Old Dominion Takes 2nd Place at CAA Wrestling Championships
March 8, 2008
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - It's been a season of breaking historical marks for the Monarchs in 2007-08 and they aren't finished making history just yet. For the first time in ODU history, the team qualified six wrestlers to the NCAA Tournament with their third consecutive second place effort at the CAA Tournament. The Monarchs narrowed the gap on Hofstra, as the host Pride only won the 2008 title by 17.5 points, the fewest ever during their run of now seven straight CAA Titles. Junior Ryan Williams (141-Mechanicsburg, Pa.) was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler after toppling the #2 wrestler in the nation for his first career CAA Title. In all, six Monarchs earned automatic bids and one more was awarded a wild card bid to the NCAA Tournament on March 21-23 in St. Louis, Mo.
"In the last round of the tournament, we wrestled really well. We stepped up and came ready to wrestle," said assistant coach Mike Dixon. "We're looking forward to the NCAA Tournament with the six national qualifiers. We're ready to bang heads and make some noise at the national tournament. "
Five Monarchs found themselves competing for their weight title on Saturday, and three came home with first career championships. Williams, a 2006 NCAA Qualifier, earned a return trip to the Big Dance with a 3-0 effort including what will easily be considered the biggest match of his career thus far. After a decision in the quarters and a pin in the semis, the Pennsylvania native was across the mat from the #1 seed and 2nd ranked wrestler in the nation, Charles Griffin (Hofstra).
With the memory of a 4-13 major decision against Griffin earlier this season in the back of his mind, Williams stepped onto the mat with a purpose. Both wrestlers had their chances early in the match, but the first period went scoreless. After Williams elected to start down, he escaped quickly for a 1-0 lead. Later in the second period, the Monarch grappler earned a takedown to go up 3-0, but Griffin would follow with a quick escape to cut the lead to two. Griffin elected to start down in the third period and escaped easily for a score of 3-2. The two battled down to the wire, with each taking shots but time expired on the Hofstra grappler and Williams notched the biggest upset of his career for his first career CAA Title.
"It feels great," said Williams following his win. "I've lost to him four or five times before and it was good to finally get that win and a great time to do it. It gives me some momentum going into the NCAA Tournament. It's by far the best win in my college career."
The 5-9 junior will be headed to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in his career and will be primed to make a run.
"I've been there before, and I was nervous. I went out on the first day last time and now that's behind me I'm ready to go and get on the podium," said Williams.
Redshirt freshman James Nicholson at 125 lbs also sailed into the finals and was faced with a matchup against a nationally ranked opponent. Twice in the regular season the #2 seed and 11th ranked grappler in the nation, Dave Tomasette, fell to Nicholson in extremely competitive matchups. Nicholson won both matchups by just two points, including a sudden victory win at the CAA Duals. This time would be no different, as the pair were in a tight scrum the whole time and the difference would be a nice reversal in the second period. The 2-1 victory for the redshirt freshman sealed the first career title for the Iowa native.
Chris Brown (165-Chesapeake, Va.) was the third champ for Old Dominion and it was the win that came the easiest for ODU. Brown notched a win over Tyler Tisdell on the first day, then toppled five-seed Billy Haydt (Drexel) with a 4-0 shutout to ease into the 165-lb title match against #3 seed Ryan Patrovich (Hofstra). The ODU sophomore posted 12 points on the Pride grappler in the win, earning his first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Three other Monarchs earned automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, including 133-lb runner-up and 17th ranked wrestler in the nation Kyle Hutter (Mokena, Ill.). Hutter faced the 6th best 133-pounder in the nation, Hofstra's Lou Ruggirello in the championship match. Ruggirello had pinned his previous two opponents in a combined 1:27, but Hutter proved a much testier opponent. He forced an overtime period as the two battled to a 1-1 tie in regulation. Hutter's aggressive style in the match proved his Achilles' heel as Ruggirello caught him in a counter move in the first sudden victory for the win. The other two runner-ups were 184-pounder Jesse Strawn (Holton, Kansas) and Andy Totusek (Omaha, Neb.), who dropped #1 seed Harry Zander (George Mason) in a true-second match for his place at the NCAA Tournament.
Old Dominion finished second at the CAA Tournament for the third straight season. The Monarchs have closed the gap on Hofstra each of the last three years and this season, were only behind the Pride by 17.5 team points when all was said and done.
NOTE: Junior David Mendoza is the first alternate for the wild cards. If any of the current qualifier are injured, Mendoza will be named the 7th national qualifier for Old Dominion.
1. Hofstra 104.5
2. Old Dominion 87.0
3. Rider 73.0
4. George Mason 51.0
5. Drexel 38.5
6. Binghamton 36.0
7. Boston U 29.5
8. Sacred Heart 10.5
9. Campbell 4.0
Results by Weight Class:
125: James Nicholson - 1st Place (3-0)
133: Kyle Hutter - 2nd Place (2-1)
141: Ryan Williams - 1st Place (3-0)
149: Kaylen Baxter (0-2)
157: Dan Rivera (1-2)
165: Chris Brown - 1st Place (3-0)
174: Nick Pullano - 4th Place (2-2)
184: Jesse Strawn - 2nd Place (2-1)
197: David Mendoza - 4th Place (2-2)
Hwt: Andy Totusek - True Second (4-1)