Wrestling Title Won’t Come Without A Fight
The SCSU wrestling team finishes the season 21-0, securing the number one spot in the nation. After winning the Super Regional III championship, the Huskies finished with 156 points and five of the eight first place votes from coaches around the country.
“I am very proud of how they have competed all season long. They have been consistent, committed, and competed with a lot of grit,” said head coach Steve Costanzo. “It is really difficult for any team in any sport to do what they have done.”
The Huskies will have their hands full, facing the stiffest competition in the country. On SCSU’s heels is Notre Dame (Ohio) finishing only three points behind the Huskies and receiving 2 first place votes. Nebraska-Kearney finishes in third with 139 points and one first place vote, according to SCSU Athletics.
The tournament is set up in ten different weight classes, within those brackets the top 16 wrestlers in the country will face off. It is a two-day tournament, going from March 8-9, and is being held in Birmingham, Ala.
“I feel like we have a great chance to win a national championship next weekend,” Costanzo said. “It will come down to bonus points and teams that can compete the best on the back (consolations) sides.”
Coming into the national championship ranked No. 1 , with the leadership and experience on this roster, makes this an extremely tangible goal.
Senior Shamus O’Grady makes his fourth trip to the NCAA Championship, previously coming in fourth in 2012, fourth in 2011, and second in 2010. He is currently ranked at No. 1 in the nation at the 184-pound weight class.
Jacob Kahnke (senior) also finds himself in the top slot at the 285-pounds going into the championship tournament. Kahnke is a three-time All-American, and was ranked second in the country in 2011-12 and 2010-2011.
Freshman wrestlers Clint Poster (157-pound), Gabe Fogarty (165), and Matt Nelson (141) will all be making their first NCAA Division II Championship debuts.
Joining these Huskies will be sophomore Eric Forde (125-pounds), senior Andy Pokorny (133), senior Jacob R. Horn (149) and senior Kurt Salmen (174).
Eric Forde is currently ranked second in the country at the 125-pound range; Andy Pokorny also holds the second spot at 133-pound weight class.
Jacob R. Horn is anchoring the fifth position at the 149-pound weight class and Clint Poster comes in ranked second at the 157-pound division.
“Rankings are out the window,” Shamus O’Grady said in an SCSU Wrestling interview. “Anything can happen.”
That couldn’t be more accurate with powerhouse programs like Central Oklahoma, Nebraska-Kearney, Notre Dame College (Ohio) and Newberry College.
The Newberry Wolves set a program record this year in points in their Super Regional I championship.
Notre Dame College (Ohio) has only been competing in the NCAA for one year and comes into the tournament ranked second in the nation.
Nebraska-Kearney is the defending champs of the 2011-12 Division II Wrestling Championship, and comes in this year ranked third in the country. Although 63 percent of voters on NCAA.com say Nebraska-Kearney will not repeat as national champions (1137 total votes).
Central Oklahoma finished two points behind Notre Dame (Ohio) and comes into the national championship ranked fourth, led by two No. 1s – Casy Rowell (133-pounds) and Cory Dauphin (157- pounds).
The national title won’t come easy, but the Huskies have put themselves in a great position to bring home the championship.
O’Grady tells SCSU Athletics, “The most important thing is being ready to perform, stay focused and dominate.”