Depth Leads UCF to NCWA Title
By Scott Farrell
HAMPTON, Va. – Central Florida used its depth to overcome a disastrous start to the day, rallying past The Apprentice School in the placing rounds to claim the National Collegiate Wrestling Association title.
UCF did not have a wrestler in the finals Saturday at the Hampton University Convocation Center, but utilized two thirds and four fourth-place finishers among its eight All-American placers to win its first national title in five seasons. It was a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance for the Knights, who saw a 15.5-point lead over defending champion Apprentice evaporate in one session as UCF wrestlers went 0-for-8 in which all five semifinalists lost.
The Knights rallied with a perfect 6-for-6 sweep in their mid-day consolation rounds that guaranteed at least six top-four finishes. Christopher Hauser became a two-time All-American with a third-place finish at 174 pounds, and Richard Rippy also placed third for an All-American finish for a third straight season. Alexander Chiricosta (125), Steve DeAugustino (133), Michael Dominguez (235) and Daniel Rowe (285) took fourth.
“If the morning was Jekyll, then we definitely prefer the Hyde,” said long-time UCF coach Johnny Rouse.
The key to UCF’s rise came in the quarterfinals where it advanced six wrestlers into the semifinals.
Apprentice stormed back to take a 104-100 lead into the mid-day session, but failed to earn enough wins in the semifinals to keep up with UCF’s depth. Ty Holley won the national title at 141 pounds and repeated as an All-American. Marcus Chevres lost in the title match at 133 to Shane Gentry of the U.S. Naval Academy Prep School, 7-1. Matt Perry beat teammate Patrick McIntosh for third place at 157.
The Builders finished with seven All-Americans.
The tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler went to John Aikens of Grand Valley State, a senior who finished a 29-1 season by pinning his way to the 197-pound title. Aikens was a two-time NCWA All-American from 2006-07, but took two years away from school and wrestling. He pinned MIT’s Joe Silverman in 1:21 for the championship, and had falls of 39 and 43 seconds in the first two rounds, then 2:05 and 4:31 in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
“It’s great to be in a room with as much tradition as Grand Valley does,” Aikens said. “That’s what helped me get back in shape and into the flow again was going against those guys every day and all the support the program has. I wasn’t focusing on getting pins, but I know I’m good on top and I’ve had a lot of pins this season.”
Grand Valley State placed among the top five teams for a 10th consecutive season.
Perhaps the best championship match came at 165 pounds, where Aaron Hynick of Wichita State scored a reversal with 16 seconds left to take a 6-4 win over Dustin Tancredi of West Chester. Southern Illinois-Edwarsdville secured the highest finish in its NCWA history with 107.5 points in third place. David Devine led the way for the Cougars with a national title at 285 pounds, and Brendan Murphy took third among its program-record six All-Americans.
A Rose of a Finish for Southern Virginia Wrestler
Another of the tight finals matches came at 157 pounds, where two-time defending champion Peter Rose fought off a takedown in the closing seconds to earn a narrow 7-6 win over Andrew Ritchie of Northampton Community College. Rose had already clinched his fourth All-American finish, making him only the 16th wrestler in NCWA history to accomplish the feat.
Anchors Away for Military Schools
The U.S. Naval Academy Prep School placed fifth with 81.5 points, leading a group of five military-oriented schools among the top 10 teams in Division I. Shane Gentry won the national title at 133 pounds, and Carter Adams (165) and James Mannier (184) took third in their respective brackets among Navy’s five All-Americans.
Marion Military Institute (Ala.) was seventh with 58 points, followed by the U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School (47.5, eighth) and the U.S. Military Academy Prep School (41, 10th). Combined the military schools had 13 All-Americans.
A Smart Debut for MIT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a former NCAA Division III program competing for the first time in the NCWA, won the Division II title with 64.5 points. The Engineers put two wrestlers into the finals, earning one national champion in Grant Kadokura at 125 pounds and a runner-up in Joe Silverman at 197. MIT had four All-Americans in all including Ryan Madson at 165 (fourth place) and Luke Schiefelbein at 174 (seventh place).
MIT also had a wrestler in the women’s division in Elena Glassman, who took second at 130 pounds.
Yakima Valley CC Rolls to Women’s National Title
Yakima Valley boasted six national champions within the eight weight classes and coasted to the women’s championship with 76 points. Douglas College (B.C.) was second with 12.5 points. Yakima’s champions were Tamika Jones (unopposed at 105 lbs.), Cady Chambers (112), Ashlee Phy (130), Drrue Partridge (148), Monique Dilliner (159) and Lizzie Salcedo (176).
Kelli Rasmussen of Winona State (121) and Sarah Morten of Douglas (139) also won national titles.
The NCWA is the only association in college wrestling to award a women’s division national championship.
Medals Make Long Trip Worthwhile
Douglas College made the longest trip to get to the NCWA Championships, and it paid off for the school in New Westminster, British Columbia. Raj Rai placed sixth at 141 pounds and Arjan Gill was eighth at 197 to give the Boxers two All-Americans. Douglas also placed second in the women’s team standings with a national champion in Sarah Morten at 139 pounds.
Other tournament notes: The NCWA’s Southeastern Conference and North Central Conference tied for the most All-Americans with 17 each, followed by the Northeast (16), Mideast (14), Mid-Atlantic (13), Southwest (9) and West Coast (2). . . . Texas-Arlington earned its first All-American since 2007 when Ramond Ramirez placed eighth at 133 pounds.