Falcons Head to Illinois for West Regionals
March 5, 2003
The Air Force wrestling team closed out the season at home on Feb. 26th by winning six of 10 matches against Wyoming to defeat the Cowboys, 19-14. The team is now preparing for the West Regional league championships. The event, which will determine NCAA qualifiers, will take place Saturday, March 8th, in Charleston, Ill.
Wrestlers from the Academy, Wyoming, Fresno State, Northern Iowa, and tournament host Eastern Illinois will compete in the event. The first-place finisher at each of the 10 weight classes receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, while 11 other wrestlers will receive at-large NCAA bids.
Team co-captain Kevin Hoy (heavyweight) leads the team with a 38-3 record and a number two national ranking. Hoy, an All-American wrestler, has won his last 21 matches, including five against national ranked opponents. He is the Falcons winningest wrestler with 154 victories.
Heath McKim (125 pounds) is the team's only other returning national qualifier. He is ranked 17th in the nation and enters West Regionals with a 27-12 record.
Several others will be competing for a chance to wrestle at the NCAA Championships. Team co-captain Samuel Sherertz (174 pounds) has placed second twice at regionals but was denied an at-large bid. He is recovering from a knee injury that kept him from wrestling in the team's final three dual meets. Matthew Benza (131), Luke Lefever (184) and Chris Bennett (141) have also been wrestling well lately and each has a strong chance of qualifying for nationals.
"We have a strong team," said head coach Wayne Baughman. "Any one of our 10 wrestlers has a chance to win, with those five having an extremely good chance of advancing to nationals. It will depend on how they decide to wrestle."
The Falcons finished the season with a 6-2 overall record in dual competition.