From NYU Athletics
The New York University wrestling team completed competition at the 2017 NCAA Division III East Region Championships on Saturday, February 25. The two-day event was hosted by Ferrum College at Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, VA.
NYU, ranked 13th in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association(NWCA) poll, finished in second place with 106.5 team points. The squad only trailed #12 Ferrum, which finished with 135.5 points. Rounding out the top five were #6 Stevens Institute of Technology (104.5), Delaware Valley University (81) and Centenary College (80).
"Overall, we fell just short of our goal which was to win the region," said Senior Assistant Coach Corey Luce. "You do need to appreciate how hard our guys battled, they left it all out there and gave us a shot."
Four members of the squad qualified for the upcoming NCAA Division III National Championships, with 184-pound champion Blaise Benderoth leading the way. Also qualifying were Nathan Pike (133 pounds, second place), Jacob Donato (125 pounds, third place), and John Messinger (174 pounds, third place). This is the third time Pike has qualified for NCAA's, while it marks the second time for both Donato and Messinger. Benderoth, a freshman, is the first NYU rookie to qualify since Donato did it two seasons ago.
"Blaise began this season at 165 pounds and moved up two weight classes and won a regional title," added Luce. "That is extremely impressive. Doing it as a freshman makes it monumental."
Benderoth and Pike both clinched their qualification with semifinal victories. Messinger and Donato each had to wrestle back through the consolation rounds to win the third-place match.
Donato's victory was extra impressive as he defeated an opponent who beat him twice this season, including in Friday's opening round. The junior won five matches in the consolation bracket, recording two pins in the process, including one against the tournament's top-seeded wrestler.
"I learned two years ago not to underestimate Jacob," explained Luce. "This is the second time he has qualified for nationals and both times he was unseeded at the regional tournament. When he is on his game, he is tough to beat."
Also placing for NYU were Matthew Coppola (149 pounds, fifth place), Raymond Jazikoff (157 pounds, fifth place) and Maykel Dolorit (165 pounds, sixth place).
"Their performances helped us secure the runner-up finish," concluded Luce. "Matt and Ray coming back to win their final match after devastating losses shows a lot of character and grit."
NYU's four qualifying wrestlers will next compete at the 2017 NCAA Division III National Championships, which will take place on March 10-11, in La Crosse, WI.
NOTES: This is the third-straight year NYU has qualified four wrestlers for NCAA's...the second-place team finish ties a program-record (2008, 2015)...of the 10 wrestlers competing for NYU at the regional, eight will return next year including a quartet of freshmen...Pike's second-place finish was the second of his career at the regional (2015), he also won the regional in 2016...Benderoth improved to 16-1 on the season; his only loss was an injury default in November...Messinger now has 115 career wins, he needs three more to tie Assistant Coach Gene Kobilinsky for third all-time...Jazikoff will enter his senior season with 101 wins, the sixth-most in program history.