Eight Aggies advance to NCAA Championships
Feb 24, 2008
Delaware Valley College was as dominant as ever in successfully defending its NCAA Midwest Regional title at Wabash College as six Aggies captured individual crowns and two more were runners-up and selected as wild-card entries for the upcoming NCAA Division III Championships.
Chris Sheetz (125 pounds/Barto, PA/Upper Perkiomen), Brandon Clemmer (133/Pottstown, PA/Upper Perkiomen), Dan Hall (141/Waretown, PA/Southern Regional), Mike Wilcox (174/Buena, NJ/Buena), Joe West (197/Washington, PA/Trinty) and Kyle Bilquist (Heavyweight/Toms River, NJ/Toms River) took top honors in their weight classes and earned an automatic berths to nationals.
They will be joined by Jesse Harrington (149/New Providence, NJ/Bound Brook) and Ryan Herwig (157/Baltimore, MD/Mt. St. Joseph's) at nationals as each placed second and were selected for two of the region's five wild-card berths.
In addition, Sheetz was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler while Brandon Totten was named Coach of the Year for the second straight year and the sixth straight at an NCAA qualifying tournament (he was Middle Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year in the last four years of its tournament).
The eight national qualifiers give the fourth-ranked Aggies a legitimate shot at not only its third, top four finish in school history but, quite possibly, its first ever national championship. The Division III Championships will be held at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids Iowa on March 7 and 8.
Delaware Valley racked up 191 points to outdistance runner-up and 27th ranked Olivet College by 51 points. Case Western Reserve University (98.5 points), Tri-State University (87.5 points) and College of Mt. Saint Joseph (86 points) rounded out the top five.
Sheetz, a freshman, was seeded third for the tournament at 125 despite being ranked ninth in Division III and only having one other ranked wrestler in his weight class. He opened by pinning Jonathan Jones of Millikin in 2:07 and then dropped second-seeded and unranked Rob Miller of Thiel in just 56 seconds.
In the finals, Sheetz faced the top-ranked wrestler in the country in defending regional champion Eracleo Vallejo of Manchester and posted a 3-2 decision for the regional title. The win upped his season record to 32-5 and secured the Outstanding Wrestler Award. He is the first Aggie to receive the honor at a NCAA qualifying tournament since Barry Wise and Jason Shivak shared the award at the 2005 MAC Championships.
Clemmer, a junior transfer and two-time Division II national qualifier, was the second seed at 133 pounds and he advanced to the finals with three victories. He opened with a 44-second pin over Ben Scalise of Manchester and then needed only 85 seconds to drop Brandon Sansom of Washington & Jefferson. In the semifinals, Clemmer posted a 5-2 decision over No. 6 Blake Gardner of Olivet to set up a championship match with top-seeded Eric Meyer of Mt. Saint Joseph. He earned an 11-2 major decision for his 26th win (26-7) and a trip to the Division III Championships.
After missing all of last season with an injury, Hall's comeback year continued with his fourth conference or regional title and fourth trip to nationals. The top seed and second-ranked wrestler in the country at 141 opened the regional by pinning Tucker Velez of Thiel in 4:40 of the quarterfinals. He followed with a 12-4 major decision over fifth-seeded Nick Garber of Waynesburg to reach the finals against second-seeded and fifth-ranked David Manoogian of Case Western Reserve. Hall posted a 5-2 decision to up his record to 23-7 and another shot at nationals.
Wilcox, a junior transfer and the second-ranked wrestler at 184 pounds, began the regional with a 19-3, technical fall victory over Ray Lonardo of Case Western Reserve and an 83-second pin of fourth-seeded Chad Craft of Mt. Saint Joseph. In the finals, the top seed edged No. 2 Louis Posa of Tri-State, 7-6, for the regional title and a trip to nationals. He will bring a 25-2 record to the NCAA Championships.
Just one season removed from not placing at the Midwest Regional, West turned it all around in 2008 as the sophomore captured the 197-pound crown and a trip to the NCAAs. He was the top seed and reached the finals with 5-1 and 5-3 decisions over Cris Gault of Thiel and fourth-seeded Alex Fleet of Tri-State. West then blanked No. 2 Patrick Truster of Mt. Saint Joseph, 7-0, to up his mark to 22-9 on the year.
Bilquist earned a second straight trip to the NCAA Championships, this time by taking top honors at heavyweight (wild card last year). The junior and second-ranked wrestler cruised to the finals as the top seed with a pin (1:47 over Allan Lick of Millikin), a major decision (12-3 over Kyle Brown of Tri-State) and a decision (6-1 over No. 4 Sean Misko of Olivet). Bilquist then moved his record to 28-1 with a 4-1 decision over second-seeded Robert Gavlak of Case Western Reserve.
Harrington, a freshman who is ranked sixth nationally at 149, was seeded third for the regionals. After a bye, he needed only a minute to pin John Sabatelli of Washington & Jefferson in the quarterfinals and then earned a 5-2 decision over second-seeded and 10th-ranked Andrew Gardella of Case Western Reserve. Harrington met top-seeded and third-ranked Elliot Spence of Mt. Saint Joseph in the finals and dropped a 6-4 decision. However, his strong showing and 27-6 record earned him a wild-card berth to nationals.
Herwig (20-12), was selected for a wild-card berth for the second straight year and it will be the senior's third consecutive trip to the NCAAs. He was seeded second at 157 and pinned his first three opponents (Graham Youngs of Wabash in 1:55, Kevin Walsh of Waynesburg in 22 seconds and No. 6 Nathan Klingensmith of Case Western Reserve in 4:03). Herwig's regional run came to an end as he was pinned by top-seeded and third-ranked Jason Brew of Olivet in 2:57.
Greg Miele (165 pounds/Manahawkin, NJ/Southern Regional) and Mike DiGregorio (174/Mt. Holly, NJ/Rancocas Valley) also competed at the Midwest Regional for Delaware Valley and they finished third and sixth respectively.
Miele, a junior and the fourth seed, opened with a 4-2 decision over No. 5 Joel Sherer of Manchester, but dropped a 3-2 decision to No. 1 Daron Cruickshank of Olivet to fall into the consolation bracket. Miele (19-11) bounced back and took third with a 12-4 major decision over third-seeded Jordan Gaudette of Thiel and a 3-1 decision over Sherer.
DiGregorio (12-15), a sophomore, was seeded sixth and opened with a 6-2 decision over No. 3 Eric Monday of Washington & Jefferson. He then dropped a 10-5 decision to No. 2 Nicholas Kraus of Tri-State in the semis and had to medically forfeit his next two matches to finish sixth.
Athletic information provided courtesy of Matt Levy, Sports Information Director. To view other athletic news, please visit the Athletic website.