Burak claims third straight NCAA bid at WWC Championships
By SCOTT WARD
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Senior Gabe Burak was one of the three Northern Colorado wrestlers to finish second Sunday in their respective weight classes at the 2012 WWC Championship/NCAA West Regional.
The Bears also got individual match wins from Sam Bauer (133), Justin Gonzales (149), Charlie McMartin (157), Cody McAninch (184) and Henry Chirino (285) and finished with 36.5 team points and sixth place in the team standings for the second straight year.
But Burak was the only Bear to leave Northern Iowa's McLeod Center with a bid in hand to this year's NCAA Championships, which will be held March 15-17 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
His automatic qualification guarantees Northern Colorado will be represented at the NCAA Championships for the sixth straight year. He joins Justin Gaethje (2010, 2009), Cruz (2010), Kenny Hashimoto (2010), Mitchell Polkowske (2009) and Tony Mustari (2009, 2008, 2007).
Prior to Sunday's event, the NCAA awarded its West Region 17 automatic bids to the national tournament, with winners at 141, 174, 197 and 285 pounds all receiving automatic bids, while the top two finishers at 125, 133, 149, 165 and 184 pounds, and the top three finishers at 157 pounds, also earning spots in the national field.
So, Burak didn't run all the way through his bracket Sunday—he lost 8-0 to Wyoming's Shane Onufer in the first-place match—but he still earned his third straight trip to the NCAA Championships after qualifying the past two years at Penn.
Cruz lost 2-1 in overtime to Northern Iowa's Levi Wolfensperger in his first-place match, and Bayer lost 12-4 to Wyoming's Alfonso Hernandez in his title match. But for those who didn't qualify at the regional, like Cruz and Bayer, there's still hope.
The NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will soon select 40 at-large qualifiers and that group will be announced Wednesday, March 7. Those at-large selections will be made based on head-to-head competition, qualifying event placement, quality wins, results against common opponents, winning percentage, RPI, coaches ranking and the number of matches contested at that weight class.
The WWC and the NCAA West Region received two additional at-large selections last season, including Cruz.
Burak (21-3) started his day with a quick pin (in one minute, 23 seconds) against North Dakota State's Joe Garner. He then advanced to the 165-pound final with a 4-0 decision against Utah Valley's Ethan Smith.
Cruz (18-8) started with a 2-0 decision victory against the Air Force Academy's Carter McElhany and then continued to the 141-pound final with a 5-2 win against Utah Valley's Avery Garner.
He pinned Wolfensperger in 4:29 earlier this season, but Sunday's match went the distance and then some.
Burak (13-9) entered Sunday with five wins in his last six matches, and he stretched that to six in seven with a bye victory in the first round at 197 pounds. He then took down Air Force's Josh Mohr 5-4 before running into Wyoming's Hernandez, who brought a 36-5 mark into the WWC Championships and went 3-0 on the day.
Jesse Meis – 125 pounds
* Cruse Aarhus (UNI) tech. fall Jesse Meis (NC), 17-0
* Greg Rinker (AFA) maj. dec. Jesse Meis (NC), 13-0
Sam Bauer – 133 pounds
* Sam Bauer (NC) dec. Justin Solberg (NDSU), 3-0
* Joe Colon (UNI) tech. fall Sam Bauer (NC), 18-3
* Blake Mangum (UVU) dec. Sam Bauer (NC), 5-3
Casey Cruz – 141 pounds (2nd)
* Casey Cruz (NC) dec. Carter McElhany (AFA), 2-0
* Casey Cruz (NC) dec. Avery Garner (UVU), 5-2
* Levi Wolfensperger (UNI), OT dec. Casey Cruz (NC), 2-1
Justin Gonzales – 149 pounds (4th)
* Ryan Jauch (UNI) dec. Justin Gonzales (NC), 4-1
* Justin Gonzales (NC) fall McCade Ford (WYO), 6:41
* Mark Erickson (NDSU) OT dec. Justin Gonzales (NC), 3-1
Charlie McMartin – 157 pounds
* Steven Monk (NDSU) tech fall. Charlie McMartin (NC), 17-1
* Charlie McMartin (NC) maj. dec. Nick Flynn (SDSU), 12-2
* Josh Kreimier (AFA) dec. Charlie McMartin (NC), 19-13
Gabe Burak – 165 pounds (2nd)
* Gabe Burak (NC) fall Joe Garner (NDSU), 1:23
* Gabe Burak (NC) dec. Ethan Smith (UVU), 4-0
* Shane Onufer (WYO) maj. dec. Gabe Burak (NC), 8-0
Josh VanTine – 174 pounds
* Pat Martinez (WYO) fall Josh VanTine (NC), 4:35
* Joe Rasmussen (SDSU) dec. Josh VanTine (NC), 7-0
Cody McAninch – 184 pounds
* Joe LeBlanc (WYO) fall Cody McAninch (NC), 2:11
* Mac Stoll (NDSU) dec. Cody McAninch (NC), 4-2
Nick Bayer – 197 pounds (2nd)
* Nick Bayer (NC) dec. Josh Mohr (AFA), 9-2
* Alfonso Hernandez (WYO) maj. dec. Nick Bayer (NC), 12-4
Henry Chirino – 285 pounds
* Jared Erickson (AFA) OT dec. Henry Chirino (NC), 5-3
* Henry Chirino (NC) dec. Joe Skow (SDSU), 9-3
* Evan Knutson (NDSU) dec. Henry Chirino (NC), 3-1
125 - Trent Sprenkle (NDSU)
125 - Michael Martinez (WYO)
133 - Joe Colon (UNI)
133 - Zach Zehner (WYO)
141 - Levi Wolfensperger (UNI)
149 - Cole VonOhlen (AFA)
149 - Josh Wilson (UVU)
157 - Steven Monk (NDSU)
157 - David Bonin (UNI)
157 - Josh Kreimier (AFA)
165 - Shane Onufer (WYO)
165 - Gabe Burak (UNC)
174 - Pat Martinez (WYO)
184 - Joe LeBlanc (WYO)
184 - Ryan Loder (UNI)
197 - Alfonso Hernandez (WYO)
285 - Blayne Beale (UNI)
1. Wyoming (93.5)
2. Northern Iowa (76)
3. North Dakota State (51.5)
4. Air Force (50.5)
5. Utah Valley (43.5)
6. Northern Colorado (36.5)
7. South Dakota State (5)
2012 WWC Championship Awards
Most pins - Levi Wolfensperger, UNI (2)
Outstanding Wrestler - Joe Colon, UNI
Coach of the Year - Mark Branch, Wyoming
Regular Season Team Champion - Wyoming
Tournament Champion - Wyoming