9 Georgia Natives Punch Their Tickets to NCAAs
Georgia natives had an outstanding weekend in their respective conference tournaments. The SoCon, ACC, Pac-12, EIWA, and MAC conference tournaments all took place over the course of the weekend, and 9 Georgia Grapplers were able to secure their automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Justin Ruffin of SIUE had to injury default out of the MAC tournament, but he is a solid candidate to receive an at-large bid because of his high ranking in the coaches poll and his overall body of work throughout the season. Another strong candidate for an at-large bid would be nationally ranked William Formato of Appalachian State after he took 3rd at the SoCon tournament.
The only conference tournaments that remain are the B1G and Big 12, and no Georgia natives are expected to represent their respective schools. The NCAA tournament will take place in St. Louis on March 18th-20th.
125lbs – Codi Russell, Appalachian State
Russell cruised through the SoCon tournament, repeating as champ (he won the conference last year up at 133lbs). In the semis, Russell picked up a major decision against Gomez of Presbyterian College. In the finals, he won 11-4 over #3 seed Storm of Campbell.
125lbs – Jackson DiSario, Stanford
The 125lb bracket at the PAC 12 tournament went pretty much according to the seeds. DiSario entered the tournament as the #2 seed, and he beat the #3 seed Kaylor of Oregon State in the semis by a 7-3 decision. Reaching the finals secured a spot in the NCAA tournament for the Georgia native. In the finals, DiSario lost a 6-2 decision to nationally ranked Brandon Courtney of Arizona State.
157lbs – Cody Bond, Appalachian State
Bond made a spectaluar run to win the SoCon tournament and punch his ticket to the NCAA tournament. In his first match, Bond won by a 14-2 major decision over Speer of Citadel. In the semis, Bond picked up an 8-5 decision over Phillips of Presbyterian. In the finals, Bond forced overtime with a third period takedown, and then he earned a set of nearfall in the tiebreakers to take down #1 seed Barton of Campbell 10-5.
165lbs – Thomas Bullard, North Carolina State
Bullard had an interesting route to qualifying for the NCAA tournament. In the first round, Bullard lost a 6-5 decision to Kennedy Monday of rival North Carolina. After receiving a win via medical forfeit, Bullard then wrestled Monday again for 3rd place and an automatic qualifying bid. Monday got in deep on a shot in the first sudden victory frame, but Bullard was able to scramble and roll through to come out on top and pick up at 6-4 win.
174lbs – Daniel Bullard, North Carolina State
Bullard followed up his brother’s performance with a qualifying bid of his own. He was solid in a 6-0 decision over Howard of Virginia Tech to reach the finals. In the finals, Bullard used a sudden victory takedown to beat #2 seed Lautt of North Carolina 4-2.
184lbs – Devin Kane, North Carolina
Kane picked up a major decision in the first round against Georgia native Baker of Duke. In the semis, Kane lost a close 5-4 decision to the eventual champ Hidlay of North Carolina State. Kane saved his best for last, majoring nationally ranked Harvey of Pitt to take 3rd and punch his ticket to the NCAA tournament.
184lbs – Matthew Waddell, Tennessee Chattanooga
Waddell picked up a pin in his first match before beating fellow Georgia native Jha’Quan Anderson of Gardner-Webb in the semis 5-2. Waddell fell to Hopkins of Campbell in the finals, but not before punching his ticket to the NCAA tournament.
184lbs – David Key, Naval Academy
Key entered the tournament as the #2 seed, and that is where he finished. In his first match, Key picked up a 4-3 decision over Langan of Long Island. In the semis, he knocked off Taylor Brown of Army 7-2. In the finals, Key lost to nationally ranked Deprez of Binghamton. A second place finish was enough for Key to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
285lbs – Quinn Miller, Virginia
The ACC had 4 allocations for the 285lb weight class. After being upset in the semis by Catka of Virginia Tech, Miller was able to wrestle back to the 3rd place match and beat Gunning of North Carolina to secure his bid for the NCAA tournament.