The UNCP wrestling team had a record tying performance at the NCAA Super Regional Tournament in Hartsville, S.C. on Feb.22 at the Deloach Center. The Braves had a program record eight wrestlers punch their ticket to the NCAA Division II National Championship tournament that will take place in Cleveland, OH next month.
Of the eight wrestlers that qualified to advance further into the postseason the Black and Gold’s Nick Daggett, Ronnie Pietro and Tyler Makosy all secured region titles with their first-place finishes to pace the bevy of Braves that made it to the respective podiums of their weight divisions.
Daggett and his fellow All-American Rodney Shepard will be making their second straight National Championship appearances and will be joined by Pietro, Makosy, Jonathan Miller, Kaleb Warner, Brandon Sloop and Faris Teia, who will all be making their first trips to Nationals.
The impressive outing matches the 2003-04 team for the most national qualifiers in the program’s 55-year history. That year the Braves finished in 12th-place at the 2003-04 Division II National Championships in Mankato, Minn. The three region champions also tied a program record.
Six Braves made it the title match of their respective tournaments, with Daggett and Pietro both recording bonus-point wins, while Makosy secured an overtime decision victory. Warner, Shepard and Sloop all found themselves on the wrong end of decisions defeats that were decided by three or less points in their championship bouts.
Miller lost a decisive 3-2 decision in his semifinal match up at 141 pounds but bounced back with a pair of dominant victories in the consolation bracket. Teia fell in his opening match of the day but bounced back by winning three-straight match ups in the consolation bracket at 174 pounds to bring home third place honors.
Marcus Montgomery also dropped his opening match of the day, but would go on to win two of his three match ups in the 197-pound bracket on his way to a fifth place finish.
The team finished with a second-place finish in the regional tournament only because a forfeiture in the heavyweight division for the Braves gave the unranked Newberry Wolves a slim 3.5-point advantage to put them just above the Black and Gold for first place.