TIFFIN, Ohio — Junior's John Vogt and Julian Smith became the first two individuals in program history to claim NCAA regional titles on Saturday in helping the No. 9 McKendree University wrestling team to a runner-up finish at the NCAA Super Region Two Tournament.
The Bearcats will send six individuals to the NCAA Division II Wrestling National Championship on March 14-15 at Public Hall in Cleveland, Ohio.
Vogt became McKendree's first NCAA Regional Champion after posting two wins on the day. Vogt earned his berth into the regional finals by pinning NCAA No. 1 Bryson Hall of Ashland University in 4:49 in the championship semifinals. He then went on to edge Nick Burghardt of Maryville University in the finals, 2-0, to claim the 184 regional title. Vogt was 0-2 against Burghardt in previous meetings this season.
Smith became the second NCAA Regional champion in program history not long after Vogt. Smith, ranked No. 3 in NCAA II at 197 pounds, defeated Evan Rosborough of Lake Erie College, 5-1, in the semifinals and followed with an 8-4 win over NCAA II No. 6 Joe Brandt of Ashland University in the finals.
Graduate student Kyle Williams (Mascoutah) finished as runner-up at the regional championships at 149 pounds. Williams, ranked No. 8 in NCAA II, earned his spot in the regional final with a 5-1 decision over Brent Fickel of Ashland, but lost a 7-1 decision to NCAA II No. 7 Cameryn Brady of University of Indianapolis in the finals.
Junior Nick Haferkamp was McKendree's other runner-up finisher in the tournament. Haferkamp, ranked No. 7 at 165 pounds in NCAA II, edged Blake Ridenour of Newberry College, 11-9, in overtime in the semifinals, but lost an 8-7 decision to Jeff Weiss of Indianapolis in the finals.
Senior Brenden Murphy finished in third place at 133 pounds and was the first-ever NCAA national qualifier for the Bearcats. Murphy lost a 6-4 decision to Michael Labry of Ashland in the semifinals, but won a 12-2 major decision over DeMarcus Spencer of King University to claim his spot in the third place match and become an NCAA qualifier. Murphy defeated Charlie Huff of Coker College, 5-1, in the match.
Junior Luis Alba finished in fifth place at 174 pounds to earn his berth at the NCAA Championships. Alba had to battle through the consolation brackets after losing his opening match on Friday. Alba advanced to the championship semifinals with a win by injury default over Davis Solak of Alderson-Broaddus University in the consolation semifinals, but lost 6-5 in double overtime to Zeb Wahle of Maryville University to fall into the fifth place match. Alba earned his NCAA bid with a 9-5 win over Tanner Saranceno of Limestone.
Junior Josh Ballard (Triad) narrowly missed out on a berth into the NCAA championship field on Saturday. Ballard, ranked No. 6 in NCAA II at 157 pounds, lost a 12-8 decision to Justin Pencook of University of North Carolina-Pembroke in the semifinals, and was pinned in 5:54 by Kyle Burns of Ashland in the consolation semifinals to fall to the fifth place match. Ballard suffered an injury in the consolation semifinal match and was unable to wrestle in the fifth place match to finish in sixth place. Ballard ended his season with an overall record of 33-14.