Falcon Wrestlers Head To NCAA West Regional
The Air Force wrestling team will travel to Laramie, Wyo., this Sunday, March 5, to compete in the 2006 NCAA West Regional, hosted this year by Wyoming. There the Falcons will compete for the opportunity to earn qualifying bids to this year's national championships.
Last Time Out...
The Falcons finished the dual season with a disappointing 2-8 mark after dropping a pair of dual meets to Utah Valley State and Northern Colorado last week in Greeley, Colo.
Air Force began the afternoon with a 21-4 deficit against Utah Valley State as senior Brenden McLean (197) registered the only victory for the Falcons through the first five bouts. However, Air Force began to make a comeback, sparked by a decision by Jake Kriegbaum at 141 pounds, followed by a fall by Chris Nissen at 149 pounds. Unfortunately, a loss at 157 pounds prevented the Falcons from taking the win, despite a decision by Zach Lord (165) and a major decision by Stephen Crozier (174) to end the match.
The Falcons had the early lead against Northern Colorado, going up 18-9 with wins by Zane Hershey (184), Frank McGrath (197), Brandon Strong (133), Kriegbaum and Nissen, but losses in the final three bouts caused Air Force to drop the 22-18 decision to the Bears.
The West Regional Field...
This year's West Regional includes teams from Air Force, Eastern Illinois, Fresno State, Northern Iowa and host Wyoming. Northern Iowa has won the team title at the West Regional Championships for 20 straight seasons.
At Last Year's West Regional...
Air Force finished third at the NCAA West Regional Championships last season, paced by individual champions Brandon Strong (125) and Matt Benza (133). Meanwhile, freshman Jake Kriegbaum was a runner-up at 141 pounds, while Brenden McLean finished third at 197 pounds. All four Falcons represented Air Force at the NCAA Championships, with Strong and Benza earning automatic bids by virtue of their first-place finishes, Kriegbaum earning an at-large bid and McLean getting a spot as an alternate.
Winning the team title at the 2005 West Regional Championships was Northern Iowa, followed by Fresno State, Air Force, Wyoming and Eastern Illinois.
As has been the case all season, the Falcons will not have anyone competing at 125 pounds.
Starting out the Air Force lineup at 133 pounds is senior co-captain Brandon Strong, a two-time NCAA participant. Strong was the West Regional runner-up at 133 pounds as a sophomore and won the 125-pound title last season as a junior. He holds a record of 16-7 this season, with a team-leading 12 pins.
At 141 pounds for the Falcons is sophomore Jake Kriegbaum. Kriegbaum competed at last year's NCAA Championships after capturing second-place at the West Regional. He leads the Falcons in total wins this season with a record of 28-13, and also owns the team's fastest pin, with a time of 0:15.
At 149 pounds for Air Force is junior Chris Nissen. After competing in the NCAA Championships following a second-place showing at the 2004 NCAA West Regional as a freshman at 141 pounds, Nissen missed most of his sophomore campaign due to injury. In limited action this season, he has compiled a 5-3 overall record.
Junior Bridger Lord is slated to represent the Falcons at 157 pounds. This is his first appearance at the NCAA West Regional. Lord, up from his usual weight class of 149, holds an overall record of 21-19 this season, including a 1-3 mark at 157 pounds.
Senior co-captain Beau Tresemer is expected to be back in action this weekend at 165 pounds, as he has been out of commission since Jan. 8 due to injury. He currently holds a 16-9 record on the season, with his last two losses coming by injury default.
Freshman Stephen Crozier will represent Air Force at 174 pounds. The rookie currently holds a 10-21 record on the year.
Senior Zane Hershey is slated to compete at 184 pounds. Also in his first regional tournament, Hershey has a mark of 18-16 on the year.
At 197 pounds is senior Brenden McLean. An NCAA competitor in 2005 after finishing third at the West Regional, McLean holds a mark of 13-6 on the year.
Finally at heavyweight is freshman Frank McGrath. McGrath has compiled a mark of 17-12 in his first season with the Falcons.
Qualifying wrestlers from this weekend's meet will represent Air Force at the 2006 NCAA Championships, to be held March 16-18 in Oklahoma City, Okla.