This week’s edition might be named the “Best of Whitewater,” but several Warhawk wrestlers proved they are among the best in the country at the NCAA championships this past weekend in Roanoke, Va.
Four of the six Warhawks that traveled earned eighth place finishes or higher to achieve All-American status when the championships concluded.
“We were confident in the abilities and skillset of these athletes and I also am confident in our training regime to get them to be their best when it matters the most,” head coach Matt Zwaschka said.
Junior and No. 2 seed Mike Tortorice fell to No. 1 seed Jay Albis of Johnson & Wales University [R.I.] by pin fall, 6-2, in the 125-pound weight class championship round to finish runner-up. Tortorice compiled a 32-3 record after losing to Albis, who in the process captured his second consecutive national title.
“They had a good plan for Mikey, and Albis is an explosive wrestler so we knew it would be a tough match,” Zwaschka said. “Albis wrestled extremely defensive against us. Down on his hands and knees the whole match to prevent Mikey to get to his number one takedown.”
Tortorice took down No. 3 Victor Gliva from Augsburg University [Minn.] in the semifinals by sudden victory, 5-3. He was the only Warhawk wrestler to reach the finals in any weight class.
Junior Riley Kauzlaric, who entered the finals as the eighth seed at 197 pounds, fought his way to a third place finish after beating top-seeded Etiini Udott from Centenary University [N.J.] by 5-2 decision. Kauzlaric pulled off an upset against Udott in the quarterfinals by 6-2 decision to reach the semifinals.
Kauzlaric fell to Millikin University’s [Ill.] Keajion Jennings by fall in the semifinals before winning his consolation match by fall.
“Very proud of him,” Zwaschka said. “Maybe an underdog in some eyes but we knew what he could do, so did he and we expected a high finish out of him.”
Senior Nicholas Bonomo earned fifth place at 165 pounds after defeating Kyle Hatch of Wabash College [Ind.] by 9-4 decision. The senior lost to Dempsey King from Rochester Institute of Technology [N.Y.] in the semifinals by pin fall 1:45 into the first round. Bonomo lost in the ensuing consolation match Loras College’s [Iowa] Eddie Smith by 6-3 decision to diminish any chances for a third place finish.
In the 184-pound weight class, senior and sixth-seeded Nick Stencel won his first round match before falling to JWU’s Khamri Thomas by 5-3 decision. Stencel proceeded to make his way to a seventh place finish after going 1-1 in his consolation matches. He defeated Josh Edel of Coe College [Iowa] by pin fall 1:55 in during the seventh place match to finish 19-4 on the year.
“They [Bonomo and Stencel] have been outstanding leaders and really brought this team together and to believe in the coaches plan and process,” Zwaschka said. “It was great to see Stencel and Bonomo reach their goals of being All-Americans and winning their last collegiate match.”
Junior and No. 3 seed Hazen Rice and freshman Jarrit Shinhoster did not move on to the semifinals after losing both their consolation matches on the first day March 8.
The No. 14 Warhawks placed seventh as a team at nationals and finish the season with a 7-5 overall record.