Duo Propells Rensselaer at Nationals
Hampton, VA - Fresh off a 4th place Northeast Conference team finish, qualifying 8 out of 14 wrestlers for the national tournament and their coach being announced as the Northeast Conference "Coach of the Year", RPI wrestlers headed to Hampton, VA to compete among the best of the best at the NCWA National Championships.
Jeff Streu (125), Tim Shields (133), Ethan Kirk (133), Ryan Michaels (157), Chris Stabler (184), Pat Vamosy (197) and Brian Jennings (235) all traveled to Virginia for a shot at a national title. Alexander Kelsen also qualified at 285 lbs. for RPI, but was unable to attend due to unforseen circumstances.
At the end of the 3 day event, Rensselaer finished 24th as a team amongst the 84 teams who qualified wrestlers for the event. Rensselaer also came away with two more "all-americans" to add to its growing list of achievements in its young existence. Freshman Ethan Kirk @ 133 lbs. and Junior Ryan Michaels @ 157 lbs. both placed 7th in their respective 32 man brackets.
Kirk, a freshman and this years conference runner up at 133 lbs. made the most of his first appearance at nationals, avenging his earlier loss to MMI wrestler Gavin Shoemo to take 7th place. Junior Ryan Michaels once again showed why he is "Mr. March" at the national tournament, placing 7th and earning "all-american" honors for the 3rd straight year in his career.
For the second straight year, sophomore Brian Jennings @ 235 lbs. came up just one win short of making it into the all-american rounds of day 3. Jeff Streu and Chris Stabler also made their first apperances at the tournament and contributed wins for RPI. Freshman Tim Shields and Junior Pat Vamosy had close fought matches in the begining rounds but couldnt advance into the 2nd day.
"Everyone wrestled really hard and Im very pleased with what we accomplished this year" said Brad Nelson, RPI's Coach. "Just about everyone met my "minimum goals" I set for them before the tournament, and some exceeded those goals. Its a great building block towards next year".
"It was definitely the hardest tournament Ive ever wrestled in" said Kirk of his 3 day battle for 7th place this year. "It was a great experience". Ryan Michaels commented briefly on his performance, saying "I could've done better, but I know what I need to work on for next year". "I wrestled defensive most of the tournament and had trouble finding my groove, but I made the best of it and battled back to place again." Michaels now owns "all-american" honors at two different weight classes, 3rd @ 149 lbs. in 07', 4th @ 149 lbs. in 08' and 7th @ 157 lbs. in 09'.
RPI will return all of its qualifiers for next year. "Weve got a good strong core coming back" says Nelson. "We'll have a couple of holes to fill next year in the begining I'm sure and we'll be hard at work to get the guys who didnt qualify to do so, as well as getting more wrestlers to place, otherwise I expect to add some more great incoming freshman recruits to our growing family like this year". "The guys are really excited about next year and we'll add some tougher competition in our schedule, but for right now we'll just have to wait!"