David Mendoza and Kaylen Baxter Earn Conference Honors
Jan. 9, 2007
NORFOLK, VA -- Sophomore David Mendoza (197) was named CAA Co-Wrestler of the Week and freshman Kaylen Baxter (149) was named Co-Rookie of the Week on Tuesday. The two grapplers combined for a 16-4 record at two tournaments, defeating four nationally ranked opponents along the way.
Mendoza, a sophomore from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, took 5th place at the extremely tough Southern Scuffle and then swept the competition at the Virginia Intercollegiate State Tournament for a victory. He went 10-2 and collected four pins and two major decisions improving his season record to 19-4.
At the Southern Scuffle, he lost to his high school rival Pat Bradshaw (Edinboro) in the first round, but would work his way to a rematch with Bradshaw after a major decision, two decisions, and a pin. He then knocked the Edinboro grappler into the 7th/8th place bout with a 4:25 fall. He then lost to nationally ranked Maryland wrestler Hudson Taylor before beating Jerry Rinaldi (Cornell) by default in the 5th/6th place bout.
Mendoza caught fire right out of the gates at the Virginia States and finished a perfect 4-0. With two falls and a major decision going into the title bout, Mendoza was primed for a rematch against the ranked Patriot, Harry Zander. Zander controlled much of the first period, but Mendoza took advantage of the 197-pounder early in the second and earned the pin at 3:30. The second time this season Mendoza pinned Zander was enough to knock the grappler out of the rankings.
He is currently ranked in all four major polls, as high as 20th. The sophomore shares this week's award with Rider's Doug Umbehauer.
Kaylen Baxter, from Fairbanks, Alaska, is picking apart the Top 20 wrestlers with rapid efficiency. The red-shirt freshman came into the week already with one upset, a 10-8 decision over the 7th ranked wrestler at the time John Cox (Navy), and he's since added two more big wins. Baxter highlighted his Southern Scuffle appearance with a victory over the 10th ranked grappler from Lehigh, Trevor Chinn, and then was slated to go against VMI's top 149-pounder.
Much like Mendoza's bout, the 149-lb. class was in reach for Baxter, but he'd have to defeat a nationally ranked opponent to get it. Sam Alvarenga from VMI came into the bout with a 20-2 record and was ranked 18th in the nation. The two wrestlers battled for the entire three periods, with Alvarenga earning a crucial escape point to go up 6-5 with just thirty seconds remaining. However, the Monarch got the better of the Keydet with just two seconds remaining in the bout and earned a takedown and a nearfall to win 9-6.
Going 6-2 on the week with a win of the 149-lb. weight class at the Virginia States the freshman earned his first national ranking at 27th by WrestlingReport.com. Baxter is Co-Rookie of the Week with Boston University's A.J. Detwiler. This was the second time this season ODU has earned the Rookie of the Week honors, with Chris Brown earning the honor on December 4.
The Monarchs slid up in a tie for third with Drexel in the CAA Rankings this week with 31 points and 8 wrestlers ranked in the CAA. ODU boasts the second best wrestler in the conference at 184 (Jesse Strawn) and at 133 (Adam Koballa).