ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Led by senior Dalton Henderson and sophomore Neal Richards’ second-place individual finishes, the VMI wrestling team placed fourth with 40 points Sunday at the 23rd annual All-Academy Championships hosted by the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
The fourth-place mark is an improvement from last year’s fifth-place standing despite scoring 20 fewer points than a year ago. Sophomore John Reed (141) and freshman Chris Beck (184) placed fourth in their respective weight classes to bolster the Keydets’ team point total.
Army West Point came out on top with 104 points followed by Navy with 98. Air Force finished close behind with 93.5 points trailed by the Keydets with 40. Two days removed from defeating VMI in a close 19-16 dual at Cormack Hall, The Citadel finished the tournament with just 33 points for fifth place. Coast Guard (11.5), Merchant Marine (7) and Norwich (3) rounded out the academies.
“I thought we competed very well early on,” said VMI head coach Chris Skretkowicz. “Obviously some of the bright spots today were avenging the two losses from Friday's dual against Citadel, as well as beating Citadel overall in the team score today. We showed a good bit of improvement from last year and the year prior. I know Dalton and Neal came up short of their ultimate goal today, but overall should be proud of how well they represented VMI.”
Henderson opened the tourney with a 6-0 decision over The Citadel’s Patrick Kearney and has now defeated the Bulldog four consecutive times dating back to last season. The Virginia Beach native then made quick work of Navy’s Brant Leadbeter with a 10-0 major decision. Facing Army’s Trey Chalifoux for the title, Henderson was defeated by a 10-6 decision as the No. 3-seeded Chalifoux earned the upset and stopped Henderson short of defending his title from a year ago.
A No. 3 seed, Richards topped Norwich’s Ben Swanson to open the tourney to earn the opportunity to face The Citadel’s No. 24 Aaron Walker and avenge a close 11-10 loss from Friday night. Richards proved up to the task and defeated Walker by a 5-2 decision to advance to the championship match against No. 16 Russell Parsons of Army, who beat Richards in last year’s tournament in the semifinal round. Parsons showed his strength en route to a 12-0 major decision over Richards to earn the title.
At 141, Reed lost to Air Force’s John Tworney in the first round but came back in a fury to top Norwich’s Jonathan Graziane by a 21-6 tech fall in the third period for his first win of the season. Having earned a chance to face The Citadel’s Douglas Gudenburr again after falling to him in the final moments Friday night, Reed pinned Gudenburr in 4:09 to advance to the 3rd-4th place match where he was again defeated by Air Force’s Tworney.
Beck also had a strong showing at the tournament with a fourth-place finish after earning two wins in the consolation bracket. He was defeated in the opening round to Navy’s Michael Coleman, but recovered with a fall over Merchant Marine’s Joe Fiore and a 3-2 decision over Norwich’s Joe Hennessey. He was defeated by Air Force’s Zen Ikehara by a close 2-1 decision in the third-fourth place match.
The Keydets return to action Wednesday, Feb. 8, with a home dual against ranked SoCon opponent Appalachian State. The first bout will face off at 7 p.m. at Cormack Hall.
1. Army – 104
2. Navy – 98
3. Air Force – 93.5
4. VMI – 40
5. The Citadel – 33
6. Coast Guard – 11.5
7. Merchant Marine – 7
8. Norwich – 3
Dalton Henderson - 2nd Place
Dec. Patrick Kearney (CIT), 6-0
Maj. dec. Brant Leadbeter (Navy), 10-0
Lost to Trey Chalifoux (Army), dec. 10-6
Pinned Jacob Forsman (Norwich), 0:40
Lost to Austin Harry (Army), maj. dec. 12-4
Lost to Cody Lambert (Navy), dec. 11-4
John Reed - 4th Place
Lost to John Tworney (Air Force), dec. 6-2
Tech fall Jonathan Graziane (Norwich), 21-6 (6:44)
Pinned Douglas Gudenburr (Citadel), 4:09
Lost to John Tworney (Air Force), dec. 9-4
Lost to Matt Kelly (Army), tech fall 15-0 (5:16)
Pinned Nate Henkle (Merchant Marine), 1:01
Lost to Corey Wilding (Navy), fall 2:09
Neal Richards - 2nd Place
Tech fall Ben Swanson (Norwich), 20-5 (5:32)
Dec. No. 24 Aaron Walker (Citadel), 5-2
Lost to No. 16 Russell Parsons (Army), maj dec. 12-0
Dec. Pat McCurdy (Norwich), dec. 11-4
Lost to Andrew Mendel (Army), maj. dec. 14-2
Lost to Nick Remke (Coast Guard), dec. 3-2
Dec. Collin Kiel (Merchant Marine), 7-3
Lost to No. 16 Jadaen Bernstein (Navy), maj. dec. 17-3
Lost to Michael Palomba (Coast Guard), dec. 12-7
Chris Beck - 4th Place
Lost to Michael Coleman (Navy), dec. 6-1
Pinned Joe Fiore (Merchant Marine), 4:53
Dec. Joe Hennessey (Norwich), 3-2
Lost to Zen Ikehara (Air Force), dec. 2-1
Lost to Chris Morgan (Army), dec. 8-6
Dec. Phil Azzari (Coast Guard), 3-2
Lost to Sawyer Root (Citadel), dec. 8-7
Lost to Thomas Ott (Navy), maj. dec. 10-2
Lost to Joe Bexley (Citadel), tech fall 15-0 (7:00)