Wrestling sends four to nationals

Wrestling sends four to nationals

WILLIAMSPORT, Penn. -- Four Heidelberg University wrestlers have earned a spot at the NCAA National Tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa -- the most for the Student Princes since 2010. Justin Kihn won the regional title at 141, HU's first regional champ since Andy Lovins in 2013. Damon Cheek, Aaron Banko and Dillen Decker will join Kihn at nationals, March 11-12.

As a team, Heidelberg finished sixth.

"What an exciting day for Heidelberg wrestling," said second-year head coach Tony Patrizi. "I can't explain how proud I am of the 10 wrestlers here and the 34 members of the team back in Tiffin.  This is truly a team effort."

NATIONAL QUALIFIERS

141: No. 1 seed Justin Kihn made quick work of Jonathan Ptacek (Oswego) in the opening round. Kihn, the OAC Wrestler of the Year pinned Ptacek in 44 seconds. Next, Kihn used a third period takedown to defeat Filippo Crivelli (Waynesburg), 2-1.

After a scoreless first period in the winner's bracket semifinals, No. 12 seed Robert Ritschard (Thiel) took a 1-0 lead with an escape. Shortly thereafter, Kihn went ahead with a takedown -- but Rischard escaped again to tie the match at 2 heading to the third period. Starting on the bottom, Kihn escaped for a 3-2 lead. The point was enough, as Kihn drained the clock.

In the finals, Kihn held a 4-1 lead over No. 2 seed Jeremy Border (Mount Union) after the first period. Kihn would add another takedown won the Mideast Regional with a 6-3 decision.

149: Damon Cheek dispatched Seth McCurdy (Mount Union) in the opening round, 7-1. Cheek advanced with a 3-2 victory over Chad Lammer (Elizabethtown).

On Sunday, No. 1 seed Dan Mirman (John Carroll) took a 4-2 lead with two first period takedowns. Leading 7-4 early in the third, Mirman staved off each attack by Cheek and held on for the 9-5 win.

In the consolations, Cheek squared off with No. 7 seed Dempsey King (RIT). In the second period of a scoreless match, King went ahead with an escape, but Cheek countered 15 seconds later with a takedown and rode him out. In the third, King scored two backpoints before Cheek escaped. With the match knotted at 3, Cheek held 1:04 of riding time, which put King on the offensive. Cheek narrowly avoided a takedown in the final seconds, rolling out of bounds. The riding time gave him a 4-3 victory.

Wrestling for a trip to nationals, Cheek took a 2-0 lead with a first period takedown of No. 8 seed Jordan Dyer (Brockport State). He held a 2-1 edge in the third period and won 3-1, earning his first trip to the national tournament.

165: No. 7 seed Aaron Banko lost his first round match -- an 11-7 decision to Joe Cutugno (RIT). Banko avenged a regular-season loss with a pin of OAC foe Tony Rupert (Mount Union), 2:45. Banko advanced to Sunday with a 5-3 win over Chad Nuss (Thiel).

Following a scoreless first period, Banko rode No. 8 seed Landon Lohr (Waynesburg) for the duration of the second period, then escaped 58 seconds into the third. Holding a point for riding time, Banko tacked on a takedown and won 4-0.

Next, two first period takedowns gave Banko a 4-2 lead over No. 3 seed Anthony Arroyo (Baldwin Wallace). Banko entered the third with a 6-3 lead and 2:13 of riding time. The riding time point proved crucial as it forced Arroyo to try to attack and release in hopes of scoring enough. Banko, though, held on for a 9-7 victory.

With a trip to nationals on the line, Banko met No. 4 seed Michael Falcon (Brockport State). Banko scored in the first period, the only takedown of the match. Banko added a point of riding time for a 3-0 win, punching his ticket for nationals.

184: In his first round match, Dillen Decker was victorious, 6-1 over Dan D'Agostini (Scranton). Decker then pinned No. 3 seed Jeff Palmeri (Brockport State) to advance.

No. 6 seed Decker took the lead over No. 2 seed Kyle Diesel (Wilkes) with a first period takedown and a second period escape. A late takedown put Decker up 5-0 headed to the third. With Decker on the bottom, Diesel was unable to turn the Heidelberg freshman, who held on for the 5-0 victory.

In the finals, No. 1 seed Josh Thomson (Messiah) took a 2-0 lead in the first and extended it to 3-0 with an escape to start the second. Thomson powered his way to a 7-2 win. Decker took home a runner-up finish.

NON-QUALIFIERS

133: With a dramatic last-second takedown, Ryan Hornack stunned No. 1 seed Jesse Gunter (Baldwin Wallace), 4-3. Hornack followed up the upset with a 10-4 win over Hunter Harris (Messiah).

On Sunday, No. 5 seed Eric Velez (Brockport State) grabbed the lead with a first period takedown. Down to start the second period, Hornack couldn't escape and was pinned.

Forced into the consolation bracket, Hornack had a rematch with Gunter. Gunter quickly wriggled free for a second period escape, taking a 1-0 lead. Hornack returned the favor to start the third, tying the match at 1. In the waning seconds of regulation, Hornack nearly took down Gunter, but ran out of time and space. Gunter used an escape and a takedown in overtime and won, 4-1.

Hornack finished sixth following a 3-2 to loss to Alec Cotton (Mount Union).

174: Returning from a midseason injury, Myles Wright picked up a win in style. Wright pinned Jacob Brook (Wilkes) in 3:46. Next, nearly pinned Sonnieboy Blanco (Washington & Jefferson), but wound up with a 14-9 setback. Wright advanced to Sunday with a 12-3 major over Nick Lees (Case Western Reserve).

The No. 7 seed Wright took down No. 6 Thomas McNulty (John Carroll) early in the first period and added on four back points. McNulty escaped and added a pair of takedowns with four back points, taking a 9-7 lead after one. McNulty outscored Wright 7-0 in the second and led 16-7 at the start of the third. Wright fell, 24-7.

125: Tyler Price lost his first round match to Jacob Spearman (Washington & Jefferson). Price was pinned in the third period. Price rebounded to win his second match, a 10-4 decision over G. Graziosi (Thiel). Michael Fleck (Wilkes) knocked Price out with a first period pin.

157: Mark Carosella fell in his first match, losing to Josh Brabon (Brockport State). In his next match, he gave up a takedown in first period to Jonathan Muntz (Muskingum) -- then responded by scoring the next 18 points. Carosella advanced to face Richard Burke (Baldwin Wallace), where he fell, 3-0.

197: Gage Finegan dropped his opener, 8-0, to Daniel Smith (Oswego). Aaron Page (Mount Union) then eliminated Finegan with a 1-0 decision.

285: John Eckroth lost his first round match, 10-1, to M. Spencer (York). Kade Andrews (Oswego) pinned Eckroth, ending his tournament run

TEAM FINISH:

1. Messiah 139.0

2. Baldwin Wallace 109.5

3. Brockport State 104.0

4. John Carroll 85.5

5. York (PA) 78.0

6. Heidelberg 75.0

7. Wilkes 56.5

8. Waynesburg 49.5

9. Mount Union 47.5

10. Lycoming 43.5

11. Thiel 40.5

12. Elizabethtown 37.0

12. Washington and Jefferson 37.0

14. SUNY-Oswego 33.5

15. Rochester Institute of Technology 25.5

16. Scranton 23.0

17. Case Western Reserve 5.5

18. Muskingum 4.0