Air Force Wrestlers Finish Fourth At 2006 West Regional
Laramie, Wyo. - Finishing just a half-point behind third-place Fresno State, the Air Force wrestling team finished fourth at the 2006 NCAA West Regional Championships, hosted Sunday by the University of Wyoming. Northern Iowa took home the team title for the 20th-straight season, scoring 95.5 points, followed by second-place Wyoming (86), Fresno State (61), Air Force (60.5) and Eastern Illinois (26), rounding out the field.
Senior co-captain Brandon Strong (Albuquerque, N.M.), the 2005 champion at 125 pounds, finished second at 133 pounds behind champion Chris Helgeson of Northern Iowa. Strong began the afternoon with a 13-7 decision over Sean Carlson of Fresno State before getting pinned by Helgeson in a time of 2:08 in the championship match. Then, Strong posted a 14-0 major decision over Wyoming's Tyson Shatto to claim second place.
At 141 pounds, sophomore Jake Kriegbaum (Abilene, Kan.) also claimed second place after posting a 10-5 decision over Garrett Spooner of Fresno State to begin the day. Although he fell to champion C.J. Ettelson of Northern Iowa in a time of 1:43 in the championship match, his upset of second-seeded Spooner was enough to give him second place in the weight class for a second straight season.
Senior Brenden McLean (Merlin, Ore.) was Air Force's third runner-up, finishing second at 197 pounds. After knocking off second-seeded Terron Williams of Eastern Illinois with a 7-2 decision in the first round, McLean lost by fall to Wyoming's Malcolm Havens in a time of 4:43 in the championship bout. McLean rebounded with a 4-2 decision over Andrew Anderson of Northern Iowa to secure second place.
Four different Falcons finished in third place, paced by co-captain Beau Tresemer (Sr., Norman, Okla.). Tresemer, out of commission since January, was back in action at 165 pounds, where he dropped a close 8-7 decision to Fresno State's Shane Seibert in the opening round. After posting a fall of 56 seconds over Eastern Illinois' Thomas Johnson, Tresemer ended the afternoon with an 8-2 decision over Wyoming's Gary Dack to finish in third place.
Chris Nissen (Jr., Denver, Colo.) finished third at 149 pounds after losing an 11-4 decision to Northern Iowa's Ryan Osgood in the first round, but he rebounded with a pair of falls in the consolation bracket. First, Nissen pinned Eastern Illinois' Jeff Tharp in a time of 1:45, followed by a fall against Fresno State's Dustin Rocha in a time of 2:43 in the third-place match.
The Falcons also had a third-place finisher at 157 pounds, as junior Bridger Lord (Missoula, Mont.) was pinned by champion Dan Clum of Wyoming in a time of 1:53 to begin the day. He then moved into the consolation bracket where he posted a 9-6 decision over Eastern Illinois' Chris Smith before handing Fresno State's Darrell Goodplaster a 10-0 major decision loss. Lord then faced off against top-seeded Chris Bitteto of Northern Iowa in the second-place match, dropping a 6-4 decision to finish third.
Freshman Stephen Crozier (Monona, Iowa) also finished third, dropping a 12-6 decision to Bryan Bernal of Wyoming in the first round, before recording a fall over Northern Iowa's Moza Fay in a time of 4:57 in the third-place match. Zane Hershey (Sr., Hugoton, Kan.) finished fourth, pinning Wyoming's Preston Pavich in 1:06, before dropping an 11-6 decision to Northern Iowa's Danny Dunning in the third-place match.
Rounding out the field of competitors for Air Force was freshman heavyweight Frank McGrath (Hammonton, N.J.). McGrath lost a pair of close decisions, first coming short in a 3-2 loss to champion Dusty Hoffschneider of Wyoming, followed by a 4-3 loss to Northern Iowa's Tyler Rhodes in the third-place contest.
In a vote of the region's head coaches, Northern Iowa's Nick Baima, champion at 165 pounds, was named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler, while Air Force head coach Wayne Baughman was named Coach of the Year.
Though none of the Falcons were awarded automatic bids to next week's NCAA Championships, four different Air Force wrestlers were granted at-large berths to the national meet. Strong will take part in his third-straight NCAA Championships, while Kriegbaum and McLean, both competitors at last year's NCAAs, will represent Air Force once more this year. Meanwhile, Tresemer earns his first trip to the national meet. In addition, Nissen, an at-large qualifier as a freshman in 2004, was named an alternate to this year's NCAA Championships.
Strong, Kriegbaum, Tresemer and McLean will head out to Oklahoma City, Okla., for the NCAA Championships next week, March 16-18.