January 2, 2014

Polkowske wins twice, but no Bears place at Southern Scuffle

By PARKER COTTON

UNCBears.com

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – On the final day of the Southern Scuffle, Northern Colorado had four wrestlers take on top opponents and come away with some big victories, but ultimately, no Bear was able to place.

At 157 pounds, junior Mitchell Polkowske (LaJara) began his day by pinning Stanford's Bret Baumbach, a national qualifier last year, in 6:21, and recording a 10-1 major decision over Pittsburgh's Cole Sheptock. Polkowske's day ended one win short of placing, though, as he was pinned in 3:53 by RJ Pena of Oregon State.

"Polkowske wrestled very well," Northern Colorado head coach Ben Cherrington said. "He almost knocked off the returning runner-up from this tournament in the first round (Wednesday), but he battled his was back and lost a close one to Pena of Oregon State, who's a returning All-American."

Junior heavyweight Henry Chirino (Brandon, Fla.) was the only other Bear to win Thursday, defeating Duke's Brian Self in a 4-2 tiebreaker. Joe Stolfi of Bucknell pinned Chirino in the next round in 2:11.

"Chirino again wrestled solid," Cherrington said. "He got beat by a few guys who are better than him this weekend, and that gives him some stuff to work on."

At 184 pounds, junior Trent Noon (Oakdale, Calif.) lost a 3-1 decision to Missouri's John Eblen, who is ranked No. 11 in the nation.

And at 125 pounds, redshirt freshman Trey Andrews (Safford, Ariz.) lost a 2-0 decision to last season's Colonial Athletic Association champion Jamie Franco of Hofstra.

"Trent Noon wrestled well, Josh Van Tine got a win (on Wednesday), and Trey Andrews wrestled well. Trey got a win over a guy who was in the round of 12, one win away from placing, at the national tournament last year in Dominic Parisi of Appalachian State."

Coming back from the toughest regular-season tournament of the year — "it's the national tournament minus a few (teams)," as Cherrington put it — he said his team was fortunate to have the experience of wrestling the best in the country.

"It was a good weekend for us, but we definitely have some work to do, as always," he said. "You never can be satisfied. You have to look to get better and improve from opportunities like this. Overall, I'm happy the guys competed hard and we had some success which is what you want from a tournament like this."

The Bears return to the mat Jan. 17 and 18 at Grand Canyon State and Arizona State, respectively.