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Flores, Sanjaa place sixth at NCAA Championships

Ryan Flores and Ganbayar Sanjaa each recorded sixth-place finishes for the AU wrestling team at the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships in St. Louis March 15-17.

Flores showed dominance early in the heavyweight bracket, winning his first four matches by pinfall.

In the national semifinals, Flores was matched up yet again with Lehigh University’s Zach Rey, who Flores faced in the heavyweight final last year.

Late in the first round, Flores appeared to sustain an injury when he knocked heads with Rey as Rey went for a takedown. Flores could never gain control of the match and lost 6-2, as Rey would go on to win his second-straight championship.

In the third-place bracket, Flores took a medical forfeit and finished the event in sixth place.

The AU heavyweight finishes his career as one of the most decorated wrestlers in school history. He ends his time as an Eagle with a 47-9 record, and his 27 pins rank as the second most in school history.

Like Flores, the 157-pound Sanjaa did very well in the early part of the tournament. As the No. 5 seed, Sanjaa got past North Dakota State’s Steven Monk 3-2 to advance to the quarterfinals. Sanjaa defeated Princeton University’s Daniel Kolodzik to make it to the semis before losing 4-0 to the eventual overall winner, Kyle Dake of Cornell University.

Both Flores and Sanjaa earned All-American status for the second year in a row in their respective weight class. They are the fifth and sixth Eagles to earn multiple All-American honors, and AU has had at least one athlete earn All American honors in the last five years.

Daniel Mitchell, the lone wrestler who earned an at-large bid for the Eagles, finished with a 1-2 record in St. Louis but his big accomplishment came off the mat.

Mitchell was honored with the prestigious Elite 89 Award for Division I Wrestling, which honors students with the highest GPA in their sport. Last year, Mitchell was honored as a National Wrestling Coaches Association Academic All-American when he had the fifth highest GPA among Division I wrestlers.

After winning his opening match at 149 pounds, Kevin Tao dropped the next two. Meanwhile in the 141-pound weight class, Matt Mariacher was unable to add to his momentum after winning the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championship two weeks ago.

As an 11 seed, Mariacher was upset in the first round by Justin LaValle of Old Dominion University, and then lost his first match in the wrestlebacks.

The Eagles finished with a total of 31 points, which was good for 19th out of 64 teams at the championships. Penn State took home the team title with 128.5 points.

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