Third at Apprentice School

January 18, 2014

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Wrestling without three weight classes due to injury and illness, the WVU Tech wrestling program led the competition with four champions and finished third place out of 13 teams at the Builder Invitational hosted by the Newport News Apprentice School. The Golden Bears had a strong final round in the placement matches going a perfect 8-0 in those bouts, scoring a number of bonus points along the way.

The Golden Bears were led by senior captain John "J-Dub" Walters, who won his second Builders Invitational championship in as many years. Walters went 4-0 at 157 lbs. on the day and capped it off with a 4-2 finals victory over his opponent from William & Mary. His performance through the day earned him the tournament's "Champion of Champions," trophy, voted on by his fellow champions.

Sophomore Dirk Ponchak improved his season record to 22-1 and captured his third tournament championship of the season with a dominant performance at 165 lbs. Ponchak scored bonus points in all three of his matches, with a first round pin over East Carolina, a second round technical fall over the host Apprentice School, and a final round major decision victory over Scranton University's Shawn Flesche, 12-3. Flesche was the defending champion at this weight.

Freshman Tola Morakinyo continues a strong campaign in his debut season, making his third tournament final and winning his second championship. Now 19-2 on the year, Morakinyo followed a first round pin and a semi-final major decision victory with a final round 6-4 victory over Ferrum College of Virginia. In the final the freshman broke open a close match in the third period with an explosive high crotch takedown with near fall points and tacked on a second takedown for the margin of victory.

The Golden Bear's fourth champion of the day was freshman Wyatt Norfolk who won the 235 lb. weight-class in dominant fashion. Norfolk was 3-0 on the day with three falls, earning him not only his first career college tournament victory, but also the trophy for the most falls in the least amount of time. Norfolk's fastest pin of the day was his semi-final victory over opponent Ferrum, where locked in a chest-to-chest position, the Golden Bear uncorked a hip toss straight to his opponent's back, securing the pin at 1:49 of the first period.

At 125 lbs. freshman Denis Robles-Gomez earned his third medal in as many tries with a bronze medal, going 3-1 on the day. Freshman Alfredo Martinez also took third (133 lbs.) with an identical 3-1 record. Freshman Jon Boarman, a red-shirt wrestling unattached finished the day with a bronze medal and a 3-1 record in the heavyweight class. Freshman Colton Rowe capped a 3-2 day with a fifth place performance, as did unattached redshirt freshman Bryan Overton. Freshman Devon Steele won a pair of matches by fall at 133 lbs. to round out Tech's performances.

"I'm very proud of this team today. Third place trophy aside, I believe this may have been our best performance as a team so far this year. A tournament like this is a numbers game, and we had some guys get sick this week, which put us behind the eight ball because they couldn't wrestle. The guys responded well, and our 8-0 final round of competition was really the kind of strong performance I was hoping to see. We had twice as many champions as any other team, which is what you want to see when you are evaluating your performance. I was proud of the effort of all our guys. We continue to develop technically, we display heart in matches that are tight, and we are wrestling a style that is exciting and aggressive. These are good, good things. I'm happy for J-Dub, as he has been the heart and soul of this program. Dirk continues to be the leader I depend on to set the example for the young guys. Tola combines tremendous competitiveness with a rare talent. And Wyatt? I'm super pumped for him! His performance was a breakout today, and I believe his confidence will continue to grow, leading to more and more victories like this," states head coach Sam Gardner.

TEAM SCORES: Ferrum 165.5; Apprentice School 121.5; West Va. Tech 115; Marion Military Inst. 90; Scranton 79.5; Ferurm-B 60; VMI 49; Univ. Md. Baltimore Co. 48.5; Unattached 31; W&M 28.5; Bridgewater 22; Longwood 20.5; Southern Va. 18; Penn State Fayette 16.5; Ferrum-C 16; Bridgewater B 15.5; East Carolina 14; WVU Tech-B 9; Apprentice-B 4; Scranton B 3; UMBC-B 3; Southern Va. B 0.5

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