC). In the semifinal match, Houglum was upset by the #6 seed from Apprentice, Will Sexton. Matt then went on to pin fellow teammate Jesse Watson in the consolation semifinals to secure his bid to Nationals also finishing in the 4th place with a loss to Logan Davis (Southern Virginia).
Jesse Watson (Jr-Lebanon) wrestled up in the 133lb weight class for team strength. Jesse qualified at 125lb last season finishing in 3rd place, but had not competed as much this season so was relegated to 2nd team. He was seeded #5 and lost to the #4 seed Alex Vergara (Longwood University) by pinfall in the first round. He then went on to Tech Fall Kevin Valverde (Southern Virginia) 17-2, a loss to Houglum, and loss by close decision to Vergara 8-6. A great improvement over the first match! Jesse has yet to qualify for the National tournament by his 6th place finish, but is in line for a Wild-Card position.
Anthony Pierce (So-McGavock) got the #3 seed based on his strong finish at conference last season (2nd place at 197). He pinned Ray O'Connor (Apprentice School) in the first round in 5:33. He then met up with the #2 seed and eventual conference champion Daniel Hare (also of Apprentice) losing 14-7. Pierce then got caught with an unfortunate mistake with a few seconds left in the first period by in-state rival #4 seed Corey Wright (Tenn. Temple). The two went 2-2 against each other this season. Wright finished in 3rd place by defeating the #1 seed Steve Voglezon (UMBC). Anthony then went onto to beat O'Connor from Apprentice once more 12-5 to become a 2-time NCWA qualifier.
Shane Inman (Jr-Smyrna)started the tournament with the #1 seed at 197lb based on his 17-4 record with only 2 losses coming at 197. His other 2 losses came in the heavyweight classification. He pinned James Murray (Tenn. Temple) in his first match in 0:43. The semifinal match against #4 seed Quentin Bowling (Apprentice) didn't turn out as well as he lost 4-3 by riding time. The exhausted Inman, not one to make excuses, jumped right back into the tournament by pinning his next two opponents, Adam Welker (Southern Virginia) in 1:56 and Robert Santos (Austin Peay) in 1:10. Way to take your time Shane! Inman finished in 3rd place and is still considered #3 in point rankings at 197 in the nation despite the upset this weekend.
MTSU had two outstanding wrestlers competing at 235lb. Lucas Borneman (Sr-Houston, transfer from Cumberland University and '08 NAIA East Region Champion) was seeded #1 in the tournament with a 15-1 record, his only loss coming at the Apprentice tournament to the #1 heavyweight in the country Cecil Lee (Apprentice) by decision. Luke pinned James Green (Longwood) in 1:30 and then won a decision against fellow NAIA transfer Alex Driggers (Radford, transfer from King College) in the semi-finals 7-0. Isaiah Bradley (Jr-Milton, GA, transfer from Newberry College) was unseeded as MTSU's 2nd team wrestler at 235. He upset #3 seed Anthony Shingler (Austin Peay) with an overtime decision 5-3 after suffering a first period injury to his foot. His second match ended in less dramatic fashion with a pinfall over Irvin Lilly (Lee University) in 0:22. Isaiah then beat James Lipford (Apprentice) in the semifinals 7-2 to join Borneman in the 235lb finals match. Due to previous injuries, Isaiah (now 7-2) was unable to complete the match against Lucas after being down 5-0 late in the first period. Both wrestlers will be heading to Hampton University for the NCWA National Championship, hopefully to repeat the 1st & 2nd place performances!
Starters Nick Steiner (Fr-Glencliff, 149), JD Alexander (Fr-Montgomery Central, 157), Tony Morris (So-London, OH, 165), Matt Coffman (So-LaVergne, 174), TJ Pegram (Fr-Glencliff, 197), and Stosh Novak (Sr-Page, HWT) were unavailable for the tournament for various reasons. Hopefully the underclassmen will make it to Nationals next season!
Overall the conference tournament was 3 times as tough as last season and ended with better results for MTSU. The program is looking to add several oustanding wrestlers next season already having 10 verbal commitments from incoming freshman.
For more information on MTSU Wrestling contact Bryan Knepper at 931-222-7213.