March 9, 2013
LARAMIE, Wyo. - A pair of Falcons captured regional titles to lead the Air Force wrestling team to a fourth-place finish at the 2013 NCAA West Regional, hosted by Wyoming on Saturday. The Falcons registered 63.5 points to finish behind Wyoming (79.0 pts.), North Dakota State (76.0 pts.) and Utah Valley (70.0 pts.), while South Dakota State rounded out the scoring with 16.5 points.
The host Cowboys, capturing their fourth-straight regional championship, claimed four individual titles, while North Dakota State, Utah Valley and Air Force each brought home a pair of regional titles.
Earning individual titles for the Falcons were sophomore Dylan Hyder (Yelm, Wash.) and Josh Kreimier (Fort Collins, Colo.). Both Hyder and Kreimier posted 2-0 records on Saturday to earn their first regional championships. At 133 pounds, Hyder posted a 5-3 semi-final win over Utah Valley's Chasen Tolbert to move into the championship bout. He then earned another win, this time capturing an 8-5 decision over Joshua Rodriguez of North Dakota State.
Kreimier, ranked 16th in the nation at 157 pounds, won his semi-final match with a 7-2 decision over fourth-seeded Ethan Smith of Utah Valley, while cruising to a 17-2 technical fall over South Dakota State's Cody Pack in the championship match.
Two other Falcons were finalists in their respective weight classes, earning second-place finishes. Freshman Josh Martinez (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was the runner-up at 125 pounds, while senior captain Cole VonOhlen (Jackson, Minn.) placed second at 149 pounds.
In a weight class that features four wrestlers ranked in the top 15, 11th-ranked Martinez began the afternoon with a 16-8 major decision over second-seeded Tyler Cox of Wyoming. He then moved into the title bout versus eighth-ranked Trent Sprenkle of North Dakota State, but dropped a 6-2 decision to the defending West Regional champion to place second.
At 149 pounds, VonOhlen, ranked third in the nation, was dominant in his semi-final match against Wyoming's Brandon Richardson, earning a 16-0 technical fall. However, it was the only bout of the day for VonOhlen, who ended as the runner-up after a medical forfeit in the championship bout.
Meanwhile, junior Devin Hightower (Colorado Springs, Colo.) added a third-place finish for the Falcons. Wrestling at 184 pounds, Hightower started the day with a tough loss in the semi-finals, dropping an 8-6 sudden victory decision to eventual champion Shane Woods of Wyoming. Hightower rebounded in the consolation bracket, scoring a pair of technical falls, including a 17-2 win over Utah Valley's Derek Thomas in the third-place match.
Also placing in the top four for Air Force on Saturday were sophomore Carter McElhany (Colorado Springs, Colo.), senior Clay Gable (Dallastown, Pa.), senior Josh Mohr and sophomore Bentley Alsup (Missoula, Mont.), who placed fourth at 141, 174, 197 and 285 pounds, respectively.
Prior to the tournament, the West Region was awarded 16 automatic bids to the NCAA Championships, which are being held March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa. The individual recipients of the bids were determined by finish at the tournament, with winners at 133, 141, 165, 174, 184, 197 and 285 all receiving automatic bids, along with the top two finishers at 157 pounds, the top three finishers at 149 pounds and the top four finishers at 125 pounds.
With their respective finishes, Hyder, Kreimier, Martinez and VonOhlen all advance to this year's national tournament. It marks the fourth consecutive NCAA appearance for VonOhlen and second-straight NCAA bid for Kreimier. Meanwhile, Hyder and Martinez each earn the first national berths of their careers.