From HiltopperSports.com - The Official Athletic Site of West Liberty University
HILLTOPPERS CLOSE SEASON ON WINNING NOTE AT NATIONALS
OMAHA, Neb. (March 13, 2010) – West Liberty University’s two wrestling All-Americans capped their seasons with victories here Saturday as the 2010 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships concluded at the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Sapp Field House.
Mitch Knapp pulled out a 4-3 decision against Justin McKain of Nebraska-Kearney to lock up a 5th-place finish at 197 pounds, closing out his year with a sparkling 33-7 record.
It is the first NCAA Division II All-America honor for the junior from McConnellsville, Ohio, ending two years of frustration.
Knapp had qualified for the nationals each of his first two seasons only to come up one win short of All-America honors each time.
Mitch Smith rolled to a 9-3 victory against Kevin McElhaney of Gannon (Pa.) in the 7th-place match at 149 pounds, wrapping up his Hilltopper career with a 29-3 record as a senior.
It was the second straight All-America honor for the Ripley, W.Va. native. Smith finished fourth at 157 pounds in last year’s national championship tournament.
This is the third straight season West Liberty head coach Brian Davis has produced multiple All-Americans on the mat.
Host Nebraska-Omaha ran away with its second consecutive NCAA Division II national title with 131 team points. Augustana (S.D.) was a distant runner-up at 72 points while Nebraska-Kearney and Upper Iowa finished in a third-place tie at 67.
HILLTOPPERS HAVE TWO MORE WRESTLING ALL-AMERICANS
OMAHA, Neb. – West Liberty’s Mitch Smith and Mitch Knapp have clinched All-American honors after the first day of action at the 2010 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships at the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Sapp Field House.
Smith and Knapp were knocked out of championship contention with early losses on Friday but won their consolation bouts to remain alive heading into Saturday’s place matches.
The top 8 wrestlers in each weight class are accorded All-American status.
Smith, ranked No. 2 nationally at 149 pounds, was a 3-1 upset victim against Mitch Arnold of Newman in his first match of the day.
The senior from Ripley, W.Va. – a returning All-American – rebounded with a 17-4 major decision against Josh Nolan of San Francisco State and a 10-7 victory against Derek Stolarczyk of Upper Iowa to earn a spot against Nebraska-Kearney’s Thomas Hepburn in Saturday’s consolation semifinals.
Knapp, a junior from McConnellsville, Ohio, opened with a 7-0 blanking of San Francisco State’s Vincent Bordi at 197 pounds before losing a 7-2 decision to No. 2-ranked Ty Copsey of Augustana in the championship quarterfinals.
Wrestling in his third straight NCAA championships, Knapp punched his ticket to Saturday’s action by scoring a second-period fall against Central Oklahoma’s Jarrett Edison in the consolation quarterfinals.
Knapp, who had finished one win short of All-America honors each of the past two years, will take on Kutztown’s Scott Snyder in Saturday’s consolation semifinals.
The third member of the Hilltopper wrestling contingent couldn’t break into the win column in his first trip to nationals but sophomore 285-pounder J.D. Ramsey of Milton, W.Va. gained valuable experience despite a very tough draw.
Ramsey lost to No. 2-ranked Elijah Madison of Nebraska-Omaha in his opening match before falling to Tim Johnson of Minnesota-Moorhead in the consolations.
Host Nebraska-Omaha is running away with the team championship for the second straight year. Seven of the Mavericks’ 10 wrestlers are still alive in the championship bracket and they piled up 57 team points in the process. St. Cloud State is a distant second with 32.5 points.
Wrestling resumes on Saturday at 11 a.m. (EST) but the finals won’t get under way until 9 p.m. (EST).
WEST LIBERTY WRESTLERS READY FOR NATIONALS
OMAHA, Neb. – A trio of West Liberty wrestlers will carry the Black and Gold into action here Friday when the NCAA Division II National Wrestling Championships get under way at Sapp Field House on the University of Nebraska-Omaha campus.
Mitch Smith, a senior 149-pounder from Ripley, W.Va.; Mitch Knapp, a junior 197-pounder from McConnellsville, Ohio; and J.D. Ramsey, a sophomore 285-pounder from Milton, W.Va. qualified for this weekend’s event with strong showings in the Super Region One tournament at Pitt-Johnstown two weeks ago.
Head coach Brian Davis would like nothing better than to see one – or more – of his wrestlers duplicate last year’s performance by Doug Surra, who carved an undefeated path through the 149-pound weight class to become the eighth national champion in West Liberty wrestling history.
Smith, a returning NCAA Division II All-American who finished fourth at 157 pounds a year ago, is one of the top contenders at his natural weight of 149 this weekend.
He’s ranked No. 2 in the nation at that weight and brings a sparkling 26-2 record into the national tournament after rolling to a regional championship at Pitt-Johnstown.
Smith will open against Newman’s Mitch Arnold (22-19) on Saturday.
Knapp is hoping the third time will be the charm as he qualified for the nationals in each of his first two seasons and wrestled well on the big stage only to come up one win short of All-America honors both times.
Although he dropped out of the national rankings after a third-place finish in the regionals, Knapp is 29-5 on the season and has plenty of national championship experience under his belt. He’ll take on Vincent Bordi (21-12) of San Francisco State with No. 2-ranked Ty Copsey (18-3) of Augustana a likely opponent in the quarterfinals.
Ramsey battled his way through the wrestlebacks at the regional to snare a fourth-place finish and earn his first national tournament berth.
He’s 16-12 on the season and got a tough draw for his opening match in No. 2-ranked Elijah Madison (31-7) of host Nebraska-Omaha but has the potential to surprise.
Defending champion Nebraska-Omaha has been ranked No. 1 throughout the season and is the prohibitive favorite to repeat as the only school to qualify all 10 of its wrestlers for the tournament.
Action gets under way Friday with first-round matches at noon (EST). The evening session begins at 7 p.m. (EST).
Saturday starts with a morning session at 11 a.m. (EST) but the finals won’t get under way until 9 p.m. (EST).
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