June 7, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Navy assistant wrestling coach Mike Letts turned in a flawless 6-0 mark which featured a 2-0, 2-1 victory over two-time All-American Kevin Steinhaus in the finals to take the 84 kg weight class (freestyle) at the 2012 ASICS University National Championship held in Akron, Ohio over the weekend.
"To have the opportunity to wrestle again and to be wrestling alongside the guys who I now coach was incredible," said Letts, who joined the Navy coaching staff a year ago after a successful career at the University of Maryland which saw him amass a 131-28 record, qualify for the NCAA Championship three times and claim All-America honors in 2011. "It was a lot of fun getting out on the mat again facing some of the best young wrestlers in our sport."
Letts entered the 2012 ASICS University National Championship, an open event that features athletes ranging from 18 to 24 years of age, wrestling for the Navy Mat Club. Navigating his way through a field that featured seven All-Americans from the 2012 National Championship, Letts scorched the competition, surrendering just two points en route to winning the crown.
He opened up the competition with a pin over Brent Kirk (Mount Union, rising sophomore) just 58 seconds into the second period, and followed up with a 3-0, 5-0 victory over rising Columbia junior Stephen West, who represented the New York Athletic Club.
Ohio's Cody Walters was the first wrestler to score a point against Letts, but he was little competition in what turned into a 7-0, 6-1 win for the Navy assistant coach.
Letts went on to score back-to-back 1-0, 1-0 victories over Northern Iowa's Ryan Loder and Appalachian State's Austin Trotman in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. Trotman, a four-time NCAA qualifier, was one of the strongest competitors among the 184-pound weight class at this year's NCAA Championship where he gained All-America honors with a third-place finish.
Garnering fifth-place honors and earning All-America recognition for the second time in his career, Steinhaus met Letts in the finals where he was able to put up a point, but it would not be enough as Letts cruised to the 2-0, 2-1 win to claim his first ASICS University National Championship title.
In addition to Letts, Navy rising senior Bobby Barnhisel (River Forest, Ill.) produced a 5-2 record to place fifth in the 74 kg weight class at the ASICS University National Championship. Barnhisel opened the tournament by winning each of his first four matches, including an 8-1, 7-1 victory over Ilinois' Jackson Morse who would go on to finish third in the tournament.
The win over Morse set up a matchup against Lehigh's Eric Hess in the semis where Hess would get the best of Barnhisel, 4-2, 7-0, to send him to the consolation bracket. Barnhisel was tripped up for the second-straight match against Bucknell's Corey Lear. Barnhisel won the opening bout, 3-2, but lost back-to-back bouts, 5-2 and 3-2, to fall to the fifth-place match. An injury to Vlad Dombrovskiy forced him to default the match, awarding the win to Barnhisel.
By way of their placement, both Letts and Barnhisel have qualified for the 2012 University World Team Trials slated for Aug. 17-18 in Colorado Springs, Colo. By virtue of his championship crown, Letts will be seeded as the No. 1 wrestler and will avoid the challenge tournament. He will have to beat the winner of the challenge tournament twice to punch his ticket to the 2012 University World Championship slated for Oct. 2-7 in Kuortane, Finland. Meanwhile, Barnhisel will take part in his weight class' challenge tournament in the hopes of facing University Champion Jake Salazar of Michigan.
### Go Navy ###