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Ohio Wrestlers Finish Strong in MAC Championships

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With the 2015-2016 MAC wrestling championship tournament in the books, wrestlers for the Ohio Bobcats can be proud of what they accomplished, and what the future holds for them in the coming seasons.

For newcomers Shakur Laney, Cam Kelly, and Austin Reese, it was a new learning experience of what it takes to prove you’re the best in your conference.

For veterans Sparty Chino, Cody Walters, Andrew Romanchik, and Phil Wellington, it was their last chance to compete on the wrestling mats before potentially heading to their final national tournament.

Ohio finished day one of the tournament in fourth place with 52.5 points. After wrestling hard and getting after it in day two they were able to leapfrog Northern Iowa to finish third with 76.0 points, behind Central Michigan (93.5) and Missouri (127.5). It’s their second year in a row finishing third, steadily improving from fourth and fifth place finishes the previous two years.

“I thought we finished well and overall I thought it was a great tournament for us,” said head coach Joel Greenlee. “We got five automatic qualifiers and I think we have the chance at a few more at-large bids. I think we wrestled at or above our seeds at almost every weight and anytime you can do that it is a successful tournament.”

Freshman Shakur Laney went into his first MAC tournament ranked fourth out of the nine wrestlers in the 125lb class. His first matched kicked off the long first day of wrestling, getting a razor close 2-1 win over Old Dominion’s Brandon Jeske.

His next matchup in the semifinals pitted him against No. 1 seeded Dylan Peters of Northern Iowa, a wrestler Laney had previous experience against from their regular season dual. He dropped the decision 11-5 in a hard fought match to end his first day on the mats.

Fighting in the consolation bracket in day two, Laney came out first and lost 9-0 to Brent Fleetwood of Central Michigan. Unfazed by the match, he went up against Kyle Akins and put him on his back in the first period. Laney ends his first collegiate season with a 22-10 record and a fifth place finish in his first MAC tournament.

Freshman Cam Kelly entered as the No. three ranked wrestler in the 133lb class, known to most fans of the MAC as one of the most intriguing newcomers to the tournament. He started off slow in day one, getting pinned late in his match against Northern Illinois’ Austin Eicher, but recovered to top Missouri’s Zach Synon in the consolation bracket.

Day two for Kelly began with a match against Bryan Lantry of Buffalo, and came away with a solid 6-3 victory. Later on he had a much anticipated rematch against Mack McGuire of Kent State, whom he previously upset in the grudge match earlier in the regular season. McGuire was able to get the better of Kelly this time around, giving the freshman a fourth place MAC tournament finish in his first year at Ohio, along with an automatic bid for the national tournament.

After dropping a preliminary match to determine his rankings, 141lb Noah Forrider rebounded to win a pair of matches and keep his hopes alive in the consolation bracket. Soon after losing to Buffalo’s Brandon Lapi, he knocked off EMU’s Kyle Springer with a 6-4 win in overtime, and followed that with a 4-3 decision over Kent State’s Anthony Tutolo.

Day two ended quickly for the sophomore with getting pinned by Trevor Jauch of Northern Iowa, giving him a sixth place finish for the tournament.

The final MAC tournament for longtime 157lb Sparty Chino, ranked No. 4, started poorly, getting pinned at the 3:40 mark in his match against Missouri’s Le’Roy Barnes. Determined not to end his tournament quickly, he beat on Devin Geoghegan of Old Dominion 12-3 in a major decision.

In day two Chino was defeated by CMU’s Luke Smith 5-2, in the consolation semifinals. He was declared the winner of the fifth place match after his opponent, Ian Miller of Kent State, forfeit due to medical reasons. He’ll take his fifth place finish into his final matches of the national tournament after earning an automatic bid.

Making his MAC tournament wrestling debut, redshirt freshman Austin Reese checked in at No. 3 in the 165lb class, going against EMU’s Dakota Juarez to start his day. In a match that went right down to the wire, Reese came out on the losing side of a 3-2 score. His second match closed out day one for the Bobcats, when he knocked off Northern Illinois’ Shaun’Qae McMurty by an 11-1 major decision.

Coming out for day two, Reese faced Tyler Blackwell of Kent State to start things off. Down 3-2 with time about to expire, Reese was able to get a takedown at the last second and get the 4-3 win. The victory officially earned him a bid to the national tournament in his first year in collegiate wrestling. His day came to an end with a 4-1 defeat to Cooper Moore of Northern Iowa.

174lb Cody Walters, ranked No. 3, came in looking for his fourth MAC title in his fourth year wrestling at the college level. He came out swinging and quickly snapped Ohio’s losing skid with a 12-0 major decision over Jeriod James of Kent State.

In his next match against Missouri’s Blaise Butler, Walters gave it his all but fell short, 2-1, eliminating him from top spot contention for the first time in his career.

His second day of wrestling brought more positive match outcomes. He scored early and often to beat EMU’s Jacob Davis 9-0, and pinned Kent State’s Jairod James with 1:32 remaining in the first period. He finished in third place and will look to take the momentum of those two wins into his final national tournament upcoming in a few weeks.

Getting the No. 3 seed in his final MAC tournament, 184lb redshirt senior Andrew Romanchik wasted no time making an early impact. He quickly got into an arm bar and took Derek Hillman of Eastern Michigan down to the mat, pinning him in the opening seconds of the match. His next match against Old Dominion’s Jack Dechow saw him losing a close 4-1 decision.

Romo’s second day of action had him take a couple of hard fought but unfortunate losses. A tie breaker 5-3 loss to Buffalo’s Joe Ariola and a 5-2 defeat to Northern Iowa’s Drew Foster had him leaving his final MAC tournament with a fifth place finish and a hope that he will get selected for a tournament bid in the coming days.

For 197lb redshirt senior Phil Wellington (ranked No. 3), the whole tournament was a matter of finishing as strongly as you start out. He began with an 8-4 decision over CMU’s Jackson Lewis, and followed up with a defeat of Kent State’s Kyle Conel, 11-5. The two wins brought him to the championship match against J’den Cox from Missouri, for the second year in a row.

A championship win for Wellington wasn’t in the cards, unfortunately. He went down with a 9-1 major decision loss, but took second place, highest on the team, and has his automatic tournament bid for an opportunity for a strong finish to his career.

As of now, the Bobcats with their tickets already punched to the big dance are Kelly, Chino, Reese, Walters, and Wellington. All other hopefuls are patiently waiting to see if the NCAA calls their name out.