West Liberty’s Surra Wins National Championship

March 14, 2009

HOUSTON, Texas - Doug Surra capped his stellar career by becoming the eighth national champion in West Liberty wrestling history here Saturday night.

The Hilltoppers' three-time All-American scored a 5-3 victory against No. 1-ranked Raymond Dunning of Adams State (Colo.) to win the 141-pound championship in the NCAA Division II national tournament at the University of Houston.

Mitch Smith also earned All-America honors for head coach Brian Davis on Saturday with a fourth-place finish at 157 pounds.

Surra, who entered the tournament ranked No. 3 nationally at 141, had lost to Dunning in the finals of the Midwest Classic during the regular season but controlled Saturday's championship match from start to finish.

The senior team captain drew first blood by shooting a double-leg takedown at 1:40 of the first period.

Surra gave Dunning a quick escape in hopes of adding more points and the strategy paid off when the West Liberty standout countered a Dunning throw for a flash takedown just one second before the end of the period.

That gave Surra a 4-1 lead heading into the second frame and he opted for the neutral position after winning the flip. Neither wrestler scored in the two-minute period and Dunning took the top position for Period No. 3.

Dunning rode Surra through most of the period but was unable to turn him. Surra broke free with 18 seconds left for an escape to clinch the win. Dunning was awarded a late stalling point and added riding time at the end but that only served to narrow the final margin as he suffered his first loss of the season to an NCAA Division II wrestler.

The Kersey, Pa. native earned his way into Saturday night’s title tilt with a thrilling 3-1 victory against Nebraska-Omaha’s Mario Morgan in Saturday morning’s semifinals.

Surra and Morgan, who was ranked No. 2 nationally, battled to a 1-all tie at the end of three periods and headed into overtime. Surra caught Morgan for a takedown during the one-minute sudden-victory segment to punch his ticket to the championship match.

Surra closed out his senior campaign with a sparkling 32-3 record and became the first West Liberty wrestler to win a national title since Nick Spencer took the 149-pound championship in 2001.

Smith, who was unranked coming into the tournament, had fallen into the consolation round on Friday after dropping a 6-4 decision to eventual runnerup Travis Eggers of Upper Iowa.

But the junior transfer from Hofstra took care of business on Saturday, pinning Central Missouri’s Denis Ryzhov at 3:30 of their Consolation Quarterfinal before notching a late takedown claim a 5-2 win against No. 3-ranked Danny Grater of Fort Hays State in the Consolation Semifinals.

That earned Smith a spot in the Third Place match against No. 6-ranked Andy Lamancusa of Mercyhurst.

Smith took a 6-5 lead in the second period with an escape and a takedown but Lamancusa tied the match with an escape and took a 7-6 lead into the third period after being awarded a stalling point. Lamancusa went up 8-6 with an escape early in the third period and Smith was unable to come up with a tying takedown before time expired.

Nebraska-Omaha dominated the tournament with nine of its 10 wrestlers earning All-America honors to amass a total of 146.5 points. Super Region One champion Newberry was a distant second at 80.5 while West Liberty finished in a tie for 14th place with Gannon.

Final team scores AT THIS LINK

Surra, Smith Clinch All-America Mat Honors

HOUSTON, Texas – West Liberty’s Doug Surra and Mitch Smith clinched All-America honors and Surra remained alive in the hunt for an individual championship after the first day of the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships at the University of Houston’s Recreation and Wellness Center on Friday.

Surra locked up his third straight NCAA Division II All-America citation with two impressive wins. The senior team captain notched a pair of takedowns and added near-fall points in the first period en route to a 7-4 win against Central Oklahoma’s Colby Robinson in their first-round match. Surra, who is ranked No. 3 in the country at 141 pounds, followed that up with another strong start, racking up 11 first-period points against Upper Iowa’s Steven Baker in the quarterfinals and coasting to a 15-8 win.

Now 30-3 on the season, Surra will take on Nebraska-Omaha’s Mario Morgan in Saturday morning’s championship semifinals. Morgan is ranked No. 2 nationally. If Surra defeats Morgan, he will likely earn a rematch against No. 1-ranked Raymond Dunning of Adams State in the title tilt. Surra lost to Dunning in the finals of the Midwest Classic during the regular season.

Smith, a junior transfer from Hofstra, made his first match at nationals a memorable one with a dominant 8-1 victory against Noomis Jones of Adams State, who entered the match ranked No. 2 in the nation. Smith led Travis Eggers of Upper Iowa throughout their quarterfinal match only to see Eggers, ranked No. 8 nationally, pull out a 6-4 win with a late takedown and riding time. Smith rebounded from the disappointing loss to clinch one of the top eight places by outlasting Anderson’s Jonathan Jackson, 2-1, in overtime.

Nebraska-Omaha has virtually clinched the team title. The Mavericks finished Friday’s action with 76.5 points and have eight wrestlers still alive, six of them set to compete in Saturday’s championship semifinals. Newberry is a distant second at 42.5, followed by Nebraska-Kearney (42), Minnesota State-Mankato (41.5) and Western State (34).

Despite some strong individual performances, none of West Liberty’s five other individual qualifiers were able to advance to Saturday’s action.

At 133 pounds, freshman Nick Wykoff dropped a 7-2 decision to San Francisco State’s No. 7-ranked Naveed Bagheri in his opening match and was eliminated, 10-2, by Josh Williams of St. Cloud State in the first round of consolations.

At 149 pounds, sophomore Kayne Melko battled No. 2-ranked Tommy Abbott of Minnesota State-Mankato to the wire only to come up on the short end of a 3-1 score in their first-round match. Melko, making his second consecutive NCAA trip, caught a tough break by drawing No. 3-ranked Esai Dominguez of Nebraska-Omaha in a first-round consolation and was knocked out of the tournament with an 11-4 loss.

At 165 pounds, sophomore Seth Phalen lost to No. 2-ranked Corey Van Groll of Wisconsin-Parkside in their first-round match. Phalen mounted an impressive comeback after falling behind Western State’s Skye Wells, 9-3, in the first period of their first-round consolation match but came up short at the end by a 14-9 count.

At 184 pounds, sophomore Mitch Knapp came up one match shy of All-America honors for the second straight year. Knapp opened with a 5-3 win against Marques Gales of San Francisco State and was leading No. 1-ranked Mitch Pankoke of Nebraska-Omaha in the second period of their quarterfinal match when Pankoke came up with a late escape and takedown to take a 6-4 lead. Pankoke nursed that lead through a scoreless third period to drop Knapp into the consolations. Newberry’s Bryant Blanton got an escape in overtime to beat Knapp, 2-1, in a second-round consolation match.

At 285 pounds, senior Cody Tominack wasn’t able to get anything going as No. 2-ranked Brady Wilson of Minnesota State-Mankato recorded a fall at 1:14 of their first-round match. Tominack was eliminated in the first round of consolations by Adams State’s Jess Schossow, who recorded a fall at 2:21.

Championship semifinals and place matches get under way Saturday at 11 a.m. (EDT). The championship finals are set for a 7 p.m. start.
West Liberty National Champions
2009: Doug Surra 141 NCAA Division II
2001: Nick Spencer 149 NCAA Division II
1997: James Branch 150 NCAA Division II
1996: Scott Shipman 177 NCAA Division II
1995: Branden Hinkle 190 NAIA
1994: Brian Davis 177 NAIA
1979: Dave LaMotte 150 NAIA
1962: Bobby Douglas 130 NAIA

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