March 7, 2014
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Navy wrestling team begins its pursuit for the program’s first Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) team title since 1990 when it travels to Philadelphia this weekend for the 110th EIWA Championship. In addition to the team title and the 10 EIWA individual crowns, 47 automatic berths to the NCAA Championship (March 20-22 in Oklahoma City, Okla.) are on the line.
Hosted by Penn, the historic Palestra will house the two-day, 18-team tournament which is set to begin on Saturday with preliminaries starting at 10:00 am. The tournament will proceed through the completion of the quarterfinals Saturday evening. Sunday’s two sessions feature the championship semifinals, the consolation semifinals and placement matches beginning at 10:00 am and the championship finals at 4:00 pm. In addition to Navy, those teams competing this weekend include American, Army, Binghamton, Boston U., Brown, Bucknell, Columbia, Cornell, Drexel, Franklin & Marshall, Harvard, Hofstra, Lehigh, Penn, Princeton, Rutgers and Sacred Heart. Binghamton, Boston U., Drexel and Hofstra are all in their inaugural season as a member of the EIWA.
For those fans unable to attend the EIWA Championship, a live video stream of the entire tournament will be available via Flowrestling. Additionally, TrackWrestling.com will provide live stats for the event.
The EIWA was the recipient of 47 automatic bids to the 2014 NCAA Championship when the NCAA announced its qualifier allocations last week. Each qualifying tournament was awarded spots per weight class based on current year data including Div. I winning percentage, RPI and a coaches ranking. Under the current system, put in place four years ago, the number of automatic qualifiers varies in each weight class within the EIWA. Wrestlers who fail to qualify this weekend, however, will be eligible for one of 40 at-large berths which will be announced on Wednesday, March 13. Automatic qualifier allocations for the EIWA are as follows: 6 at 125, 4 at 133, 5 at 141, 4 at 149, 5 at 157, 5 at 165, 3 at 174, 4 at 184, 7 at 197 and 4 at 285.
The Midshipmen, who placed second a year ago, are making their 74th appearance at the EIWA Championship and have won the team title 13 times. Columbia and Penn have appeared in every EIWA Championship, while Army and Navy both joined the conference in 1941. Navy is one of four teams to win the team title at least 10 times with Lehigh winning it the most - 34 times. Navy has placed 413 wrestlers in past EIWA competitions — 101 champions, 86 in second, 84 in third, 58 in fourth, 48 in fifth and 36 in sixth.
The Mids, who have put together a 5-1 dual record, enter this weekend’s EIWA Championship among the leaders in winning percentage. Cornell stands atop the leader board with a 12-1 overall mark and an 8-0 record against EIWA compeition. Princeton has posted an 11-2 record, including a 10-2 mark against EIWA teams.
With a representative at each weight class, five of the 10 wrestlers in Navy’s lineup have had prior EIWA Championship experience with freshman 125-pound Brenden Campbell (New Castle, Ind.), senior 149-pound Alex Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.), senior 157-pound Zach Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.), senior 174-pound James Mannier (Troy, Ohio) and junior 285-pound Colynn Cook (Murrysville, Pa.) making their debut at the conference championship this weekend.
The following is a weight-by-weight breakdown of Navy’s probable EIWA lineup.
125 — Brenden Campbell, Fr. (10-10, 3-3 dual)
Rookie Brenden Campbell will make his EIWA Championship debut this weekend among one of the toughest weight classes in the tournament. However, with six allocated slots for automatic bids, Campbell has a shot to move on to the national tournament. He enters the weekend with a 10-10 and a 3-3 dual mark which has featured wins over Marylan’ds Paul O’Neill (11-6), Boston U.’s Bubba McGinley (F, 1:46) and Army’s Nathan Santhanam (F, 0:47). He owns a 4-3 reocrd against foes from EIWA schools.
133 — Colton Rasche, Jr. (22-9, 4-2 dual) ... 2-1 EIWA Championship record
Last year Rasche made an early exit in the EIWA Championship and was the lone wrestler who did not place. A year wiser and more experienced, Rasche, who is 20th in the RPI and 23rd by the Coaches Ranking Panel (CRP), has enjoyed a successful junior campaign that has him primed to be a contender in this year’s tournament. With a 5-2 record against foes from the EIWA, he grabbed the No. 3 preseed behind top-seeded Mason Beckman of Lehigh and Cornell’s Mark Grey. He lost a 2-0 decision to Grey at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in December and dropped an 8-0 major decision to Beckman in the annual dual in mid-January. Rasche enters the weekend riding a five-match winning streak that featured a title win at the All-Academy Championship and a pair of dual victories against American and Army.
141 — Joe Locksmith, Sr. (15-12, 2-2 dual) ... 2-3 EIWA Championship record
Making his final trip to the EIWA Championship, Locksmith has high hopes of improving upon his eighth-place finish from a year ago. Locksmith has battled injuries this season and missed Navy’s dual victory over Army two weeks ago. He heads into the competition as the eighth seed according to Thursday night’s preseeds and holds a 3-2 record against wrestlers competing this weekend. While he did not pick up a ranking by the CRP, he stands 27th in the RPI.
149 — Alex Johnson, Sr. (11-5, 2-0 dual)
Navy’s Raymond Borja placed third at the EIWA Championship at 149 pounds a year ago, however, a knee injury suffered at the All-Academy Championship has ended the 2013 NCAA qualifier’s career. Replacing Borja in the lineup is senior Alex Johnson who has been a solid backup throughout the season. Johnson placed second in the Navy Classic early in the year, dropping a 3-1 decision to then 18th-ranked Tywan Claxton of Ohio in the championship bout. He most recently has captured dual victories over American and Army. He heads into the weekend unranked, but has earned a No. 7 preseed.
157 — Zach Johnson, Sr. (8-12, 1-3 dual)
Twin Zach Johnson will also make his EIWA debut this weekend, but unlike his brother, he has not been in a competition since late January when he dropped a 6-0 decision to North Carolina’s Jake Crawford. Johnson, however, has placed in two tournaments this season (5th at Roadrunner Open and 6th at Navy Classic) and has shown an aggressive style of wrestling.
165 — Peyton Walsh, Jr. (25-10, 6-0 dual) ... 4-4 EIWA Championship record
Making his third appearance at the EIWA Championship, Walsh heads into the weekend with a 4-4 mark in his previous two appearances including a fourth-place effort a year ago. Ironically, he also brings with him a near exact over and dual mark from 2013 as he was 25-9 and 6-1 last season and is 25-10 and 6-0 this year. Walsh is the only Navy wrestler to win all six of his duals this season and is the only wrestler to place in six of the tournaments in which he competed. He placed second at the All-Academy Championship and Navy Classic, third at the Roadrunner Open, fourth at the Michigan State Open and eighth at the Southern Scuffle and Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Seeded fifth, four of his 10 losses this season have come against foes from the EIWA. Walsh stands 17th in both the RPI and CRP.
174 — Mathew Miller, So. (17-4, 4-1 dual) ... 2-1 EIWA Championship record
Miller, who is 14th in the Coaches Panel Rankings, is looking to capture a championship that eluded him a year ago, as he dropped a heartbreaking 2-3 decision to Lehigh’s Nathaniel Brown in the finals. Ranked the entire season, Miller heads into the tournament as the No. 3 seed behind Lehigh’s Elliot Riddick and Columbia’s Shane Hughes. Miller dropped a tough 2-1 decision to Riddick in a dual match in mid-June. He heads into the weekend having won six in a row, including four by fall.
184 — James Mannier, Sr. (16-13, 2-3 dual)
Mannier is one of four Navy seniors who will be in action this weekend and one of three who will be making their first appearance at the EIWA Championship. Navy’s team captain, Mannier has won three of his last four matches and looking to conclude his career by earning one of the four automatic bids to the NCAA Championship. He has faced five of the wrestlers on tap to wrestle this weekend, winning two of the five bouts.
197 — Paul Rands, Jr. (14-7, 5-1 dual) ... 1-2 EIWA Championship record
After wrestling unattached a year ago, Rands has returned to the mat a new wrestler. After a tough showing at the Southern Scuffle to begin the second half of the season, Rands has since won seven of his last eight, including each of the last seven. He claimed his first All-Academy Championship title behind a 4-1 victory over Army’s Bryce Barnes and dealt Barnes another loss by a 6-1 decision in leading the Mids’ to a 29-6 dual victory over the Black Knights. Rands represented Navy at the EIWA Championship as a sophomore in 2012 where he put together a 1-2 record. Rands is wrestling among one of the toughest weight classes this weekend, but as the seventh seed he is in line to capture one of the seven automatic bids. Rands is ranked 30th in the RPI.
285 — Colynn Cook, Jr. (14-14, 3-3 dual)
Rounding out the lineup for the Mids is junior Colynn Cook, who has the daunting task of following in the footsteps of 2013 Navy graduate Dan Miller who won the EIWA title a year ago. Cook came into the year with a combined 2-10 record, but has been steady throughout the year. Unseeded in the tournament, Cook has faced five wrestlers who are expected to compete this weekend.
### Go Navy ###