CHARLESTON, S.C. – VMI sophomore 157-pounder Neal Richards led the wrestling team to a seventh-place finish at the 2017 Southern Conference Championships contested Saturday at The Citadel’s McAlister Fieldhouse in Charleston, South Carolina.
The Keydets compiled 9.5 points on the day for seventh place in the league to top Davidson College (7 points) in the final team standings. Campbell won the tournament with 89.5 points with App State (86) and SIU Edwardsville (69.5) following in close pursuit. En route to the win, the Camels earned two individual titles and five NCAA berths to the national tournament.
Richards, a South Chesterfield, Virginia, native came in fourth place in his weight class by winning two bouts on the day before bowing out in the consolation bracket. In the opening round, he topped SIUE’s Karsten Van Velsor by a 17-1 tech fall in 6:20 but was then defeated by No. 2 seed Austin Kraisser of Campbell by a tiebreaker 7-5 decision.
In the consolation bracket, Richards defeated App State’s Gavin Londoff by a 4-0 decision but was topped in the third-fourth place match by The Citadel’s Aaron Walker by a 4-1 decision. Although hoping for a top-two finish to guarantee a bid to the NCAA Tournament in two weeks, Richards may still receive an at-large bid come the NCAA selection show Tuesday.
Sophomore 141-pounder John Reed pulled the shocker of the tournament as a No.7 seed when he pinned Chattanooga’s No.2-seeded Chase Zemenak in 3:53 in the opening round. In the following round he would be defeated by App State’s Irvin Enriquez by a 16-1 tech fall and later Douglas Gudenburr of The Citadel in the consolation bracket by a 6-2 decision.
Freshman 165-pounder Cade Kiely and freshman 184-pounder Chris Beck both earned a win in the consolation bracket of their respective weight classes while junior 197-pounder Taylor Thomas accomplished the same.
The NCAA Championships are slated for March 16-18 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
Campbell – 89.5
Appalachian State – 86.0
SIUE – 69.5
Chattanooga – 66.0
Gardner-Webb – 37.5
The Citadel – 33.5
VMI – 9.5
Davidson – 7.0
125 - Dalton Henderson
Lost to No. 14 Nathan Kraisser (Campbell), TF 16-1 (7:00)
Lost to Alonzo Allen (Chattanooga), dec. 7-6
133 - Michael Hulcher
Lost to Jonathan Ryan (Campbell), fall 5:39
Lost to Andrew Szalwinski (Citadel), dec. 8-3
141 - John Reed
Pinned Chase Zemenak (Chattanooga), 3:53
Lost to Irvin Enriquez (App State), TF 16-1 (3:34)
Lost to Douglas Gudenburr (Citadel), dec. 6-2
149 - Stevan Smith
Lost to Ben Barton (Campbell), MD 14-4
Lost to Joby Armenta (Gardner-Webb), dec. 6-4
157 - Neal Richards
Tech fall Karsten Van Velsor (SIUE), 17-1 (6:20)
Lost to Austin Kraisser (Campbell), TB1 dec. 7-5
Dec. Gavin Londoff (App State), 4-0
Lost to No. 25 Aaron Walker (Citadel), dec. 4-1
165 - Cade Kiely
Lost to Quentin Perez (Campbell), fall 1:30
Dec. Ruston Hill (Citadel), 7-2
Lost to Justin Lampe (Chattanooga), fall 3:20
174 - Shabaka Johns
Lost to John Weiss (Campbell), dec. 2-1
Lost to Angel Najar (App State), maj. dec. 10-2
184 - Chris Beck
Lost to No. 20 Hunter Gamble (Gardner-Webb), tech fall 15-0, 5:35
Dec. Jake Godinez (SIUE), 5-0
Lost to David Peters-Logue (App State), fall 1:30
197 - Taylor Thomas
Lost to Jake Tindle (SIUE), maj. dec. 11-3
Dec. Kyle Ash (Gardner-Webb), 5-2
Lost to Randall Diabe (App State), SV1 dec. 3-1
285 - Thomas Shea-Roop
Lost to No. 9 Denzel Dejournette (App State), fall 0:30
Lost to Boyce Cornwell (Gardner-Webb), maj. dec. 13-0