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|UPDATED: Howe, Ruth, Fortune excite as University Nationals concludes in freestyle|
By Bryan Baumgartner USA Wrestling
AKRON, Ohio - Wrestling in his first tournament since returning from a year plagued with injuries, Andrew Howe looked as if he hadn’t missed any time at all.
Howe brought home the ASICS University Freestyle Championship at 79 kg/174 lbs. and did so in dominating fashion on Sunday. The past NCAA champion met 2013 NCAA All-American Logan Storley in the finals and won both matches by technical fall. Howe captured his second University Nationals title after previously winning this event in 2011.
“It feels like it’s my comeback party a little bit. It feels good to be competing again and I’m happy,” Howe said. “I had a tech every match so it was good.”
Howe’s victory highlighted an exciting final day of wrestling at the ASICS University and FILA Cadet National Championships at the University of Akron’s Stile Fieldhouse.
University Nationals champions in the seven Olympic weight classes qualify to wrestle at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia in August.
In a rematch of the 2012 NCAA quarterfinal round, Nico Megaludis and Zach Sanders wrestled for the title at 55 kg/121 lbs. After splitting the first two matches, Megaludis took control early in the third and final bout and held on for a 4-0 decision over Sanders for the championship. Sanders won a silver medal at the 2012 University World Championships.
“Sanders is a tough wrestler. We both kind of wrestle hard and heavy on the head, so we have similar styles,” said Megaludis, a two-time NCAA runner-up for Penn State. “It’s always fun to wrestle someone who’s going to wrestle for six minutes and not back up.”
Past Junior World Team member Tyler Graff wrestled terrific all tournament at 60 kg/132 lbs. and capped it with a 10-0 technical fall victory over Cashe` Quiroga in the decisive second match of the finals. Graff’s victory came after he only allowed two points scored on him all tournament leading up to the finals.
At 63 kg/138.75 lbs., Sam Sherlock of the Clarion Wrestling Club won by technical fall in every one of his matches including a 13-3 win over Brandon Wright in the final bout. Sherlock’s dominating run to the championship started when he pinned Justin Agee in his first match of the tournament in only 12 seconds.
Two-time NCAA All-American James Green prevailed as champion in the top heavy bracket at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. that included many talented wrestlers.
Green, who wrestles for Nebraska, pinned Ohio State All-American Hunter Stieber in the semifinals to set up a finals showdown with 2012 University World Team member Jason Chamberlain. After gritting out a hard-fought first match, Green won a 3-0 decision over Chamberlain in the third bout to win the championship and qualify for the World Team.
“It’s always a great experience coming out here and wrestling different guys, and now I get to travel overseas and see where my talents take me. I’m trying to win it all,” Green said. “I wrestled Stieber, Dardanes, Chamberlain those guys are all tough. It was a good experience, a good battle and I just got it done.”
The bracket at 70 kg/154 lbs. came down to match up between Oklahoma’s Justin Deangelis and Minnesota’s Brandon Kingsley. After Deangelis took the first match of the finals, Kingsley fought back hard in the second but a takedown late in the second period locked up a 6-4 win and the championship for Deangelis.
There was never a question who the favorite was at 74 kg/163 lbs. Penn State’s David Taylor made it look easy, winning all of his matches by technical fall or pin and capping it off with a win by fall in 2:01 in the finals against Quinton Godley. Godley gave Taylor a fight in the first match, forcing the 2012 NCAA champion to wrestle the full six minutes, but Taylor’s patience paid off in the second match as he was able to secure the championship.
“With these new rules I was able to get some quick takedowns, some trap arms and some techs so I didn’t have to wrestle eight full matches in this tournament,” said Taylor, a past Junior World Team member. “Luckily I didn’t have to go six minutes early in the tournament, which makes for a long day. My goal this year was to make the University World Team and I’m a World Team member now and I get the chance to wrestle overseas in Russia. I’m pretty excited about that.”
Taylor will be joined in Russia by his teammate Edward Ruth who won the championship at 84 kg/185 lbs. Ruth faced a tough opponent in Cameron Simaz in the finals but was able to outdual the 2012 NCAA champion in the first match. During match two, Ruth looked as good as he did when he won the 2012 and 2013 NCAA titles, having his way with Simaz and winning by technical fall 10-0. For his impressive tournament run, Ruth was voted the Most Outstanding Wrestler.
“I had a couple hairy matches but I just stuck to the grind and was able to keep pulling out wins,” Ruth said. “We got guys like Nico and guys like Taylor. At least I’m not going over there [Russia] with complete strangers. I’m going there with these guys I’ve grown up with collegiately.”
Micah Burak fought off every attack of 2012 University World Team member and past NCAA champion Dustin Kilgore in the finals to take the title at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. The win comes after a disappointing showing at the 2013 NCAA Championships for Burak.
“I lost in the round of 12 at the NCAAs which was really hard. After that my heart was just broken. I was frustrated and discouraged because it just hurts to lose. So I’m just really blessed to win here today,” Burak said. “Going out there I was just trying to control my ties and get to my two on one and my under hooks. Dustin’s a real great wrestler and takes great shots.”
The first match of the finals at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. looked shaky for Tyrell Fortune as he found himself trailing Tony Nelson with just over 30 seconds remaining in the second period. But Fortune went on an offensive frenzy, scoring six points on a quick high crotch and a turn in the final 30 seconds to secure the victory in the first match of the series.
In the second match, Fortune wasted no time with a huge throw on Nelson and finishing him off with a pin in 22 seconds to win the championship.
Fortune won an NCAA Division II title for Grand Canyon this year while Nelson has won the last two NCAA Division I titles for Minnesota at heavyweight. Nelson placed fifth at the 2012 University World Championships.
“I actually felt very comfortable. I beat him two years ago at the same tournament so I felt comfortable going into the match,” Fortune said. “I knew what I had to do to win. That move has honestly been my bread and butter since I started wrestling. I’ve done that move all year long so I knew when I felt him push and I put his hands up and he kept pushing I was going to throw it.”
Howe did not qualify for the World University Games since he competed at a non-Olympic weight class.
For a complete list of results please visit trackwrestling.com.
University Nationals Finals Results
Best of 3 series
55 kg/121 lbs.
Round 1 - Zach Sanders (Minnesota Storm) won by decision over Nico Megaludis (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club) (Dec 4-0)
Round 2 - Nico Megaludis (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club) won by tech fall over Zach Sanders (Minnesota Storm) (TF 10-0)
Round 3 - Nico Megaludis (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club) won by decision over Zach Sanders (Minnesota Storm) (Dec 4-0)
60 kg/132 lbs.
Round 1 - Tyler Graff (Badger Wrestling Club) won by tech fall over Cashe` Quiroga (Midwest RTC) (TF 10-0)
Round 2 - Tyler Graff (Badger Wrestling Club) won by decision over Cashe` Quiroga (Midwest RTC) (Dec 5-4)
63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Round 1 - Sam Sherlock (Clarion Wrestling Club) won by pin over Brandon Wright (Viking Wrestling Club) (Pin 0:19)
Round 2 - Sam Sherlock (Clarion Wrestling Club) won by tech fall over Brandon Wright (Viking Wrestling Club) (TF 13-3)
66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Round 1 - James Green (NWTC) won by decision over Jason Chamberlain (Titan Mercury Wrestling Club) (Dec 4-2)
Round 2 - Jason Chamberlain (Titan Mercury Wrestling Club) won by decision over James Green (NWTC) (Dec 5-4)
Round 3 - James Green (NWTC) won by decision over Jason Chamberlain (Titan Mercury Wrestling Club) (Dec 3-0)
70 kg/154 lbs.
Round 1 - Justin Deangelis (Oklahoma) won by decision over Brandon Kingsley (Minnesota Storm) (Dec 8-1)
Round 2 - Justin Deangelis (Oklahoma) won by decision over Brandon Kingsley (Minnesota Storm) (Dec 6-4)
74 kg/163 lbs.
Round 1 - David Taylor (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club) won by decision over Quinton Godley (Wolfpack Wrestling Club) (Dec 3-0)
Round 2 - David Taylor (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club) won by pin over Quinton Godley (Wolfpack Wrestling Club) (Pin 2:01)
79 kg/174 lbs.
Round 1 - Andrew Howe (NYAC) won by tech fall over Logan Storley (Minnesota Storm) (TF 10-0)
Round 2 - Andrew Howe (NYAC) won by tech fall over Logan Storley (Minnesota Storm) (TF 13-3)
84 kg/185 lbs.
Round 1 - Edward Ruth (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club) won by decision over Cameron Simaz (Finger Lakes Wrestling Club) (Dec 6-4)
Round 2 - Edward Ruth (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club) won by tech fall over Cameron Simaz (Finger Lakes Wrestling Club) (TF 10-0)
96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Round 1 - Micah Burak (HWC) won by decision over Dustin Kilgore (Suples Wrestling Club) (Dec 10-6)
Round 2 - Micah Burak (HWC) won by decision over Dustin Kilgore (Suples Wrestling Club) (Dec 5-2)
120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Round 1 - Tyrell Fortune (Grand Canyon Wrestling Club) won by decision over Tony Nelson (Minnesota Storm) (Dec 7-2)
Round 2 - Tyrell Fortune (Grand Canyon Wrestling Club) won by pin over Tony Nelson (Minnesota Storm) (Pin 0:22)