Air Force Finishes Second at All-Academy Championships

    Junior Clayton Gable
    Junior Clayton Gable

    Feb. 5, 2012

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    Led by individual champions Cole VonOhlen (Jr., Jackson, Minn.) and Clayton Gable (Jr., Dallastown, Pa.), the Air Force wrestling team captured a second-place finish at the 18th-annual All-Academy Championships, held in Clune Arena Sunday. The Falcons, who claimed placewinners in all 10 weight classes, finished with 105 points.

    Navy earned its eighth team title in the last nine years, finishing with 109.5 points to edge out Air Force. The Citadel took third place with 81.0 points, just one point ahead of fourth-place Army. Rounding out the last four spots in the team competition were VMI (24.0), Coast Guard Academy (11.5), Merchant Marine Academy (10.0) and Norwich (0.5).

    VonOhlen, the top seed at 149 pounds, posted a pair of dominant victories in the first two rounds, earning a 17-2 technical fall against Coast Guard's Mike Giorgio in his first match, while notching a 13-3 major decision versus Merchant Marine's Martin Bell in the semi-finals. In the championship bout, VonOhlen tallied his team-leading 10th fall of the year, pinning Army's Ryan Bilyeu in 2:28 to capture the title.

    At 174 pounds, Gable, seeded fourth, started out the day on a strong note, earning a fall over Coast Guard's Virgil Moreno in a time of 1:37. He then posted a huge win in the semi-finals, knocking out top-seeded Matthew Brock from VMI with a 9-0 major decision. In the final bout, Gable faced Turtogtokh Luvsandorj of The Citadel, ranked 19th in the latest poll, and battled for a 6-4 victory to claim the individual title. For his performance, Gable was voted the Outstanding Wrestler for the tournament.

    Three other Falcons--Carter McElhany (Fr., Colorado Springs, Colo.), Josh Kreimier (So., Fort Collins, Colo.) and Jared Erickson (Jr., Newton, Utah)--also reached the championship finals and placed second in their respective weight classes.

    McElhany, the top seed at 141 pounds, began the day with an opening round bye and posted a 4-0 decision over fourth-seed Jordan Dix from The Citadel in the semi-finals. In the championship bout, McElhany faced Navy's Dustin Haislip, but came up short in a 3-1 loss to finish second.

    Kreimier, seeded second at 157 pounds, began his day by winning a 13-2 decision over VMI's Michael Burnett. He then advanced to the championship bout by pinning Army's James Rafferty in a time of 4:54. Kreimier's championship bout against Navy's Bobby Barnhisel was a back-and-forth affair, but Barnhisel, the top seed, scored a takedown in the final minute to earn the 8-7 decision.

    Meanwhile, Erickson earned bonus points for the Falcons in his first two matches at heavyweight, pinning Norwich's Anthony Joyce in the opening round, while scoring a 16-0 technical fall over Christian Botero of Army in the semi-finals. However, fourth-seeded Erickson was unable to get the win against top-seeded and 15th-ranked Odie Delaney from The Citadel, falling in the championship bout.

    Earning third-place finishes for the Falcons were Greg Rinker (So., Northampton, Pa.), Dylan Hyder (Fr., Yelm, Wash.), Colby Kluesner (So., Denver, Colo.) and Josh Mohr (Jr., Pewaukee, Wis.), while sophomore Greg Isley (Toledo, Ohio) finished fourth.

    Rinker, who had a bye in the opening round, dropped a 5-2 decision to Navy's Tyler Sackett in the semi-finals at 125 pounds, but responded with a big win in the consolation semi-finals, pinning Norwich's Alex Stewart in a time of 4:44. He added another fall in the third-place match, pinning Army's Scott Filbert in 1:12.

    At 133 pounds, Hyder picked up an opening round win, earning a fall over Thomas Healey from the Merchant Marine Academy. After a close 7-4 loss in the semi-finals to top-seeded Aaron Kalil from Navy, Hyder registered his second pin of the day in the consolation bracket to move into the third-place match. Hyder closed out the evening with another strong performance, earning a 9-0 major decision over The Citadel's Kyle Casaletto.

    Kluesner, wrestling at 165 pounds, came up with a close 5-4 decision in his opening round bout versus The Citadel's Mike Harper, but dropped a 2-1 decision to top-seeded Mason Bailey of Navy in the semi-finals. Following a 7-4 decision over Coast Guard's Luke Taylor in the consolation semi-finals, Kluesner claimed third place with a 5-1 decision against VMI's Carry Joseph.

    Mohr also had a strong start, registering a 16-1 technical fall over Norwich's Francis Armstrong in the opening round at 197 pounds, but was edged by Army's Derek Stanley, 2-1, in the semi-finals. Mohr went on to record another technical fall in the consolation semi-finals, defeating VMI's Urayoan Garcia, 20-5, before earning a decisive victory in the third-place match, pinning Paul Rands of Navy in a time of 1:56.

    Meanwhile, Isley dropped his opening round match at 184 pounds in a 6-2 decision, but posted a pair of wins--a fall and a decision--in the consolation bracket to move into the third-place contest. However, Isley fell to The Citadel's Josh Tuck to finish fourth in the tournament.

    "I think the guys competed with a lot of heart today--they wrestled line-to-line, whistle-to-whistle, part of our program mantra," said Air Force head coach Joel Sharratt. "Skillwise, there's still some things we can fix, but I think the most important thing coming off this event is that the guys now understand the expectation of our program, in comparison to other service academies, but also in this week, who we can compete with. We had a rough score [against Wyoming] on Thursday night, but I think we competed pretty well in several matches. I think we have great momentum going forward to the conference tournament."

    The Falcons take a break from competition next week, but return to action on Feb. 19, when they close out the regular season with a dual meet at conference foe Northern Colorado.

    "We have UNC coming up, and that's going to be a good dual to close out our regular season," said Sharratt. "Going past that [to the conference tournament], we're going to be healthy, we're going to be rested and we're going to be a stronger and better conditioned team than we were today because we got a month of training to make it happen. So we're excited about the month ahead and the guys are going to put the work in to make sure we change the results."



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