W&J Wrestling Duo Headed For NCAA Division III Championships
ADA, Ohio -- For the first time in 10 years, Washington & Jefferson will have two wrestlers competing at the NCAA Division III national championships as freshman 125-pounder Jacob Spearman (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster) and junior 157-pounder Josh Etzel (Elizabeth, Pa./Elizabeth-Forward) both earned spots in the field on Saturday at the Mideast Regional hosted by Ohio Northern University.
Spearman and Etzel are the first W&J duo to earn spots in the national tournament field since 2003 when W&J all-time wins leader Kevin DeJuliis '03 (133 pounds) and Byron Johnson '04 (141 pounds) both wrestled their way into the NCAA championships.
The NCAA Division III Championships will be held March 15-16 at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The top three finishers in each regional weight class advance to the national tournament in a qualifying-rule change enacted this year.
Spearman, who entered the regional as the No. 2 seed, earned his spot after placing second in the 125-pound bracket. He opened with a 17-2 technical fall against Thiel's Nick Hart before defeating Waynesburg's Gordan Bieber by major decision (12-3). He guaranteed his spot in the national championships with a 7-2 semifinal triumph over Case Western Reserve's Josh Hall.
In the championship bout, top-seeded Matthias Ellis II of SUNY-Brockport narrowly edged Spearman 4-3. Spearman owns a 27-5 record heading into nationals. He is the first W&J freshman to wrestle on the national stage since Aaron Gibbs was the fifth-seeded competitor in the 165-pound bracket at the 2002 NCAA championships.
Etzel continued one of the top seasons in school history with a 4-1 record and a third-place showing in the 157-pound bracket. He will enter the NCAA tournament with a 34-4 record. Etzel's 34 victories are the third-highest total in school history, trailing only the 36 recorded by DeJuliis (2003) and Taylor Potts '12 (2012).
The two-time Presidents' Athletic Conference and bracket's No. 2 seed led off the tournament with a fall (4:46) against RIT's Nicholas Greenquist. Etzel blanked Lycoming's Brian Watkins 3-0, but saw his 17-match win streak come to an end in the semifinals. Mount Union's Jon Garrison collected a 3-1 sudden victory overtime win over Etzel, who then regrouped to knock off Messiah's Jacob English 3-0. Etzel's 5-3 win over Waynesburg's Sam Lombardo in the third-place bout solidified his second-straight trip to the national championships.
Last year, Etzel qualified for the NCAA championships at 141 pounds, but lost his first two matches. He will be the first wrestler since DeJuliis to make two career appearances at the NCAA's.
Senior 141-pounder Chris Leva (Perrineville, N.J./Notre Dame) was the only other President to garner more than one victory. He advanced in his opening match when Heidelberg's Chris Osborne was forced to stop due to injury 17 seconds into the match. Leva then suffered a 5-3 quarterfinal loss to Mt. St. Joseph's Wayne Black. After defeating John Carroll's Jordan Victor 4-2, Chuck Glatz of York eliminated Leva by a 4-0 count.
In the team standings, W&J placed 11th of 16 teams with 35 points.