6 Scots qualify for wrestling national championships in St. Louis
Story first appeared in the March 19, 2015 edition of the Edinboro University Spectator.
Earlier this season Edinboro earned its second-straight EWL dual-meet title by winning its 11th straight EWL dual.
Their league dominance didn’t stop in the regular season.
Boro captured its second-straight EWL postseason crown and its 14th in the last 18 years, back on March 7 at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.
Edinboro won the league title by accumulating 138.5 total points, 15 more than the runner-up, host, Rider, who finished with 122.5. Lock Haven came in third after collecting 101.5 total team points.
“It is really important,” head coach Tim Flynn said about winning the title. “I mean it is the national qualifier. I think first and foremost it is to qualify your guys and to do that you want to win the tournament. Plus, you certainly want to be wrestling your best at the end of the season.”
Four Fighting Scots won individual championships en route to helping Edinboro claim a team title. Kory Mines (125), Mitchell Port (125), Vic Avery (184) and Vince Pickett (197) all won their respective weight classes.
Mines finally reached the top of the podium after two second-place finishes, as the redshirt-senior secured his second trip to nationals.
Port earned his third-straight EWL championship by winning his two matches. After earning a bye in the quarterfinals, the Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, native, won by technical fall in the semi-finals and by major decision in the finals over #3 Bobby Rehm, 13-2.
Redshirt-junior Avery was the top-seed at 184 lbs. He won all three of his matches on the day, headlined by a 9-1 major decision against #2 Fred Garcia of Lock Haven which earned him his third-straight EWL crown. That finals match-up marked the third time Avery and Garcia have done battle this season and it may not be the last as both qualified for nationals.
The biggest surprise to most was #3 Vince Pickett earning the title at 197 lbs. The junior paved his way to the championship by upsetting #2 Donald McNeil of Rider, 4-3, in sudden victory.
The EWL crown earned an automatic bid to the national championships for Pickett, who will be making his first trip.
“He beat kids that he has beaten before,” Flynn said of Pickett’s path at the EWLs. “It’s not a surprise. He has done it before, but it is nice to come back and beat a kid that beat you during the year. It is always nice. It is the first time he qualified for the NCAA tournament, so it is a big win for him.”
Dave Habat did not win the championship at 149 lbs., but the redshirt-senior did qualify for nationals on the day by finishing second as three 149 pounders from the EWL make it to nationals. Habat was upended by second-seeded B.J. Clagon of Rider, 6-5, in the finals.
At 133 lbs., A.J. Schopp was the top-seed, but failed to become the seventh person to be a four-time EWL champion. The redshirt-senior settled for second after he won by fall over Vince Rodriguez of George Mason in 6:06 in the third-place match. Schopp did qualify for nationals as an at-large bid, which was announced on March 11.
Despite falling short of an EWL crown, Schopp is healthy and ready for nationals, according to Flynn.
“Health wise, he is healthy now,” Flynn said. “He wrestled some good bouts down there and he wrestled some bad bouts. He knows what he has to do to eliminate mistakes and stay on his offense. He is going to be fine.”
Pat Jennings at 174 lbs. was ranked in the first three NCAA coaches panel polls. However, the redshirt-junior, who was the top-seed in his respective weight class, finished third after falling in the quarterfinals, his first match of the championships, 8-6 in sudden victory.
The other six, Mines, Schopp, Port, Habat, Avery and Pickett, will now compete in the 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling National Championships, which are being held at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on March 19-21.