U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. – Senior team captain Parker Hines led the Falcons to victory with a major decision in the final bout, lifting Air Force to a 20-15 win over Northern Colorado and their first Big 12 win at home. Michael Billingsley registered a major decision while four other Falcons tallied decision victories, including freshman Ricky Padilla’s debut dual upset over No. 25 Keilan Torres, Thursday night, in Clune Arena.
Northern Colorado opened the dual with strong presence, winning the first three bouts with a technical fall, a major decision and a decision win. Trey Andrews posted an 18-1 technical fall over Drew Romero at 125, followed by Rico Montoya’s come-from-behind, 11-9, decision win over Dylan Hyder in overtime. Timmy Box extended the Bears’ lead, 12-0, with bonus points from a major decision over John Twomey at 141.
Senior team captain Jerry McGinty led the charge for the Air Force comeback, registering a 7-3 decision over Ben Polkowske at 149. The Colorado Springs, Colorado, native commanded the pace of battle, scoring two takedowns in the first period and adding a third takedown in the second period to seal the deal with riding time.
At 157, Alex Mossing met with Jimmy Fate. Mossing exploded off the line, scoring a quick takedown and turning Fate to his back for six near fall points before riding him out for the remainder of the period. With an additional escape point tacked on inthe second period, Mossing fended off Fate’s attack to seal the deal, 9-4, and narrow the Bears’ lead, 12-6.
In the following bout at 165, freshman Ricky Padilla made his dual meet debut against No. 25 Keilan Torres. Padilla, who won a title at the Rocky Mountain Open last weekend, mustered an explosive third period, scoring nine points from two takedowns, four near fall points and an escape in the final minute of the bout. The crowd erupted as Padilla upended the nationally ranked Torres, cutting the Bears lead down to three.
With the Falcons firing on all cylinders, junior 174-pounder Michael Billingsley took the mats determined to win the equalizer. Billingsley fired off two successful takedowns in the first period met with two of Davis’ escapes. Billingsley added two more takedowns to the scorecard in the second period, also met with two escapes from Davis. In the final period, Billingsley added another takedown, this time, riding Davis until the end of the period for an additional riding time point and a 12-4 major decision to give the Falcons their first lead of the night, 13-12.
In the following match, No. 19 Dylan Gabel took the mats against Air Forces’ junior 184-pounder Zen Ikehara, determined to quell the Falcons’ rally. Gabel commanded the match, scoring two takedowns, an escape and an addition riding time point, while holding Ikehara scoreless, to regain the Bears’ lead.
With the team score at 15-13 in favor of the Bears, sophomore 197-pounder Anthony McLaughlin, who is undefeated in dual matches this season, took the mat against Jamarcus Grant. McLaughlin struck first with a takedown in the first period met with Grant’s escape. McLaughlin rallied for another takedown and two more escapes by the final whistle, finalizing the 197 bout at 7-4, regaining the Falcons’ lead, 16-15.
In the final bout of the night, with the outcome of the dual dependent on the victor, senior team captain Parker Hines took the mat against Jack Kuck at 285. Hines worked into his rhythm grappling with Kuck, who outweighed him by 50 pounds. Hines found his opening for a shot and two points in the first period, met with Kuck’s escape. In the second period, Hines registered a quick escape and continued the battle scoreless for the remainder of the period.
From the down position, Kuck registered a quick escape of his own, narrowing Hines’ lead 3-2. Undeterred, Hines fired off a double-leg shot and got the big man down for two more points. With the crowd roaring at his back, Hines worked himself into position to tilt Kuck for an additional four near fall points and a major decision victory at the final whistle.
With Hines’ major decision, Air Force finalized the score at 20-15. The victory marked Air Force’s first Big 12 win of the season as well as their first home win. Air Force finalized its 2016-17 dual slate at 6-6, with a 1-4 mark in the Big 12.
Air Force wrestlers return to action Sunday morning for the U.S. Western National Open, hosted in the center gym of Cadet Gymnasium, USAFA. Tournament bouts are slated to begin at 9:00 a.m. MT, and will be live streamed by FloWrestling.
Following Sunday’s action, Air Force heads to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to compete for titles at the Big 12 Conference Championships, March 4-5, in Tulsa’s BOK Center. FloWrestling will be live streaming the tournament.
AIR FORCE (6-6, 1-4 BIG 12) VS. NORTHERN COLORADO (2-10, 1-6 BIG 12)
125: Trey Andrews (UNC) def. Drew Romero (AFA) –TF (18-1), UNC 5-0
133: Rico Montoya (UNC) def. Dylan Hyder (AFA) –11-9 SV-1, UNC 8-0
141: #25 Timmy Box (UNC) def. John Twomey (AFA) –MD (12-1), UNC 12-0
149: Jerry McGinty (AFA) def. Ben Polkowske (UNC) –7-3, UNC 12-3
157: Alex Mossing (AFA) def. Jimmy Fate (UNC) –9-4, UNC 12-6
165: Ricky Padilla (AFA) def. #25Keilan Torres (UNC) –10-3, UNC 12-9
174: Michael Billingsley (AFA) def. Tanner Davis (UNC) –MD (12-4), AFA 13-12
184: #19 Dylan Gabel (UNC) def. Zen Ikehara (AFA) –6-0, UNC 15-13
197: Anthony McLaughlin (AFA) def. Jamarcus Grant (UNC) –7-4, AFA 16-15
285: Parker Hines (AFA) def. Jack Kuck (UNC) –MD 10-2, AFA 20-15
FINAL: AIR FORCE 20, NORTHERN COLORADO 15