Notre Dame wins NCAA Div. II Nationals in Cleveland, 12 miles from its campus, with four champs

March 16, 2014, 12:38 a.m. (ET)
By Tim Warsinskey

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Two years after transitioning from NAIA, Notre Dame College won the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships on Saturday in Cleveland Pubic Hall, just 12 miles from the school's campus in South Euclid, Ohio

NDC produced four champions in consecutive weight classes, including unbeaten two-time champ Joey Davis, and the Falcons outdistanced runner-up Nebraska-Kearney, 99.5-64.5.

Maryville was third with 58.5 points, followed by Ouachita Baptist (56), and Central Oklahoma (54.5) rounded out the top five.

NDC dominated the second day of wrestling, going 8-0 in quarterfinals and semifinals. Sophomore Jonatan Rivera began Notre Dame's finals run with an upset of defending 157-pound champion Cory Dauphin of Central Oklahoma. Senior Eric Burgey (165 pounds) and sophomore Davis (174 pounds) won their second national titles, before freshman Garrett Lineberger's exclamation point, a pin to win 184.

“I don't know if there's words for it,'' said veteran coach Frank Romano, a Cleveland native and former Kent State coach who started Notre Dame's program in 2007. “To win four titles in one night is unique.

“It's special, very special. I'm from Maple Heights. This is my whole life. I've been in wrestling since I was 12, for 54 years. This is my town, and these are my guys.''

Davis (39-0), who won at 165 pounds last year, ran his career record to 72-0 with a 3-1 victory over stocky Findlay senior Adam Walters, a runner-up in 2012. Walters is from suburban Cleveland and the crowd of about 2,500 was equally divided and on its feet.

“Both crowds were going at it and it was so much fun,'' Davis said. “This is why I love wrestling.''

After a scoreless first period, Walters escaped in the second and Davis escaped early in the third. Davis he hit a sweep single-leg takedown with 47 seconds remaining. Davis is known for his double-leg takedown, but Walters would have none of it.

“I like my little sweep single,'' said Davis, a two-time California state champion at Santa Fe. “He was blocking the double the whole time and I've been working on the sweep single all year.''

Davis and his teammates didn't win points with some fans for post-match celebrations ranging from Burgey's backflip to Davis' hip-shaking dance, somewhat fitting for a hall where Elvis Presley once played.

“I'm overwhelmed right now – 72-0 as a sophomore, that's hard to deal with,'' Davis said. “I've been in college two years and I've already been in two finals. I'm just overwhelmed.

“I worked so hard, that's why I like to show off. If I get a chance to flex, I earned that.''

Davis said before the tournament he might look to transfer to a Division I college if he won a second title.

“Right now, I don't know,'' he said. “We'll see.''

NDC is the second Ohio school to win an NCAA wrestling title, and the first since its neighbor, John Carroll, won Division III in 1975. The NCAA championship is Notre Dame's first in any sport. An all-girls school from 1922 to 2001, it hired Romano to start a wrestling program in 2007. NDC won NAIA wrestling championships in 2010 and 2011. It transitioned to NCAA Division II last year and finished third.

Rivera, of Kennesaw, Georgia, got NDC off to a roaring start with his 5-2 upset of Dauphin, who entered the match 39-0. Rivera scored a first-period takedown and broke a 2-2 tie with a third-period escape. With Dauphin over-reaching, Rivera added an easy takedown in the final seconds.

“There's no upset in my eyes. I peaked at the right time and I beat the champ. I beat the champ,'' Rivera said. “I think I caught him off guard with my quickness. He thought I was going to be slower.''

Burgey won his first three matches by a total of four points. His first-period takedown was the difference in a 4-1 finals win against Chris Watson of Central Oklahoma. Burgey, who won 174 last year, left school early in the season, then returned and finished with a 15-2 record. Lineberger, a two-time state champion in Maryland, came to NDC to train with Davis and became a starter late in the season and finished 25-5 after pinning Travis McKillop of Pitt-Johnstown in 4:54.

Dauphin wasn't the only returning champ to end his season with a loss.

Nebraska-Kearney sophomore 133-pounder Daniel DeShazer was looking for his second title and went the distance with Central Oklahoma's Casy Rowell, who won, 3-2, in tiebreaker-2. Rowell (37-5), a senior, escaped, then rode out DeShazer in the final tiebreaker series.

After surviving a semifinal with a last-second takedown against Gannons' Matt Turek, Findlay senior Ben Sergent (23-6) opened the 125-pound final with a fireman's dump for a 5-0 lead against Augustana sophomore TJ North. Sergent went on to win, 7-4.

“It put a little extra pressure on me wrestling in front of my family,'' said Sergent, from Troy in Southwest Ohio. “I'm a senior. I'm 24 years old. I've been in these kinds of scenarios and I used that experience to take it to an underclassman.''

UNC-Pembroke senior Daniel Ownbey (27-8) survived sudden-victory matches in the 141-pound quarterfinals and semifinals, then won the final, 2-1, on a stalling point against Ouachita Baptist senior Joshua Myers, 2-1.

Ownbey jumped into the arms of his coach, Othello Johnson, and they tumbled to the mat.

“I don't know how to explain this. This is the best feeling in the world,'' Ownbey said. “Last year, go undefeated and I was ranked No. 1 in the country and I took eighth,'' Ownbey said. “This year, I'm a national champion.

“The difference is cockiness, and being humble. I went into last year so high saying no one can beat me and I lost in the first round. This year, I was calm and humble and I knew my work would get me there. There was not stopping me.''

Central Missouri junior Frank Cagnina (40-2) was trailing the 149-pound final, 2-1, when he hit a third-period throw for a 6-2 victory over Upper Iowa sophomore Edwin Cooper.

Nebraska-Kearney's lone champ was 197-pounder Romero Cotton (23-3), who though only a sophomore, had perhaps the longest road to the podium. Cotton, 24, was a four-time state champion in Kansas, but spent time in prison for an assault, according to He won by sudden-victory in the first round and semifinals, then edged McKendree's Julian Smith, 8-7. Smith took a 5-1 lead into the third and was ahead 6-4 late. Cotton hit him with a flurry, scoring two takedowns in the final 45 seconds.

In addition to Davis, the only other wrestler to finish undefeated was Kutztown junior heavyweight Ziad Haddad (26-0). His two takedowns and an escape were enough to beat California Baptist heavyweight Jacob Mitchell, 5-4.

Nebraska-Kearney was the two-time defending champion and Notre Dame ended a six-year run of Nebraska schools owning Division II. Nebraska-Kearney and Nebraska-Omaha had won the last half-dozen titles.

at Cleveland, Ohio, March 14-15

125 Results

1st Place Match
Ben Sergent (University of Findlay) 23-6, RS Sr. over TJ North (Augustana) 33-4, So. (Dec 7-4).
3rd Place Match
Dave Fogle (Pitt-Johnstown) 31-6, Sr. over Matthew Turek (Gannon) 26-8, RS Jr. (Fall 2:54).
5th Place Match
Bryden Lazaro (Cal Baptist) 28-9, Sr. over Marco Tamayo (Lindenwood) 20-13, RS Jr. (Dec 12-7).
7th Place Match
Alex Johns (University of Indianapolis) 30-5, RS Sr. over Garrett Evans (Ouachita Baptist) 27-9, RS Jr. (MD 10-1).

133 Results
1st Place Match
Casy Rowell (Central Oklahoma) 38-5, Sr. over Daniel DeShazer (Nebraska-Kearney) 17-2, So. (TB-2 3-2).
3rd Place Match
Michael Labry (Ashland University) 36-5, So. over Dustin Stodola (Chadron State) 27-2, Sr. (Dec 6-1).
5th Place Match
Brenden Murphy (McKendree University) 42-11, RS Sr. over Evan Yenolevich (Kutztown) 15-4, Sr. (Fall 2:04).
7th Place Match
Nathan Rodriguez (Ouachita Baptist) 29-9, Fr. over Isaiah Hurtado (San Francisco State) 29-11, Jr. (Fall 2:12).

141 Results
1st Place Match
Daniel Ownbey (UNC-Pembroke) 27-8, RS Jr. over Joshua Myers (Ouachita Baptist) 27-7, RS Jr. (Dec 2-1).
3rd Place Match
Dylan D`Urso (Mercyhurst) 32-4, So. over Charles Napier (Fort Hays State) 33-6, Sr. (TB-2 (RT) 3-3).
5th Place Match
Bradford Gerl (Cal Baptist) 10-8, So. over BJ Young (Newberry College) 38-9, RS Sr. (MD 15-6).
7th Place Match
Darick Lapaglia (Maryville University) 34-14, Fr. over Kyle Webb (Lindenwood) 29-18, RS Jr. (Fall 2:54).

149 Results
1st Place Match
Frank Cagnina (Central Missouri) 40-2, Jr. over Edwin Cooper (Upper Iowa) 42-4, So. (Dec 6-2).
3rd Place Match
Terrel Wilbourn (Lindenwood) 14-5, RS So. over Jay Hildreth (St. Cloud State) 21-7, Jr. (Dec 4-3).
5th Place Match
James Martinez (Colorado Mesa) 19-4, Jr. over Cameryn Brady (University of Indianapolis) 36-4, RS Sr. (Dec 3-1).
7th Place Match
Kyle Williams (McKendree University) 36-12, RS Sr. over Jeremy Landowski (Mercyhurst) 24-7, So. (Dec 7-0).

157 Results
1st Place Match
Jonatan Rivera (Notre Dame (OH)) 25-6, So. over Cory Dauphin (Central Oklahoma) 39-1, Sr. (Dec 5-2).
3rd Place Match
Clint Poster (St. Cloud State) 33-8, RS So. over Justin Pencook (UNC-Pembroke) 23-9, RS Sr. (Fall 4:17).
5th Place Match
Zak Vargo (Lake Erie College) 35-6, RS Sr. over Ray Hall (CSU-Pueblo) 9-6, Sr. (Dec 7-5).
7th Place Match
Bobby Williams (Ouachita Baptist) 28-12, RS Sr. over Derrick Weller (Lindenwood) 26-17, RS Jr. (Fall 1:30).

165 Results
1st Place Match
Eric Burgey (Notre Dame (OH)) 15-2, Sr. over Chris Watson (Central Oklahoma) 43-4, Jr. (Dec 4-2).
3rd Place Match
Jeff Weiss (University of Indianapolis) 33-7, RS Sr. over Nick Haferkamp (McKendree University) 30-15, RS Jr. (Dec 3-2).
5th Place Match
Dimitri Willis (Maryville University) 35-14, RS So. over Brock Smith (Nebraska-Kearney) 22-9, Sr. (Dec 6-2).
7th Place Match
Gabe Fogarty (St. Cloud State) 13-9, So. over Ty Loethen (Central Missouri) 23-10, Jr. (Dec 6-2).

174 Results
1st Place Match
Joey Davis (Notre Dame (OH)) 39-0, So. over Adam Walters (University of Findlay) 31-4, RS Sr. (Dec 4-1).
3rd Place Match
Patrick Martinez (Nebraska-Kearney) 25-2, Sr. over Elliot Copeland (Western State Colorado) 13-4, Jr. (Dec 5-3).
5th Place Match
Chester Granard (Colorado Mesa) 24-4, Sr. over Zeb Wahle (Maryville University) 37-11, RS Fr. (Dec 5-2).
7th Place Match
Trevor Grant (CSU-Pueblo) 21-14, Sr. over Blaze Shade (UNC-Pembroke) 25-11, So. (Dec 7-0).

184 Results
1st Place Match
Garrett Lineberger (Notre Dame (OH)) 25-5, Fr. over Travis McKillop (Pitt-Johnstown) 31-5, Jr. (Fall 4:54).
3rd Place Match
Dallas Smith (Ouachita Baptist) 33-5, Jr. over Nick Burghardt (Maryville University) 34-12, So. (SV-1 (Fall) 7:21).
5th Place Match
Kyle Piatt (Western State Colorado) 29-5, Jr. over Jared Holliday (Newberry College) 40-13, Jr. (Dec 3-2).
7th Place Match
Mark Fiala (Nebraska-Kearney) 35-17, Sr. over Bryson Hall (Ashland University) 24-5, Jr. (Dec 6-3).

197 Results
1st Place Match
Romero Cotton (Nebraska-Kearney) 23-3, So. over Julian Smith (McKendree University) 42-8, RS Jr. (Dec 8-7).
3rd Place Match
Carl Broghammer (Upper Iowa) 42-4, Sr. over Brandonn Johnson (Notre Dame (OH)) 34-9, Sr. (Dec 10-5).
5th Place Match
Joe Brandt (Ashland University) 29-6, Jr. over Tanner Kriss (Fort Hays State) 15-9, Sr. (Fall 2:10).
7th Place Match
Zachary Bennett (Pitt-Johnstown) 25-6, Jr. over Evan Rosborough (Lake Erie College) 33-13, Fr. (Dec 6-2).

285 Results
1st Place Match
Ziad Haddad (Kutztown) 26-0, Jr. over Jacob Mitchell (Cal Baptist) 14-1, Jr. (Dec 5-4).
3rd Place Match
Steve Butler (Lindenwood) 20-2, RS Jr. over Donnell Walker (Maryville University) 36-10, RS Fr. (Dec 5-0).
5th Place Match
Evan Wooding (University of Indianapolis) 31-10, RS Sr. over Austin Goergen (St. Cloud State) 35-8, RS Fr. (Dec 8-7).
7th Place Match
Josh Duplin (Pitt-Johnstown) 27-14, So. over Matt Wade (Newberry College) 37-10, RS Sr. (TB-1 4-1).

Team Standings
1. Notre Dame (OH) 99.5
2. Nebraska-Kearney 64.5
3. Maryville University 58.5
4. Ouachita Baptist 56.0
5. Central Oklahoma 54.5
6. St. Cloud State 51.0
7. Lindenwood 48.5
8. University of Indianapolis 46.0
9. Pitt-Johnstown 44.5
10. McKendree University 43.5
11. UNC-Pembroke 38.5
12. Cal Baptist 38.0
13. University of Findlay 35.5
14. Ashland University 34.0
15. Upper Iowa 33.0
16. Newberry College 29.5
17. Kutztown 29.0
18. Central Missouri 27.5
19. Colorado Mesa 23.0
20. Western State Colorado 22.0
21. Fort Hays State 21.5
22. Mercyhurst 20.5
23. CSU-Pueblo 17.5
24. Augustana 16.0
25. Lake Erie College 14.5
26. Chadron State 13.5
27. Gannon 12.5
28. Adams State 5.0
28. San Francisco State 5.0
28. Southwest Minnesota 5.0
31. Minnesota State-Moorhead 1.5
32. West Liberty 1.0
33. Belmont Abbey 0.5
33. Coker College 0.5
33. Seton Hill 0.5