UMBC's Broadwater, Bowser and Onyenemezu win conference titles
Buena Vista, Va. -- The UMBC wrestling team crowned three champions -- the most in school history -- at the NCWA Mid-Atlantic Conference tournament Saturday at Southern Virginia University.
Justin Bowser (Arundel High) captured the 141-pound title, while returning NCWA National Champ Alex Broadwater (Catonsville High) was victorious at 149 pounds.
Sophomore John Onyenemezu (Laurel High) won the 197-pound championship. With the victories, Bowser improved to 31-6 on the season; Broadwater pushed his record to 31-3 and Onyenemezu climbed to 18-2. It was Broadwater's second conference
Bowser, a two-time state champion who pinned all of his opponents at the conference tournament in the first period, was named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler.
"I'm very proud of these guys. Justin, Alex and John have worked very hard this year and I can see each one of them getting better -- both on their feet and on the mat," said coach Luke Broadwater.
"Everything didn't go exactly as planned for all of our team this weekend," said coach Broadwater, "but those guys who got beat can learn from their mistakes and come back stronger and better in two weeks for nationals."
The tournament was a series of firsts for UMBC. In addition to crowning three champs, the Retrievers put four wrestlers into the finals, also a school high. Sophomore Joe Eassa (Howard High) was second at 174 pounds. Eassa's record now stands at 17-12.
UMBC also qualified a school-record nine wrestlers for the NCWA Nationals, which this year will be held within driving distance in Hampton, Va. on March 12, 13 and 14.
Previously, the nationals have been in Florida, Texas and Michigan. The top-five placewinners at each weight-class qualified for the nationals.
Senior Jason Lanciotti (Mt. St. Joe) was third at 165 pounds, while junior Leif Huber (Middletown), senior Steve Voglezon (Gonzaga) and sophomore Karim Mansour (Western Tech) were fourth at 157, 184 and heavyweight, respectively.
Freshman Chris Nelson (Arundel) qualified as a wild-card at 174 pounds after one of the tournament's placewinners suffered an injury keeping him from competing at nationals.
"Last year, we took five guys to nationals and this year, we're taking nine -- almost double. It's no secret our program is growing and getting stronger every year," said coach Broadwater.
"I wish we could have qualified the whole team, but those guys who missed qualifying now have half-a-year to work on improving in the sport before the start of next season," Broadwater said. "I'm going to be putting them on a steady diet of strength training and freestyle wrestling."
As a team, UMBC finished second in the 19-team event to the Apprentice School. Finishing third in the event was Tennessee Temple University, followed by Middle Tennessee State University and the host Southern Virginia.
After the tournament, coach Luke Broadwater was named the Mid-Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year by a vote of the other coaches.
For more information about UMBC wrestling, visit umbcwrestling.net or e-mail Coach Luke Broadwater at firstname.lastname@example.org