Air Force Places Fifth at NCAA West Regional
March 6, 2010
BROOKINGS, S.D. - Led by a trio of second-place finishers, the Air Force wrestling team placed fifth Saturday at the 2010 NCAA West Regional. The Falcons scored 37.5 points to finish ahead of host South Dakota State and Northern Colorado.
Wyoming captured its first regional championship, scoring 75.0 points to finish just 0.5 ahead of second-place Northern Iowa, which has won the last 24 West Regional titles. North Dakota State took third place with 44.5 points, while Utah Valley, in its first regional competition, placed fourth with 43.5 points.
Freshman Cole VonOhlen (Jackson, Minn.), ranked 19th in the nation, placed second at 141 pounds. Entering as the top seed, VonOhlen scored an 8-2 decision over Utah Valley's Wyatt Ray in the opening round to move on to the semifinals. With a 9-0 major decision over SDSU's Dustin Walraven, the fourth seed, VonOhlen earned a trip to the championship bout against NDSU's Ryan Adams. The two wrestlers met for the third time this season, and for the third time this season, the match was decided by a single point. This time, the advantage went to Adams, who grabbed a 5-4 victory to win the regional title.
At 174 pounds, senior Tyler French (Malta, Mont.), the 2008 regional champion, entered as the fourth seed. After earning a 9-1 major decision over Northern Colorado's Brandon Kammerzell, French moved on to a semifinal match-up with top-seed Brock Smith from Wyoming. French scored a 5-2 decision over Smith to advance to the title match for the second time in his career. Unfortunately, he was unable to come away with the victory against Northern Iowa's Jarion Beets, dropping a 17-6 major decision to finish second.
Also earning a second-place finish for the Falcons was senior heavyweight Stephen Larson (Lakeville, Minn.). Larson, seeded third in the tournament, opened the day with a 7-2 decision over NDSU's Joe Arthur, before winning a 5-2 decision over second-seed Justin Tuell of Northern Colorado. In the title match, Larson faced off against defending regional champion Christian Brantley, but came up short of an NCAA bid, dropping a 10-6 decision.
Meanwhile, junior Derek Gillespie (Chesapeake, Va.) claimed third place at 133 pounds for the second-straight season. After a tough 13-12 loss to fourth-seed Ryan Jauch of Northern Iowa in the opening round, the unseeded Gillespie posted a pair of victories in the consolation bracket. First, Gillespie registered an 8-5 decision over Northern Colorado's Brett Bahe, seeded second. In the third-place match, Gillespie had a rematch with Jauch, this time earning an 8-3 victory.
Also earning points for the Falcons on Saturday was freshman Clayton Gable (Dallastown, Pa.), who placed fourth at 165 pounds.
The West Regional was awarded fourteen automatic bids to the NCAA Championships, based on finish in the tournament. The winners at 133, 149, 157, 165, 184, 197 and 285 all received automatic bids, along with the top two finishers at 125 and 174 pounds, as well as the top three placewinners at 141 pounds.
With his second-place finish at 141 pounds, VonOhlen, who carries a 31-7 record on the season, was guaranteed a spot in the national tournament. French, the runner-up at 174 pounds, competed in a true second-place match to earn an automatic bid. Going up against Utah Valley Brad Darrington, French lost a tough battle, dropping a 3-1 sudden victory decision.
Next up for VonOhlen is a trip to the NCAA Championships, being held March 18-20, in Omaha, Neb.