Wrestling: Wilcox is National Champion; New School Record with 5 All-Americans
Mar 16, 2009
CEDAR RAPIDS (IA) -Senior Mike Wilcox (Buena, NJ/Buena) became the first Delaware Valley College wrestler to be named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA Division III Championships as he used a dominating performance to capture the 184-pound national title and highlight the Aggies' fifth-place showing at tournament.
Wilcox was one of a school-record five All-Americans at the championships, which goes to a wrestler who finishes in the top eight in their weight class. Rocky Mantella (Newtown, PA/Council Rock) and Mike Wilcox (Buena, NJ/Buena) made it all the way to the 174-pound finals before finishing as the national runner-up. Kyle Bilquist (Toms River, NJ/Toms River North) finishing in fourth place at heavyweight while Brandon Clemmer (Pottstown, PA/Upper Perkiomen) and Chris Sheetz (Barto, PA/Upper Perkiomen) taking seventh and eighth at 133 and 125 pounds respectively.
Delaware Valley notched 65.5 points to trail only two-time defending champion Wartburg College (117.5 points), Augsburg College (105.0 points), University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse (87.0 points) and Coe College (78.5 points) in the team standings. It is the second straight fifth-place showing for the squad and the fourth top-five finish in program history (second in 1989 and fourth in 2004).
Wilcox was the story of the tournament for the Aggies, as he finished the year with a 37-2 record and claimed the ninth individual title in the program's storied history. He joined three-time champion Shaun Smith (1985, 1986, 1989), current head coach and two-time champion Brandon Totten (1995, 1996) and single champs Mark Ambrose (1989), Randy Worrell (1989) and Jamall Johnson (2006) on the exclusive list.
Wilcox was the top seed, and he faced undefeated and No. 3 Phil Moenkedick of Concordia Moorehead (35-0) in the finals. It was a similar situation to last year, when he reached the finals as the two seed and went against an undefeated wrestler (he lost 8-2). This year, it was never a contest as Wilcox notched a takedown and two, two-point near falls for a 6-0 lead at the end of the first period. He added an escape and a takedown in the second for a 9-0 advantage after two. Moenkedick escaped to start the third, but Wilcox came back with a takedown and a three-point near fall. His riding time added an extra point for a 15-1 major decision and the title. He was then selected by the Division III coaches' as the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament.
"He saved his best performance for last," Totten said.
In addition to winning the title for himself, Wilcox was on a mission for his brother Ricky, a former wrestler himself who was tragically killed in a car accident just one day before his high school graduation. Mike, who was one year younger than Ricky, has wanted to win a national title in his brother's memory and came close at both junior college (third) and last year with the Aggies (second). This year, he stood on the top step of the podium at the NCAA Championships.
"It's a dream come true," Wilcox said. "I've been close for a while, and I think I just put it together as a senior. There were a lot of upsets happening at the tournament, and I just kept telling myself that that wasn't going to happen to me, and that I was going to be a national champion."
Wilcox opened his '09 NCAA tournament on Friday by dropping Toby Boltz of Wheaton 84 seconds into their first-round bout. He then survived a scare in the quarterfinals as he went to overtime against eighth-seeded Dustin Baxter of St. John's and earned an escape in the first tiebreaker for a 5-4 triumph. In Saturday's semifinals, Wilcox notched five takedowns en-route to an 11-5 victory over No. 5 Joshua Zabel of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. He then capped it all in the finals.
Mantella, a junior, entered the tournament with a perfect 27-0 record and the number two seed at 174, reached the finals with three victories over unseeded wrestlers on Friday (23-second pin over Brian Thomason of York, 9-5 over Ryan Dormann of Stevens Tech and 4-3 over Michael Schmitz of Wisconsin-LaCrosse) and followed with a 6-4 decision over No. 6 Zach Molitor of Augsburg in Saturday's morning's semifinals. Mantella held a 4-2 advantage, but an escape and a penalty point for stalling evened the match in the third period. Mantella then came through with a takedown and held Molitor down the rest of the way for the victory.
Mantella faced the eighth-seed, Evan Brown of Dubuque, who helped turn the 174-pound bracket upside down with a victory over previously undefeated and No. 1 seed Jerome Owens of Johnson & Wales in the quarterfinals, and then earned a 5-3 decision over No. 5 Kyle Kehrli of Cornell in the semifinals.
The match was a tactical one according to Totten, as neither wrestler scored a point in the opening period. Brown chose the top position in the second and rode Mantella for the entire two minutes. Mantella opted for the neutral position in the third but could not register a takedown and the riding time proved to be the difference in the 1-0 triumph for Brown. Mantella finished his first full year with the Aggies with a 31-1 record and a national runner-up showing.
Bilquist looked to make it three Aggies in the finals as the top seed at heavyweight reached the semifinals with a pair of victories on Friday. He pinned Trevor Kaufman with 58 seconds left in the opening period (2:02) and then avenged his only Division III loss of the regular season with a 2-0 triumph over eighth-seeded Andrew Witzel of Augsburg.
In Saturday's semifinals against No. 5 Mark Corsello of Elmhurst, the match was tied at 1-1 after seven minutes of regulation and one-minute of overtime. Corsello won the coin flip for the first, 30-second tiebreaker. He chose the down position and was credited with an escape on what D3wrestle.com called "a very shaky call" for the win.
That dropped Bilquist into the consolation semifinals where he blanked unseeded Adam Sutter of Lakeland, 7-0. Bilquist was then edged 3-2 by No. 3 John Helgerson of Wartburg in the consolation finals to give him a fourth-place finish and his second straight All-American accolade (fifth place last year). He went 99-15 in three years with the Aggies, including a 31-5 mark this year.
Seeded third at 133 pounds, Clemmer opened Friday with a 2-0 shutout against Chad Winowich of Ithaca in the opening round, but the senior suffered a 5-3 loss to sixth-seeded Zac Bartlett of Luther in the quarterfinals. Needing a win to stay alive and earn his first All-American honor, Clemmer came through with a 5-1 decision over Jerred Kern of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Clemmer's Saturday action began with a 5-4 loss to unseeded Corey Brown of Thiel, and that dropped him into the seventh/eighth place battle. In his final collegiate match, Clemmer met Winowich again and notched 7-3 decision for his 104th career victory (104-42), including a 58-17 mark in two years with Delaware Valley after transferring from Division II Kutztown.
Sheetz, a sophomore, was seeded third at 125 pounds and opened Friday with a 21-8 major decision over Jerrad Hoxie of Heidelberg. He dropped a 9-6 decision to No. 6 Mike McInally of RIT in the quarterfinals but bounced back with an 8-5 triumph over Lloyd McKinney of Wisconsin-LaCrosse in the second round of consolations to earn All-American accolades for the second year in a row (sixth last year). However, he fell in two straight matches on Saturday (pinned in 47 seconds by No. 7 Mark Kist of Wartburg and 7-5 to No. 8 Tyler Erdman of Elizabethtown) to end his year with a 37-7 record and an eight-place showing at nationals.
Fellow sophomore Dale Fava (Elmwood Park, NJ/Elmwood Park) was also a national qualifier for the Aggies at 149 pounds, and he went 1-2 before being eliminated from the tournament on Friday. He was unseeded and began with a 7-3 upset over seventh-seeded Dan Twito of Merchant Marine Academy. Fava (20-9) then dropped a 9-1 major decision to defending champion and No. 2 seed Jacob Naig of Wartburg in the quarterfinals and saw his season come to an end in the second round of consolations, as he was pinned in 3:50 by Jason Pyle of Luther.
NCAA DIVISION III CHAMPIONSHIPS
TEAM STANDINGS (Top 10)
1. Wartburg (IA)... 117.5 points
2. Augsburg (MN)... 105.0 points
3. Wisconsin-LaCrosse... 87.0 points
4. Coe (IA)... 785 points
5. Delaware Valley (PA)... 655 points
6. Ithaca (NY)... 39.0 points
7. Elmhurst (IL)... 34.0 points
8. Cornell (IA)... 32.0 points
9. Luther (IA)... 31.5
10. Williams (MA)... 30.5 points
HOW DELAWARE VALLEY COLLEGE WRESTLERS FARED
Mike Wilcox - 184 pounds - (Buena, NJ/Buena) - Seeded 1st out of 16 Wrestlers
Championship First Round (Friday): Won by fall over Toby Boltz (Wheaton), 1:24
Championship Quarterfinals (Friday): Won by decision over #8 Dustin Baxter (St. John's), 4-3 TB1
Championship Semifinals (Saturday): Won by decision over #5 Joshua Zabel (Wisc-LaCrosse), 11-5
Championship Finals (Saturday): Won by major decision over #3 Phil Moenkedick (Concordia Moorehead), 15-1
- Wilcox, a senior, wins his first national title and the ninth in program history. In his two years with the Aggies after transferring from Gloucester Community College, he notched a 65-5 record with a national championship and a runner-up finish -
Rocky Mantella - 174 pounds - (Newtown, PA/Council Rock) - Seeded 2nd out of 16 Wrestlers
Championship Preliminaries (Friday): Won by fall over Brian Thomason (York), 0:23
Championship First Round (Friday): Won by decision over Ryan Dormann (Stevens Tech), 9-5
Championship Quarterfinals (Friday): Won by decision over Michael Schmitz (Wisconsin-LaCrosse), 4-3
Championship Semifinals (Saturday): Won by decision over #6 Zach Molitor (Wartburg), 6-4
Championship Finals (Saturday) Lost by decision to #8 Evan Brown (Dubuque), 1-0
- Mantella, a junior, finishes as the national runner-up and earns All-American honors. The loss in the finals was his only one this year; he ends with a 31-1 record. -
Kyle Bilquist - 285 pounds - (Toms River, NJ/Toms River North) - Seeded 1st out of 15 Wrestlers
Championship First Round (Friday): Won by fall over Trevor Kaufman (Loras), 2:02
Championship Quarterfinals (Friday): Won by decision over Andrew Witzel (Augsburg), 2-0
Championship Semifinals (Saturday): Lost by decision to #5 Mark Corsello (Elmhurst), 2-1 TB1
Consolation Semifinals (Saturday): Won by decision over Adam Sutter (Lakeland), 7-0
Consolation Finals (Saturday): Lost by decision to #3 John Helgerson (Wartburg), 3-2
- Bilquist, a senior, finishes in fourth place for his second straight All-American honor (fifth last year). His ends his career with a 99-15 record, including a 31-5 mark this year. -
Brandon Clemmer - 133 pounds - (Pottstown,PA/Upper Perkiomen) - Seeded 3rd out of 14 Wrestlers
Championship First Round (Friday): Won by decision over Chad Winowich (Ithaca), 2-0
Championship Quarterfinals (Friday): Lost by decision to #6 Zac Bartlett (Luther), 5-3
Consolation Second Round (Friday): Won by decision over Jered Kern (Wisconsin-Stevens Point), 5-1
Consolation Quarterfinals (Saturday): Lost by decision to Corey Brown (Thiel), 5-4
7th/8th Place Match (Saturday): Won by decision over Chad Winowich (Ithaca), 7-3
- Clemmer, a senior, finishes in seventh place for his first All-American honor. His season ends with a 33-8 record and his career ends with a 104-42 record, including a 58-17 mark in his two years with the Aggies -
Chris Sheetz - 125 pounds - (Barto, PA/Upper Perkiomen) - Seeded 3rd out of 16 Wrestlers
Championship First Round (Friday): Won by major decision over Jerrad Hoxie (Heidelberg), 21-8
Championship Quarterfinals (Friday): Lost by decision to #6 Mike McInally (RIT), 9-6
Consolation Second Round (Friday): Won by decision over Lloyd McKinney (Wisconsin-LaCrosse), 8-5
Consolation Quarterfinals (Saturday): Lost by fall to #7 Mark Kist (Wartburg), 0:42
7th/8th Place Match (Saturday): Lost by decision to #8 Tyler Erdman (Elizabethtown), 7-5
- Sheetz, a sophomore, finishes with a 37-7 record, an eighth-place showing at nationals and All-Americans honors for the second year in a row (sixth last year).
Dale Fava - 149 pounds - (Elmwood Park, NJ/Elmwood Park) - Unseeded out of 17 Wrestlers
Championship Preliminaries (Friday): Bye
Championship First Round (Friday): Won by decision over #7 Dan Twito (Merchant Marine Acad.), 7-2
Championship Quarterfinals (Friday): Lost by major decision to #2 Jacob Naig (Wartburg), 9-1
Consolation Second Round (Friday): Lost by fall to Jason Pyle (Luther), 3:50
- Fava, a sophomore and first-time national qualifier, saw his season end with a 20-9 record. -