The Ouachita Tigers wrestling team competed at the NCAA Super Region II tournament this weekend, finishing in sixth place overall, but more importantly, finishing up the weekend with four national qualifiers. This is the first time that Ouachita has ever had national qualifiers. The sixth place finish also marks the highest finish by a Ouachita wrestling team at the Regional tournament. Ouachita also finished the year off with six wrestlers ranked among the top six in the region.
“My first reaction is I am pleased to have our first NCAA Qualifiers, but not everyone got what they wanted this weekend, so I hurt for our guys that came up a little short,” said Head Coach Kevin Ward. “Dexter Carter and Gabe Musser both fought really hard, and came up just a little short. I hurt for those guys. But we don’t have time to think about that right now. We are sending 4 guys to the NCAA Tournament and all 4 guys have a chance at collecting some hardware. Its an exciting opportunity for those guys.”
Garret Evans wrestled in the 125 lb weight class for the Tigers, finishing second overall, only behind Findlay’s Ben Sergent. Evans finished 3-1 overall in the tournament, recording a victory over No. 5 seed Jerrelle McCabe from King’s College in the semi-finals by a score of 4-1.
Seth Hutchison filled the 133 lb spot for the Tigers, but unfortunately did not place. He avenged a loss from earlier in the season in the first round, when he recorded a fall over Nick Weisjahn from Findlay, but was defeated by the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the quarterfinals and the consolation bracket.
Josh Myers put together a third place performance in the 141 lb weight class. He won his first round match, recording a fall over Findlay’s Chris Andrews, which he followed up with an 11-1 major decision over Kevin Brunner of Lake Eerie College. Unfortunately, Myers was defeated in the next round, but went on to record victories in his last two matches, winning the consolation bracket and taking third place.
In the 149 lb weight class, Dexter Carter recorded a fifth place finish. He lost his first round match, but followed it up with two victories in the wrestle-backs. Carter recorded a victory over No. 2 seed Zach Vargo to wrap up his fifth place finish.
Bobby Williams recorded a first place finish for the Tigers, competing in the 157 lb weight class. Williams entered as the No. 4 seed, but posted an upset victory over All-American Cody Dauphin of Central Oklahoma before defeating No. 2 seed Jeremy Bommarito in the finals to capture his first Super Regional championship.
Tyler Graham participated in the 165 lb weight class for the Tigers, but was unable to get anything going in the tournament, finishing the weekend 0-2.
Gabe Musser posted another fifth place finish for Ouachita in the 174 lb weight class. Musser captured a first round victory by fall before losing his second round match. He rebounded with victories over No. 4 seed Zeb Green and No. 6 seed Bryce Sopko, eventually capturing fifth place.
Dallas Smith joined Bobby Williams as the only two Tigers who captured Super Regional championships. Smith captured the title in the 184 lb weight class, only giving up two points to opponents throughout the entire tournament. Smith defeated Tanner Keck in the finals and was named the Super Regional II Freshman of the Year.
Ouachita’s C.J. Hays and Taylor Poe rounded out the field, participating in the 197 and 285 lb weight classes. Neither of the two placed as they both finished the weekend 0-2.
Ward was excited about his team’s performance and the future that they have, saying, “Overall, I am so proud of our effort this weekend. We really wrestled the best we have all year, and we did it when it mattered. We were only a couple points from collecting a team trophy, and we made an 82 point improvement over last year’s finish. I think this just shows what happens when your athletes believe and buy into what we are trying to build.”
Ward and his four national qualifiers will travel to Pueblo, Colorado for the 2011-2012 NCAA National Championships, which will take place on March 9 and 10. Colorado State University-Pueblo will be hosting the events.
Complete results from the NCAA Super Region II Championships can be found here.