Wrestling in the Southeastern Conference championships in Palm Coast, Florida, the Mercer wrestling team walked away with a 3rd place finish and plenty of momentum before they host the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) championships in Macon next week, March 10-12 at the University Center.
Led by head coach Kevin Andres, the orange and black grapplers built plenty of confidence going into their final tournament of the season with nine off their roster advancing to the NWCA finals next week and with ten wrestlers placing in the top-8 within their respective weight classes.
“Realistically, we wanted to go into the SEC championship and qualify as many possible,” said Andres. “I was overwhelmed by how the team did and we had a phenomenal effort in the conference tournament. We’re peaking at the right time for nationals,” he added.
Facing 15 other teams, Mercer went into the conference tournament with plenty of enthusiasm and youth. In fact, eight of the nine wrestlers that will move onto the NCWA championships are freshman as well as Mercer’s lone conference champion, Charlie Farr.
It was a strong showing from the Bears (108.5 points) over the weekend as they would only finish behind eventual champion Central Florida (164.5) and Marion Military Institute (160.5) in third place. Fourth place University of Florida (64.5) was well out of reach as were the Bulldogs of Georgia (63.0) in their fifth place result.
The tournament started well for the Bears as Nick Wright (125lb) took down two opponents before a pin at the 4:30 mark to finish second to Alexander Chiricosta (UCF) bringing Wright’s record to 22-9 for the season. Wesley Adams (133lb, 17-17) would follow up the effort with a fourth place finish in his weight class while teammate Arturo Holmes II (141lb, 10-2) would fight through the consolation bracket after a loss to Brandon Westermann (Marion Military Institute) to finish in 3rd with a 9-2 decision over Michael Giorgio (MMI).
Cinnegar White (149lb, 16-15) would fall in the consolation bracket after fighting through two rounds in a loaded weight class to take a 6th place result while Hunter Allen (157lb, 19-15) would also finish 6th in his respective weight class. Mercer’s lineup would also include solid results from Ronald Henderson (165lb – 5th), Derek Wojcik (174lbs – 2nd), Michael Myers (184lb – 5th), Ben Mercier (197lb – 8th), as well as Charlie Farr’s (285lb – 1st) rout of the heavyweight class.
Farr, one of Andres’ top freshman wrestlers, improved his overall record to 29-6 on the year and is one of Mercer’s best bets to advance in the NCWA tournament in Macon. Andres feels good about his team’s chances in the national tournament next week, but is equally as excited to see college wrestling come to the Macon area.
“The fact that we’re bringing college wrestling to the area is huge,” said Andres. “Macon is starving for something like this and fans will definitely see some of the best collegiate wrestling action in the United States next weekend,” he added.