Wrestling: Johnson, Purdue, Garringer Punch Tickets To St. Louis At Conference Championships

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An opportunity to compete for a national championship and the title of All-American is something that a collegiate wrestler dreams of for years.

For Ohio’s Jeremy Johnson, Nick Purdue, and Ryan Garringer, that dream has become a reality. Johnson and Purdue both won their respective weight classes, and Garringer placed third to lead Ohio to a fourth place finish at the MAC championships at the Convocation Center on Sunday.

Johnson started his quest for the championship with a first round bye. His first contest of the evening saw him earn a pin fall victory over Eastern Michigan’s Wesley Schroeder. From there, Johnson battled through three tough periods in the championship match to defeat Kent State’s Brendan Barlow with a late takedown and a 4-2 victory. With the win, Johnson improved his record to 30-5 on the season and assured himself of a top seed at the NCAA Tournament.

Purdue was granted a similar draw on his path to the title. After a first round bye, he defeated Anthony Bill of Central Michigan with a 9-2 decision. His championship contest pitted him against Phillip Joseph of Eastern Michigan. In what was easily one of the most exciting contests of the entire tournament, Purdue picked up late near fall points in the third period to win his first MAC title by a score of 12-10.

By far the most surprising Bobcat performance of the evening belonged to Garringer. The unseeded sophomore picked up a 4-2 decision over Eastern Michigan’s Michael Curby. He fell via pin in his second round matchup to eventual champion Ben Bennett of Central Michigan. From there, Garringer defeated Buffalo’s Justin Lozano in his first consolation round match. He then made quick work of Kent State’s Casey Newberg, pinning him in just 1:33, to guarantee his spot in St. Louis. He wrestled for second place, however, he was defeated by Brad Dieckhaus of Northern Illinois.

As a team, the Bobcats put together an impressive performance. Ohio finished in fourth place, finishing 7.5 points off of third place Eastern Michigan. Central Michigan claimed their 11th straight MAC championship in commanding fashion, beating second place Kent State by 10 points. The Chippewas have won 14 of the last 15 championships overall, and this win marks their record 16th overall MAC crown.

The three remaining Bobcat grapplers will take their talents to the “Gateway to the West,” as they vie to bring home a national championship. The NCAA tournament will take place March 15-17 in St. Louis.