Notre Dame holds off Cal Baptist, Liberty to win title
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Ė Notre Dame College came away with three national champions and 11 All-Americans, and that success in the finals rounds compounded its impressive start as the Falcons won the National Collegiate Wrestling Association championship Saturday.
Notre Dame racked up 168 points, leading from start to finish of the three-day tournament, and withstood final-day charges by runner-up California Baptist (161 points) and Liberty (150.5) to take the title. The Falcons got national title winners in Cody Shivener (149 pounds), Ashtin Primus (157) and Jonathan Bittinger (174) to sweep their finals appearances.
The Falconsí success isnít a surprise to most. They won the NAIA national championship in the two seasons prior to joining the NCWA this year. The NDC wrestlers flashed Ď3í on their fingers while taking their championship photos, representing a three-peat of sorts. But it took the rest of the Falconsí All-Americans Ė they scored one in every weight class but two Ė to clinch the title past former NAIA foe California Baptist and Liberty, which gave chase throughout.
Mike Smilek (3rd at 174 pounds), Maurice Miller (4th at 141), Daniel Demick (4th at 285), Austin Sanders (5th at 141), Tony Burge (6th at 165), Charles Mason (6th at 184), Louden Gordon (7th at 149), Paul Rose (8th at 133) and Justin Schafrath (8th at 235) made sure Notre Dameís cushion never faltered, even when California Baptist moved to within two points before Saturdayís finals matches. Clutch points earned with wins in the consolation rounds boosted NDC back into control.
The Falcons gained control of the tournament early on when it scored 26 bonus points by recording 13 pins as a team in the first two rounds and having 16 of their 17 qualifiers still alive going into the second day.
Notre Dame will transition into NCAA Division II membership next year.
Liberty (five) and California Baptist (four) actually had more national finalists than NDC, but couldnít find an edge against its consistent success. CBU, trailing by two points, was poised to make a run with its three finalists among the first four matches Saturday. Jimmy Martinez took a 5-4 win over MITís Sam Shames for the 125 title, but Alex Anunciation had to settle for second at 133. At 149, the Lancers could have taken another chunk out of NDCís lead, but the Falconsí Shivener topped CBUís Dylan Cataline in the final, 7-3.
The 149 title match was one of only two that paired NDC, CBU or Liberty wrestlers against each other. The other was CBUís Zach Merrillís 5-4 win over Libertyís Andrew Wilson at heavyweight. Besides its four finalists, CBUís other All-Americans were Preston Brown (4th at 165), Bradford Gerl (6th at 141).
Liberty wrestlers were 2-4 in finals matches, which included a 197-pound title match between teammates as Aaron Thompson beat Nick Knowles, 6-3. The pair also placed 1-2 at the North Central Conference Championships two weeks ago.
Scott Clymerís 19-2 tech fall in the 141 final put Liberty in scoring range of the title if NDC was to collapse in its middle weights. But title-match losses at 165 and 184 halted the charge, and the Flames settled for All-American finishes from Bobby Clymer (2nd at 165), Royal Brettrager (2nd at 184) and Wilson (2nd at 285).
In the Division II race, Wichita State used two All-American finishes within its eight qualifiers to win its first national title with 57.5 points, good for 14th overall. Aaron Hynick took third at 165 pounds with a 5-3 win over CBUís Brown, and Pat Mosley was fourth at 157.
Wichita State coach Paul Myers won the associationís Coach of the Year Award.
Mathew Miller earned the tournamentís Most Outstanding Wrestler award after taking the 184 title with a 2:03 pin over Brettrager. Miller, a freshman at the U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School, won three of his five matches by fall.
In the NCWWA womenís division, Southwest Oregon Community College parlayed three champions in the middle weights into enough points to run away with the womenís division title. Biridiana Mendoza started the run with the 130 title, followed by Hannah Moon at 139 and Caroline Crawford at 148. SOCC also had All-Americans in Shay Workman at 121 and Hannah Francis at 176.
The womenís MOW was Erica Poe of Lindenwood-Belleville, who pinned her way through four matches and the 121 title. The NCWWA Coach of the Year from Rob Redman of San Jose State.
Here are the final standings and championship results from the 2012 NCWA Championships. Further details from the tournament will appear in follow-up stories through the upcoming week.