Navy Trio Places Among Top Four at Michigan State Open
Nov. 9, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Junior Colton Rasche's (Plano, Ill.) second-place finish at 133 pounds was among the top highlights for the Navy wrestling team who opened the 2013-14 season on Saturday at the the Michigan State Open in East Lansing, Mich. Rasche was among five Navy wrestlers to finish among the top eight, as the Mids sent 15 wrestlers to the open-format tournament held at Jenison Field House.
"Overall it was a positive way for the team to start the season," said interim head coach Brian Antonelli, who is in his eighth season on the coaching staff. "We were competitive and I thought we wrestled with a lot of fight against a really challenging field. Our last round was not as good as it could have been, but it was a solid start. I think we have a good foundation in place and now we can go back to the wrestling room and focus in on some of our weaknesses."
Rasche opened the tournament by dominating Lindenwood-Belleville's Jesse Martinelli, 10-1, and followed up with a 6-2 victory over Robbie Bidlingmaier of Olivet. Rasche came up with a big victory over Vincent Pizzuto in the quarterfinals. Just a year ago Pizzuto man-handled Rasche, 9-1, at the season-opening Eastern Michigan Open. On Saturday eveing, Rasche turned the tables and scored a 4-2 win to advance to the semifinals where Central Michigan's Joe Roth would default with an injury. Rasche fought top-seeded and seventh-ranked A.J. Schopp of Edinboro for the better part of the match before succumbing via fall at 4:26 to finish as the runner-up.
"I was really pleased with Colton," said Antonelli. "A year ago Colton lost his match to Pizzuto and this year, while it was a close match, he wrestled tough from start to finish and was able to come up with a big win. It was great to see him get the season started off on a positive note."
Returning NCAA qualifier Peyton Walsh (Glen Allen, Va.) took fourth place at 165 pounds. Walsh, a junior, shut out Anthony Burge of Notre Dame (Ohio), 9-0, to open the competition before scoring a 6-2 victory over Ohio State's Joseph Grandominico. Like Rasche, Walsh was able to avenge a loss he suffered a year ago at the Navy Classic, defeating Ohio's Harrison Hightower, 4-0 to advance to the semifinals. Walsh's quest for a finals appearance, however, was squelched by 18th-ranked Ryan LeBlanc of Indiana who dealt him a 5-2 loss. The two are now strangers, as LeBlanc defeated Walsh at the NCAA Championship a year ago. Walsh dropped his third-place bought to Columbia's Josh Houldsworth, the top-ranked wrestler in the EIWA, 6-2.
Also earning a fourth-place finish was 11th-ranked sophomore Mathew Miller (Edgewood, Md.), who won his first two matches of the day at 174 pounds. Miller cruised to an 18-5 major decision over David Irish of California Baptist before pinning Michigan's Collin Zeerip at 2:52. He earned a trip to the semifinals following his 7-3 victory over Purdue's Patrick Kissel. Taylor Massa, who was wrestling unattached from Michigan, sent Miller to the consolation bracket after beating him, 10-5. Despite a hard-fought match, Miller was unable to wrap up third place and stumbled against Central Michigan's Mike Ottinger, 5-4.
Senior 174-pound Johnny Watson (Lexington, N.C.) and sophomore 184-pound William Miller (Chinook, Mont.) qualified for the seventh/eighth-place bout, however those matches were not wrestled at any of the weight classes. Both wrestlers turned in 3-2 records.
"Johnny is one of those wrestlers we have been waiting for to step up and today he really did," added Antonelli. "He still has some work to do when he's on the bottom position, but I thought he wrestled well.
"Willie Miller is a tough wrestler. We always know what we are going to get. Unfortunately he didn't get the result he wanted going up against the top-seeded wrestler (Kenny Courts, Ohio State, lost, 15-8) right out of the ates, but he really wrestled him tough. He didn't give the match away."
The Mids will be back in action next Sunday with split squads at the Roadrunner Open in Fresno, Calif. and the East Stroudsburg Open in Pennsylvania.
### Go Navy ###