ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy wrestling team won seven of the 10 individual titles en route to winning its 12th overall All-Academy Championship, including its fifth in a row, Saturday afternoon at Gillis Field House in West Point, N.Y. While all 10 of the Mids' wrestlers placed among the top 10, the seven titles are the most won by Navy in the 19-year history of the All-Academy Championship.
Saturday's victory marked the third time in the last four seasons Navy has won the tournament by 30-plus points. The Mids topped the field with 128.5 points, while Air Force placed second with 92.5 points. The Falcons crowned one champion, while four wrestlers placed second and four finished fourth. The Citadel finished third with 72.0 points an put two on the winner's podium, while Army, who was without five starters, placed fourth with 71.0 points and was without a champion.
"Our kids really stepped it up today," said Navy head coach Bruce Burnett, who has led the Mids to nine All-Academy titles during his tenure. "I was a little concerned going into the weekend because our focus had been lacking a little bit, but when it came crunch time our guys pulled together and really wrestled well. I'm really proud of the effort today."
Navy has been the dominant team in the 19-year history of the tournament, winning 12 of the 19 championships including nine of the last 10. The Mids have won 75 individual crowns in All-Academy Championship history, including 49 of the 100 titles over the last 10 years. The Mids won the team title in 1995, `97, `99, `04, `05, `06, `07, `09, `10, `11, `12 and `13, while they claimed five or more individual titles in 1997, `99, `04, `05, `07, `08, `10, `11 and `13.
Making his first appearance at the All-Academy Championship, sophomore Colton Rasche (Plano, Ill.) was Navy's first title-winner of the day, picking up a 6-2 victory over top-seeded Jordan Thome of Army, 6-2. It marks the second straight season a Navy wrestler has beaten Thome in the finals, as three-time All-Academy winner Aaron Kalil beat Thome a year ago, 4-0, in the championship. Rasche drew a bye in the opening round, but dealt third-seeded Aaron Hansen of The Citadel a 10-0 major decision to earn his way into the finals.
Meanwhile, Navy 149-pound junior Raymond Borja (Virginia Beach, Va.) earned his first All-Academy title by way of a medical forfeit from third-ranked and top-seeded Cole VonOhlen of Air Force. VonOhlen received a first-round bye before pinning fourth-seeded John Belanger of Army in just over a minute-and-a-half. Borja opened the tournament by pinning VMI's Zeb Stewart in 4:14 and earned his way into the finals by way of a 9-3 victory over The Citadel's Jordan Dix.
Senior Bobby Barnhisel (River Forest, Ill.) successfully defended his 157-pound title as the No. 3 seed. Although Barnhisel was ranked the highest among the competitors, Air Force's Joshua Kreimier, ranked 16th nationally, received the top seed, while The Citadel's Mathew Frisch, who defeated Barnhisel earlier this year at the Southern Scuffle, was the No. 2 seed. Barnhisel scored a 16-0 tech fall over Coast Guard's Holden Takahashi in the opener and won an 11-7 decision in sudden victory over Frisch in the semis. Winning his fourth tournament of the year, Barnhisel claimed a 7-5 win over Kreimer in the finals.
Navy has now won the 157-pound title in six of the last seven years, including each of the last four. All-time wins leader Bryce Saddoris took wins in 2010 and `11, while Barnhisel has won two in a row.
After placing third a year ago as a freshman at 149 pounds, sophomore Peyton Walsh (Glen Allen, Va.) claimed his first All-Academy crown on Saturday by pinning top-seeded Paul Hancock of Army at 1:36. Walsh was phenomenal all day, scoring a 13-1 major decision over Coast Guard's Mike Shermot in his first match of the day, followed by an 11-0 rout over Vinnie Bellaran of The Citadel in the semis. Walsh, who now stands a 24-8 on the year, has won seven consecutive matches dating back to his win by fall over Lehigh's Ben Haas in the January 12 dual.
It took just under two minutes for Navy's 174-pound Mathew Miller (Edgewood, Md.) to join an elite group of Midshipmen wrestlers who have won All-Academy titles as freshmen. Miller, ranked 12th in the country, pinned third-seeded Daniel Barringer of Air Force in 1:45 to become just the eighth freshman in school history to win an All-Academy crown as a rookie, jining Travis Campbell (1995), John Cox (2004), Matt Stolpinski (2005), Joe Baker (2006), Bryce Saddoris (2008), Luke Rebertus (2009) and Andrew Buck (2010).
"Mat was certainly deserving of being named the tournament's outstanding wrestler," added Burnett. "For a freshman to perform at the level he has throughout the season and especially today is impressive."
Miller, who was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament, dominated the weight class with a 15-0 tech fall over VMI's John Dommert in his first match and a win by fall over The Citadel's Jack Duane in 3:20. Miller has now won three tournaments this winter, while taking nine of his 20 wins by fall.
Making his final appearance at the All-Academy Championship, 184-pound senior Mason Bailey (Fairmont, W.Va.) proved three times is a charm as he scored a 5-0 decision over Air Force's Devin Hightower to win his first All-Academy title. Bailey placed second at 165 pounds a year ago and third at 165 pounds as a sophomore. Ranked 19th nationally, Bailey pinned Norwich's Chris Schenk in his first match of the day and dealt Greg Potemken of the Merchant Marine Academy a 15-0 tech fall in the semis.
It is the fifth straight year Navy has taken the 184-pound title. Casey Caldwell started the streak in 2009, with Andrew Buck winning as a rookie in 2010 and Luke Rebertus winning back-to-back crowns in 2011 and `12.
Navy senior heavyweight Dan Miller (Berlin, Md.) gave a terrific effort throughout the tournament, but fell short of winning the title in his final appearance at the All-Academy Championship. Miller, who placed second as a sophomore and third as a junior, dropped a 10-6 decision to 12th-ranked Odie Delaney in the championship bout. He opened the day by pinning Norwich's Steven Maldonado in 3:07 and punched his ticket into the finals with a 12-7 decision over third-seeded Bentley Alsup of Air Force in the semis.
Meanwhile, junior Joe Locksmith (Kissimmee, Fla.) placed third for the Midshipmen with a 5-2 decision over fourth-seeded Carter McElhany of Air Force at 141 pounds, while 125-pound Jericho Urmenita (Auburn, Wash.) finished fourth. Locksmith came a heartbeat away from advancing to the finals, however, Army's Tyler Rauenzahn was able to score a takedown in sudden victory to send Locksmith to the consolations while Rauenzahn went on to drop an 8-4 decision to top-seeded and fifth-ranked Ugi Khishignyam of The Citadel.
19th Annual All-Academy Championship
Feb. 2, 2012 • Gillis Field House • West Point, N.Y.
1. 128.5 Navy
2. 92.5 Air Force
3. 72.0 The Citadel
4. 71.0 Army
5. 17.5 Merchant Marine Academy
6. 15.5 VMI
7. 12.5 Coast Guard
8. 0.0 Norwich
125 - #1 Josh Martinez (Air Force) dec #2 Nate Giorgio (Coast Guard), 6-0
133 - #2 Colton Rasche (Navy) dec #1 Jordan Thome (Army), 6-2
141 - #1 Ugi Khishignyam (The Citadel) dec #2 Tyler Rauenzahn (Army), 8-4
149 - #2 Raymond Borja (Navy) med forfeit #1 Cole VonOhlen (Air Force)
157 - #3 Bobby Barnhisel (Navy) dec #1 Josh Kreimier (Air Force), 7-5
165 - #2 Peyton Walsh (Navy) fall #1 Paul Hancock (Army), 1:36
174 - #1 Mathew Miller (Navy) fall #3 Daniel Barringer (Air Force), 1:45
184 - #1 Mason Bailey (Navy) dec #2 Devin Hightower (Air Force), 5-0
197 - #1 Oscar Huntley (Navy), #3 Bryce Barnes (Army), 8-5
285 - #1 Odie Delaney (The Citadel) dec #2 Dan Miller (Navy), 10-6
125 - #3 Joaquin Marquez (The Citadel) dec #4 Jericho Urmenita (Navy), 6-2
133 - #4 Dylan Hyder (Air Force) dec. #3 Aaron Hansen (The Citadel), 6-5
141 - #3 Joe Locksmith (Navy) dec #4 Carter McElhany (Air Force), 5-2
149 - #4 John Belander (Army) dec #3 Jordan Dix (The Citadel), 7-3
157 - #4 Patrick Marchetti (Army) dec #2 Mathew Frisch (The Citadel), 9-5 TB1
165 - #3 Jesse Stafford (AF) tech fall Nic Watson (Merchant Marine), 16-0
174 - Josh Miller (Merchant Marine) fall #2 Coleman Gracey (Army), 1:34
184 - #3 Josh Tuck (The Citadel) major dec Austin Wilding (Army) 10-2
197 - #2 Joshua Mohr (Air Force), Urayoan Garcia (VMI), 9-1
285 - #3 Bentley Alsup (Air Force) dec Collin Wittmeyer (Army), 6-4
Most Outstanding Wrestler - Mathew Miller, Navy
Falls Award - Odie Delaney, The Citadel (Two falls, Total time 0:56 seconds)