Bison Claim National Title With Pin In Final Match
NCAA Division II Tournament Director Jim Fallis, UNC Director of Athletics, could not have scripted these championships any better as two teams battled it out in the final match with the team title on the line.
"That was pretty amazing," Fallis said afterward. "I have never seen anything like that in all my years of wrestling -- to have the championship come down to the two teams fighting it out. It was tremendous for the wrestlers and for all the wonderful fans that came out to support these NCAA Championships."
UNC drew 10,390 fans over the two-day tournament that featured four sessions and a fantastic finish.
The North Dakota State University Bison claimed the NCAA II National Wrestling Team Championship with a pin by heavyweight Nick Severson in the final match of the 2001 NCAA Championships. It was the Bison's second straight national title for head coach Bucky Maughan, father of UNC head coach Jack Maughan. For NDSU it was its fourth national title and tied the Bison for third all-time with Central Oklahoma. Cal Poly and Cal State Bakersfield hold the record with eight each.
North Dakota State held a slim lead heading into the final match of the evening. South Dakota State was in second place but if they won the final match they would claim the team championship. South Dakota State sent out No. 1-ranked Jon Madsen, while the Bison sent out No. 3-ranked Severson.
The match was tied 1-1 when Severson scored a takedown with just over a minute to go in the third period. Severson used his momentum gained in the takedown to push Madsen to his back. Severson then turned the moving into a pinning combination and just as the Bison crowd exploded with cheers, the referee pounded the mat for the pin and the championship for the Bison.
The Bison crowned three champions to go along with the team title. Also winning individual championships for NDSU were Steve Saxlund, the meet's Most Outstanding Wrestler, at 184 pounds and Todd Fuller at 174 pounds.
South Dakota State also crowned an individual champion in four-time All-American Paul Konechne. Konechne earned the 141 pound title.
The night's first match provided some early fireworks when Adams State's Adam Mars pulled off the fastest pin of the tournament. Mars pinned No. 2-ranked Mack LaRock (Nebraska-Omaha) in only 18 seconds. However, neither wrestler had scored a point in the match when the pin occurred. Both wrestlers were scrambling to gain position and LaRock happened to place both his shoulders on the mat with Mars on top of him. The referee slammed the mat for the pin and Mars had claimed the championship.
One other Colorado wrestler came away with a national title as well in Greeley on Saturday. Western State's Dave Vondy came away with the crown at 165 pounds. Vondy defeated the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5 wrestlers on his way to the title. On Saturday night, Vondy edged No. 5-ranked Matt Ballard (Central Washington) in a sudden victory overtime. Vondy escaped with 17 seconds remaining to send the Mountaineers faithful into pandomonium.
Central Oklahoma crowned its only champion of 2001 at the 133-pound weight class when No. 3-ranked Cole Province won the title. Province, a freshman, defeated Southern Colorado's No. 1-ranked Brian Luna, 7-4.
West Liberty gained an individual champion as well when No. 6-seeded Nick Spencer took out No. 1-ranked Gable Sullivan of Central Oklahoma. Sullivan led late in the match by the count of 7-5. But Spencer refused to quit and tied the match with a takedown with only 38 seconds left. Spencer then found a way to tilt Sullivan to his back to score three more back points and take the lead 10-7. Sullivan scored an escape with eight ticks left but could not score again and Spencer took the crown.
The 157-pound class brought both the No. 1-ranked and No. 2-ranked wrestlers to the mat to decide the title. No. 1-ranked Matt Petsinger of Minnesota State, Mankato battled Carson-Newman's lone finals entrant, Lazaro Reinoso. Reinoso, the tournament's oldest competitor (29 years old) was a former bronze medalist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics for the Cuban Olympic squad. Petsinger scored early to take the lead but saw the match tied at 4-4 at the end of the first period. Reinoso came out strong in the second period but Petsinger scored a takedown with only 43 seconds left in the second period to take a 9-8 edge into the final period. Petsinger then rode Reinoso for 1:47 into the third period before allowing Reinoso to escape. Reinoso's escape allowed him to tie the score but only for 13 fleeting seconds because Petsinger had a riding time point tacked at the end to take the title by a score of 10-9.
No. 3-ranked Doug Joseph of Gannon claimed his school's only individual champion when he downed No. 5-ranked Kevin Lochner of Southern Colorado in the night's penultimate match. Lochner scored a 6-3 win to earn the crown.