Two ODU Freshmen Knock Off Nationally Ranked Opponents at Tourny
By ODU Athletics
Dec. 4, 2006
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA -- ODU used the Penn State Open as its final tune-up heading into the dual portion of the season. The Monarchs left many starters in Norfolk to rest and train for the upcoming dual on Friday against George Mason and yet still got two placewinners amidst a massive field at the Penn State Open. True freshman James Nicholson battled unattached to a 4th place finish in the 125-pound weight class and redshirt freshman Kaylen Baxter earned a back-to-back placing finishing 5th at 149.
Nicholson looked extremely good in the championship bracket and even tallied a victory over nationally ranked Lehigh wrestler Matthew Fisk. After an early exit in the Cornell Body Bar last weekend Nicholson won four straight in the championship bracket to earn a bid into the semi-final match against Mark McKnight of Penn State. Nicholson would fall to McKnight, who was later named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler as he won the 125 lb. class.
The unattached Monarch defeated Phil Mahne of Navy 7-1 in the first prelim and then grabbed a 10-0 major decision against Clarion wrestler Brett Sconieczkny (UNA). Nicholson then pinned Michigan State's Clint Frutiger in just under four minutes to put him in a bout against W.I.N. Magazine's 15th ranked wrestler in the nation, Matt Fisk of Lehigh. The two battled all three rounds with Nicholson coming out on top 3-2. Nicholson would then fall to McKnight 14-4 in the semi's and then to another Nittany, Brad Pataky. in the 3rd place bout 5-3. Nicholson's placing was the first of his collegiate career.
Baxter, at 149, was coming off a 4th place effort at the Mat Town Open last weekend and followed it up with another successful effort at Penn State. Baxter went 7-1 with, like Nicholson, a big victory over Navy's nationally ranked wrestler John Cox. The ODU redshirt freshman knocked off Anthony Ng 6-1 in the first prelim and then Shaun Mitchell of Cleveland State 5-1. Baxter then fell to Duke's Voris Tejada 2-1 and was bumped to the consolation bracket.
Baxter, knowing 5th was the best he could do, scored all kinds of points in the consolation bracket including an 18-8 major decision over UVA's Danny Artusio. After disposing of the Cavalier, Baxter went after another ACC grappler in Steve Fehnel of Maryland. Baxter won 3-1 which put him in a match with the 6th ranked wrestler in the nation at 149, John Cox. Ranked no lower than 7th in all four of the major wrestling polls, Cox would assuredly prove tough competition for the young Monarch. However, Baxter tallied 10 points on the Navy wrestler and took a 10-8 decision ending Cox's tournament.
"Kaylen had a pretty solid tournament," said assistant coach Lee Pritts. "He competed real hard and really made a lot of gain as far as turning the corner and a lot of his offense he's been working on. Scored a lot of points this tournament. He's getting better every weekend."
Baxter disposed of Boston University's Mike Roberts 6-3 and took the 5th place bout in an 8-2 decision over Joel Ahern from the Naval Academy. While other ODU starters took the weekend off to train for the GMU dual, Baxter, who will most likely start at 149 for the Monarchs, went 7-1 in a very tough tournament.
"It was a pretty good tournament. We only had a few guys go out there. We basically rested a lot of the guys because most of them have 15, 16, 17, 18 matches under their belt already. We didn't really have any other time during the schedule to rest guys," said Pritts.
The Monarchs will return to action this Friday against George Mason University at Blair Middle School, their first home dual of the season. The meet is set to start at 6:00 pm and directions to Blair will be posted in the weekly release posted Wednesday.