GATEWAY GRAPPLING: Six Wrestling Monarchs in St. Louis for 78th Annual NCAA Championships This Weekend

March 19, 2008
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

March 19, 2008

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NORFOLK, Va. -- Six Old Dominion University wrestlers will take to the mats on Thursday in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Wrestling begins at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow and will continue through Saturday with the Championship round scheduled for 7:30 p.m. For the first time in program history, ODU qualified six for the national tournament and for the first time under head coach Steve Martin a wrestler is seeded. Redshirt freshman James Nicholson starts the tourney seeded 10th at 125 lbs.

Tune into for updates throughout the tournament.

NCAA Tournament Time
In 2008 the Monarchs have passed milestone after milestone and they didn't stop at the CAA Tournament. Old Dominion qualified more individuals to the national tournament than ever before, with six receiving automatic bids to the Championship. Old Dominion will have a wrestler at 125, 133, 141, 165, 184 and 285.

ODU won three weights at the conference tournament including the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler, Ryan Williams, at 141 lbs. Williams toppled the 2nd ranked wrestler in the nation, Charles Griffin (Hofstra), in the title bout to earn his second trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Also headed to St. Louis is 125-pounder James Nicholson, after earning the highest national ranking ever for a Monarch under head coach Steve Martin, at 9th in the nation. He swept through the 125-lb weight at the CAA Tournament with ease and beat the 11th ranked wrestler, Dave Tomasette (Hofstra), for the third time this season in the title bout.

Chris Brown is also primed for a run at the podium at 165 lbs, after winning the weight in his second season for the Monarchs. Earlier in the year he defeated #1 Mark Perry (Iowa) and has not cowered in the face of other top competition in the past.

The three other Monarchs qualified for Nationals are 133-pounder Kyle Hutter, ranked 15th in the nation, 184-pounder Jesse Strawn and heavyweight Andy Totusek.

Tough Draws
Two Monarchs have been listed as "Bad Draws" by InterMat for the rest of the field. Williams and Brown have made it a habit to knock off top competition and are listed as two wrestlers the front-runners in their weight class hope to avoid.

Who's Up First?
#10 James Nicholson gets a first round bye on Thursday and will face Edinboro's Eric Morrill in his first bout. The winner will face the winner of the #7 Michael Sees (Bloomsburg)/Collin Cudd (Wisconsin) matchup.

At 133 lbs, Kyle Hutter also earns a first round bye and his first match will give him an opportunity for redemption against #11 seed Joe Baker (Navy). Earlier in the season, Baker beat Hutter in a tight 3-5 decision.

Ryan Williams, at 141 lbs, has the toughest opening day draw of the six qualified Monarchs. He will be across the mat in a rematch against Kent State's Drew Lashaway, who he dropped at the Virginia Duals in a 5-3 decision. Should he beat Lashaway again, he will most likely face the #1 seed in the weight, undefeated Chad Mendes (Cal Poly). The two matched up earlier in the season and Mendes pinned the Monarch in the first period.

Chesapeake's Chris Brown's draw is also tough, as he will have to beat the #4 seed right away to make a run at 165 lbs, as he's set to wrestle Mack Lewnes from Cornell. Lewnes is a freshman who has only lost three bouts all year and is ranked 4th in the nation. Should the Monarch win, he will face the winner of the Donald Jones (WVU)/Daniel Atondo (Cal St Bakersfield) matchup.

Jesse Strawn, at 184 lbs, gets a first round bye and will face Ryan Goodman (NCSU) in his first bout of the Tournament. With a win, he'd be across the mat, most likely, from the #2 seed Mike Pucillo (Ohio St).

The final qualifier for ODU, Andy Totusek, will wrestle Dustin Rogers (WVU) after a first round bye in the 285 lb bracket. He'll face either #3 Ed Pendergrast (Navy) or Jon May (Nebraska) if he wins against Rogers.

Winnin' Williams
The junior 141-pounder for the Monarchs, Ryan Williams, is just three wins shy of his 100th victory. The 2006 NCAA Qualifier will be looking for the century mark in his second trip to the national tournament. He is already 8th on the all-time wins list for the Monarchs and will continue to climb with a successful trip to St. Louis.