Air Force’s Season Ends At NCAA Championships
St. Louis, Mo. -
The 2004-05 season came to an end for the Air Force wrestling team, as the three remaining Falcons were all eliminated in Friday's first session on the second day of the NCAA Championships, held at the Savvis Center.
Junior Brenden McLean (Grants Pass, Ore.), who came to this year's championships as an alternate selection, notched the only win for the Falcons on Friday, getting an 8-7 tiebreaker win over Boise State's Casey Phelps. He then moved on to face Ryan Flaherty of Wisconsin in the next round. After a scoreless opening period, McLean notched the first point in the match with an escape to start the second. There was no other score until the third period, when Flaherty escaped from the down position and scored a takedown to take the lead. After adding a point for riding time, Flaherty took the 4-1 decision, ending McLean's season. McLean finishes the year with a 28-15 overall record.
Junior Brandon Strong (Albuquerque, N.M.), who finished the regular season ranked 19th in the country at 125 pounds, saw his season come to an abrupt end when he was eliminated in the consolation bracket with a medical forfeit to Drew Forshey of North Carolina. Strong, a two-time NCAA qualifier, ends his season with a 26-8 overall record despite struggling with injury for most of the season.
Matt Benza (Tamaqua, Pa.), a junior wrestling at 133 pounds for the Falcons, also fell early Friday, as he was defeated by Navy's Sam Gray. It was the second time this season that Benza faced Gray, the first coming at the All-Academy Championships, where Gray pinned Benza en route to the 133-lb. title. The result was the same this time around, as Benza fell to Gray at the 5:27 mark. Benza, who earned his first bid to the NCAA Championships by winning the West Regional title, concludes his season with a 24-12 overall record.