Air Force Defeats North Dakota State in WWC Opener
Jan. 28, 2011
USAFA, Colo. - In a thrilling dual that came down to the last match, the Air Force wrestling team earned a 22-19 victory over North Dakota State Friday evening in Clune Arena. The Falcons, competing in their first Western Wrestling Conference dual of the season, improved to 9-2 overall on the year and 1-0 in the WWC, while the Bison fall to 7-3, 1-2 in the conference.
The Falcons, who have already posted nine dual victories for just the second time in the past eight seasons, have gotten out to their best start since the 1992-93 season, when Air Force compiled a 10-1 dual record.
Air Force trailed by three points in the team scoring with one bout remaining--the 141-pound match-up between the Falcons' Cole VonOhlen (So., Jackson, Minn.) and the Bison's Trevor Johnson. VonOhlen needed to score at least a decision to tie the match, while a win with bonus points would give the Falcons the team victory.
The first points of the bout went to Johnson, who scored an early takedown, but VonOhlen quickly turned things around. After an escape and a takedown of his own, VonOhlen was able to get the fall in a time of 1:48 to seal the dual win for Air Force. With the win, VonOhlen, ranked as eighth in some polls, earned his 30th victory of the season, moving to 10-1 in dual action.
North Dakota State held the early lead in the dual, winning a pair of close decisions at 149 and 157 pounds to start the match. Air Force's first individual win came at 165 pounds, as sophomore Clayton Gable (Dallastown, Pa.) scored a 12-4 major decision over Tyler Johnson to bring the Falcons within two points. Meanwhile, senior captain Joseph Stafford (Loomis, Calif.) gave Air Force its first lead of the evening, earning a 16-0 technical fall over Mac Stoll at 174 pounds.
The Falcons' lead was short-lived, as the Bison won the next two matches, scoring a major decision at 184 pounds and a decision at 197 pounds. However, sophomore Jared Erickson (Newton, Utah) responded with a 2-0 decision in the heavyweight bout to bring Air Force back within one point in the team scoring.
The Bison stretched out their lead, as 17th-ranked Trent Sprenkle registered a fall in the 125-pound match to put NDSU ahead 19-12. Down by seven points with two weight classes remaining, Air Force needed wins in both of its last two matches. Senior Derek Gillespie (Chesapeake, Va.) did his part to keep the Falcons alive in the team competition, controlling the action in his 133-pound match-up against Justin Solberg. Gillespie earned an 11-3 major decision over Solberg to ease the pressure going into the final bout.
The Falcons are back in action tomorrow with another WWC dual, hosting South Dakota State at 7:05 p.m. in Clune Arena.
Air Force 22, North Dakota State 19