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Five Navy Wrestlers Begin Quest For NCAA Titles on Thursday

March 15, 2006

Navy Meet Notes | Host Site | NCAA Wrestling
BRACKETS: 133 | 149 | 174 | 197 | HWT

133 -- Joe Baker (Navy) vs. Gabriel Flores (Illinois)
149 -- John Cox (Navy) vs. Ryan Hurley (Cleveland State)
174 -- Matt Stolpinski (Navy) vs. Aaron Miller (Kent State)
197 -- Chris Pogue (Navy) vs. Joe Fendone (Edinboro)--Pigtail match
HWT -- (6) Tanner Garrett (Navy) vs. Matthew Wright (Illinois)

Navy Begins Quest For NCAA Titles on Thursday...
• Five members of the Navy wrestling team will begin their journeys for an NCAA title on Thursday morning at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. Action is slated to begin at 11:00 a.m. EST, at the 19,599-seat arena. Navy will send a freshman (Joe Baker - 133), a sophomore (Matt Stolpinski - 174), a junior (John Cox - 149) and two seniors (Chris Pogue - 197; Tanner Garrett - HWT) to Oklahoma City.
• Navy is advancing at least five wrestlers to the championships for the second straight season. Last year's team sent six wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, en route to a 33rd-place finish.
• The Mids are shooting for a top-30 finish for the first time since the 2001 season. That team, despite having just one qualifier, finished in 30th place with 12 points. Mark Conley scored all of Navy's points at that tournament, grabbing fifth-place honors. Navy's last top-20 finish came in 1990 with a 13th-place showing.
• Navy is also looking for its first All-American since 2003.

Midshipmen Memos...
• The Mids return to the NCAA Championships after finishing in a tie for 33rd a year ago with six qualifiers. This year, Navy has five qualifiers.
• Navy is looking for its first All-American since 2003.
• Navy's best finish ever came in 1954, in Norman, Okla., with a fourth-place showing. • This year marks the 10th time the Championships will be held in Oklahoma. Six previous times Navy finished in the top 30 when the tournament was in Oklahoma. The last time the tournament was in Oklahoma was in the 1992 season.
• Seven Mids have won All-America status during the 10 tournaments in Oklahoma.
• Three Mids have already reached 30 victories on the season and two more, Matt Stolpinski and Chris Pogue, have an excellent chance to reach the 30-win mark. No Navy team has ever even had four 30-win wrestlers in a single-season.

A Look Back at the 2006 EIWA Championships...
• Seven Mids placed at the 102nd EIWA Championships, leading the team to a fourth-place finish on March 4-5, in Bethlehem, Pa.
• Navy had just two automatic qualifiers, Joe Baker and Tanner Garrett, but earned three of the 14 wildcard bids to compete in the 76th NCAA Championships.
• Garrett led the way with a second-place finish at heavyweight. He dropped a 3-2 double-overtime heartbreaker to No. 7-ranked Bode Ogunwole of Harvard. It marked the second straight year that Garrett had lost in the finals in that manner and third straight year overall.
• Baker, meanwhile, was impressive in garnering his first automatic bid, finishing third at 133 pounds. Baker won his opening two matches by fall and major decision, then dropped a tough 11-8 decision to Matt Valenti of Penn in the semifinals. He rebounded with a fall against Frankie Baughan of Army, before cruising past Cornell's Mike Mormile, 8-5. Baker led the match 7-2 with about 20 seconds left when Mormile scored an escape and a takedown in the last 10 seconds of the match.
• Navy's three other bids come via wildcard selections. Junior 149-pounder John Cox is making his second straight trip after a fifth-place finish. Cox dropped decisions to Penn's Matt Dragon and Army's Patrick Simpson, but was impressive in his other two matches. He led late in both of his losses, before giving up late points in both of his losses.
• Navy sophomore Matt Stolpinski makes his first visit to the NCAA Championships at 174 pounds. Stolpinski finished fourth, dropping decisions to the eventual champion, Lehigh's Travis Frick, and Columbia's 2005 All-American Matt Palmer.
• Lastly, 197-pound senior Chris Pogue will make his first appearance as well. Pogue took advantage of a weight jump in the middle of the year to earn one of the 14 wildcard spots after finishing fourth two weeks ago. Pogue lost close decisions to Cornell's Jerry Rinaldi (3-2) and Army's Charles Martin (6-4), but was awarded for his fine season with one of the wildcard selections. Pogue and Martin grew familiar with each other as the pair had met four times in the last month, with each wrestler winning twice.

Navy Quick Notes...
• The Mids posted a 13-2 dual-meet record, which equaled the sixth-best record in school history.
• Navy has been one of the most successful teams in NCAA history, becoming the fourth team in the annals of college wrestling to record 800 dual-meet wins. The Mids won their 800th match with a 23-13 decision over UC-Davis on Nov. 12. Navy joins Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Oregon State as the only schools to reach the 800-win plateau. Navy's all-time record stands at 810-258-26.
• To top it off, Navy owns an impressive 40-5-5 mark all-time against Army, including a remarkable 38-1-5 record in the last 44 matches. The Mids have won six in a row against the Black Knights, including their 24-9 triumph a month ago in Annapolis.

Bringing Home the Hardware...
• Navy has had a large amount of success this year, not only in dual meets, but in tournaments as well.
• The Mids cruised to the team title, outscoring second-place West Virginia by 67.5 points, scoring 151 points in the process. The Mids won the team title for the second straight season and 14th time in the history of the event.
• In addition to the team title, Navy won six individual championships and placed 23 wrestlers in the top six of each weight class.
Brad Canterbury (133), John Cox (149), Tanner Garrett (HWT), Mike Kohler (125), Antonio Miranda (197) and Matt Stolpinski (174) all claimed titles at the Navy Classic.
John Jarred (157) won his first career individual title at the Eastern Michigan Open, and Tanner Garrett also claimed a championship at the EMU Open.
• Lastly, in the All-Academy Tournament, Navy won four individual titles to give the Mids 12 individual tournament titles this season, won by 10 different wrestlers. Joe Baker and Alex Usztics became the newest member of the championship club, claiming victories at 125 and 133 pounds. Baker also won the Penn State Open, wrestling unattached.

Showing Off the Balance... • Navy's balance is paying off big dividends this season as several Mids begin to pile up the victories. This season, 17 wrestlers have recorded 10 victories and six have reached the 20-win plateau.
• This season, four Navy freshmen have reached 10 victories (Caleb Levee, Joel Ahern, Tyler Moyer and Joe Baker).
• Lastly, five Mids have a legitimate shot to reach 30 wins (Tanner Garrett-- 41; John Jarred-- 35; John Cox-- 31; Matt Stolpinski-- 29; Chris Pogue-- 28). Four wrestlers have never won 30 matches in one season, and three wrestlers reaching 30 wins has happened just twice (1994-95 and 2000-01) before this year.

Navy Seniors Finish Outstanding Careers...
• Fourteen Navy seniors closed out their dual-meet careers a month ago against Army.
• Over the four years, Navy has posted a record of 48-15 (.762 winning percentage), won three All-Academy Championships, two Navy Classics and won its fourth match against Army in as many tries.

Seniors Receive Service Assignments...
• The two Navy seniors, Chris Pogue and Tanner Garrett, that advanced to the NCAA Wrestling Championships have both received Navy SEAL as their service assignment. The two are among approximately 20 graduating seniors that received the prestigious SEAL assignment.

More About Baker...
Joe Baker (Fr. / Poway, Calif.) is making his first NCAA appearance after earning an automatic bid with a third-place finish at 133 pounds two weeks ago at the NCAA Tournament.
• Baker had a nine-match winning streak snapped at the EIWA Tournament, but has won 11 of his last 12 matches.
• He is the first Navy freshman since Dan Hicks (1992) to reach the NCAA Tournament and is one of 23 freshmen from around the country to make the NCAA Tournament. The 133-pound weight class has four of them.
• Claimed the Penn State Open as an unattached wrestler, being named Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament in the process. Included in his victories was a win over North Carolina's 2005 All-American, Evan Sola.
• Won the All-Academy Championship with a tight 10-9 win over Army's freshman, Frankie Baughan. He then defeated Baughan by technical fall in the dual meet and by fall in the EIWA Championships.
• Had an impressive EIWA Tournament, winning one match by decision, two by fall and one my major decision. His lone victory by decision came against 19th-ranked Mike Mormile of Cornell, 8-5, in a match that wasn't that close.
• Missed a full year (spring 2005 and fall 2005) after suffering a shoulder injury in the fall of 2004. He disenrolled from the Academy to rehab for a full year and joined the team on Jan. 13, thus completing his freshman season.

More About Cox...
John Cox (Jr. / Grand Haven, Mich.) is making his second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. He claimed one of the 14 wildcard spots after finishing fifth at 149 pounds at the EIWA Tournament.
• Ranks 22nd on the Navy single-season wins list with 30, and owns a 60-21 record in the last two years.
• His 80 career wins are tied for the 19th most in school history and he is one of just eight wrestlers at Navy to reach 75 wins in his first three years at Navy.
• Entered the EIWA Tournament having won 10-of-11 matches, and his lone loss in that span was a loss by injury default in the finals of the All-Academy Championships.
• Eight of his 10 losses are to foes that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In the EIWA Tournament, he dropped matches to eventual champion Matt Dragon of Penn and Army's Patrick Simpson, who finished third.
• Owns two wins over ranked foes, and all but one of his losses was to a foe ranked in the current national rankings.

More About Stolpinski...
Matt Stolpinski (So. / Westfield, Mass.) is making his first NCAA Tournament appearance after finishing fourth at the EIWA Tournament. He earned one of the 14 wildcard berths.
• Stolpinski is the lone representative from the state of Massachusetts in the NCAA Tournament.
• His 54 career wins are third most in school history through the first two years for a Navy wrestler. A workhorse on the mat, Stolpinski has wrestled 80 matches already in his career and is well ahead of pace to wrestle the most matches in school history.
• Owns a 4-8 mark against NCAA competition, losing just once to a wrestler that isn't in Oklahoma City this weekend. That loss was a 6-4 setback to sixth-ranked Imad Kharbush of Stanford at the Eastern Michigan Open.
• Stolpinski became the first Navy wrestler in school history to win All-Academy Championships as both a freshman and sophomore.
• Has not lost two matches in a row all season.
• Needs just one win to become the 31st wrestler in school history to record 30 victories in a season.

More About Pogue...
Chris Pogue (Sr. / Chesapeake, Va.) is in his first NCAA Tournament after earning a wildcard berth following the EIWA Championships. He finished fourth at 197 pounds.
• Pogue posted a 14-3 record since moving up to 197 pounds after competing the first half of the year at 184 pounds. He opened the season 14-7 at 184 pounds, then took off at the heavier weight.
• He posted a 10-0 dual-meet mark, allowing just one takedown in the 11 matches and recording 36 himself. The 41 dual-meet points were the second most on the team. Included in the victories was a 5-3 decision over EIWA champion Matt Cassidy of Lehigh.
• Two of his losses at 197 pounds came to Army's Charles Martin. The pair wrestled against each other four times in the last month, with both wrestlers winning twice.
• Needs just two wins to join the 30-win club for a single season.

More About Garrett...
• Heavyweight Tanner Garrett (Sr. / Tulsa, Okla.) will close out his career in his home state after finishing second at the EIWA Championships two weeks ago. It will be his first appearance in Oklahoma since arriving at the Naval Academy.
• Garrett finished second at the EIWA Championships for the third straight year. His losses the last two years were of the double-overtime variety.
• Posted a 41-3 record, leading the country in victories and ranking second on the Navy single-season win list. He needs just three more wins to tie Mark Conley (2001-02) for the most wins in a single season.
• He owns a 76-8 record, including a 29-0 dual-meet mark, since the start of last season and needs just two wins to tie Mark Conley for the most in a two-year stretch by a Navy wrestler. Finished his career with a 36-match dual winning streak and went over two calendar years without a dual-meet loss. Also recorded 55 takedowns, while allowing just two.
• Also ranks in the top 10 in career victories (5th; 112), career win pct. (10th; .783), career matches (T-3rd; 143), single-season win percentage (4th; .932) and single-season matches (T-8th; 44).




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