Road to Hershey is sweet for the Warhawks

March 4, 2015 By Chris Clapper

For the third consecutive year, the UW-Whitewater Warhawks won the regional tournament, edging out runner-up Wabash College and rival UW-La Crosse.

The ’Hawks will send seven individual wrestlers to the NCAA National Tournament in two weeks in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The seven wrestlers that qualified ties the ’Hawks with Luther College for third most in the country only behind Augsburg, who qualified all 10 of their wrestlers, and Concordia- Moorehead and Wartburg each of whom qualified nine.

The ’Hawks finished with two champions, senior 133-pounder Trevor Pruett and junior 141-pounder Matt Adcock. A national runner-up a year ago, Adcock said he is used to the big stage but as a first time national qualifier this is uncharted territory for Pruett. He began the day with two straight major decisions against Zac Case of Alma and Martino Balsiger of UW-La Crosse before winning a close 4-3 overtime decision against Brandon Preston of Trine to capture his first regional title.

“This should be a huge confidence booster for him and let him know that not only is he right there with the best guys in the country, but that he can beat them as well,” head coach Ned Shuck said.

Other national qualifiers for the ’Hawks were senior Anthony Edgren, juniors Tom Gerszewski and Shane Siefert and sophomore Jordan Newmann, all who took second. Senior Elroy Perkin qualified for the tournament by taking third after losing a close quarterfinal match against Nathan Segal of North Central (7-6) and winning the next three straight matches to punch his ticket to the national tournament for the second year in a row. In his final match of the day, Perkin defeated No. 6 ranked Kasey Einerson of UW-La Crosse 5-2 for his third victory over the wrestler this season.

“This really showed his determination, his commitment and his total focus,” Shuck said. “He would not be denied.”

Other wrestlers for the ’Hawks were freshman Conner Price and senior Ryan Aprahamian both taking fifth, and for the second consecutive year, sophomore 125-pounder Zac Denny missed qualifying by one spot, finishing fourth.

“Zac is one of our tougher guys,” Adcock said. “We had very high hopes and expectations for him this year but he wrestled tough and he’s still young so I have all the confidence in the world in him.”

With the regional tournament over, the ’Hawks will turn its attention to the national tournament in two weeks where it will compete not only as individuals but try and accumulate points for the team as well. Wartburg College has won the last four years in a row and six of the last seven years overall and are currently ranked as the No. 1 team in the country.

If the ’Hawks, currently ranked as the No. 2 team in the country, were able to pull the upset and win the national championship this year, they will be the first champions other than Wartburg College or Augsburg College in the last 20 years.

“Last year taking second place was bitter sweet,” Adcock said. “We know it was the best finish in school history but it hurt and now we want to go back and win it all.”

Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. on March 13 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

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