Conference Title Eludes Rensselaer
Burlington, VT - Following a weekend of wrestling that saw them capture their 4th straight New York State Championship in front of a home crowd, RPI knew they would have their work cut out for them in order to win a Northeast Conference title against a tough field at the host school, the University of Vermont on Saturday, February 27th.
Despite losing starting 184 pounder and national qualifier Chris Stabler to a rib injury, two wrestlers leaving the team late in January and two others injured and unable to compete, RPI still managed a strong runner-up finish with 113 points to now 3x defending conference champion U.S. Naval Academy Prep. School that scored 132 points. "We knew we were not as strong team wise as we should've been" pointed out head coach Brad Nelson. "Unfortunately injuries and other outside influences happen and you can't help it. That's life and that's wrestling". Nelson cites his wrestlers' hard work ethic and determination in the keys of the teams' shorthanded success. "We had a game plan and the guys stuck to it. We didn't have scorers at 3 of the 11 weight classes which hurt us, but the team stepped up and wrestled hard, scoring points where it counted and it showed in the end result".
That end result was enough for a best ever finish in school history at the Conference Championships. Wrestlers for RPI that qualified for the National Championships in Hampton, VA, March 11-13th are as follows: Jeff Streu @ 125lbs., Erez Arnon @ 133lbs., Ethan Kirk @ 141lbs., Will Anderson @ 141lbs., Mat White @ 149lbs., Ryan Michaels @ 157lbs. and Brian Jennings @ 235lbs. Just missing the placement cut were Glenn VanMoffaert @ 149lbs., Brendan Smith @ 174lbs., Aaron Asch @ 174lbs. and Russell Meredith @ 184lbs.
Nelson is hoping for a strong showing at the National tournament where several wrestlers will have a good chance to place in the top 8, and Senior Ryan Michaels will attempt to finish his career at RPI in adding another top 8 finish, which would put him on a short list of NCWA 4x All-Americans. "It's going to be exciting out there, as usual. Our guys are well prepared and can do some damage, they're all hungry for a top 8 finish".
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