Local wrestlers prepare for national tournaments
Washington & Jefferson College and Waynesburg University will each have three wrestlers competing in the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships, which begin Friday at U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
For only the second time in its history, W&J will have three wrestlers participating: Josh Etzel, a 157-pound senior, Dave Dibenedetto, a 184-pound senior, and South Fayette graduate Nick Carr, a 165-pound sophomore.
Seniors Luke Lohr, Anthony Bonaventura and Cameron Fine are making the trip for the Yellow Jackets.
The only other time W&J took three wrestlers to the NCAA tournament was in 2002, when Kevin Dejuliis (133), Aaron Gibbs (165) and Wes Koteski (184) earned invitations. Dejuliis took seventh place in his bracket to earn All-America status.
Carr is undefeated in nine bouts since transferring from Division II Seton Hill in December. The former PIAA champion and runner-up at South Fayette is a Mideast Regional champion and his first-round match will be against either Concordia-Moorhead’s Jake Krogstad (20-9) and Springfield’s Dylan Foley (38-6).
Chris Burdge of Centenary, a three-time All-American, is top seed at 165.
Etzel is making his third trip to the NCAA tournament. Last year, he earned All-America status by placing sixth at 157. He became just the sixth W&J wrestler to earn All-America honors. In 2012, Etzel competed at 141 and lost his first two matches, including his opening match to eventual national champion Kodie Silvestri of Wartburg.
Etzel enters this national championships with a 31-3 record. He won 25 consecutive matches before losing to Mount Union’s Jon Garrison 7-5 in overtime in the NCAA Mideast Regional championship bout. Garrison is the No. 4 seed for this national tournament.
Etzel has special motivation for this event as he is one win away from 100 in his career. His first-round match is to be determined from the preliminary round.
Dibenedetto is making his first NCAA appearance after winning the Mideast Region championship. He knocked off two 184-pound All-Americans en route to his regional title and upped his season record to 23-8. He won his first Presidents’ Athletic Conference championship in February. Dibenedetto will face fifth-seeded Jeff Holm (29-12) of Olivet in his first match. Riley Lefever of Wabash (34-0) is the top seed at 184 pounds.
Lohr, the only Yellow Jacket to be seeded in his weight class, has a 29-6 record and is a returning All-American. He is seeded eighth at 149 pounds and will face the winner of the match between Eric Hamrick (24-3) of Springfield, Mass., and Brad Mayville (32-7) of Rochester Technical Institute.
Bonaventura is making his second straight trip to nationals after placing third in the Mideast Regional. At 36-4, Bonaventura wrestlers the winner of the bout between Sebastian Gardner (25-12) of Concordia-Moorhead and seventh-seeded James Roach of St. Olaf.
Cameron Fine is having a breakout senior season and is competing in his first national tournament. Fine (31-9) will face another Mideast Regional wrestler in Messiah’s Josh Thomson (40-5) in a preliminary-round bout.
Mizia brothers earn spot in Division II tournament: Gus and Francis Mizia, graduates of Bentworth High School, will be part of six Mercyhurst wrestlers competing in the NCAA Division II National Championships in Cleveland this weekend.
Francis Mizia, a redshirt sophomore, earned his spot by finishing second at 157 in the Super Regional 1 at Johnstown two weeks ago. Gus Mizia, a redshirt freshman, finished third at 174.
Francis Mizia (27-5) advanced to the finals before suffering a 3-2 loss to Notre Dame College’s Jonathan Rivera. The loss snapped a 16-match winning streak. His first-round opponent will be Ray Hall (6-3) of Colorado State-Pueblo.
Gus Mizia (26-5) will be making his second appearance in the national tournament. He opens with Josh Rodriguez (16-9) of Fort Hays State.