AU wrestling finishes 9th in conference tournament
Three AU wrestlers qualify for nationals at EIWA Championships
Redshirt juniors Kizhan Clarke (149), Tanner Harvey (184) and Gage Curry (125) qualified for the NCAA Championships at the EIWA Championships on March 6 and 7 at Lehigh University.
For Curry, who is ranked 20th nationally and came into the EIWA tournament as a five seed in his weight class, this will be his third appearance at nationals in three years. He finished in fourth place after losing in the quarterfinals to Army’s No. 19 Trey Chalifoux, but bounced back in the consolation bracket to defeat Brown’s Trey Keeley, Hofstra’s Dylan Ryder and Cornell’s Dominic Lajoie. Curry earned one of the conference’s automatic bids to the NCAA Championships.
Harvey, also ranked 20th nationally and fourth-seeded in the tournament, defeated Army’s Noah Stewart 9-3 in overtime to finish third in the 184-pound class. He captured his second appearance at nationals since transferring to AU from Southwest Oregon Community College.
This will be Clarke’s first time at the NCAA Championships, as he came into the tournament as the one seed and ranked 12th nationally. Though he only finished fourth in his division at the tournament, he fulfilled his season-long goal of qualifying for nationals after just missing out last year when he wrestled at 157 pounds.
“My ultimate goal is to be a national champion,” Clarke said earlier this season after a January match against Navy. “First I gotta make it to nationals, that’s one of my biggest goals since I haven’t been to nationals yet. And I feel like to do that, I have to remind myself that I’m up there [competing] with the greatest guys when I put my mind to it.”
Redshirt senior Sal Profaci (141) also came into the EIWA Championships as a one seed, but had a disappointing showing during the tournament. Ranked number 23 in the country, he lost in the quarterfinals 8-6 to Binghamton's Anthony Sparacio. He then suffered an overtime loss in the consolation bracket to Franklin & Marshall’s Wil Gil 12-10, ending his time at the EIWA Championships without a qualifying bid for nationals. To continue his final season, he will have to receive one of the 47 at-large bids to the national tournament, which will be announced on Tuesday.
Fellow AU redshirt wrestlers freshman Tim Fitzpatrick (165), junior Anthony Wokasch (174) and sophomore Niko Camacho (285) also had strong performances at the EIWA Championships with Camacho finishing seventh in the heavyweight division, and Fitzpatrick and Wokasch finishing eighth in their weight classes. The team, as a whole, finished ninth in the tournament.
“I’m very happy for our six place winners,” head coach Teague Moore said after the tournament. “Tanner Harvey earned a victory over an opponent he had lost to the last three times they met. Kizhan Clarke finished fourth, improving his placement from last year’s EIWAs. Gage Curry once again qualifies through to the NCAAs ... We look forward to the NCAA Championships and are excited to get back to work in preparation for nationals.”
The NCAA Championships take place March 19-21 in Minneapolis, Minn., where Clarke, Harvey and Curry will take on the nation’s best wrestlers in hopes of becoming national champions.