Air Force Finishes Third at NCAA West Regional
March 6, 2011
USAFA, Colo. - Led by a regional title from tournament Outstanding Wrestler Cole VonOhlen (So., Jackson, Minn.), the Air Force wrestling team placed third at the 2011 NCAA West Regional, held Sunday in Clune Arena. The Falcons registered 59.0 points to finish behind Wyoming (93.0 pts.) and Northern Iowa (87.0 pts.).
Wyoming, capturing its second-straight regional championship, finished with five regional champions, while Northern Iowa claimed a pair of individual titles. North Dakota State, which placed fourth with 45.5 points, and Utah Valley, finishing fifth with 41.5 points, each brought home an individual title. Rounding out the team scoring was Northern Colorado in sixth place (24.0 pts.) and South Dakota State in seventh place (14.0 pts.).
VonOhlen claimed his first West Region title at 141 pounds with a 3-0 record. The 10th-ranked wrestler in the nation, VonOhlen did not allow a single point by his opponents on Sunday, recording a fall and a pair of technical falls. In his opening match, VonOhlen pinned South Dakota State's Tyler Johnson in a time of 1:28, before registering a 16-0 tech fall against Wyoming's Chase Smith in the semifinals. The championship bout saw VonOhlen roll to a dominant first period 16-0 tech fall against second-seed Justin Morrill from Utah Valley.
Also advancing to the finals was senior captain Joseph Stafford (Loomis, Calif.), who placed second at 174 pounds. Stafford opened the day by pinning South Dakota State's Joe Rasmussen in a time of 6:24, while knocking off second-seeded Brice Wolf of Northern Iowa with a hard-fought 3-1 decision. In the championship finals, Stafford faced Wyoming's Patrick Martinez, but came up short in a 6-2 loss.
Meanwhile, four other Falcons finished third in their respective weight classes. Senior Derek Gillespie (Chesapeake, Va.) placed third at 133 pounds for the third-straight season. After dropping his semifinal match against eventual champion Flint Ray of Utah Valley, Gillespie recorded a pair of victories in the consolation bracket, earning a 17-2 tech fall over North Dakota State's Justin Solberg, before winning a 10-6 decision over Ryan Jauch of Northern Iowa in the third-place bout.
At 165 pounds, sophomore Clayton Gable (Dallastown, Pa.) dropped his opening round match to Northern Iowa's Trevor Kittleson, 5-1, but rebounded with three straight wins in the consolation bracket. After scoring a 16-0 tech fall over John Nething II of South Dakota State, Gable pinned Utah Valley's Jeb Clark in a time of 4:54. In the third-place bout, Gable had a rematch against Kittleson, this time avenging his loss, pinning Kittleson with 40 seconds remaining in the third period.
Senior Neil Delaney (Grand Rapids, Mich.) also scored a third-place finish at 197 pounds, knocking off second-seed Nick Bayer from Northern Colorado in a 5-4 double tiebreaker decision. He then dropped a close 6-5 decision to UNI's Andy O'Loughling in the semifinals, before capturing a third-place finish with a 4-1 win over Drew Ross from North Dakota State.
Rounding out the group of placewinners for Air Force was heavyweight Jared Erickson (So., Newton, Utah). After an opening round bye, Erickson came up short in the semifinals, dropping a 3-2 decision to Wyoming's Matt McLaughlin. He rebounded in the consolation bracket, coming up with an 8-0 major decision over NDSU's Will Johnson before scoring a 2-0 win over SDSU's Kevin Kelly to earn third place.
Prior to the tournament, the West Region was awarded 15 automatic bids to the NCAA Championships. The individual recipients of the bids were determined by finish at the tournament, with winners at 133, 165, 174, 197 and 285 all receivingautomatic bids, along with the top two finishers at 125, 141, 149, 157 and 184 pounds.
With his individual title at 141 pounds, VonOhlen, who carries a 42-7 record on the season, earns his second-consecutive bid to the 2011 NCAA Championships, which are being held March 17-19 in Philadelphia, Pa.