ODU Ready to Compete at 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships

March 14, 2012
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

March 14, 2012

NORFOLK, Va. - The No. 24 Old Dominion University Wrestling team begins action on Thursday at the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. 

2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships
No. 24 Old Dominion (13-10)
March 15-17, 2012
Scottrade Center | St. Louis, Mo.
ODU Championship Notes | Twitter | Brackets 
ESPN3.com Steam | Live Stats | Highlights
NCAA Championship Central 

Redshirt freshman Jerome Robinson (125) became the seventh Monarch qualifier in 2012 when he received an at-large bid when the brackets were released last week. He joins sophomore Scott Festejo (133), redshirt sophomore Justin LaValle (141), redshirt sophomore John Nicholson (157), sophomore Tristan Warner (165), senior Te Edwards (174) and senior Joe Budi (197) who automatically qualified at the 2012 CAA Championships at Binghamton University on March 3.

• Old Dominion University qualified a school record seven wrestlers for the 2012 NCAA Championships.  The previous school record was six set in both 2008 and 2009.

• ODU finished the regular season ranked No. 24 and was ranked over the final seven weeks of the NCWA/USA Today Division I Team Coaches Poll.

• Senior Te Edwards is the lone Monarch with NCAA Tournament experience. This year's No. 10 seed at 174 pounds went 21-3 on the year and won the CAA crown two weeks ago at Binghamton University. Edwards went 2-2 at the 2010 NCAA Championships at 157 pounds when he was at Arizona State.

• At the CAA Championships on March 3 at Binghamton University, ODU picked up a pair of champions at Scott Festejo (133) and Te Edwards (174) claimed crowns. Finishing second for the Monarchs was Justin LaValle (141), John Nicholson (157) and Tristan Warner (165) while Jerome Robinson (125) and Joe Budi (197) each claimed third place.

• The Monarchs look to crown an All-American for the fifth consecutive season in 2012. Beginning in 2008, James Nicholson (8th at 125) was followed by Ryan Williams' runner-up finish in 2009 at 141 pounds. Chris Brown took 8th at 165 pounds in 2010 and Nicholson again earned eighth at 125 in 2011. ODU has not had multiple All-Americans in the same season since 1991 when Peter Horst (134) and Nick Garone (150) each took sixth for the Monarchs.

Not only did qualifying seven wrestlers set the school record for Old Dominion this season, but it also placed them among the nation's elite in terms of number of wrestlers that qualified for the 2012 NCAA Championships in St. Louis. ODU led all CAA team and the state of Virginia this season in number of wrestlers who qualified for the NCAA's as they tied for the fourth most nationally.

ODU wrestlers will all take on new faces this season in their opening round match-ups as no Monarch will wrestle a foe they faced during the regular season.

Edwards (21-3) led the Monarchs by earning one of the top-12 seeds at this year's tournament at 174 pounds. The senior and the lone ODU wrestler with NCAA Championship experience, is seeded at No. 10 and will face Indiana's Ryan Le Blanc (19-14).

At 197 pounds, Budi (22-12) will await the winner of Nebraska's James Nakashima (19-9) and The Citadel's Kelby Smith (34-7) while Warner (27-14) is set to face Michigan's Daniel Yates (23-8) in first round action at 165 pounds.

Moving to the lower weight classes, Robinson (17-9) takes on fourth-seeded Jesse Delgado (30-6) of Illinois in the first round at 125 pounds while at 133 pounds, Festejo (23-14) squares off against Wyoming's Zach Zehner (28-11).

LaValle (25-14) meets 11th-seeded Matthew Mariacher (23-7) of American at 141 pounds and Nicholson (26-6) will battle top-seeded Kyle Drake (30-0) from Cornell at 157 pounds.

With just two seniors and three juniors on their roster, ODU has one of the youngest teams in the NCAA this season. The Monarch NCAA qualifiers include two seniors, four sophomores and one freshman.

ODU won CAA Wrestler of the Week for four consecutive weeks during the season as John Nicholson (157) and Tristan Warner (165) each won the award twice during that stretch. Warner was also named one of CollegeSports360.com's Primetime Performers of the Week on Feb. 8. Redshirt freshman Jerome Robinson (125) won CAA Rookie of the Week on two separate occasions as well this season while senior Te Edwards (174) won CAA Wrestler of the Month in November.

Senior Te Edwards has provided a big boost for ODU this season after transferring for his final year of eligibility from Arizona State. He is the only Monarch with NCAA Championship experience, going 2-2 for ASU in 2010 at 157 pounds.

Earning the No. 10 national seed, Edwards has defeated a team-leading eight NCAA qualifiers this season and gone 5-2 against ranked opponents.

A local product from Virginia Beach who wrestled at Cox High School, Edwards has been ranked in the top-25 all season at 174 pounds, including the top-10 for much of the year.

He earned CAA Wrestler of the Month in November after winning the Hokie Open and had three wins over ranked foes in the first month of the season. 

Redshirt sophomore John Nicholson (157) is tied for second in Division I this season with 13 major decisions. Over half of Nicholson's decisions (17) came via tech fall or major decision.

Senior Joe Budi (197) saved the best for last in his ODU career by qualifying for the NCAA Championships in his final season. The active career wins leader (85) for ODU has averaged over 20 wins a season in his career.

The opening round of the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships begins at 11 a.m. (CT) on Thursday from the Scottrade Center. A live blog, schedule updates, updated brackets, live results, NCAA highlights, Twitter updates, action photos and more can be found throughout the tournament at ODU's 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships Central page found here.