Prendergast, Stolpinski Conclude Wrestling Careers with Win
March 22, 2008
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Navy's three All-Americans concluded the 2008 season on Saturday at the 78th NCAA Wrestling Championship held at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo., including seniors Ed Prendergast (St. Louis, Mo.) and Matt Stolpinski (Westfield, Mass.) who each capped off their careers by winning their final match.
"After all of the adversity we seemed to deal with over the course of the season, I couldn't be happier with how we ended the year," said eighth-year Navy head coach Bruce Burnett. "It was a tournament filled with highs and lows, but to have three guys become All-Americans is so gratifying. It's a terrific way to end the year, but also a great way to get ready for next year with all the talent we have in our wrestling room.
"If not the support of the alumni and the administration at the Academy that gives us the opportunity to prepare and bring in some fantastic young men, we wouldn't be able to be here today and represent such a great institution. The way all five of our wrestlers competed and represented the Naval Academy was exceptional. I think we've gained a great deal of respect and generated a number of fans who supported us throughout the tournament even if they didn't have a wrestler in the match. It really gives our program a boost."
Prendergast opened the day by facing Iowa's Matt Fields, the fourth seed who was dropped to the consolation bracket after dropping a decision to fifth-seeded Jared Rosholt of Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals. Navy took the early lead by scoring a takedown early in the first period. Fields trimmed Prendergast's lead to one by the end of the period. Prendergast pushed his lead back to two by opening the second period with an escape. Though Fields once again narrowed the lead to one with an escape to begin the final period, he would get no closer as Prendergast earned the 3-2 decision and advanced to the third-place match.
For the second consecutive season, Prendergast was matched up against Jared Rosholt in the NCAA Tournament. A year ago, the two met in the four round of the wrestlebacks, a day after Prendergast suffered what turned out to be a ligament tear in his knee. Despite the injury, Prendergast pinned Rosholt, ending the Oklahoma State standout's season. This year, the two were battling for third place. Prendergast jumped out to a 2-0 lead and later a 3-0 advantage through two periods. Rosholt finally got on the board by opening the final stanza with an escape, but it was too little, too late as Prendergast ended his collegiate career with a pair of wins Saturday in front of his hometown friends and family.
With his third-place finish, Prendergast is Navy's highest finisher in the national tournament since Scott Schleicher placed second in 1990. Prendergast, who is a first-time All-American, finished his career with a 39-5 record in 2008 and a four-year mark of 106-29. It's the fifth-most wins in a single season by a Navy wrestler, while the 106 wins are the ninth most in program history.
"Ed really competed well all week," said Burnett. "He came into the tournament seeded third and finished third which is no easy feat at the NCAA Championship. I'm excited that he was not only able to finish off his career in this fashion, but to do it in his hometown is pretty special."
Seeded seventh, Stolpinski faced sixth-seeded Alton Lucas of Hofstra in the seventh-place match. The two met earlier in the year with Lucas handing Stolpinski one of his eight losses this season, by claiming a 7-4 decision at the Southern Scuffle. In Saturday's match, the two opened up with a scoreless first period. Stolpinski scored the first point with his escape to start the second stanza. Lucas dropped Stolpinski with a nice single-leg takedown to take a 2-1 advantage, however, Stolpinski countered with a reversal (3-2) which led directly to a win by fall for Stolpinski at 4:07.
Stolpinski, who placed fourth at last year's NCAA wrestling tournament, is only the 14th wrestler in school history be named an All-American multiple times and the first since Mark Conley in 2001 and '02. He joins an elite list that includes two-time National Champion Peter Blair (1954, 1955) and Olympian Lloyd Keaser (1971, 1972). Stolpinski finished the 2008 campaign with a 42-8 record, turning in the fourth most wins in school history. He is the first wrestler in the program's history to reach 40-plus wins twice and one of only three wrestlers to reach 40 wins in school history. Posting a 4-2 record in the championship, Stolpinski finishes his career with a 141-43 record, smashing the previous record for career wins set by Greg Gingeleskie who amassed 127 from 1996-99. Additionally, Stolpinski owns four of the top five single-season wins totals at 174 pounds with 44 (06-07), 42 (07-08), 30 (05-06) and 25 (04-05).
"I'm so proud of the way Matt came back and wrestled hard today," added Baker. "He gave us a bonus point win and that speaks volumes about our team captain. To finish his career with a pin at the national tournament is fantastic and to be a two-time All-American is an impressive achievement."
Three-time NCAA qualifier Joe Baker came up just short in his effort to finish the season with a win, dropping a 7-6 decision to fifth-seeded Nick Fanthorpe of Iowa State. In a match riddled with blood and bandages, the two put everything they had on the line in what would be the final match of the 2008 campaign for both wrestlers. Baker put forth a valiant effort, as he overcame a three-point deficit after the second period to knot the match up midway through the final stanza. Fanthorpe, however, picked up the win, as we was able to wriggle free of Baker for the escape and the win.
"Joe really had a tough battle with the Iowa State kid today," said Burnett. "It was a hard fought match that left both wrestlers bloodied. I know he was disappointed to lose, but he really competed well and I am happy he was able to get on that podium. I've known the talent has been there all along, it was just a matter of putting everything together and peaking at the right time."
Like Prendergast, Baker is a first-time All-American, finishing eighth in the tournament. Baker finished the season with a 28-13 record and will enter his senior campaign a year from now having the opportunity to become a two-time All-American.
It's just the fourth time (1942, 1947, 1967) in program history and first since 1967 that three wrestlers have garnered All-America recognition in the same season. Gary Burger (123), John Kent (160) and Pete Vanderlofske (145) stood atop the podium in 1967 as the last Navy trio to gain All-America kudos.
"I need to acknowledge the job that my two assistants, Brian Antonelli and Scott Owen, have done in preparing our wrestlers. They have been phenomenal and they deserve a lot of the credit. Additionally, our athletic trainer Jim Berry has done a great job in keeping our wrestlers healthy. It's a full-time job and I can't thank him enough."
Team standings were unavailable heading into the Saturday's title bouts, however, Navy opened the day in 20th with 24 points. No doubt Prendergast's two wins and Stolpinski's pin will help the Mids' effort in moving up in the standings. Northern Iowa owned just a two-point lead over Navy in 19th and had just one remaining competitor, while Stanford had two wrestlers in action with a four-point lead over the Midshipmen. Navy finished last year's tournament in 18th place, its best finish since turning in a 13th-place showing in 1990.
NAVY WRESTLERS AT THE 78th NCAA WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIP
133 - #11 Joe Baker dec Kyle Hutter (Old Dominion), 12-5
149 - #6 Bubba Jenkins (Penn State) major dec Bryce Saddoris, 5-15
157 - #1 Gregor Gillespie (Edinboro) tech fall Spencer Manley, 0-16
174 - #7 Matt Stolpinski dec Tyler French (Air Force), 8-1
HWT - #3 Ed Prendergast WBF Jon May (Nebraska), 5:22
133 - #11 Joe Baker dec #6 Lou Ruggirello (Hofstra), 3-1
174 - #7 Matt Stolpinski dec #10 Mike Letts (Maryland), 5-4 TB
HWT - #3 Ed Prendergast dec Dustin Rogers (West Virginia), 5-1 TB
149 - Trevor Chinn (Lehigh) dec Bryce Saddoris, 1-6
133 - #3 Coleman Scott (Oklahoma State) dec #11 Joe Baker, 4-9
174 - #4 Steve Luke (Michigan) dec #7 Matt Stolpinski, 2-6
HWT - #3 Ed Prendergast dec #7 Kyle Massey (Wisconsin), 9-3
HWT - #2 JD Bergman (Ohio State) dec #3 Ed Prendergast, 4-5
Consolation 3rd Round Matches
157 - Newly McSpadden (Oklahoma State) dec Spencer Manley, 0-4
Consolation 7th Round Matches
HWT - #3 Ed Prendergast dec #4 Matt Fields (Iowa), 3-2
HWT - #3 Ed Prendergast dec #5 Jared Rosholt (Oklahoma State), 3-1