BUIES CREEK, N.C. — Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's David Devine won the 285-pound weight class Saturday at the Southern Conference Championships to become the first SIUE wrestler of the Division I era to advance to the NCAA Championships.
Devine was the surprise of the SoCon Tournament. Seeded fifth to start the event, Devine was the lowest seed to advance to the finals in any weight class.
"This is my last chance to make a name for myself," said Devine.
After winning the quarterfinal round 3-2 over fourth-seeded Denzel Dejournette of Appalachian State, he upset top-seeded Dawson Peck of Chattanooga 3-1 in the first sudden victory period. He then dispatched Campbell's Eloheim Palma, the No. 2 seed, 4-0 in the finals.
"David wrestled great the whole tournament," said SIUE coach Jeremy Spates.
Devine will next compete at the national championships set for March 20-22 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
"I'm just happy I'm going," said Devine, "but it would be nice to be an All-American."
As a team, SIUE finished sixth with 30.5 points. Chattanooga won its fourth straight SoCon team title with 89 points, outdistancing The Citadel by 10.5 points.
SIUE's Jake Residori suffered a disappointing final match at 174 pounds. Residori was 30 seconds into the championship match when he injured his left elbow against Chattanooga's Levi Clemons and would leave the match on an injury default.
Senior Josh Wood matched his finish from a year ago with third place at 197 pounds. He defeated Gardner-Webb's Boyce Cornwell 5-2 in the third-place match.
"He had a tough loss in the semifinals," said Spates. "I know that wasn't Josh's goal, but for him to go out having his hand raised is nice."