CLEVELAND, Ohio — Junior Julian Smith finished as runner-up at 197 pounds on Saturday night at the NCAA Division II Wrestling National Championships to lead a group of four Bearcat All-Americans.
The No. 9 McKendree University wrestling team finished in 10th place in the team standings in its first season as full NCAA membership.
Smith, ranked No. 3 at 197 pounds, faced top-seeded Romero Cotton of University of Nebraska-Kearney in the championship match. Smith took a 2-0 lead with a takedown early in the first period, but an escape by Cotton cut the lead to 2-1. Smith escaped from the bottom position at the start of the second period to take a 3-1 lead and followed with a takedown late in the second to enter the final period, 5-1. Cotton escaped and got a takedown to cut the score to 5-4, but Smith escaped to stay in front 6-4. Cotton secured two takedowns in the final 44-seconds of the match, but Smith could only escape once to fall 8-7. Smith earned his spot in the championship match with a 6-5 win in the second tie breaker period over No. 2 Carl Broghammer of Upper Iowa University. Smith ends his season with an overall record of 42-7
Senior Brenden Murphy, graduate student Kyle Williams (Mascoutah) and junior Nick Haferkamp also earned All-America honors with top eight finsihes in their respective weight classes. Murphy started the day with a loss to No. 4 Casy Rowell of University of Central Oklahoma, 3-1, in the 133 pound championship semifinals. Murphy then lost a 6-3 decision to No. 6 Dustin Stodola of Chadron State University (Neb.) in the championship semifinals to fall into the fifth place match. Murphy pinned Evan Yenolevich of Kutztown University (Pa.) in 2:04 to finish in fifth place. Murphy ends his Bearcat career with a two-year record of 82-17.
Williams, ranked No. 8 in NCAA II, squared-off with No. 7 Cameryn Brady of University of Indianapolis in the consolation quarterfinals, but lost a 9-1 major decision to fall into the seventh place match. Williams shutout Jeremy Landowski of Mercyhurst University in a 7-0 decision win to earn a seventh place finish. Williams ended his collegiate career with a four-year record of 126-53, and is a four-time All-American, having previously earned All-America honors three-times in the NAIA.
Haferkamp, ranked No. 4 in NCAA II, finished his tournament with a 2-1 record on Saturday. Haferkamp defeated No. 7 Ty Loethen of University of Central Missouri, 5-3, in the consolation quarterfinals, and followed with a 5-4 win in the tie breaker period over No. 8 Brock Smith of Nebraska-Kearney to advance to the third place match. Haferkamp was edged by No. 3 Jeff Weiss of Indianapolis in the match to finish in fourth place, and ended his season with an overall record of 30-15.