The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

December 17, 2012

Three Golden Bear grapplers qualify for nationals

BUENA VISTA, Va — The WVU Tech wrestling team traveled to Southern Virginia University earlier this month and came back with three national qualifiers, two tournament champions, and a third-place team finish at the Turkey Bowl Tournament.

In 149-pound action, junior John Walters went 2-1 on the day, facing defeat only in the finals.  The tournament runner-up opened the first round of the bracket with a 3-0 victory over Ferrum College ’s Daniel Reynolds. Then, he earned a 5-0 decision over Tennessee Temple University’s Jordan Weaver.

The final was a grueling battle that ended with a 10-5 decision in favor of champion Cohl Fulk. Walters’ performance automatically qualified him for the NAIA Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa, March 1-2.

Teammate Chance Smith joined him as a national qualifier with his tournament championship at 157 pounds.  Smith completed a bracket sweep by executing three first-period pins versus his opponents. In the first round, Smith pinned Bridgewater State’s Shane Trost with 1:06 remaining. Smith carried his momentum in his second match, pinning Ferrum’s Cody Cooper with 2:55 left. He then continued his charge in the final by pinning Bridgewater’s Daniel Sivinski with 1:20 remaining.

The final national qualifier for Tech was freshman Dirk Ponchak in the 165-pound classification. The 9th-seeded Ponchak went 4-0 on the day, defeating Liberty University’s Ian Olsen with a 12-0 decision in the first round before upsetting Virginia Military Institute’s top-seeded Spencer Buettner with a 5-4 decision in second-round action.

Ponchak earned a decisive 5-4 victory over ETSU’s Markevis Duncan to land in the finals against Ferrum’s Ryne Mueller, whom he dominated with a 12-2 decision.

Tech finished in third place with 66 points behind tournament champion Ferrum (86) and runner-up Liberty (74).

The Bears return to action Saturday, Jan. 12 in the Washington and Lee University Invitational.

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