The Road to the 82nd NCAA Wrestling Championship
Senior Aaron Kalil is in search of his first win at the NCAA Championship.
March 14, 2012
Four members of the Navy wrestling team will begin their quest for a national title on Thursday morning when they make the journey to St. Louis, Mo. for the 82nd NCAA Wrestling Championship held at the Scottrade Center. Session 1 of the tournament is set to begin at 11:00 am (central) / 12:00 pm (eastern).
Representing Navy are three-time NCAA qualifiers Aaron Kalil (Salem, N.H.) at 133 pounds and Luke Rebertus (Gloucester, Va.) at 184 pounds. Meanwhile, making their NCAA Championship debut are juniors Bobby Barnhisel (River Forest, Ill.) at 157 pounds and Oscar Huntley at 174 pounds.
Two of Navy's four NCAA qualifiers earned automatic berths via their placement at the EIWA Championship held at Jadwin Gym in Princeton, N.J., on March 3-4. Kalil and Huntley were the runners-up at their respective weight classes, while both Rebertus and Barnhisel were awarded at-large berths the following Wednesday.
Navy has placed among the top 25 in three of the last five championships, including back-to-back 18th-place finishes in 2007 and `08 which is its best placement since 1990 when Navy finished 13th.
The program's best finish in NCAA Tournament action was a fourth-place finish in 1954.
Navy has won three national titles, by two men - Pete Blair won the 191-pound title in 1954 and `55, while Dan Muthler earned the crown in 1973 at 142 pounds.
At least one Navy wrestler has participated in the NCAA Championship in each of the last 16 years, including all 12 under head coach Bruce Burnett.
This is Navy's 64th NCAA Tournament appearance ... in addition to winning three individual titles, 61 All-America citations have been awarded to Navy wrestlers over the years, including 10 by six different wrestlers under Bruce Burnett's direction ... among those All-Americans, Mark Conley, Matt Stolpinski, Joe Baker and Bryce Saddoris garnered honors multiple times during Burnett's tenure.
While Kalil and Rebertus are making their third trip to the NCAA Championship, neither has garnered All-America recognition. In fact, Kalil is looking for his first win.
133 -- Aaron Kalil, Sr. (31-9, 10-2 dual)
Unseeded, Kalil will face West Virginia's Nathan Pennesi in his opening-round bout. A redshirt sophomore, Pennesi has produced a 29-8 record ... he actually began the season at 133 pounds, but bumped down to 133 pounds midway through the year ... he owned a 19-4 mark at 141 pounds and was 10-4 at 133.
Making his third-straight NCAA Championship appearance ... dropped back-to-back decisions to Wyoming's Michael Martinez and Minnesota's Zachary Sanders in 2010 and also fell short in his bouts against #7 Ryan Mango of Stanford (13-7) and #10 Alan Waters of Missouri (5-4).
Holds a 6-6 record against the field, including a 5-4 mark in his half of the bracket.
Owns an 0-4 career record at the NCAA Championship.
Placed second at the EIWA Championship to earn and automatic bid to participate in the NCAA Championship ... in 2010 he received an at-large berth.
His 31 wins this season are the most wins at that weight class in program history ... the record was previously held by Sam Gray, who won 29 matches in 2004-05 ... this is the first season Kalil has eclipsed the 30-win milestone, coming up one short a year ago at 29-11 ... he is the lone Navy wrestler to win 30 matches this season, although teammate Luke Rebertus heads into the NCAA Championship with a 29-11 record.
He stands 11th on Navy's all-time wins list with a 99-50 record ... he is one win shy of becoming only the 11th wrestler in school history to win 100-career matches ... classmate Luke Rebertus reached the 100-win milestone at the EIWA Championship two weeks ago ... should Kalil win his 100th, it would mark just the second time in school history that two wrestlers out of the same class have reached 100 wins.
157 -- Bobby Barnhisel, Jr. (17-10, 7-4 dual)
Making his NCAA Championship debut, Barnhisel earned a wild card after scoring high on both the NCAA's final RPI report, as well as the coaches' panel rankings.
Seeded fifth at the EIWA Championship, Barnhisel made a surprisingly early exit, dropping his quarterfinals and consolation matches.
Turned in impressive wins over the course of the season, including wins over nationally-ranked Matt Lester of Oklahoma and Corey Mock of North Carolina ... also earned wins over NCAA qualifiers Josh Kreimier of Air Force annd Lehigh's Brian Tanen (regular season).
Heads into the tournament with a three-year mark of 35-19.
Slated to meet eighth-seeded Frank Hickman of Bloomsburg in the opening round, who owns a 29-5 record and put together a 16-match winning streak over the course of the season ... Hickman is a two-time NCAA qualifier.
174 -- Oscar Huntley, Jr. (21-10, 7-3 dual)
Entering the tournament with a 5-4 record against the NCAA field, Huntley is a first-time NCAA qualifier ... he holds a 4-1 record against wrestlers in his half of the bracket, dropping his lone match to The Citadel's Turtogtokh Livsandorj in sudden victory (3-1) at the All-Academy Championship.
Punched his ticket to the NCAA Championship by way of his second-place finish at the EIWA Championship.
Unseeded, he will battle third-seeded Nick Amuchastegui of Stanford, who finished the regular season undefeated (20-0) and was last year's national runner-up ... Huntley originally drew Oklahoma's Kyle Detmer, but an injury to eighth-seeded Chris Spangler of Iowa State took the Cyclone out of the competition, forcing the NCAA to re-seed and draw for a second time.
Has put together a three-year record of 53-29 ... his plebe year was cut short after suffering a season-ending knee injury just 15 matches into his collegiate career ... came back to post a 22-14 record as a sophomore, wrestling his last eight matches at 197 pounds, two weight classes up from what he had been wrestling.
184 -- Luke Rebertus, Sr. (29-11, 9-3 dual)
Making his third appearance in the NCAA Championship, Rebertus was forced to wait for an at-large bid after placing fifth at the EIWA Championship ... he will battle Illinois' Tony Dallago, who put together a 22-11 record.
Ranked the entire season, Rebertus owns a 9-9 record against the field, including 2-1 and 6-2 losses to second-seeded Robert Hamlin of Lehigh who he would meet in the second round should he defeat Dallago.
Owns a 4-4 career record at the NCAA Championship, posting 2-2 marks in each of his previous two appearances.
Just one win short of reaching 30 wins for the third time in his career ... won 36 matches his rookie campaign, the second most by a freshman in school history, and finished his junior year with a 31-11 mark.
The 29 wins this season are the fifth most in program history at 184 pounds ... the record is 33 set by Antonio Miranda in 2007 ... Rebertus' 31 wins a year ago rank third on the list.
Over the last four seasons he has put together a 102-35 record and stands 10th on the Mids' all-time wins list, trailing ninth place Ed Prendergast by four wins ... Rebertus claimed his 100th-collegiate win two weeks ago at the EIWA Championship, pinning Bucknell's Jamie Westwood in the opening round.
### Go Navy ###