Nov. 23, 2013
KEARNEY, Neb. - Led by five individual titles, the Air Force wrestling team finished with 18 placewinners at the UNK Holiday Inn Open, held Saturday at the Bufffalo County Fairgrounds. Twelve Falcons, including four champions, placed in the top six in the Elite Division, while six others were placewinners in the Amateur Division.
Capturing individual titles for Air Force on Saturday in the Elite Division were Josh Martinez (So., Colorado Springs, Colo.), Jesse Stafford (Jr., Loomis, Calif.), Konner Witt (So., Oak Harbor, Ohio) and Greg Isley (Sr., Toledo, Ohio), while freshman Natrelle Demison (Bakersfield, Calif.) claimed his first collegiate title in the Amateur Division.
Martinez, ranked eighth in the nation at 125 pounds, compiled a 4-0 record on Saturday en route to his first tournament title of the season. After earning a technical fall and a major decision in his first two matches, Martinez picked up a 7-2 decision in the semifinals before earning a 3-1 sudden victory win over Nebraska's Shawn Nagel in the finals to remain undefeated on the season.
Stafford also earned his first individual title of the year, posting a 4-0 record at 165 pounds. In his first three matches, Stafford recorded a pair of first-period falls, along with a major decision, before registering a 5-3 decision over Wyoming's Zach Beard in the championship match.
Witt led three Air Force placewinners in the 174-pound bracket, also picking up four victories en route to his first tournament title of the year. Witt scored two first-period falls and a decision before meeting teammate Willie Baker (So., Jackson, Minn.) in the championship bout, where he picked up an 8-1 decision. Baker posted four wins of his own on the way to the title match, scoring two falls and two decisions, before finishing as the runner-up. Also placing at 174 pounds for the Falcons was Scott Reilly (So., Stafford, Va.), who finished in fifth place with a 3-2 record.
At 197 pounds, the Falcons finished with four of the top five placewinners, including Isley, the individual champion. With an opening round bye, Isley won his first match in a 6-4 decision and pinned his semifinal opponent. Isley went on to face teammate Parker Hines (Fr., Ellsworth, Wis.) in the championship bout, picking up a 5-1 win. Hines also earned two victories on his way to the title match before dropping his first bout of the season to finish as the runner-up.
Senior Devin Hightower (Colorado Springs, Colo.) also finished as a runner-up for the Falcons, posting a 2-1 mark at 184 pounds, while junior Carter McElhany (Colorado Springs, Colo.) added a third-place showing at 133 pounds with a 3-1 record. Also placing for Air Force in the Elite Division was senior Daniel Baucke (Memphis, Tenn.), who took fourth place at 157 pounds.
In the Amateur Division, Demison led the way for Air Force, earning five victories, including two falls and a technical fall, on his way to the individual title at 149 pounds. Demison's closest match of the day came in the championship bout, as he picked up a 5-0 victory over teammate Jerry McGinty (Fr., Colorado Springs, Colo.). McGinty earned his way to a second-place showing with four wins that included a decision, a major decision, a technicall fall and a fall.
Freshman David Walker (St. Marys, Iowa) also notched a second-place finish in the Amateur bracket for Air Force, finishing as the runner-up at 141 pounds. Walker recorded three decisions and a pin in his first four matches before falling in the championship bout. Meanwhile, teammate Anthony McHugh (Fr., Lewis Center, Ohio) also earned four victories, including three falls, but a medical forfeit in the consolation bracket dropped McHugh to a sixth-place finish at 141 pounds.
Other Air Force placewinners in the Amateur Division included Connor Hedash (Fr., Slatington, Pa.), who earned a fourth-place finish at 157 pounds with a 4-2 mark, and heavyweight Marcus Malecek (So., Hammond, Wis.), who finished sixth with a 3-3 record.
The Falcons are off from competition next weekend, but return to action Dec. 6-7 at the annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.