ADA, Ohio -- The switch to regional qualifying tournaments seems to suit Elizabethtown wrestling just fine. The Blue Jays won the team title at the inaugural NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Championships Saturday hosted by Ohio Northern University. They did it on the strength of a 141-pound championship from freshman Jesse Meaney, and runner-up finishes by Chad Lammer (133), Julian Meaney (184), Phil Landis (197) and Jeremy Rieth (285).
All five guys are headed to the national tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in two weeks time. Meaney, a freshman, blew through the 141-pound bracket with three falls and a decision. Seeded fourth, he opened the tournament with a 93-second pin of Ohio Northern's Shaun Lee. Meaney moved into the semifinals with his second victory over York's Chuck Glatz in the last 15 days.
Meaney saved his best for last, pinning No. 1 seed Wayne Black (Mount St. Joseph) in the semis in 5:15, and doing the same to No. 7 seed Jordan Dyer (Brockport) for the championship victory. Meaney, from Toms River, N.J., improved his season record to 17-5 with seven pins.
He wasn't the only family member doing work. Older brother Julian Meaney also secured his first spot at the NCAA Division III Championships by advancing to the championship match at 184 pounds. Julian pinned his way through the first two rounds, and took down Thiel's Jacob Lowry 11-6 in the semifinals. He was forced to retire due to injury in the championship against nationally ranked Josh Thomson of Messiah.
Jesse and Julian follow in the footsteps of older brother Bill Meaney, who was a national qualifier and All-American at last year's NCAA Championships.
Elizabethtown placed more grapplers in championship matches, and its the reason why the Blue Jays are coming home with a team title.
Landis, ranked ninth by the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) dropped Pierce Curran of Case Western in 30 seconds, before earning wins by decision in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
The 197-pound weight class' top seed, Landis fell 9-4 to No. 2 seed Andrew Lovins (Heidelberg) in the final.
Rieth, seeded second, had a typical Rieth day filled with close matches. The Philadelphia native entered the tournament having wrestled in 13 matches decided by two points or less. He added to that total by four Saturday, as every bout he was involved in came down to the wire.
In the opening round, Rieth used a 3-1 sudden victory over Case Western's Dale English to move on. He needed two overtime periods to hold off John Carrol's Will Porter in the quarterfinals. A 3-2 decision over Nino Majoy of Heidelberg put him in the finals against No. 9 John Wilkinson of Brockport.
Wilkinson came out on top, 4-2, in the second overtime period. The Brockport heavy also edged Rieth by two, 5-3, back in December at the York New Standard Corporation Invitational.
Chad Lammer's supurb efforts in tournaments continued in Ada, Ohio, as he reached the finals from his spot as the 133-pound weight class' fifth seed.
Lammer, already a champion at the Messiah Invitational, and a fifth-place finisher at the Pete Willson-Wheaton Invitational, used a forfeit victory in the first round to stay frest for his quarterfinal match against Ohio Northern's Jeremy Jones.
Lammer scratched out a 4-3 win, and went on to defeat Rory Bruce of RIT, 8-4. He claimed runner-up honors after falling to No. 2 seed Joey Giaccio of York (Pa.).
The five national qualifiers for the Blue Jays are the most sent to one national championship tournament in program history. Coach Eric Walker has completed reinvigorated a program that suffered through back-to-back winless dual seasons before he took over in 2003.
Under his guidance, E-town has had four grapplers earn All-America honors, and now the program has a strong chance to add to that number. Bill Meaney and Quint Eno each took home All-America honors last season.
Zeke Zimmer came up one spot shy of making it a six-spot for the Jays in Cedar Rapids. The sophomore settled for fourth at 174 pounds after losing the third-place match to Waynesburg's Anthony Bonaventura.
Junior 125-pounder Kyle McNulty fought back from a quarterfinal defeat at the hands of nationally ranked Matthias Ellis II of Brockport to finish fifth in his weight class.
The NCAA Championships will be held two weekends from now, starting on Friday, March 15.