Monday, March 31, 2014

Gardiner wrestler takes 2nd in 113 pounds at nationals

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

Peter Del Gallo, a two-time state champion from Gardiner Area High School, earned All-American honors over the weekend by placing second in his weight class at the 25th annual National High School Coaches Association Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach, Va.
Del Gallo, competing in the sophomore 113-pound division, won five straight decisions by a combined score of 61-1 to reach Sunday’s championship final, where he was edged by Josh McClure of Fulton, Mo., 4-3.
Del Gallo earned All-American honors for the second straight year after placing fourth in the freshman 106-pound division last spring. He also was the Class B state champion at 113 pounds this winter after winning the state Class B and New England 106-pound titles in 2013.
Del Gallo was one of 15 Maine high school wrestlers to compete at this year’s nationals and one of three to earn All-American honors.
Cody Hughes and Bradley Beaulieu, teammates at Marshwood High School of South Berwick, also posted top-eight finishes in their weight classes.
Hughes, the 2013 national champion in the sophomore 152-pound division, finished third in the same weight class as a junior this year to earn All-American honors for the third straight season. He was fourth in at 138 pounds as a freshman.
The three-time Maine Class A individual champion won his first five matches to reach the championship semifinals before dropping a 3-1 decision to New Mexico’s Miguel Barreras. Hughes then won two consolation-round matches, including a 12-4 major decision over Florida’s Isaiah Crosby in the third-place match.
Beaulieu earned his All-American status with a seventh-place finish in the freshman 113-pound division, pinning New York’s Anthony Cirillo at 5:10 of the seventh-place match.
Among other Maine wrestlers who competed at the nationals were Trent Goodman, Dagan Berenyi and Connor Petros, all teammates at Ellsworth High School and the local Wrestler’s Way wrestling club.
Goodman went 3-2 in the freshman 145-pound weight division, while Berenyi won two of his four matches in the sophomore 138-pound class and Petros went 0-2 in the sophomore 145-pound division.
Two central Maine wrestlers, Aaron Lint of Winslow and Julian Sirois, went 0-2 in their appearances at the nationals, Lint in the senior 285-pound class and Sirois in the sophomore 132-pound division.
Other Mainers at the nationals were senior Tyler Everett of Massabesic of Waterboro (0-2 at 126 pounds); juniors Jackson Howarth of Marshwood (3-2 at 160), Michael Rista of Massabesic (2-2 at 195), Michael Curtis of Wells (1-2 at 195), Brett Gerry of Marshwood (0-2 at 182) and Tanner Andrews of Massabesic (0-2 at 220); and freshman Trevor Walton of Massabesic (0-2 at 170).

Friday, March 28, 2014

End of an era for Mark Stevens

Longtime Lisbon wrestling coach Mark Stevens steps away; coached ’Hounds to 7 state championships

MARK STEVENS poses with four of the seven state wrestling championship trophies at Lisbon High School. After 22 years leading the ’Hounds, Stevens has decided to step away from the sport that has been a major part of his life. 
BOB CONN / THE TIMES RECORD MARK STEVENS poses with four of the seven state wrestling championship trophies at Lisbon High School. After 22 years leading the ’Hounds, Stevens has decided to step away from the sport that has been a major part of his life. BOB CONN / THE TIMES RECORDLISBON FALLS
When Mark Stevens was in high school, he faced a dilemma.
He was preparing for the state high school wrestling championships, and the Lisbon student/athlete weighed 140 pounds on Monday, just five days before his shot at glory.
Greyhounds coach Bob Donelan didn’t agree that Stevens was working to lose the weight, as the senior wanted to make the 126-pound division.
Lots of running and a lack of food, combined with a neverending determination worked for Stevens, as he lost the pounds and then defeated Mt. Blue rival Ralph McArthur, 6-4, in the 126-pound title match to capture the state championship. The year was 1982.
A photo published in The Times Record taken by longtime sports editor Dave Bourque showed an exhausted Stevens being congratulated by Mt. Ararat coach Dennis Bishop, and an article by Bourque a few days later had this quote from Mark ... “my attitude was so different Saturday. I was never that confident.”
Fast-forward 32 years, and Stevens, who led Lisbon to seven state titles as the Greyhounds’ coach, is leaving the sport that he has loved, left, came back to and endured in.
Early days
When Mark finished his high school wrestling career, he was quite happy to leave the sport behind. He was burned out and was off to serve in the U.S. Air Force. But, soon wrestling was again a big part of his life.
“They wanted to have a wrestling team, and I started again. I was cutting weight again and got back into it.”
Portland Press-Herald sports columnist Steve Solloway caught up with Mark and his brother Rocky as they competed in the Air Force, with Mark telling Steve, “We’re kind of the underdogs when we wrestle.”

RETIRING LISBON HIGH SCHOOL wrestling coach Mark Stevens, right, and his son Zach embrace after the senior won the 138-pound state title in the Class C Championships in Rumford on Feb. 15. 
DARYN SLOVER / LEWISTON SUN JOURNAL RETIRING LISBON HIGH SCHOOL wrestling coach Mark Stevens, right, and his son Zach embrace after the senior won the 138-pound state title in the Class C Championships in Rumford on Feb. 15.DARYN SLOVER / LEWISTON SUN JOURNALWhen Mark’s time in the Air Force ended, he returned home, but still wrestled in open tournaments at Hyde School in Bath. Mark was on the mat the day before his first child was born.
“In the hospital I have a picture of me holding her with a black eye on my face.”
Coaching, something Mark never considered, came about in 1992 when the Lisbon athletic director asked him to begin a middle school program at Sugg Middle School. He was assisted by Bob Earle, and soon the duo turned the Greyhounds into a force to be reckoned with.
“At the middle school, we had 60 kids, so Bob and I ran two sessions with 30 kids each. They had some uniforms that theypulled out of a box. I didn’t know what I was doing. I knew how to wrestle, but knew that it took a lot more.”
“I coached Mark when he was young in football,” remembered Earle. “I walked into Sugg years later and he was conducting a practice, and my youngest son was there. I offered to help, and watching Mark, he was just so dynamic. He impressed me. I coached with Mark for 11 years, and I owe a lot to him. It was a great honor.”
Coaching was difficult for Mark at first. So he turned to his wife, Gretchen, for some advice.
I asked my wife, ‘what if they don’t want to listen to me?’ She gave me some really good instructions. ‘You have to have structure, a plan, and have your plan incorporate repetition.’
Mark’s chance to move to the high school came in 1996, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
“Bob strongly encouraged the athletic director to post the position, with the middle school kids heading to the high school program after a lot of success. The job opened up, and I applied and got the job.”
In 1998, Mark remembers taking his young Greyhounds to Rumford to face Mountain Valley, coached by Jerry Perkins.
“The huge light was lowered over the big falcon displayed centered on the wrestling mat. The Mountain Valley team passed around the rally stick and pounded the mat with their hands. This was all very intimidating to my young, inexperienced Lisbon wrestlers. We lost that match, but as we were leaving, coach Perkins said to me, ‘Mark, your wrestlers have good handshakes.’
“At first, I wondered if I should have been offended, but after a year or two, I realized what he meant. Later his assistant admitted our Lisbon wrestlers would be coming to Rumford and beating them on their mat in just a matter of time. It came true faster than anyone from Lisbon imagined.”
Mark soon had Lisbon pointed in the right direction, culminating in winning the State Class C championship in 2001. Mark remembers a speech he gave to his team the night before the state championship, a speech he has repeated every year since.
“I told the kids to expect the unexpected. ‘You have trained hard, you’ve mentally prepared and physically prepared, but there will something that spins your world in the other direction.’
“I used an example of one of my studs, Derek Giusto, who later went on to be a three-time state champion. That year Derek had already beaten the Class A, B and C champ and was on fire, and I said ‘what if Derek goes out there and gets pinned, what will that do to the rest of you guys?’
“Derek went into the finals having already beaten his opponent 10-0 earlier in the season, and was leading 5-0, but got spun onto his back and pinned in the first period of the state finals, the first year it was held at the Augusta Civic Center. Derek had class, shook the kid’s hand and walked right out of the gym to collect himself. He never showed emotion.”
Mark remembers talking to the Dexter coach during that same meet. Dexter had won the state title three years in a row, and was a favorite to make it four.
“The Dexter coach said his team was really looking toward New Englands, and that the state title wasn’t important, and being a young coach I said to myself that ‘I will never take winning a state title for granted.’ I know teams do that, but it is too important. It is not just about winning, but what it means about blood, sweat and tears.”
Clinching win
“I didn’t know how to keep score then, and the Dexter coach later came over after a win and told me ‘you have just won the state title.’ I didn’t believe him until they announced it after the event. The next year, I learned how to keep score.”
State titles continued to come, with Lisbon taking the top prize in Class C in both 2002 and 2003.
Mark began coaching field hockey in the fall, as daughters Amanda and MaKayla made their way through high school.
But, in the winter it was back to the mat, and Mark had his team on a roll again, with state titles for the Greyhounds coming in 2006, followed by three consecutive titles from 2008-10. There were great champions in the 2000s, names like Forest Cornell, Giusto, Mike McNamara, Marcus Bubar, Cameron Bubar, Mike McManus, Nate Hix and Will Vice, but Mark also remembers those who came up just a bit short in reaching their goal.
“We have been inspired by many of my wrestlers who have come up short but still prepared their best. Ian McKeag, Josh Adams, Art Stambach and Tyler Bard just to name a few, wrestlers who never stood on the top podium at the state tournament, but trained harder than most. They inspired us as all of them displayed class at all times.”
Mark felt that a turnaround at Lisbon came with the hiring of athletic director Jeff Ramich in 2002.
“Jeff put together a schedule that was second to none. Our kids were wrestling a Class A schedule. Iron sharpens iron, and those who survive will be tough come February. We went to Vermont, the Noble Tournament, Spartan Tournament, Kennebunk Duals. We were the only Class C school in these invitational tournaments and we were always welcomed. I looked at these kids and said to myself, ‘they are the best in the state, not just in Class C.’”
There was a moment when Mark nearly walked away from the sport. He recalled a family drive that changed his mind.
“After the 2003 season I was talking with Gretchen about retiring as we were traveling in the car. A voice from the back seat came from my 7-year-old son Zachary, as he asked, ‘Dad why would you want to get done coaching? It’s the only thing you’re good at.’ We had a laugh, well Gretchen did anyway. Wrestling was a way of life. It became my identity. I am thankful that I didn’t retire that year as the next 10 years have been unforgettable.”
A lasting image for Mark appears on his laptop computer. In Zach’s final match for Lisbon, the senior won his third state title. He rose from his feet and gave his dad a big hug, with tears filling their eyes.
“When he was a sophomore, after he won he jumped into my arms, and that was 120 pounds. I said, ‘now you’re a lot bigger, and what will happen if you jump up into my arms again?’ We decided we were going to high-five, and I went to highfive him, but he said no and we hugged. It was more of a relief for him. His goal was a state title, and he wanted it. He did it well and I am proud of him.
“The greatest title anyone can have is being a dad. When I look back at my life, the greatest thing is being a dad and having the chance to coach all three of them.”
Mark quickly changed gears and reflected on his final team’s successes this year.
“There were other kids that won that day. JD Martin had a come-from-behind upset with a pin in the final nine seconds, with all of us going nuts. It was about our team. We wrestled great with nine kids on the team, and we finished third. I felt like we had won the state title. Three had never wrestled before in their life. I was happy with the way the season ended.”
Mark has a long list of fellow coaches, volunteers, assistant coaches and parents to thank.
“I have been fortunate to have learned from some of the best coaches in the history of Maine wrestling. My high school coach Bob Donelen, and several great coaches including Dennis Bishop, Jerry Perkins and the late Gary Kent. I have learned every step of the way, from my wrestlers, to my assistant coaches and coaches from other teams.
“Anyone who knows anything about building a team like Lisbon wrestling will tell you that it takes a community, not just one person. Bob Earle and Ted Albasini both have been coaching with me for over 10 years. Bob retired in 2007 shortly after being selected as National Assistant Coach of the Year for USA Wrestling Magazine. I have a lifetime of gratitude to give to Bob and Ted. Bob was a life cheerleader, always making me feel like I am doing the right thing. When I would make a decision that was not the right one, he would gently say, ‘coach you sure you want to do that?’ Bob was a hero to me and I would not have had the opportunities over the years if it was not for him leading me to be a better coach.
“Ted also has been one of the most selfless, committed and honest men I have known. He is a role model and incredible man. When he speaks, our athletes hold on to every word. He had as much to do with building champions on the mat yearin and year-out since he came back to Lisbon in 2002.”
And about the kids he coached along the way and some of the changes he hopes to see in the future in regards to Maine wrestling ...
“You have to love your kids and be willing to have them learn about the value of themselves. At the end of the day, I worked with a team of guys that helped kids to realize their potential, maybe prepared them for the challenges in their lives. I am so close to many of my alumni, and that is the value that I have given and received. We took a team of people and didn’t expect it. I never took it for granted because it won’t last forever.
“Wrestling in Maine is in a transition. I see them combining classes, the end of the three-class system, and creating some co-op teams like in hockey. I have heard through the rumor mill that Massachusetts and New York have allowed seventh and eighth-graders to wrestle in high school. You want to build up the programs. The more internal competition you have on a team, the better the team.”
As is Mark’s way, he passed the credit to those who supported him.
“I had some great help. It is not a one-man show. Even the dynasty that we had, it took a family of coaches, wrestlers, their parents and grandparents, and the community.
“We taught our wrestlers good handshakes, character, with the cornerstones of wrestling being respect. The winning became a by-product of what we were doing in practice and it seemed to be a good recipe.
“One of the things I pride myself in was whether you win or lose, you shouldn’t have an expression on your face that showed anyone any different. Kids don’t get that these days. If you have a tough battle and won, don’t show that until you are on the bus. If you lost because the kid was better than you and trained harder, keep your head high, same exact handshake, get on the bus and if you have to cry, cry. Just have honor and respect.”
In conclusion ...
What Lisbon wrestlers have accomplished in the past 17 years has been truly amazing. The trophies are nice, but nothing compared to the unforgettable memories and experiences we shared. Those wrestlers, parents and coaches who have been a part of this journey have some great stories to tell. It would be more of a series of books once all these stories were told. The relationships that have been built, and the life lessons that have been learned through the experiences the past two decades are priceless. It was always about building ‘champion kids’ not just champion wrestlers.”
“He has a way of bonding with his men and women,” said Earle. “He is a special human being. Mark prided himself in doing well when he coached at the middle school and continued that in high school. The kids bought in and believed in him. His kids, and myself, would go through a wall for Mark. Lisbon wrestling is Mark Stevens!”
BOB CONN is the Times Record assistant sports editor. He can be reached

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Northwestern Football Ruling May Change U.S. College Sports

Photographer: David Banks/Getty Images
The Northwestern Wildcats celebrate their win against the Iowa Hawkeyes in this Oct

By Mason Levinson

Northwestern Universityfootball players were given the right to form college sports’ first labor union in a ruling that could seismically change the $16 billion business of top-level university athletics.

Peter Ohr, the National Labor Relations Board regional director in Chicago, ruled that all scholarship football players at the Evanston, Illinois, school who have not exhausted their college eligibility are “employees” and ordered an immediate election to create a union board.

Northwestern said it would appeal yesterday’s 24-page ruling, which for now only affects athletes at private schools and not at public universities, to the full NLRB in Washington.

The decision, which comes as the National Collegiate Athletic Association is defending separate lawsuits that challenge its authority, has the potential to force a change to the business model of college sports, which generate $16 billion annually in revenue.

“Today, college athletes are employees,” said Ramogi Huma, a co-founder and president of the Northwestern players’ group that won the right to unionize. “It’s a first step toward forever changing the balance of power and guaranteeing players have a seat at the table and the right to bargain for basic protections.”

In his ruling, Ohr said the scholarship football players are employees because they are compensated and come under the university’s control. The NLRB governs the rights of private-sector employees, meaning that the ruling only affects athletes who compete at private schools. Public-school players seeking to unionize would have to gain approval from state-run labor boards.

‘Uncharted Territory’

“This is totally uncharted territory,” Paul Haagen, a professor of sports and contract law at the Duke University School of Law in Durham, North Carolina, said in a telephone interview, adding that it’s less likely the players will prevail at the national level. Duke, like Northwestern, is a private university.

The Northwestern players submitted a petition to the NLRB in late January, seeking to give 85 scholarship players the right to vote on representation and stating that NCAA rules were unjust.

The group is trying to secure guaranteed coverage of sports-related medical expenses for current and former athletes, as well as compensation for sponsorships. The players also are seeking to create a trust fund to help former players finish their degrees and push for an increase in athletic scholarships.

Eliminating Schools?

Henry Bienen, Northwestern’s president emeritus, said this month that giving athletes the right to unionize might chase schools from top-level intercollegiate sports.

“A union means collective bargaining over a whole range of issues,” said Bienen, a member of the Knight Commission whose mission is to ensure athletic programs operate within the educational goals of their schools. “If we got into collective bargaining situations, I would not take for granted that the Northwesterns of the world would continue to play Division I sports.”

Alan Cubbage, vice president for university relations at Northwestern, said in a statement that the school was disappointed by the decision.

“While we respect the NLRB process and the regional director’s opinion, we disagree with it,” Cubbage said. “Northwestern believes strongly that our student-athletes are not employees, but students. Unionization and collective bargaining are not the appropriate methods to address the concerns raised by student-athletes.”

‘Not Employees’

Lisa Powers, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania State University, said the school “is firmly committed to the bedrock principles of amateurism.”

“We believe that all Penn State student-athletes are students, not employees,” Powers said in an e-mail.

The NCAA, while not a party to the NLRB action, said in a statement that it disagrees with the decision and opposes a move to “completely throw away a system that has helped literally millions of students over the past decade alone to attend college.”

Two Lawsuits

Separately, the NCAA and five top conferences were sued twice this month by college players seeking to improve their financial standing.

A group of football and basketball players filed an antitrust suit that called the organizations a “cartel” that generates billions of dollars while illegally capping the pay of student athletes. The suit is seeking to bar the NCAA and the conferences from stopping schools that want to compensate players.

Also this month, the NCAA and five conferences were sued in San Francisco by Shawne Alston, a former West Virginia University football player who claims they conspired to limit the value of scholarships to less than the actual cost of attendance.

The NCAA also is a defendant in a case brought by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannonand other athletes, who seek to profit from the use of their likeness in video games.

Further Changes

“It’s a very significant move,” James Quinn, a senior partner at New York-based Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, said in a telephone interview. “Given all of the other pressures on the NCAA and member institutions, things are going to change.”

Richard Southall, director of the College Sport Research Institute at the University of South Carolina, said the ruling could lead to further changes.

“If this stands, if the players are employees, the next question is, do they have the right to control the use of their name, likeness and image?” he said. “Can they be forced to sign that over?”

The 123 schools in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision turned a $1.3 billion profit on $3.2 billion in revenue in the fiscal year ended June 2013, according to data schools submit to the U.S. Department of Education.

NLRB hearing officer Joyce Hofstra took five days of testimony last month from individuals called by the players and the school.

Sacrificing Bodies

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, a co-founder of the players association who compared the NCAA system to a dictatorship before the hearings, testified that players spend 40 to 50 hours a week on football and have to sacrifice their bodies to do so. He also said that the time commitment kept him from pursuing a plan to enter the school’s pre-med program.

Among people Northwestern called to testify were football coach Pat Fitzgerald, school administrators and three former players who said that football didn’t keep them from succeeding as students.

College athletes, who can receive scholarships but are not paid, help generate more than $16 billion in television contracts, as well as revenue from sponsorships, ticket and merchandise sales, and payouts for championships.

“The Northwestern case will work its way through the court system over the next few years, and we will closely monitor it and maintain a dialogue with our student-athletes about how we can improve,” Pat Haden, athletic director at the University of Southern California, said in a March 6 statement on auniversity blog. “I have looked at the demands of the Northwestern players, and quite honestly, we provide most of those already at USC.”

The United Steelworkers Union backed the players’ NLRB petition and is paying their legal fees.

The case is Northwestern University, 13-RC-121359, National Labor Relations Board, Region 13 (Chicago).

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at Dex McLuskey, Rob Gloster

Marathon bombing hero thanks Marine, Maine student for honoring son

Current USM Wrestling student athlete, Brandon Sodergren (149) will be running in this years Boston Marathon in honor of "Fallen Soldiers" of the Iraq/Afghanistan War. Sodergren has served our nation as a United States Marine for the past 6 years and was involved in 2 tours in Afghanistan. Brandon is representing a young Marine who lost his life in Afghanistan in 2004 who's father helped victims during last years Boston Marathon bombings! Another amazing accomplishment from a USM Wrestler!

Click to watch WMTW story

Huskies’ Deupree, Fagan and Del Gallo Earn NEWA Post Season Honors

GORHAM, Maine – Juniors Jonathan Deupree (Ozona, Fla./Countryside) and Sean Fagan (Arlington, Mass.) and freshman Daniel Del Gallo (Gardiner, Maine) of the University of Southern Maine Huskies wrestling team each earned New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) post season honors following a vote of NEWA coaches.

Del Gallo earned All-NEWA honorable mention honors and was selected to the NEWA All-Rookie team at 149 pounds.  Fagan, a junior tri-captain, was selected to the honorable mention team at 197 pounds, while Deupree, also a captain, was named to the All-NEWA second team.
Del Gallo's first season with the Huskies was a tremendous success culminating in a record of 20 wins and eight losses.  Del Gallo narrowly missed out on all-region honors for the Huskies at the NCAA Division III Northeast Regional Championship posting a 2-2 record against some of the toughest competition in the country.  His strong wrestling throughout the season earned him New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Rookie of the Week honors on February 11 and saw him ranked as high as fourth individually.  During the season, Del Gallo placed second at the Ted Reese Invitational and took the 149-pound title at the North Atlantic Wrestling Championship.  His outstanding work in the classroom earned him National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Scholar All-American honors.  Del Gallo has a 4.0 grade point average and is majoring in Sociology/Philosophy.
Fagan is earning NEWA honorable mention honors for the first time in his career.  Grappling at 197 pounds, Fagan posted a 24-10 overall record.  He had eight wins by fall and totaled 109 points for the Huskies' in his junior campaign.  Fagan is a 2013 All-Region wrestler, placed second at the Williams Invitational and Ted Reese Invitational and fourth at the Roger Williams Invitational. At the North Atlantic Wrestling Championship, Fagan won the 197-pound title.
After a highly successful junior season, Deupree became the sixth Huskies' wrestler to advance to the NCAA Division III National Championship, joining Adam Farrington (1999 and 2001), Steve Valastro (2007), Mike Morin (2008, 2009, 2010), Matt Ulrich (2010) and Billy Cole (2011).  Deupree earned his berth to the NCAA National Championship capturing the 184-pound title at the 2014 NCAA Division III Northeast Regional.  Deupree's outstanding wrestling at the Northeast Regional earned him co-Most Outstanding Wrestler honors at the tourney.  Deupree finished the season with a remarkable 29-3 record, including seven wins by fall.
Southern Maine finished its season with a 13-7 record in dual meets.

Monday, March 24, 2014

NCAA DIII: Wartburg moves title streak to four years, claims three individual crowns

Roger Moore |

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Four years. Four titles. Four years of domination.
It was a fitting end for Wartburg's senior class for 2013-14 inside the U.S. Cellular Center on Saturday night. With the team trophy already headed to Waverly, Iowa, for a fourth consecutive season, four seniors went after individual titles in the final session of the 2013 NCAA Division III championships.
Three of the four got their hand raised.
Kenny Anderson provided some theatrics to become the 14th three-time champion in DIII. A second-period ride-out by Ithaca senior Alex Gomez sent the 133-pound finals bout to the third at 0-0 where an early reversal gave Gomez a 2-0 lead. Anderson quickly reversed back and rode the rest of the way, erasing Gomez's riding-time advantage and forcing overtime.
One final shot, one completed attack, a low-level double-leg, sent Anderson (15-2) and Wartburg fans into a frenzy.
"That's all heart in overtime, especially in a tournament like this because everyone is good," said Anderson, a native of Billerica, Mass. "You can throw skill out the  window, it's conditioning and heart. I am not going to lie, I was really nervous at the start of the match. I knew [the takedown] was going to be there eventually."
Winning three titles at the collegiate level never entered Anderson's mind when he came west.
"I was joking with my brother when I was at home watching the NCAAs," he said. "I might go to Wartburg and win one, then come back. I loved it and they loved me. [Wartburg] is special. I am really lucky."
The win also completed an impressive 66-3 career.
For Wisconsin-Oshkosh's Nazar Kulchytskyy no dramatics were needed. A native of Ukraine, he locked up a second-period cradle and pinned Coe's Dmitri Boyer to earn his third title and finish a 42-2 season and 143-5 career.
An explosive fireman's carry flowed into an international-style gut-wrench for a 4-0 lead. A good old-fashioned head shuck at the first-period buzzer made it 6-1. The coup de grĂ¢ce came thanks to a python-like cradle.
"After my match earlier today I went up to the hotel room and everyone was wondering when I wrestled again, should I wait, it's 4 a.m. [in Ukraine] and they were excited about how I was doing. They wanted to watch my matches." said Kulchytskyy, who plans on getting his U.S. citizenship in the coming weeks. "My family is important to me, they have supported me in my wrestling and I am happy to win another title."
With a freestyle background, the senior adjusted nicely to the American style.
"I just go hard, that was my last match in college," he said. "I am using my freestyle, I love freestyle … college is only for four years and it has been tough at times adjusting."
Wartburg's second of four seniors in the finals, Cole Welter, scrambled his way to a 5-1 win against Washington & Jefferson's Nick Carr, who entered the finals with a 12-0 record. Welter (34-1) was fifth a year ago.
Title number three for the Knights came thanks to a dominating performance by senior 174-pounder Landon Williams. A Davenport, Iowa, product, he won a championship in 2012 and was fourth last March. He turned Anthony Bonaventura, a senior for Waynesburg, multiple times before getting a pin at 2:46.
Loras sophomore James Buss kept the Knights from a fourth title. After beating two-time NCAA champion Chad Johnson in the semifinals, Buss, a product of Chicago, beat Wartburg's Ryan Fank in the 285-pound title bout 4-1.
In the end, it was a 36.5-point margin (103.5-67) for Wartburg against second-place Wisconsin-Whitewater, who was three points better than Messiah. Coe and Augsburg rounded out the top five in a field of sixty-five.
"I am so happy for these guys," Wartburg boss Eric Keller said. "This group of seniors has been unbelievable, how they have worked how they have put in the time from start to finish. All they have done is win.
"For me, I have been at Wartburg for 13 years, so everything that I do comes from what I've learned from coach [Jim] Miller during that time. I wasn't going to come in here and make a bunch of changes or try and mix things up. I am a big believer in what [Miller] has installed the last 20-something years.
"My goal is to continue to do that."
The three champions pushed Wartburg's all-time total to 41. The Knights do lose seven seniors, including all six All-Americans.
Augsburg's DIII-leading 44th national champion came in the form of junior 125-pounder Mike Fuenffinger, who built a 6-1 lead on Messiah rookie Lucas Malmberg (46-4) and went on to record an 11-4 major decision. The champion, seventh last March, finishes 34-3.
Two bouts later, Messiah and 11th-year head coach Bryan Bunk did get a champion as junior Kaleb Loht concluded a 48-1 junior season with a 6-3 win against Wisconsin-Whitewater's Matt Adcock in the 141-pound finals. A dislocated shoulder kept Loht out of the postseason last March. His performance, along with three other All-Americans, gave Messiah a third-place finish, the best in program history -- the Falcons were ninth in 2000.
Wabash rookie Riley Lefever finished a 38-0 season with an overtime win against TCNJ's Brian Broderick, a finalist in 2013, at 184 pounds. Lefever, a native of Fort Wayne, Ind., became his school's first national champion in wrestling.
"The first day of practice we had goal sheets and I wrote down, first, have fun, then be national champion at 184 pounds," Lefever said. "I am on cloud nine right now, I am so excited. I have so many emotions right now; I am thankful to my parents, my team, my brothers … without them beating the crap out of me every day I wouldn't be here right now.
"The easiest way to have fun is too never lose. I didn't plan on going undefeated, I just wanted to be there in the end."
The U.S. Cellular Center crowd reached its loudest all weekend when Cornell (Iowa) senior Alex Coolidge finished his career in style, scoring a late escape and finishing a takedown seconds later to beat Wisconsin-Whitewater sophomore Shane Siefert in a solid 197-pound battle. Coolidge, a finalist in 2013, finishes 29-4 and is the first national champion for Cornell since Shawn Voigt won a title in 1990.
A program coming off its best NCAA finish, Elmhurst, who was second in 2013, crowned its third champion in two seasons. Senior Ryan Prater (19-0), a DI national qualifier for Illinois before transferring to Elmhurst, beat Cortland State's Bobby Dierna 4-2 in the 149-pound finals.
The 2016 DIII championships are scheduled for Elizabethtown, Pa.
Prior to the finals, the fifth DIII Elite 89 Award was given to Ohio Northern 285-pounder Cody Lovejoy, who maintains a 3.98 grade point average in pharmaceutical studies. It was the second consecutive year he earned the NCAA's award for the highest GPA among those competing in the tournament.
The top seed at 125 pounds, Johns Hopkins' Paul Bewak, lost a quarterfinal bout on Friday night. He went 1-1 on Saturday and finished seventh, becoming the school's all-time wins leader at 100 in the process. Baldwin Wallace rookie Jesse Gunter (28-5) lost in the quarterfinals, but won four consecutive matches to finish third at 125 pounds.
Wrestling for seventh might not be what they were shooting for, but Mount St. Joseph's Wayne Black and Loras' Matt Holmes, both seniors wrestling their final collegiate bout, let it fly in a 13-12 match Saturday afternoon. They both left the mat with smiles on their faces. Similar sportsmanship was shown following a fifth-place bout at 174 pounds where Messiah's Ricardo Plummer finished a body lock for a takedown to beat TCNJ's Zach Zotello in overtime.
Checking the records of three-time DIII champions, Karl Monaco of Montclair State won two titles at 142 pounds in 1987 and '88, then completed his career with a gold at 150 pounds in 1989. The total entering the weekend was in fact 13 three-timers instead of 12  and one four-timer, Augsburg's Marcus LeVesseur.
Wartburg became the first program since the opening of DIII festivities in 1974 to win four consecutive team titles. Augsburg (2000-02) is the only other school to win three consecutive.
Eight freshmen earned top eight finishes this weekend. They are: Malmberg and Lefever; Jesse Gunter (Baldwin Wallace, 125); Charles Banaszak (Chicago, 141); Nick Drendel (Dubuque, 149); Stephen Aiello (Wheaton (Ill.), 165); Chris Chorzepa (Williams, 184); Zach Roseberry (Delaware Valley, 285).
Augsburg senior heavyweight Chad Johnson, a two-time NCAA champion, bounced back after his semifinal loss to take third and end 35-2 this season and 138-15 for his four All-America seasons. Eleven of his losses came during a freshman campaign that saw him finish seventh. During his final three seasons, Johnson went 104-4.
The attendance of 8,787 for Saturday night's finals set a DIII record, passing the 8,016 of La Crosse in 2012.

NCAA DII: Davis wins 72nd match in a row, earns title for Notre Dame (Ohio)

Paul B. Bowker |
CLEVELAND -- The wrestler can dance.

When the buzzer sounded to finish off Joey Davis’ 72nd consecutive college win Saturday night at Cleveland Public Hall, Davis put his arms at his side and put his body into a rocking motion.

He pointed at the hundreds of screaming Notre Dame (Ohio) fans in the balcony and began a celebration that really went on for nearly two more hours at the NCAA DII Wrestling Championships. 

Davis, a sophomore from Compton, Calif., won his second national championship by defeating Adam Walters of Findlay 4-1 in the 174-pound final. The victory was the 39th consecutive for Davis this season after also going unbeaten with a national title in 2012-13 at 165 pounds.

As excited as Davis was about that, he jumped around the Public Hall floor yet another time less than 15 minutes later when teammate Garrett Lineberger won his match at 184 pounds with the only fall of the night.
“Unbelievable!” Davis yelled as he ran toward Lineberger and gave him a crushing hug.
While Notre Dame’s season will forever be connected with Davis’ unbeaten streak, the night also belonged to his teammates. Four Notre Dame wrestlers won national titles in consecutive matches, leading the Falcons to their first national championship in NCAA DII. Notre Dame moved to the division from the NAIA just last year.
“It means a lot personally and for the college because the kids tried really hard,” said head coach Frank Romano, his voice cracking with emotion as he stood on center stage holding the national championship trophy. “We had so much support. We really did. Very, very important for the team and for the college and for the program in general.”
The Falcons won the tournament with 99.5 points, dominating the rest of the field. Two-time defending champion Nebraska-Kearney finished second with 64.5 points and Maryville was third with 58.5 points.
Notre Dame didn’t lose any championship-bracket bouts Saturday and it was the only school to have multiple titlists. Joining Davis and Lineberger as national champs were Jonathan Rivera at 157 pounds and Eric Burgey at 165 pounds.
“I can’t say enough about how hard the kids wrestled,” Romano said. “They really wanted to win and they were prepared. They did it the right way.”
“We worked so hard for it,” Davis said. “In our hometown. Now we get to go out and have some fun and celebrate.”
While Cleveland isn’t home for Davis, the Notre Dame campus in South Euclid is just a 20-minute drive from downtown Cleveland.
Davis was voted the tournament’s most dominant wrestler and it wasn’t until after his close match was over with Walters that he fully realized that his two-year win streak had reached 72.
“I’m just overwhelmed right now,” he said. “That’s hard to deal with. It didn’t hit me until right here. Wow. I’ve been in college two years and I’ve been to two finals. I’m just overwhelmed.”
“We never talked about it [the streak] once,“ said Anthony Ralph, an assistant coach who works closely with Davis. “It’s never been brought up.”
Davis has a reputation of working hard in practice, pushing himself and others around him. He wrestled against Lineberger every day, which was one reason for his delight following Lineberger’s win.
“Every day in the wrestling room, he works harder and harder. He coaches our other guys,” Ralph said.
“Hard work. You’ve got to keep focused. If you get too arrogant, you’re not going to like yourself,” Davis said. “I work so hard, that’s why I like to show out, you know? I put five to six hours into wrestling. I study. Nobody knows how it feels.”
Among his wins this season, Davis had seven technical falls and three pins, including two falls in the national tournament. He won tournament championships at Michigan State, Cleveland State and Indianapolis in addition to the NCAA Super Regional title that qualified him for the nationals.
Still, there were some important words from Romano and Ralph in a hallway prior to Davis stepping onto center stage Saturday night.
“They kept me tunnel visioned,” Davis said. “They let me know back here, you worked so hard for this all year. Remember all those times you didn’t want to practice, you didn’t want to run, you didn’t want to lift, you didn’t want to wake up at 7 in the morning. This is the time to let it out.”
And that is exactly what Davis did. For the 72nd time.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

NCAA-DI: Penn State completes final-session comeback to earn fourth title in a row

Roger Moore |

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Prior to Saturday night's finals, Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson felt pretty good about having the weight of a team title on the backs of his two senior stars.

They both delivered.

NC State's Nick Gwiazdowski and Oklahoma State's Alex Dieringer certainly helped the cause as well.

In order to win the team championship, Minnesota needed Tony Nelson and Dylan Ness to win their finals bouts. However, Gwiazdowski completed a pair of third-period takedowns to beat Nelson in the 285-pound final and Ness could not get by Dieringer in the 157-pound title bout.
The first of two Penn State seniors, Ed Ruth, beat Maryland's Jimmy Sheptock in the 184-pound final. It put the Nittany Lions in front by 1.5 points.
The finals started at 174 pounds and finished with 165 pounds.
When Ruth's teammate, fellow senior David Taylor, took the mat, it was academic -- Penn State had its fourth consecutive NCAA championship in the books. Taylor fashioned the final tally, beating Oklahoma State's Tyler Caldwell 6-0 in the night's final match at 165 pounds.
"People don't understand how difficult it is when you walk off this stage when you lose and how much better it feels when you win," Taylor said.
Taylor gave credit to senior teammate James English, a 149-pounder who finished his career as an All-American, one of seven for PSU, who finished with 109.5 points.
Ruth finished his career with a methodical 7-2 win against Maryland senior Jimmy Sheptock (32-1) in the 184-pound final. There was very little drama as he scored a pair of first period takedowns and registered 3:26 of riding time. He senior finishes 34-1 in 2013-14 and 136-3 during four years.
"I love David," said Ruth following his win Saturday night. "I mean, like he's a respected wrestler. I'd like to say the same for myself. It's like being able to wrestle in a time as him, it's like big. It's like people who can say they can wrestle during the time of Brett Metcalf and Jordan Burroughs and I could say I wrestled in the time of David Taylor, Andrew Howe, Chris Perry, Kyle Dake.
"Just a big honor."
Taylor finished a perfect 34-0 campaign and a 134-3 career with a workman-like victory. Taylor's final collegiate match included a pair of slick ankle picks and riding time; it was Taylor's second title and fourth trip to the NCAA finals.
Taylor and Ruth finished their careers a combined 270-6.
"We have an amazing staff," Sanderson said. "I just try and stay out of their way."
When asked about losing Taylor and Ruth, Sanderson said, "We knew this day would come and it's something we have to celebrate."
Moving the 165-pound final to the end of the docket meant the evening opened with a battle between rival schools Oklahoma State and Oklahoma and a rematch of a wild Big 12 Conference final.
Oklahoma State senior Chris Perry (30-1) proved he was better than Oklahoma's Andrew Howe on this night, scoring a second-period takedown and adding 1:01 of riding time in a 4-0 victory. It was Perry's second win against the 2010 champion in two weeks and second consecutive title.
"I told everybody I was going to set the tone this match," Perry said. "I told them I would make adjustments from the last time I wrestled him, and I did. I hand fought him a little more last time. This time I knew he thought I was going to not shoot on him, and I wanted to let him know right off the whistle I'm coming for you. Like coach said before I ran out of the tunnel, go out there and set the tone and let him know you're here to go."
Howe (28-2) was a three-time finalist and finishes his career 120-10.
Gwiazdowski put a major damper on Minnesota's championship hopes when he scored two third-period takedowns to beat Nelson, who was wrestling for his third title. The win by Gwiazdowski, a Wolfpack sophomore, kept Penn State in the lead by 1.5 points and brought the Nittany Lions fans to their feet.
Ness' high-flying style did not translate against Dieringer, who finishes his sophomore season at 32-1. He is now 67-7 for his career.
"Once I got that near fall, I was up 5-0 I think, I knew I had it locked because I know how to wrestle smart when it comes to a guy like that," said Dieringer, who led early and went on to win 13-4. "I've wrestled him many times before and his shots aren't easy to stop.
He shoots low ankles. That's what he tries, sometimes doubles, but he just plain crashes right to them. I knew he was coming."
Dieringer's win took all the pressure off Taylor.
Ohio State junior Logan Stieber dominated Virginia Tech's Devin Carter 10-1 in the 141-pound final. Stieber, now a three-time champion, finishes 30-1 and takes a 90-3 into his fourth season where he will try and become the fourth four-time NCAA champion.
Stieber was sharp from the outset and never challenged by Carter (18-1), who was supposed to be out for the season due to injury, but was given the clearance only a week before the conference qualifiers.
"Yeah, I'm ready for No. 4," Stieber said. "But you know how I'll treat No. 4? Training wise, like I trained No. 1, 2, and 3. I'm always calm. I always try to be relaxed. So my coach will have me ready and I'll be ready to go once next season comes around."
Illinois junior Jesse Delgado (30-1) won his second title, showing some impressive defensive skills in beating Cornell sophomore Nahshon Garrett (34-2) 4-2 in the 125-pound final. Twice Delgado held off cat-quick Garrett double-leg shots -- both went to video review and both were overturned. A third review due to similar twister-like scrambles in the first period provided similar results. The decisive points came late in the second period when he secured a takedown immediately after an escape.
Both of Garrett's losses in 2013-14 came to Delgado.
Iowa senior Tony Ramos won another tough match in the finals, beating Wisconsin senior Tyler Graff in an overtime tiebreaker at 133 pounds. A pre-match stare-down lasted 30 seconds and Ramos (32-2), after getting ridden out in a first 30-second tiebreaker, secured two back points to win 3-1.
Two freshmen -- J'Den Cox and Jason Tsirtsis -- won titles on Saturday night.
Cox (38-2) grabbed, pushed and kept Ohio State senior Nick Heflin on the defensive for seven minutes and won 2-1 on a pair of stalling calls. Heflin (28-2) locked up a bear-hug in the final 10 seconds and tried to toss the Tiger freshman from Columbia, Mo., but was unable to finish.
Tsirtsis (32-3), a first-year starter for Northwestern who was seeded fifth, scored a takedown in overtime to beat Oklahoma State's Josh Kindig in the 149-pound final.
Big Ten heavy
The powerful Big Ten Conference claimed 34 of the 80 All-America spots this season. The four-team Big 12 was second with 11, with the EIWA (10), ACC (9), MAC (8), EWL (3), SoCon (2), Pac 12 (2), and West Region (1) each claiming at least one top-eight placer.
Ten Big Ten wrestlers competed in the finals; five from the Big 12.
Scots and Hawks
Lehigh and Edinboro, both located in Pennsylvania, always seem to play a role in March. Each put three in the top six this week. All six return.
Two Lehigh freshmen, Darian Cruz and Mitch Minotti, joined sophomore Mason Beckman inside the top eight. Another rookie, Elliot Riddick, was one win away from All-America status.
Cruz, from Allentown, Pa., entered the week unseeded, but worked his way to a seventh-place medal. Cruz lost to Penn State's Nico Megaludis in the first round, but won four in a row in wrestlebacks. After a loss to Dance, the Mountain Hawk beat Iowa State's Earl Hall for seventh.
"I'm really proud of them … a great group to work with," Lehigh boss Pat Santoro said. "From where they came to where we finished, we came a long way. We circle [March] because we want to perform well here."
"Coach Pat knows what he is doing," said Cruz, one of nine qualifiers for Lehigh. "It really doesn't matter how things happen early in the season. I don't feel like I beat any good kids all year, nobody in the top twenty. Everybody was joking that I picked a good time to start beating people.
"The bottom line, though, is that I had fun. I can't wait for next year already."
Beckman (28-6), from Greenville, Pa., was seeded sixth and finished sixth after a loss to Minnesota's David Thorn on Saturday. Like Beckman, Minotti, a rookie from Easton, Pa., was sixth.
For Edinboro, A.J. Schopp and Mitchell Port were top eight as expected, with 149-pounder David Habat taking fourth. Vic Avery, a sophomore, beat fifth-seeded Ethan Lofthouse in the first round.
"It's hard to explain," said Schopp, a native of Tyrone, Pa., who finished fourth at 133 pounds. "People always ask 'what is it about Edinboro?' It's the coaches, the mindset, the area … the coaches really get us ready for March and I think a lot of Pennsylvania kids approach it the same way. This is when it counts, when it's time to wrestle your best.
"It's hard to compete with the bigger programs, but we are really close. We showed that this week. It would be nice to get a team trophy for a little small school in Pennsylvania."
Port, who was third, and Schopp combined to win 67 of 71 matches. Both will be seniors in 2014-15.
The Fighting Scots, with seven qualifiers, finished a program-best fifth in the team race, besting two sixth-place showings. Lehigh was 18th.
And Hokies
Virginia Tech followed up its 10th-place showing in 2013 with another top-10 effort this week, finishing a program-best eighth. The Hokies' Joey Dance, a freshman from Christiansburg, Va., entered the week as the 16 seed at 125 pounds. After losing in the second round Thursday night to finalist Jesse Delgado of Illinois, Dance (29-10) won five consecutive matches before falling to Megaludis in the third-place bout.
Chris Penny, the 14th seed at 197 pounds, beat Penn State's third-seeded Morgan McIntosh on Thursday night and advanced to the semifinals where he was pinned by Iowa State's Kyven Gadson. Penny (28-14), a senior from Virginia Beach, Va., eventually finished sixth.

Devils and Diplomats
Duke's Conner Hartman, who finished fifth at 197 pounds, is the Blue Devils' second All-American, joining former heavyweight Konrad Dudziak, who was top-eight in 2009 and 2010. Hartman, a sophomore from Port Orchard, Wash., finishes 28-11.
Franklin & Marshall 141-pounder Rick Durso, a junior from Broomall, Pa., won 37 of 43 matches this season and was eighth in Oklahoma City. He is the Diplomats' first All-American since 1981.