YORK, Pa. - Sophomores Colin McDermitt and Nino Majoy along with senior Jason Russell qualified for the 2014 NCAA Championships after finishing second, second, and third at the 2014 Mideast Regionals. For the second year in a row, third year head coach Ned Shuck guides three Student Princes to the biggest stage in NCAA Division III wrestling.
"I'm excited for the Colin, Nino and Jason," said Shuck. "They have spent a lot of time and energy and there have been a lot of people involved in helping them get to where they are. Their teammates, parents, even all the way back to their youth wrestling days, there has been a lot of support."
McDermitt who is ranked tenth at 133 lbs. by d3wrestle.com, and Majoy who is ninth at 285 lbs. according to d3wrestle.com claimed second to earn their first NCAA Championship berth. Russell, ranked as a national contender at 197 lbs., found redemption in the consolation finals to claim third and qualify to the NCAA Championships for the first time as a senior.
As a team, the #23 Heidelberg grapplers finished fifth with 64.5 team points after an exhausting day of wrestling. #3 Messiah College reined supreme with 109 team points followed by the #19University of Mount Union with 76 and #27 Waynesburg University with 72.5 team points.
At 133 lbs., McDermitt received a bye in the first round to move into a quarterfinals matchup against York's Ryan Flynn. The sophomore Student Prince escaped with a 4-2 decision to advance to the semifinals and a match with Nick Sutton of #30 Theil College.
McDermitt secured his automatic bid to the NCAA Championships with a decisive, 4:08 fall in the semifinal bout. In the championship finals, Colin battled Mount Union's Jeremy Border, who is ranked sixth by d3wrestle.com.
In the Heidelberg-Mount Union dual match in early February, McDermitt upset then fifth ranked Border in a 9-5 thriller, but the highly ranked Purple Raider found redemption in York. McDermitt gave Border a challenge but was outlasted, 13-8, to claim silver.
McDermitt's second place finish earns him his first berth to the NCAA Championships after falling short as a freshman.
Majoy, entered the Mideast Regional ninth at 285-pounds; the highest ranked Student Prince to travel to York. The sophomore heavyweight battled Muskingum's James Keys in the first round. After handing the Fighting Muskie a second period fall in the Heidelberg-Muskingum dual match, Majoy served Keys with another fall, 1:47, in first round action.
Next Majoy squared off with Mike Spencer of host York in the quarterfinals. The Heidelberg big man dealt Spencer a 4-1 decision to move into the semifinals and a match with Messiah's Charles Jones. Jones, who is ranked as a national contender by d3wrestle.com, could not stop the Student Prince as Majoy advanced with a 5-1 decision.
Nino be faced his pseudo-nemesis in the Mideast Regional finals; Cody Lovejoy of Ohio Northern. The sophomore gave the number seven ranked, senior Polar Bear everything he had, but sometimes it's just not enough. Majoy conceded an 8-5 decision for second.
Despite the loss to Lovejoy, Nino will have another opportunity to take down the Polar Bear in Iowa in two weeks time.
"As far as their careers go, I think both Colin and Nino's careers will be bright at Heidelberg," said Shuck. "Just because you achieve something one year does not mean it is guaranteed another but I expect them to be keep building, keep learning and keep getting better."
Russell, another one of the five Berg wrestlers to enter the Mideast Regional national ranked, had an impressive performance on Sunday. The senior 197-pounder entered a bracket that contained six wrestlers ranked by d3wrestle.com.
He began his third place performance with a straightforward 15-6 major decision in the preliminary round. Russell then squared off with Ohio Northern's Michael Pawlitz in the quarterfinals. Much like in the dual match, Russell gave the Polar Bear a loss by decision, this time to the tune of 4-1.
In the semifinals, Jason would meet his greatest challenge of the day, eighth ranked Jacob Lowry of Thiel College.
The two nationally ranked 197-pounders met only once during the 2013-14 season at the Budd Whitehill National Duals where Lowry handed Russell a 6-0 decision. The Student Prince nearly scored the upset but instead suffered his only loss of the day in an 9-8 nail biter.
In the consolation semifinals, Russell battled Messiah College's Ben Kramer, who is ranked as an honorable mention by d3wrestle.com. The Russell dealt Kramer an 8-3 defeat to move into the consolation finals and an opportunity to redeem himself against the one OAC opponent to defeat him this year.
Russell's opponent, Nick Rajcsak of Mount Union, handed Russell his only loss in the OAC in a 5-3 decision less than a month ago. However, Russell would not be denied a trip to the NCAA Championships as he battled the Purple Raider to a 2-1 victory.
After wrestling behind 2013 All-American Andy Lovins, Russell has broken through as a nationally ranked wrestler.
"Wrestling a guy like Andy or any of the guys in our room, and when you have that competition that really helps," said Shuck. "The 'iron sharpens iron' saying that we use a lot, there is a lot of truth to that bible verse, and Jason is a great example of that. He has stepped in and won at a very high level after being behind an All-American."
Senior 125-pounder Delian Schneider concluded his career in the Tricolor with a fourth place finish at the Mideast Regional. Delian, a Tiffin native, wrestled to a 4-2 record to miss qualifying by one victory.
After surrendering his first loss to Baldwin Wallace's Jesse Gunter in the quarterfinals, Delian wrestled back into the consolation finals with three consecutive victories. Delian, who was a returning NCAA qualifier, met his end in the consolation finals in a 6-4 decision.
"It has been an emotional days as far as guys not making it and not getting the results that we could have," said Shuck. "That is tough to swallow."
Senior 141-pounder Ian Gillespie wrestled his way to a sixth place finish in York to round out the Berg grapplers to reach the podium. Juniors Brennan Kelly and returning NCAA qualifier Richard Dowdley finished one match away from placing at 174 and 184 lbs. respectively.
"No matter what the result, the goal is to become better men," stated Shuck.
The trio of McDermitt, Majoy and Russell will travel to Cedar Rapids, Iowa in search of an NCAA medal and the right to call themselves an All-American.
"We need to stay focused on the now and take care of getting ready for the national tournament," said Shuck. "Our biggest obstacle is if our guys will beat themselves or not. We know we can win, I know we can win, but those guys believing in their abilities when they step on the mat is going to be the biggest challenge in Iowa."
The 2014 NCAA Championships will begin on Friday, March 14 and continue until the evening of the 15th. The top eight wrestlers to place in Iowa earn All-American status.