Miller Crowned EIWA Heavyweight Champion, Mids Place Second
March 9, 2013
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Led by nine placewinners including 2013 EIWA heavyweight champion Dan Miller (Sr./Berlin, Md.), the Navy wrestling team finished second at the 109th EIWA Championship held Friday and Saturday at The RAC in Piscataway, N.J. With six of Navy’s 10 wrestlers garnering top-five finishes, all six have earned automatic berths to the 2013 NCAA Championship slated for March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Cornell and Lehigh both took three individual crowns, while Columbia, Franklin & Marshall, Navy and Penn accounted for the remaining four titles. Cornell amassed 142.0 points to win its seventh consecutive team title, while the Midshipmen placed second with 117.5 pounds. Penn fell in at third with 110.5 points, followed by Lehigh in fourth with 101.5 points and Rutgers in fifth with 91.0 points. The remaining field placement was as follows: Army (81.0), Harvard (78.5), Columbia (75.0), American 57.0), Bucknell (47.0), Brown (38.0), Princeton (24.5), Franklin & Marshall (21.5) and Sacred Heart (0.0).
“I thought our guys really competed hard and this was a great team effort,” said 13th-year Navy head coach Bruce Burnett, who was named the 2013 EIWA Coach of the Year. “I’m really proud of the effort of each of the guys and where we finished as a team. Our season is not over yet, however. We have two weeks to prepare for the NCAA Championship and I look for our qualifiers to compete at the same level they did here this weekend.”
Navy entered the final day of competition with three wrestlers in the finals and five vying for automatic bids into the national tournament. Miller, the fourth seed, punched his way into the heavyweight finals after upsetting the No. 1 seed Billy Smith of Rutgers on Friday evening in the semis. Miller met second-seeded Blake Herrin of American in the championship on Saturday afternoon looking to avenge a regular-season loss in Annapolis. The two were scoreless after the first period, but Herrin was able to score the first point with an escape to open the second period. Miller went on to tie the match with an escape in the third and with 25 seconds remaining had Herrin balancing on one leg, but was unable to complete the sweep and the match went into sudden victory. Miller again got a shot in on Herrin, but the Scarlet Knight was able to use his arm strength to fend off Miller sending the match into a tie breaker.
Herrin chose the down position in the first 30-second period where Miller was able to ride him out. In a surprising move, Herrin chose to automatically allow Miller up giving him what would be the go-ahead points as Herrin was unable to score a takedown in the final 30 seconds of the bout, giving Miller the 2-1 (TB) victory. Miller is Navy’s first EIWA individual champion since 2009 when both Joe Baker (133) and Bryce Saddoris (149) took home titles. Meanwhile Miller is Navy’s first heavyweight to win a title since Ed Prendergast won back-to-back crowns in 2007 and ‘08.
The victory also sealed second place for the Midshipmen, who bested third-place Penn by seven points. It was Navy’s highest finish since 2007 when Matt Stolpinski (174) and Ed Prendergast (HWT) won title to lead the Mids to a second-place finish.
Navy freshman Mathew Miller (Edgewood, Md.) and senior Mason Bailey (Fairmont, W.Va.) were finalists in their respective weight classes, however, both fell short in their quest for individual crowns. Second-seeded Miller was hoping for the same sweet revenge that teammate Dan Miller experienced in his finals match. The younger Miller faced No. 1 seed Nathaniel Brown who defeated him in Annapolis in January on a controversial call. Miller would again taste defeat on yet another puzzling call in Saturday’s 174-pound finals. With his back against the wall, Miller scored a reversal with 18 seconds remaining his match to take a 2-1 advantage. The official was counting for back points and appeared to have given the count for a two-point nearfall however he inexplicably did not award Miller any back points. Brown was then awarded an escape as time expired to tie the match at 2-2, but claimed the title with 1:12 riding time for a 3-2 decision.
“I’m disappointed for Mat,” said Burnett. “He made a heck of a case to win that match and did what he needed to do. I’m just not sure why he did not get the points.”
Bailey, meanwhile, was stopped short of the EIWA title at 184 pounds by defending National Champion Steve Bosak of Cornell. Bosak took a 2-1 lead in the first and rode out Bailey in the second. He tacked on a reversal, was awarded a point for locked hands and picked up an escape in the third period to hand Bailey a 7-1 loss with riding time. Bosak, the second seed, outscored his opponents 21-1 in the tournament.
Junior 149-pound Raymond Borja (Virginia Beach, Va.) and senior 157-pound Bobby Barnhisel (River Forest, Ill.) captured third-place finishes in their respective weight classes. Borja, who entered the weekend as the seventh seed, opened the day with a 5-3 sudden victory over American’s Kevin Tao, clinching one of Navy’s six automatic berths. Tao dealt Borja a 7-4 loss during the regular season, but Borja came out on top to earn his way into the third-place match. Borja was awarded third place after fourth-seeded Chris Villalonga dropped out of the match due to injury.
While Barnhisel’s hopes of winning an EIWA title were erased on Friday evening, he regrouped and came back to pick up a pair of solid wins on Saturday. He pinned Rutgers’ Scott Winston in 5:36 in his first match of the day before shutting out Columbia’s Jake O’Hara, 4-0, in the third-place match. The win over Winston assured Barnhisel of a spot at the NCAA Championship, his second straight appearance.
Sophomore Peyton Walsh (Glen Allen, Va.) was the fifth seed in the tournament and finished in fourth place at 165 pounds. Walsh had a tough first match on Saturday, but made it look easy as he pinned the No. 2 seed Corey Lear of Bucknell in 4:28. The win punched his ticket into the NCAA Championship in two weeks. Walsh, however, did not have enough to get past rival Paul Hancock of Army in the third-place bout as Hancock avenged an earlier loss to Walsh in the tournament with a 6-1 victory.
Senior team captain Oscar Huntley (Stafford, Va.) had high hopes for a return trip to the NCAA Championship, but those dreams were dashed after he suffered a torn biceps and pec muscle on Friday evening forcing him to medically forfeit both of his matches on Saturday. He officially placed sixth in the tournament at 197 pounds.
Junior 141-pound Joe Locksmith (Kissimmee, Fla.) had the opportunity to earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Championship, but fell short in his seventh-place match against Army’s Connor Hanafee. It was Locksmith’s third one-point loss of the tournament, as the sixth-seeded Hanafee beat eighth-seeded Locksmith, 3-2.
Navy’s final placewinner was at 125 pounds where sophomore Patrick Prada (Laurel, Md.) posted a 4-2 win over Columbia’s Penn Gottfried to take eighth place.
The last time Navy had nine placewinners at the EIWA Championship was in 2011.
After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on Wednesday. The at-large selections will be made based on the following criteria: head-to-head competition; qualifying event placement; quality wins; results against common opponents; winning percentage; RPI; coaches ranking and the number of matches contested at that weight class.
### Go Navy ###