NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A weight class title defense enabled Manchester University fans to leave Stauffer-Wolfe Arena with smiling faces Saturday, Jan. 13.
Senior 141-pounder Chase Wilson (Peru, Ind.) led a strong team effort from the host Spartans among a deep 15-team field. Striving for a second successive championship at his home tournament, the D3Wrestle.com top contender rolled into the finals behind two falls and two decisions. He saved the coupe de gras for the championship clash with second-seeded NCAA Division II wrestle Gage Branson.
The Bellarmine University 20-wins-plus standout held a 2-1 lead late in the third period after the two traded escapes and Wilson was penalized with a second stalling call. With his home crowd behind him, he hit a single-leg and kept driving forward, managing to grab Branson's other leg on the edge of the mat as the clock ran out to gain the takedown for a thrilling 3-2 victory.
All part of a day in which Coach Kevin Lake's squad captured five top eight individual finishes. Sophomore 149-pounder Jordan Napier (Indianapolis, Ind.) placed fourth for the next best MU placing; sophomore heavyweight Tristin Choate (Mt. Vernon, Ind.) was fifth; and the senior tandem of 197-pounder Alex Roberts (Campbelltown, Ind.) and Tristan Wilson (Fort Wayne, Ind.) each wound up seventh.
Manchester University's team score of 78 points left them fifth on the final standings.
"It's always a plus to get good opportunities and see what we need to work on (moving forward)," Lake said. "This is a type of finish we can build upon. Finishing in the top five (of a tournament like this) is a positive. It's back to work on Monday to see what can do now.
Looking ahead, we're in a situation of using each competition and practice (from this point) to be ready for regionals," he added. "Our intensity level needs to be ramped up … we need to get everyone to be a little feister in practices and so forth. This is the beginning of that last push (to regionals)."
The Spartans move back into dual action Saturday, Jan. 20. MU is part of the field at Wabash College's Max Servies Duals.