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WRESTLING HEADS TO NATIONALS

JAKE CHRISMAN ’20 | STAFF WRITER • While hosting the NCAA Central Region Qualifier this past weekend, five Little Giants punched their tickets to move onto the individual national tournament on Friday, March 9 and Saturday, March 10. Three Wallies, Owen Doster ’20, Austin Bethel ’21, and Kyle Hatch ’21, claimed their respective weight class titles. Both Darden Schurg ’19 and Hunter Bates ’20 qualified as well, both finishing second.

“As a whole, every guy in our lineup went down fighting,” Doster said.
“For the five that made it through to the National Tournament, those guys showed grit in their wrestling through the weekend and secured spots. Those five who didn’t, finished their seasons scraping as hard as they could. I was very pleased with the guys.”

Doster will return to the national tournament after a great showing at this past weekend’s regional. He started off with a 9-3 decision over Heidelberg University’s Richard Bogetich. This was followed up with Doster’s 10-2 win over Iain Whitis from John Carroll University. Doster returned on Saturday with an 11-4 win over Case Western Reserve’s Alec Hoover to punch his ticket to nationals. However, Doster finished even stronger by pinning Nolan Wochna from Mount Union University in the first period. “Going back to the National Tournament for me was part of the plan from the very beginning of the year,” Doster said. “Obviously, I am ecstatic to make another trip there, but we have bigger aims and goals in mind. For myself and my coaches, our goal for the season is to bring home a National title. So, for me, the trip is a business trip and four matches separate me from that goal. That is the focus now, but since I have been there before, I will be able to enjoy the scene and the atmosphere without all the nerves of being there for the first time.”

Bethel performed outstanding in his first regional tournament as a Little Giant, going 4-0 through the two days. Bethel exploded out of the gate on Friday with a first round fall over Waynesburg University’s Robert Hall. He followed this up with a hard fought 6-4 win over Samuel Florentino from Washington and Jefferson College. Bethel made quick work of Stanley Bleich from Baldwin Wallace to kick off Saturday and secure his spot in the national tournament. Bethel received a medical forfeit in the finals.

Hatch had little trouble qualifying for his first national tournament this past weekend. “This past weekend went well. We went in to the second day strong, but we lost some guys in the storm,” Hatch said. “It felt great personally to get to Nationals and I cannot wait to get after it. We have a young team and we know it is going to get better as the future draws near.” Hatch pinned his first opponent 27 seconds into the second period. He then capped off Friday with a technical fall over Jimmy Traub from Thomas Moore. Hatch punched his ticket to the national tournament on Saturday with a 12-2 victory
over Ohio Northern University’s Gavin Nelson. Hatch carried this momentum into the finals where he pinned Mount Union’s Michael McIntire midway through the second period.

Schurg and Bates both went 3-1 in their second place efforts on Saturday. Schurg will return for his second national appearance. Bates will be making his first national appearance after an impressive weekend, beating several, very good wrestlers to put himself in the first place match. “This past weekend was awesome,” Bates said. “We had all 10 wrestlers make the second day of the tournament, and we pushed five through to the national tournament. We also had a few guys that were right on the verge of making it in, Jared Timberman ’21, Grant Gough ‘18, and Wade Ripple ’21. Overall, it was an awesome tournament, and I’m excited for the years to come with this young team.”

Five other wrestlers competed in the regional tournament to help the Little Giants take second in team points, just behind Baldwin Wallace University. In his final tournament as a Little Giant, Grant Gough ’18 lost a heartbreaking
7-5 match to Waynesburg’s Ken Burrs to finish fourth in the tournament and fall just short of a national appearance.

The five qualifying wrestlers will return to action on March 9-10 after getting a weekend off. The national tournament will be held in Cleveland, Ohio at the Cleveland Public Auditorium and Conference Center. “I would say I’m looking forward to wrestling the most,” Doster said. “I love it, and the National Tournament is the biggest stage available to me to compete on. I enjoy competing, letting it all hang loose, and just giving our supporters a show. The roar of the crowd and the electric atmosphere are like nothing else. I am excited to share it with my teammates and make some noise this year.”