Field Set for 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championship, Four Mids On Tap To Compete
March 7, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Navy's Bobby Barnhisel (River Forest, Ill.) and Luke Rebertus (Gloucester, Va.) were among the 43 wrestlers who on Wednesday received at-large selections to compete in the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championship slated for March 15-17 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. Barnhisel and Rebertus will join Navy teammates Aaron Kalil (Salem, N.H.), a three-time NCAA qualifier, and Oscar Huntley (Stafford, Va.), who received automatic berths into the tournament by way of their placement at the EIWA Championship this past weekend, in their quest to win a national championship.
The fifth seed at 157 pounds in the EIWA Championship, Barnhisel surprisingly bowed out of the tournament following just three matches, including a 9-7 consolation loss to Brian Tanen of Lehigh, who also received an at-large bid. it's likely that Barnhisel won over the committee with his final rankings in the RPI and Coaches rankings, No. 25 and 28, respectively. While he posted a 17-10 record over the course of the season, Barnhisel put together a strong case for himself with wins over nationally-ranked foes Matt Lester of Oklahoma (8-6) and Corey Mock of North Carolina (6:15, fall). Barnhisel enters the tournament unseeded and will battle eighth-seeded Frank Hickman of Bloomsburg, who turned in a 29-5 record this winter.
Rebertus makes his third trip to the NCAA Championship, but like Barnhisel, he had to wait on pins and needles to hear his fate on Wednesday. Rebertus was the third seed at 184 pounds in last weekend's EIWA Championship, but after a tough 2-1 loss to second-ranked Robert Hamlin of Lehigh in the semifinals, he was tripped up by unseeded Erich Smith of Penn in the consolation semifinals, taking him out of contention for an automatic bid. Rebertus, however, did rebound by scoring a 3-2 victory over Harvard's Cameron Croy to take fifth.
Thought to be a sure-pick for an at-large bid, Rebertus was among the top 15 wrestlers throughout the season and finished the year ranked 14th by Intermat. He held a No. 9 RPI ranking going into the conference championship and was 13th according the Coaches Rankings. He posted a 29-11 record on the year which also featured his 100th-collegiate victory.
One of two three-time NCAA qualifiers on the team, Rebertus is a veteran in this tournament. Although he has put together a 4-4 mark all-time, All-America status has eluded him, as he has earned one last chance to stand atop the podium. He has faced 13 of the 33 wrestlers on the bracket this season and owned a 9-9 record against them. He will face unseeded Tony Dallago of Illinois in the opening round and should he get past Dallago, he would like have another shot at Hamlin. Hamlin has defeated Rebertus twice this season, 6-2 and 2-1, and boasts a 29-1 record in 2011-12.
Kalil, the Mids' team captain, is making his third-consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship where he will meet unseeded Nathan Pennesi of West Virginia. Kalil has amassed a 31-9 record at 133 pounds, while Pennesi enters the championship with an equally-impressive 29-8 mark. He enters the tournament having wrestled nine of the participants in this year's championship and owns a 6-6 record, including wins over Nebraska's Ridge Kiley (5-4), Army's Jordan Thome and Harvard's Steven Keith, who is seeded 11th.
Kalil not only is looking for his first win at the NCAA Championship, but he is hopeful to capture his 100th-collegiate victory. He has put together a 99-50 record over his four seasons.
Making his debut at the NCAA Championship will be Huntley, a 174-pound junior who overcame injury during the second half of the season to place second at the EIWA Championship. After winning back-to-back matches by way of sudden victory, he dropped the championship bout by a point to Brown's Dave Foxen, earning an automatic berth.
Huntley owns a 21-10 record this season, including a 5-4 mark against this year's tournament field. He scored a 3-2 win over Michigan State's Curran Jacobs in the season-opening Eastern Michigan Open and upset 16th-ranked Greg Zannetti in the semifinals of the EIWA Championship last weekend.
Huntley's first-round matchup will be against Oklahoma's Kyle Detmer, who stands 10-9 this season. Ironically, neither Huntley nor Detmer wrestled in the Navy-Oklahoma dual match in Annapolis in early January.
Last year, the Midshipmen tied for 37th out of 73 teams with four wrestlers competing at the national championship.
Navy's 2012 NCAA Championship Qualifiers Wt. Wrestler First-Round Opponent 133 Aaron Kalil (31-9) Nathan Pennesi, Wester Virginia (29-8) 157 Bobby Barnhisel (17-10) (8) Frank Hickman, Bloomsburg (29-5) 174 Oscar Huntley (21-10) Kyle Detmer, Oklahoma (10-9) 184 Luke Rebertus (29-11) Tony Dallago, Illinois (22-11)