TIFFIN, Ohio – After three Trojans advanced to the final day of competition at the Midwest Super Regionals, sophomore Zak Hale was the lone AU representative who found the podium with a fifth-place finish, earning his second trip to the NCAA Championships, Saturday at Tiffin’s Heminger Arena.
Despite his 1-2 record for the day, Hale earned a victory in his final bout to advance to the NCAA Championships in Cleveland, beginning on March 14. Redshirt senior Cory Monteforte and graduate student Zane Newton both suffered setbacks in their respective opening bouts, ending their tournament campaigns.
Hale began the second day of the tournament with a rematch against Indianapolis’ Josh Keiffer, who he lost to at the Super Region II Duals earlier this season. Hale was unable to avenge the setback, falling by decision, 5-4. In the wrestleback bracket, Hale squared off against Coker’s Charlie Huff, who he defeated 8-7 at the Abney Athletic Center earlier this season.
Despite carrying the earlier season win over the Cobra, Huff earned the 4-2 overtime win over Hale, sending the sophomore to the fifth-place match against King’s DeMarcus Spencer, with the winner earning the final spot to Cleveland.
Hale made the most of the opportunity and earned a 3-1 decision over Spencer for his second win over the Tornado grappler of the tournament. With the win, Hale earned the final spot at 133 from the Midwest region to advance to the NCAA Championships. The Shaftsbury, Vt. native will enter the two-day tournament with a 21-6 record.
“Our regional qualifying tournament was as challenging as we anticipated it to be,” Anderson head coach Dock Kelly said. “We did not wrestle well, but fortunately, Zak was able to recover and win the placement match and thus qualify for the national tournament.”
At 125, Monteforte was eliminated by familiar foe, Patrick Mestrez of Belmont Abbey, in sudden-victory. Monteforte closed his tournament run with a 2-2 record and finished his season with an 11-14 mark.
Newton was knocked from the tournament by Ashland’s Kyle Burns, 4-2, ending his season. Newton closed out the 2013-14 campaign ranking second on the team in wins with 16.
“Overall, it was a disappointing day,” Kelly said. “However, I am excited that Zak will have the opportunity to represent our wrestling program at the national tournament.”
Hale will look to build off a 1-2 record from year’s NCAA Championships, as the sophomore will be one of five wrestlers from the region at 133 that will take part in the annual national tournament.