Former Bulldogs contribute toward national title run

04/21/2010 -

By ANDREW MIKULA , Correspondent
April 20, 2010

Two former Flagler Palm Coast wrestlers helped the University of Central Florida capture the National Collegiate Wrestling Association title last month in a dramatic comeback over the defending national champion.

Stephen DeAugustino (133 pounds) and T.J. Gillin (149 pounds) each placed for the Knights at the NCWA tournament at Hampton University in Hampton, Va. DeAugustino took fourth in his weight division and Gillin was eighth, finishing as two of eight UCF grapplers to earn All-America honors during the 16.5-point victory over The Apprentice School.

Neither of the former Bulldogs, now juniors at UCF, nor any of their teammates won an individual championship at the four-day tournament, which concluded Sunday. They and their teammates all secured points in the wrestlebacks after six semifinalists, including DeAugustino, lost in the championship bracket earlier on the final day.

The whitewash in the semifinals allowed The Apprentice School to assume the points lead after that round, but the UCF performance and strength in numbers with a 6-for-6 effort in the consolation round semifinals allowed the Knights to regain the lead.

In the end, two Knights were able to take third place and four were fourth-place finishers. It's the first national title for UCF since 2005.

DeAugustino, now a three-time NCWA All-American, beat Justin Garza of Oakland University 6-1 in his opening bout, then scored a 10-2 decision over Zach Bontrager (Virginia Military Institute) and an 11-3 win over Ramond Ramirez (Texas-Arlington). He lost to Shane Gentry (United States Naval Prep) 14-1 in the semifinals, bounced back with a 7-3 victory over Adam Bastow (Grand Valley State) before a 6-4 loss to Brendan Murphy (Southern Illinois-Edwardsville) in his final bout.

Gillin pinned Luke Gillespie (Oakland University) in 56 seconds, but lost to Mark Cirello (Blair Academy) by a 3:57 pin in the next round. Gillin scored a 17-6 major decision over Jeff Wilkes (Utah), pinned Tyler Hutchins (VMI) in 3:30 and won a 14-3 major decision against Kyle Lowman (Southern Illinois-Edwardsville) before losing to Paul Martin (Hudson Valley) by a 1:41 pin and Jay Mitchell (Marion Military Institute) by an 11-5 count in the seventh-place bout.

UCF took 128 team points to 111.5 for the Apprentice School. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville placed third with 107.5.

The NCWA is a non-scholarship association of more than 200 colleges and universities that banded together after cutbacks of programs due to Title IX considerations. The association, which includes 11 Florida schools and all major colleges and universities in the state, abides by the same eligibility requirements and rules of NCAA sanctioned wrestling programs.