3 Edinboro wrestlers win EWL titles, 5 earn NCAA bids

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 at 5:05 PM
3 Edinboro wrestlers win  EWL titles, 5 earn NCAA bids by Chris Rosato Jr.
Photo: Christopher Rosato Jr.

Four Edinboro wrestlers earned automatic bids to the NCAA Division I Wrestling National Championships, while three took home first place honors in their weight class at the EWL Championships on Saturday at McComb Fieldhouse.

Sean Russell, Korbin Myers and Billy Miller won the 125, 133 and 285-pound championships, respectively, and Andrew Shomers took second at 157 pounds, all of which was good enough to earn automatic bids to the national tournament in Cleveland, Ohio from March 15-17.

Edinboro also finished third in team points with 72 after winning the league championship in 2017. The Fighting Scots stayed near the top of the standings throughout the day, but Lock Haven University finished on top with 81.5 points after winning three weight classes.

Miller won his second EWL title, taking the 285-pound weight class after a bye in the first round and a 12-0 major decision over Clarion University’s Toby Cahill in the semifinals.

When talking to The Spectator, Miller explained that he doesn’t typically like earning byes in tournaments, with his first match usually his worst as he warms up, but his success in that first bout then gave him confidence going into the championship.

Lock Haven’s Thomas Haines gave Miller a fight in the final match, but the Fighting Scot was able to pull away with a 4-2 decision victory. He almost scored a takedown in the first period, but the round ended as he brought Haines to the ground, so the points did not count. He did earn two points for a takedown in the second, but Haines earned an escape point to cut Miller’s advantage to 2-1.

Haines had been nursing an injury all day, as he had his shoulder wrapped, and the match had to be stopped temporarily due to an apparent knee injury in the second round.

Miller had the choice of starting position for round three, so he told Head Wrestling Coach Tim Flynn he wanted to start in neutral. 

“If it’s neutral, you better get another takedown!” Flynn yelled to Miller. The 285-pound grappler ended up doing just that, shooting in for another takedown and two more points to give him the 4-2 victory after Haines earned another escape point.

“[The EWL heavyweight championship] means everything to me. You know, I had my ups and downs this year. Everyone has their lumps in wrestling, but I feel like I had a really, really rough year,” Miller said after the win. “I feel like I earned it because I did work really hard this year, and I feel like it’s all coming together.”

Russell began his day with a 23-6 technical fall over Cleveland State University’s John Martin in the opening match of the tournament. He followed the win up with a 2-0 victory over George Mason University’s Ibrahim Bunduka in the semifinals to secure a spot in the championship round.

In the 125-pound finals, Russell showed off his strong takedown defense, preventing Rider University’s JR Wert from scoring any points. Russell used some takedowns of his own and an extra point from riding time to defeat Wert 7-0 for his third EWL lightweight championship.

He said he felt the final performance was his best because he was able to control the match by riding Wert effectively and executing his takedowns. 

“It feels awesome,” Russell said. “I’ve always wanted to win four conference titles. You know, there haven’t been a ton of guys to do it from Edinboro, so to me to get another one, that’s awesome. And I just want to make sure to try to get that fourth one next year.”

Myers added to Edinboro’s championship victories with one of his own at 133 pounds after earning pinfall victories in his first two matches of the day. He defeated Bloomsburg University’s Andy Schutz 4-0 to earn his second EWL championship in as many years of NCAA competition. 

“I didn’t score as much as I would’ve liked,” Myers said about his final match. “I wish I would’ve scored more, but sometimes if it’s a solid kid, that just doesn’t happen.”

Shomers, who was seeded first in his weight class and given a bye in the first round, looked poised to give the Fighting Scots four champions, scoring a 9-0 major decision over Clarion’s Avery Shay to advance to the finals.

In the first-place match, Shomers shot for a double-leg takedown on Lock Haven’s Alex Klucker, but Klucker sprawled and forced Shomers to the ground, flipping him and pinning him less than a minute into the first round.

Rider University’s Bryant Clagon, who had lost to Klucker in the semifinals, won his way through the bottom bracket to compete against Shomers for true second place since the top two finishers in the 157-pound weight class automatically qualify for the national tournament.

In the second-place match, Shomers earned a 14-7 decision victory over Clagon to punch his ticket to Cleveland. 

Redshirt senior Ty Schoffstall narrowly missed the top spot in the 174-pound bracket. In his first two matches, he scored early and often, winning via technical fall 19-4 against George Mason’s Levko Higgins, and riding out a 12-3 lead against Lock Haven’s Jared Siegrist to advance to the championship match.

Unlike Schoffstall’s first two opponents, Rider’s Dean Sherry also put a high score on the board, and Schoffstall wasn’t able to keep up in the end. His third-round takedown attempts didn’t have much behind them, and Sherry was able to defend them easily to earn a 16-12 decision victory. Because only the 174-pound champion earned an automatic bid to the national tournament, no true second match was fought.

On Monday, the NCAA announced that Schoffstall was among the 47 at-large selections to the national tournament. With the announcement, Edinboro will now send five wrestlers to compete for national championships.

Russell said he thinks he can do better than his seventh-place finish last year in the national tournament.

“The goal since I was a little kid has always been a national title, so that’s what I’m always working towards,” Russell said. “What I really want is first place.”

Myers said he feels like the progression he’s seen during the season will continue into the tournament and allow him to compete for the top spot in the 133-pound bracket.

“Man, I’m ready for a run at nationals. I think ever since mid-season, I think I’ve kind of been wrestling a lot better,” he said. “I lost to the top guys earlier in the season by a couple points, and I think throughout the season I’ve narrowed the gap on them, and I’m ready to prove it at nationals. 

“I’m really excited,” Myers continued. “[I’ve got to] go in there with the right mindset and stay as healthy as possible and hopefully do some damage in Cleveland.”

Christopher Rosato Jr. can be reached at sports.spectator@gmail.com.

Tags: wrestling

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