Miller Crowned Champion, Mids Place Sixth At EIWA Championship
March 9, 2014
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Anchored by 2014 EIWA 174-pound Champion Mathew Miller (Edgewood, Md.), the Navy wrestling team finished sixth at the 110th EIWA Championship held Saturday and Sunday at The Palestra in Philadelphia. By way of their EIWA Championship finish, Miller, along with junior 197-pound Paul Rands (Cary, Ill.), have earned automatic bids to the 2014 NCAA Championship slated for March 20-22 in Oklahoma City.
“I am so happy and proud of Mat and Paul,” said Navy interim head coach Brian Antonelli. “They both wrestled one heck of a tournament. Mat beat some really tough guys and made it look easy and Paul battled all the way back after losing his first match. Really excited they will be getting a chance to get on that podium at nationals in a few weeks and we are hoping to get a couple of wild cards this week, as well.”
Cornell, who claimed its eighth consecutive team title, led the way with four individual champions (125, 149, 184, 197), while Lehigh (133), Harvard (141), Boston U. (157), Hofstra (165), Navy (174) and Bucknell (285) accounted for the remaining six titles. Cornell paced the field with 165.5 points, while Lehigh followed in second with 101 points. Rutgers fell in at third with 91 points, followed by Hofstra in fourth with 81 points and Columbia in fifth with 69 points. The Mids finished 4.5 points behind Columbia in sixth with 64.5 points, followed by American (59.5), Binghamton (59.5), Harvard (55.5), Penn (53), Boston U. (52.5), Princeton (50.5), Drexel (47.5), Army (46), Bucknell (42.5), Brown (23), Franklin & Marshall (20) and Sacred Heart (0).
Navy entered the final day of competition with four wrestlers vying for automatic berths into the national tournament. Miller, the third seed, punched his way into the 174-pound finals after pinning (3:12) the No. 2 seed Shane Hughes of Columbia on Saturday morning in the semis. Miller met eighth-seeded Bradley Wukie of Penn in the finals whom he pinned in 2:46 to win his first EIWA individual title and the program’s 102nd individual crown winner since the conference’s inception in 1941. He is Navy’s first title winner at 174 pounds since Matt Stolpinski took titles in 2007 and ‘08.
After three years (2010-12) without an EIWA individual champion, Navy has now crowned a title winner in each of the last two years (2013, HWT Dan Miller). Mathew Miller, meanwhile, is Navy’s first individual champion under interim head coach Brian Antonelli.
Miller was the 2014 recipient of the Sheridan Award which is given in honor of the former Lehigh coach to the wrestler who scores the most falls in the least amount of time. Miller pinned three of his four opponents in 10:14.
Meanwhile, wrestling in the consolation side of the bracket, Rands finished in fourth place at 197 pounds to earn his first trip to the NCAA Championship. Seventh-seeded Rands, who opened the the tournament with a first-round loss, fought his way back through the bracket, needing to finish among the top five to earn an automatic bid to the nationals. His pin (4:58) against fourth-seede James Fox of Harvard on Saturday evening set up a semifinals match against top-seeded Brandon Palik of Drexel, who was upset by Army’s Bryce Barnes (8-6) in the quarterfinals.
Rands topped Palik 3-1 and advanced to the consolation semifinals where he dealt Princeton’s Abram Ayala a 9-4 loss. Ironically, Ayala handed Rands his first loss of the season, defeating him 11-8 at the Navy Classic in November. Rands, however, would fall short of third as third-seeded and nationally-ranked Dan Mitchell scored a 15-1 majord decision over the junior.
Taking sixth at 149 pounds in what was his final bout of his career was senior Alex Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.). Johnson entered the tournament seeded seventh and needed to win his first two matches on Sunday to earn an automatic bid to NCAA Championship. The senior won his first match on Sunday morning via a 4-2 decision over Bucknell’s Victor Lopez, the sixth seed. However, he was unable to carry that momentum into his consolation semis match against the No. 5 seed Ken Theobold of Rutgers, who dealt him a 9-1 major decision loss. Johnson closed out his career in sixth after dropping a 10-5 decision to fourth-seeded Richard Krop of Princeton.
Third-seeded 133-pound Colton Rasche (Plano, Ill.) will be anxiously awaiting the announcement of the 40 at-large qualifiers on Wednesday, after falling short of an automatic bid on Sunday. Rasche dropped his first match of the day to Columbia’s Angelo Amenta (6-0), eliminating him from the posibility of earning an automatic bid the NCAA Championship. Rasche battled American’s Esteban Gomez-Rivera for seventh place and looked to have the match in hand when Gomez-Rivera scored a last second takedown and claimed the victory, 4-3.
In addition to Rasche, Navy junior 165-pound Peyton Walsh (Glen Allen, Va.) is also hoping for a wild card. The 2013 NCAA qualifier made an appearance on the mat on Saturday, but an injury kept him from moving on in the competition. Walsh, who was one of three starters Navy was without at the EIWA Championship, came into the weekend ranked 17th in both the RPI and Coaches Ranking Panel. Rasche stands 20th in the RPI and 23rd in the Coaches Ranking Panel.
### Go Navy ###