March 4, 2012
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -
Led by a regional title from junior co-captain Cole VonOhlen (Jackson, Minn.), the Air Force wrestling team placed fourth at the 2012 NCAA West Regional, hosted by Northern Iowa. The Falcons registered 50.5 points to finish behind Wyoming (93.5 pts.), Northern Iowa (76.0 pts.) and North Dakota State (51.5 pts.).
Wyoming, capturing its third-straight regional championship, finished with four regional champions, while Northern Iowa claimed three individual titles. North Dakota State brought home a pair of regional titles, with the final individual champion coming from Air Force. Rounding out the team scoring were Utah Valley in fifth place (43.5 pts.), Northern Colorado in sixth place (36.5 pts.) and South Dakota State in seventh place (5.0 pts.).
VonOhlen captured a West Regional title for the second-straight season, putting together a 3-0 record at 149 pounds. Ranked third in the nation, VonOhlen scored a 16-0 technical fall over North Dakota State's Mark Erickson in the opening round, then followed with a 12-0 major decision versus Wyoming's McCade Ford in the semi-finals.
The championship bout was much closer, as VonOhlen faced off against Utah Valley's Josh Wilson, currently ranked 15th in the nation. With the score tied at 1-1 late in the third period, VonOhlen scored the lone takedown of the match and added an extra point for riding time in a 4-1 victory.
Also advancing to the finals on Sunday was junior Clayton Gable (Dallastown, Pa.), who placed second at 174 pounds. After receiving an opening-round bye, Gable picked up a 7-3 semifinal victory over Utah Valley's Monte Schmalhaus. Meanwhile, in the championship finals, Gable came up short in a 7-3 loss to top-seed Patrick Martinez of Wyoming.
Meanwhile, four other Falcons finished third in their respective weight classes. Sophomore Greg Rinker (Northampton, Pa.) earned a third-place finish at 125 pounds, beginning the day with an 8-6 overtime victory over fourth-seeded Aaron Pickrel of South Dakota State before dropping a major decision to 19th-ranked Trent Sprenkle of North Dakota State. In the consolation bracket, Rinker rebounded with a 13-0 major decision over Northern Colorado's Jesse Meis, before coming out on top in a back-and-forth match with Utah Valley's Colby Christensen, earning a 12-11 victory in the third-place match.
At 133 pounds, senior Tyler Untrauer (Midwest City, Okla.) began the day with a 10-3 decision over Utah Valley's Blake Mangum, but lost a hard-fought 2-1 tiebreaker decision to 15th-ranked Zach Zehner of Wyoming. In the consolation bracket, Untrauer picked up a 9-4 decision over Justin Solberg from North Dakota State to move into a rematch with Mangum for third place. In yet another close bout, Untrauer came out on top, scoring the 3-2 decision to place third.
Sophomore Josh Kreimier (Fort Collins, Colo.), seeded fourth at 157 pounds, came away with a third-place showing, starting the day with an 8-4 win over Utah Valley's Napoleon Anciete. In the semi-finals, Kreimier took 17th-ranked David Bonin to overtime before falling in the first tiebreaker in a controversial match.
Kreimier went on to post a 19-13 decision over Northern Colorado's Charlie McMartin to earn a spot in the third-place contest. Again, Kreimier found himself in a close match, coming from behind to force overtime against Wyoming's Andy McCulley. This time, he scored a takedown in sudden victory overtime to clinch third-place with a 5-3 decision.
Junior Josh Mohr (Pewaukee, Wis.), wrestling at 197 pounds, also claimed a third-place finish for the Falcons. Mohr scored a close 5-4 victory over Utah Valley's Brian Chamberlain in the opening round, but gave up a 9-2 decision to Nick Bayer of Northern Colorado in the semi-finals. In the consolation semi-finals, Mohr earned a 9-2 decision over North Dakota State's John Gusewelle, while registering his second win against Chamberlain in the consolation finals, scoring a 9-4 victory to claim third place.
Also finishing in the top four for the Falcons on Sunday was sophomore Greg Isley (Toledo, Ohio), who place fourth at 184 pounds.
Prior to the tournament, the West Region was awarded 17 automatic bids to the NCAA Championships, which are being held March 15-17 in St. Louis, Mo. The individual recipients of the bids were determined by finish at the tournament, with winners at 141, 174, 197 and 285 all receiving automatic bids, along with the top two finishers at 125, 133, 149, 165 and 184 pounds, and the top three finishers at 157 pounds.
With his individual title at 149 pounds, VonOhlen, who carries a 35-2 record on the season, earns his third-consecutive bid to the NCAA Championships, while Kreimier (23-14) earns his first national bid with his third-place showing at 157 pounds.