Wrestling team wins Midwest Regional title, qualifies five for DIII National Championships

UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, Ohio – Bolstered by five weight-class champions, the Olivet College wrestling team won the 2012 NCAA Division III  Midwest Regional, which was hosted by Case Western Reserve University and inside the Horsburgh Gymnasium in University Circle, Ohio. All five of the champions have advanced to the 2012 NCAA Division III National Championships March 9-10 at the University of Wis.-LaCrosse. In addition, Head Coach Brandon Brissette was named the regional's Coach of the Year, and his assistant, Jeff Therrian, received the Assistant Coach of the Year award. Both are receiving their awards for a second consecutive year.

The five national qualifiers equal the most in school history, as Olivet also sent five wrestlers to the 1984 NCAA Division III National Championships in Binghamton, N.Y. and the 1996 NCAA Division III National Championships in Cortland, N.Y. The regional title is also the eighth in school history, including second straight.

The Comets, ranked  No. 7 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association poll, beat second-place Wabash (Ind.) College by 53 points, 165.5-112.5 points. Waynesburg (Pa.) College edged Trine (Ind.) University for third-place, 103-99.5. The rest of the team scores were Thiel (Pa.) College, 91.5; Alma College, 68.5; College of Mount St. Joseph (Ohio), 50.5; Washington & Jefferson (Pa.) College, 47.5; Case Western, 35.5; and Manchester (Ind.) College, 31.

Winning and advancing to the national championships were sophomore Robbie Bidlingmaier (Chesterfield Twp./Anchor Bay) at 125 pounds, junior James Myers (Indian Creek/Monroe) at 165 pounds, senior Trevor Tyler (Roscommon) at 174 pounds, senior Justin Leonard (Webberville) at 197 pounds and junior Logan Renas (Big Rapids) at 285 pounds.

Bidlingmaier received a bye in the first round and then pinned Garth Simpson from Manchester to advance to the championship match. He posted an 18-0 technical fall victory over Brandon Preston from Trine to earn his first trip to the national championships.

Myers picked-up a bye for his first round match and then pinned Matt Tuttle from Alma in the quarterfinals and defeated Matt Lowry from Thiel, 10-4. In the championship match, he used an escape in third sudden death period to beat George Markou from Trine, 2-1. Myers will be making his second trip to the national championships, as he earned All-American honors in 2011 with a sixth-place finish.

Tyler won 18-4 over Eric Kohr from Washington & Jefferson and 7-0 over Drew Songer from Wabash. He then beat Jacob Lowry from Thiel 9-6 in the championship match and secure his second trip to the national championships.

Leonard had back-to-back major decision wins, 12-2 over Theron Mitchell from Washington & Jefferson and 10-1 over Patrick Jennings from Waynesburg, to reach the championship match. He scored a takedown in the final seconds of the match to beat Austin O'Neil from Wabash, 3-1, and advance to the national championships for the first time in his career.

Renas posted two consecutive pins, the first in 3:27 against James West from Trine and the second in only 29 seconds against Cale Harter from Case Western, to advance to the championship match. He defeated Brandon Fedorka from Waynesburg, 10-1, in that match to qualify for his first national championship. The win also avenged a defeat to Fedorka in last year's regional championship match.

At 133 pounds, sophomore Kam Olsen (Kentwood/East Kentwood) had a bye in the first round and then beat Zach Case from Alma, 10-0, in the semifinals. In the championship match, he lost a close match to No. 1 seed Corey Brown from Thiel, 9-8. In the true-second match, Olsen pinned Jake Vitolo from Waynesburg with four seconds left in the first period.

At 141 pounds, junior Kenny Richmond (Brighton) posted a 16-0 technical fall win over Justin Zienta from Manchester and then edged Wayne Black from Mount St. Joseph, 3-2, to advance to the championship match. He dropped a 9-3 decision to Josh Etzel from Washington & Jefferson.

At 149 pounds, sophomore Gage Pederson (Hastings) won 16-0 over Chris Crane from Case Western in the first round and then fell to Cameryn Brady from Manchester, 3-2, in the semifinals. In the consolation bracket, he beat Chris Leva from Washington & Jefferson, 11-0, to advance to the third-place match, where he beat Chris Milligan from Waynesburg, 9-2. In a true-second match, Pederson defeated No. 1 seed Jake Strausbaugh from Wabash, 3-1.

At 184 pounds, junior Josh Crawford (Birch Run) beat Billy Malicote from Mount St. Joseph, 7-4, before suffering a close 3-2 loss to Ryan Pieper from Trine in the semifinals. He came back to record a 4-1 win over Stephen Ceremuga from Thiel and lost 7-2 to Cody Catalina from Waynesburg to finish in fourth-place.

At 157 pounds, sophomore Dan Fleet (Ada/Lowell) got a bye in the first round and then lost 7-3 to Garett Johnston from Waynesburg. He defeated Brandon McLaughlin from Alma, 9-0, before forfeiting his next match and then fell Josh Sampson, 6-0, in the fifth-place match.