ADA, Ohio – For the first time in the history of the Heidelberg University wrestling program, the Student Princes competed at the NCAA Mideast Regional, hosted by Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. The Mideast Regional featured 16 teams including all eligible members of the Ohio Athletic Conference.
“I think that this one of the tougher Regional qualifying tournaments in the country and we had a lot of battles today,” said second year head coach Ned Shuck.
Out of all competitors, 51 wrestlers were ranked nationally by d3wrestle.com, including nine Student Princes. Five Berg wrestlers earned a spot on the podium to help guide the Berg to a fourth place finish in the team standings.
“There are no easy matches here and we had some that didn’t go our way early in the day so we had to dig out of holes but overall I am proud of our guys because they wrestled with a lot heart and a tremendous effort,” Shuck added.
Senior 197-pounder Andy Lovins (Clinton Township, MI./Lake Shore) led the Student Princes at the Mideast Regional, claiming first with a 9-4 victory in the finals match.
The 197-pound weight class featured six wrestlers ranked by d3wrestle.com, including Lovins. Andy began the day with a 2:30 fall over Waynesburg’s Patrick Jenning. Lovins followed the fall with another victory over Matthew Lashway of Brockport in overtime.
Andy battled six seed Travis Ebersole of Messiah College, who he tussled with earlier in the year at the Pete Willson Invitational. Lovins beat Ebersole 15-7 at the Willson and handed Ebersole a major decision in Ada, 11-2.
Lovins met ninth ranked Phillip Landis of Elizabethtown College in the final bout. Landis and Lovins exchanged blows earlier in the year with Landis emerging the victor, 6-2.
The match went the distance and Lovins left victorious, 9-4. He will travel to the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year.
“Andy avenged a loss from earlier in the year against Landis in the finals,” said Shuck. “Andy really built leads on guys today and I think in a way he separated himself as the dominate wrestler at 197-pounds. He is wrestling well and looking forward to improving his 2-2 performance at Nationals from a year,” said Shuck.
125-pounder, junior Delian Schneider (Tiffin/Columbian) took his first match of the day from OAC foe, Brad Kress of Mount Union but dropped his second to Josh Hall of Case Western Reserve.
Schneider collected two major decisions and a technical fall in the consolation bracket to earn a place in the consolation finals. His opponent for the third-fourth bout would be Josh Hall, who pinned Schneider earlier in the day.
In the consolation finals, Delian took a 2-0 lead half way through the first period with a takedown on the edge of the mat. Schneider maintained control of the rest of the period until Hall was forced to stop the match because of an injury.
Schneider moves onto the NCAA Championships for the first time in his career.
Sophomore Richard Dowdley (Cleveland/Ginn Academy) entered the 184-pound weight class as the fifth seed, matching up with Ohio Northern’s Kyle Raber in the first round. Dowdley and Raber did not wrestle eachother during the regular season dual meet, but Dowdley handled the Purple Raider convincingly by scoring a fall in 6:00.
Dowdley would collect his only loss of the day in the second round losing to Cody Catalina of Waynesburg by decision, 4-3. Dowdley did not let the loss slow him down though as he won three straight to earn a spot in the consolation championship bout.
Dowdley met Catalina for the second time in the third place match. Dowdley trailed a majority of the match, but a takedown in the final ten propelled the Student Prince to Iowa and the NCAA Championships.
“Rich hasn’t had a lot of time with us compared to some of the other guys but has worked hard and he is very coachable," said Shuck. “He makes great adjustments and we knew we could beat Catalina early but we didn’t, then in the finals match, Rich made adjustments and came out on top. He is a great kid who I am very proud of as a coach.”
“Rich is powerful and dangerous so I am excited to have him wrestle in Iowa,” commented Shuck.
Freshman heavyweight Nino Majoy (Huron) entered a 285-pound weight class that featured seven wrestlers ranked nationally by d3wrestle.com. Nino was awarded a first round bye into the quarterfinals where he would face three seed Mike Spencer of York College.
Majoy wrestled tough for seven minutes and emerged victorious, 2-1. In the semifinals, Nino squared off against nationally ranked Nick Reith of Elizabethtown College. The Student Prince could not out last Reith, losing, 3-2.
In the consolation semifinals, Majoy battled OAC foe Nick Teifaj from the University of Mount Union. Majoy topped the Purple Raider in the dual match back on February 5, 2-1 and grabbed another close victory from Terifaj in Ada, 3-1 in sudden victory.
In the consolation finals, Nino battled Ohio Northern’s Cody Lovejoy who he had lost to already this season. Lovejoy maintained the upper hand on Majoy for the entire match, rolling to a 5-1 decision.
Seniors Andrew Johnson (Weston/Otsego) and Justin Wharton (Oregon/Clay) ended their careers in the tri-color in Ada, bowing out in the consolation second round.
Johnson, seeded eighth, escaped the first round with a fall over Lycoming College’s Matthew Neff. Following the fall, Johnson lost in the quarterfinals to number one seed Vinny Pisani of York College. Pisani is also ranked eighth in country at 149-pounds.
With the loss, Johnson fell into the consolation bracket to square off with Tyler Johnston of Mount Union who handed Andrew his only OAC dual match loss. The Purple Raider got the better of Johnson once again, this time in an 8-5 decision.
Wharton entered the day as the number one seed at 165-pounds. He collected a 7-5 decision in the first round but was upset by eight seed Sam Guidi of Wanyesburg College.
"Justin's preformance was greatly affected by his knee getting blown out at practice on Monday," said Shuck.
In the consolation round, Wharton immediately saw his demise with a 4-0 loss to Sean Sercu of RIT.
"Andrew and Justin are great young men who have bled and sweat for this program for four long years. Seeing them go is emotional considering the circumstances, but having seen them develop and grow as student-athletes, I know they are prepared for whatever life gives them," Shuck stated.
Junior 174-pounder Jeremy Stepp (Cincinnati/Princeton) placed sixth for the Berg at the Mideast Regional. Stepp entered as the sixth seed and picked a first round pin in a time of 3:39.
With a loss in the second round, Stepp fell to the consolation bracket where he collected two more victories before losing for a second time, 6-5, to Anthony Bonaventura of Waynesburg.
Stepp faced Jonathan Secor of Lycoming College in the fifth place match, losing, 3-2.
Freshman 133-pounder Colin McDermitt (Lima/Lima Shawnee) finished a match away from placing in Ada. Colin entered as the seven seed and lost in the first round. McDermitt managed to wrestle his way to the consolation quarterfinals before falling out of the tournament, beating the number one seed, Alex Crown of Waynesburg in the process.
Freshman Aaron Banko (Garfield Heights) and junior Chris Osborne (McComb) bowed out of the Mideast Regional early, exiting in the second and third round of the consolation bracket.
For Schneider, Dowdley and Lovins, their season will continue in two weeks when they travel to Iowa. Competition from inside the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids, Iowa is set to begin on Friday, March 15. Competition will conclude on Saturday, March 16.
The rest of the Heidelberg University wrestling team will move into the offseason and train for the 2013-2014 season in hopes of defending the Ohio Athletic Conference regular season title.