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Huskies earn another top five finish at NCWA national championships

The UConn club wrestling team earned another top five finish at the recent National Collegiate Wrestling Association tournament in Texas. (Photo courtesy UConn Wrestling Club)

It was the last big wrestling tournament held before sporting events across the nation were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And the University of Connecticut’s club wrestling team made sure they took advantage.

For the second straight year, the Huskies had three All-American wrestlers at the 2020 National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) national tournament in Allen, Texas, on March 13-14. With five individual champions, Liberty University won their third straight NCWA championship to become just the second team to achieve that accomplishment.

Liberty scored 228 points to easily distance themselves from Gray Harbor College with 146 points while Springfield Technical Community College was third with 137 points and their best-ever finish in the tournament. STCC had two finalists including Marcos Mercado of Northampton, Mass., who became the first national champion in school history.

Berlin freshman Daniel Veleas (149), Higgnaum senior Mackay Revis (165) and Somers sophomore Jackson Rheault (184) earned All-American honors in the tournament. Revis finished fifth in his weight class while Veleas was seventh and Rheault took eighth.

The Huskies finished 15 th overall in the field with 62½ points but were fourth in Division II behind East Carolina (96), Penn State Wrestling Club (71½) and Ohio State Wrestling Club (71). UConn has finished in the top four in Division II in four of the last five tournaments, including a second place finish in 2019, a third place finish in 2018 and another fourth place finish in 2016.

NCWA Division I and Division II teams compete together in the tournament. Division I teams have more rules and regulations to comply with in terms of organizing their team and competing.

Revis (23-7, 12 pins) took second at the recent Northeast Conference tournament and went 5-2 to earn NCWA All-American honors for the first time.

He won his first two matches of the tournament including a 9-6 win over Kevin Kline of Central Washington. Down by one late in the third period, Revis got a reversal with 30 seconds remaining to take the lead and clinched the win with a near fall four seconds later.

Revis fell in the quarterfinals to David Coz of Liberty by technical fall but won his first two consolation round bouts. He beat East Carolina’s Adam Aldridge, 10-3, before rallying to beat Rowan’s Anthony Rallo in Revis’ second consolation round match, 7-5. Down by one, Revis escaped with 1:39 remaining in the third period to tie the match and got a takedown with 23 seconds to earn the victory and earn a spot in the medal round.

Revis got pinned in his next match but rallied to finish fifth by pinning Max Henry Nelson of Pacific Lutheran in 3:31.

Veleas (25-7) won a Northeast Conference title and won his first two matches in the tournament with a pin and a win by technical fall. Veleas dropped his quarterfinal match to Texas A&M’s Ty’rae Carter by technical fall.

Veleas won two of his three bouts in the consolation round to finish seventh with a 13-3 win over Hunter Weiss of Wayne State.

Rheault (11-3) was seeded 16 th in the tournament and went 4-3 including three consecutive wins in the consolation round to earn a medal.

Springfield Technical Community College finished third at the recent NCWA championship tournament in Texas. It was the highest finish ever for STCC and the best finish for a New England school since Yale took third in 1999. (Photo courtesy STCC)

STCC, who beat UConn for the Northeast Conference title, was led by Mercado while teammate David Ortiz of Naples, Florida, was second at 133 and Holyoke’s Chris Vega was third at 125 pounds. The best finish by a New England school at the NCWA tournament came in the first year of the tournament when Yale University won the championship with a 15-point win over Georgia.

STCC’s Katlin Wells of Rushville, N.Y., won her second straight NCWA national title with a pin at 101 pounds. She helped STCC finish ninth in the women’s tournament. NCWA has been hosting a women’s tournament since 2009.

The NCWA tournament was held on March 13-14 in Texas. It was just a few days earlier on Wednesday, March 11, that the NBA suspended their season. The NHL suspended their season on March 12, the same day that the NCAA cancelled all of their remaining winter championship tournaments including the Division I and Division III wrestling national championship tournaments.

The NCWA was founded in 1997 to provide collegiate athletes with an opportunity to compete in wrestling at a regional and national level. The NCWA helps develop programs under the school’s athletic departments, student services department and sport club departments.

Programs operate in several ways with some teams having established coaches while other teams are student-run organizations. The UConn club has been in existence since 2007. UConn dropped their varsity wrestling program following the 1981 season.

STCC wins 4th straight Northeast Conference title
Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and UConn each had seven finalists and four individual champions but STCC’s team was bit deeper with four third place finishers as STCC outlasted UConn, 195½ to 171 to win their fourth straight NWCA’s Northeast Conference championship meet.

STCC went 4-1 in the consolation final while the Huskies went 1-3 in that round.

Berlin’s Dan Veleas (149), Avon’s Anthony Tripodi (157), Somers’ Jackson Rheault (184) and Hand’s Adam Hendrick (235) won titles for the Huskies while Haddam-Killingworth graduate Makaay Revis (165), Berlin’s Vincent Biscoglio (197) and freshman Sebastian Malespini (174) each finished second.

UConn finished second for the second consecutive year.

Huskies earn another top five finish at NCWA national championships The UConn club wrestling team earned another top five finish at the recent National Collegiate Wrestling Association tournament