PROVIDENCE, RI – The NCAA Northeast Regional trophy will stay in Providence. Thanks to six wrestlers advancing to the NCAA Championships, the eighth-ranked Johnson & Wales University wrestling team won an unprecedented fourth-straight regional title on Sunday at Rhode Island College.
Johnson & Wales took the team title with 168 points. Coast Guard Academy was second with 122.5 points and NYU posted 122 points.
Representing the Wildcats at the NCAA Championship will be Hayden Brown (133 pounds), Jordan Robinson (141 pounds), Da'mani Burns (149 pounds), Darius Joyce (157 pounds), Tommy Wrzesien (197 pounds) and Michael DiNardo (285 pounds).
The NCAA Championships are set for March 13-14 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Looking to break the JWU record for wins and pins, DiNardo only needed 1:46 to pin Springfield's Joe Fusco and earn his third trip to the national championships. He captured the regional title by pinning third-ranked Patrick Irwin off Coast Guard in 5:41. DiNardo won the Gorriaran winner for the most pins in the shortest amount of time.
The top seed at 133 pounds, Brown earned his spot with a 5-1 win over Tristan Stetson from Wesleyan. He received a medical forfeit in the finals to claim the regional title.
Seeded first at 141 pounds, Robinson used a second-period takedown to beat RIC's Nathan Lackman, 3-1. A pair of third-period takedowns against Williams' Joseph Rossetti earned him his first regional championship.
After twice losing to Tyler Gazaway from Roger Williams in the regular season, Burns got his revenge in the semifinals. He got out to a 6-0 lead in the first period on his way to the 6-2 defeat. It's his second-straight trip to the NCAA Championships. He won the regional title by holding on to beat #8 Evan Fidelibus of New England College, 10-9.
Seeded seventh at the start of the tournament, Joyce dominated Wesleyan's Aaron Goldman, 8-5, to earn his first trip. He fell to third-ranked Sean Lyons of NYU, 16-0, in the championship bout.
A takedown just 33 seconds into the third period helped Wrzesien beat the number one seed, Castleton's Mitchell LaFlam, 3-2. Wrzesien came through with a reversal in the third period, but seventh-ranked Jon Wagner from Coast Guard got a late escape to take the regional title, 5-4.
Lopez needed two overtimes to beat New England College's Diego Santiago, 4-1, in the consolation quarterfinals. He topped NYU's Tyler Crew with an 11-3 major decision to reach the third-place match. Unfortunately, he lost to Springfield's Joey Manginelli based on riding time.
Santiago came up just short of making the trip to nationals. He received a medical forfeit in his consolation quarterfinals match, but lost 7-0 in the consolation semis to defending national champion John Boyle from Western New England. He earned fifth-place by pinning Anthony Malfitano of Rodger Williams in 2:21.
Higginson lost a close 5-2 decision to Castleton's Michael Angers in the consolation quarters. He bounced back to pin Zach Ford from Rhode Island College and secure the team title.