Monday, March 29, 2010
Top Finish for Women Wrestlers at Nationals
J. Andrew Lockwood
Senior Editor / Columnist
Wrestling season quietly came to a close for Mercer’s grapplers this season, but not before an electrifying finish by the women’s team at Nationals in Hampton, Virginia. Finishing near the top of the field to eventual winner Yakima Valley, Mercer’s small women’s team represented the university well on the mat.
“Our ladies just wrestled very well this weekend,” commented head coach Kevin Andres. “I’m very proud of the way they performed in the competition, especially with only two years experience. We lost to bigger, more experienced schools but they competed very well.”
Two of women’s entry went on to finish second in their respective categories. In fact, KaLia Burnette, a sophomore in the 148lbs weight class became a 2 time NCWWA All-American, the first in Mercer wrestling history. Also traveling to wrestle for the weekend were Rachel Hockenberger (Freshman, 148lbs), Christina Le (Freshman, 176lbs), and Amanda Almeyda (Junior, 139lbs). Almeyda would be forced to withdraw from the tournament on the second day after an injury forced her out of the tournament.
On the men’s mat, the results weren’t as kind as they were to the women, but nevertheless, the Bears were represented well by three first-year collegiate wrestlers that qualified into the national tournament for the first time. Mercer’s fourth entry Austin Griffin (Freshman, 133lbs), was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to injury. Also representing the men’s team in the national tournament were contenders Parker Owen (Freshman, 165lbs), Nick White (Junior, 197lbs), and Bert Sykes (Freshman, 285lbs).
The men’s team would end up finishing 24th in the Division I NCWA Championship bracket, 127 points behind eventual winner University of Central Florida.
“We did very well, especially with three of our four guys being first time qualifiers. There were 83 schools represented and we wrestled well,” Andres added. “Being a NCWA D1 Program, there’s a higher set of standards to meet and it’s tougher to qualify kids for this national tournament.”
Andres is already looking forward to next season when the Bears will again host at least two home tournaments in the University Center during the winter months. For more information on the Mercer wrestling team and the NCWA, visit the conference’s website at www.ncwa.net.