#19 Monarchs Win Two Weights at Hokie Open

November 17, 2008
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Nov. 17, 2008

Complete Results in PDF Format

SALEM, Va. -- In their first action of the 2008-09 season, junior Jesse Strawn (197) and redshirt sophomore James Nicholson both won their weight class at the First Annual Hokie Open yesterday. Strawn dominated his new weight, bumping up from 184, posting three pins and a technical fall to take home the win, and Nicholson posted an equally impressive day, going 4-0 with two pins, a major decision and a win over a Hokie grappler in the finals. Rookie Joe Budi (184) took home third in his second career tournament with three pins and two technical falls.

Nicholson, a 2008 All-American, put up a perfect tournament to win the 125 lb weight class. He had back-to-back first period falls and then posted a 12-4 major decision over Duke's Peter Terrezza. In the championship match, he faced Virginia Tech's Jarrod Garnett and won in a 4-2 decision.

At his new weight class, Strawn made a statement with his dominance, pinning three straight grapplers after a first round technical fall. All three pins came in the first period, including one against UTC's Niko Brown right before the buzzer sounded. In the championship bout, it took Strawn just 1:38 to put both of Virginia Tech's DJ Bruce's shoulders on the mat.

"James Nicholson and Jesse Strawn had strong performances this weekend as they dominated the competition," said head coach Steve Martin. "Joe Budi continues to improve each time he steps on the mat. As a true freshman he has earned hardware for the second weekend in a row."

Budi put up five wins in the tournament, a team-high. He pinned his first opponent, VMI's Tom Kendzia, in just 1:09, and then battled to a 14-12 loss in the second round as UNC Greensboro's Mikal McKee moved on in the championship bracket. Budi then posted four straight bonus point victories to finish 3rd at the Hokie Open. He dropped Charlotte's Andrew Cekuta with a technical fall, Liberty's Joseph Son with a tech fall, and then pinned Marcus Lopez (CN) and Duke's Diego Bencomo.

Two more Monarchs were placewinners in Salem, as Kaylen Baxter (149) and Eric Decker (174) both finished second.

"Kaylen Baxter and Eric Decker lost close matches in the finals that came down to the buzzer. They competed hard but ran out of time," said Martin.

Baxter had one technical fall, over Kurtis Hess (CN), before back-to-back decisions over VT's Matt Rosen and Charlotte's Tyler St. Louis. He then faced Peter Yates (Virginia Tech) in the final match, losing in a tight 3-2 decision.

Decker also lost his championship bout in a 3-2 decision to a Hokie grappler. He did so after three straight decisions, including a six-point victory over Turner Rooney (Duke).

The 19th ranked Monarchs look ahead to a challenging road swing on the coming weekend, as they will head to Oklahoma to face a pair of college wrestling's best teams.

"We are looking forward to the challenge of wrestling 34-time NCAA Champion Oklahoma State this weekend as well as national powerhouse Oklahoma," said Martin. "These duals will help prepare us for our ultimate goal: the NCAA Tournament. We get a great opportunity to wrestle in front of two big crowds and test our young men in adverse conditions."

ODU will face #8 Oklahoma State on Saturday, November 22 at 2:00 pm, and then will head to Norman, Okla. to face #18 Oklahoma on Sunday, November 23 at 4:00 pm.

Final Results - Hokie Open
125: James Nicholson (4-0) 1st Place
149: Kaylen Baxter (3-1) 2nd Place
174: Eric Decker (3-1) 2nd Place
184: Joe Budi (5-1) 3rd Place
197: Jesse Strawn (4-0) 1st Place