CLEVELAND, Ohio – There's a vacant spot in the Johnson & Wales University wrestling room for the program's first national champion. That spot now has its first name.
Junior Jay Albis got a takedown in the final seconds to win the school's first NCAA National Championship in any sport. He defeated Carlos Fuentes of Wheaton, 11-10, to capture the title at 125 pounds. In addition, he won the award for having the most technical falls of any wrestler in the country.
As a team, the Wildcats finished sixth at 43.5 points, coming in just a half point behind Wabash. Wartburg won its third team title in a row.
A first-period takedown gave Albis an early lead in his semifinal match against Jonathan Haas of SUNY Brockport. He dominated the riding time to get the bonus point needed to move on to the finals.
Vicente ran into a pair of tough competitors to start the day. He lost a 15-7 major decision to Sam Bennyhoff from Augsburg in the semifinals. In the consolations, he was beaten 16-1 by Troy Stanich in a round-one rematch. He lost a close 8-7 decision to Anthony Munoz of Elmhurst to take sixth.
A late escape against Millikin's Chris Williams got Ferinde into overtime of his first match, but Williams turned the tables and escaped just before the buzzer to win 5-4. Ferinde wasn't as lucky in the seventh-place match as he could not escape in time to force another overtime period against Elmhurst's Jimmy McAuliffe.
Thomas forfeited his matches due to injury.
Johnson & Wales should be poised for another strong showing in 2019 as the only graduating national qualifiers are Vicente and Jonah Aurelio.