McKendree University sophomore Darren Wynn was crowned the NCAA Division II Wrestling National Championship at 141 pounds on Saturday night.
Wynn, the No. 5 ranked wrestler in NCAA II, defeated No. 6 Joseph Alessandro, of Seton Hill University, in the 141-pound championship match in a 12-8 decision to claim the title. The match was tied, 4-4, with 38-seconds to go in the first period before Wynn scored a reversal and followed with a four-point near fall with six seconds left to lead 10-4. Both wrestlers only scored one point in the second period, and despite giving up an escape and takedown in the final period, Wynn earned an escape in the final moments to secure the 12-8 win and claim the national title.
He became the second wrestler in school history to wrestle for an NCAA Division II national championship after former Bearcat Julian Smith reached the finals at 197 pounds in 2014. Smith finished as national runner-up.
Wynn, the No. 5 ranked wrestler at 141 pounds, reached Saturday night’s championship finals following a 10-3 win over Blake Clevenger of Ouachita Baptist University (Ark.). Wynn shut Clevenger down offensively, only allowing him to score on three escapes in the match. Wynn scored two takedowns in the first period to lead 4-1, and started off the second period with an escape, followed by another takedown to lead 7-1 entering the final period. Clevenger escaped early in the period, but Wynn took him down again with six-seconds remaining to take a 9-3 lead and was awarded a point for riding time to win 10-3.
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Fellow sophomores Mech Spraggins Jr. (Belleville West) and NaQuan both earned their first All-America honor on Saturday. Spraggins finished in fifth place at 149 pounds, while Hardy finished in sixth place at 133 pounds.
Spraggins trailed 4-3 against John Hagerty, of Maryville, in the final moments in their consolation quarterfinals match at 149 pounds, but Spraggins scored a takedown with a few seconds left to earn the 5-4 win. Trailing 3-0 after the first period, Spraggins scored an escape and a takedown in the final minute of the period to tie it up 3-3. An escape by Hagerty at the start of the third made the score 4-3, but Spraggins' late takedown was the difference. In the consolation semifinals, Spraggins trailed No. 3 Jay Hildreth, of Saint Cloud State University, 4-0 entering the third period, but was unable to get the upper hand to fall 5-3. Spraggins scored an escape and takedown to cut the score to 4-3 in the third, but was unable to score enough to drop to the fifth place match. In a rematch of their opening match of the tournament, Spraggins squared off with No. 6 Jeremy Landowski of Mercyhurst University. He led 1-0 after tow periods, but gave up an escape and takedown in the third to trail 3-1, before cutting it to 3-2 with an escape after a restart. Spraggins secured a takedown at the whistle to take a 4-3 lead and earn the win and the fifth place finish. He finished his season with an overall record of 39-10.
Hardy advanced to the consolation semifinals following a 4-3 decision win over Martin Ramirez of Adams State University. Hardy scored a takedown in the first period to take a 2-0 lead, and got a reversal in the second period to take a 4-0 lead, but got called for stalling to make the score 4-1. Hardy was taken to his back in the third period for a two-point near fall to cut his lead to 4-3, but he held on down the stretch for the win. In the consolation semifinals against No. 3 Blake Bosch of Minnesota State University-Moorhead, Hardy gave up a takedown and was pinned in 1:41 to fall to the fifth place match. Hardy wrestled Dakota Bauer from Maryville University in the fifth place match, but was unable to get his offense going in a 10-4 loss to finish in sixth place. He ended his season with an overall record of 21-8.