By Scott Farrell – NCWA Staff
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Paul Myers came to the NCWA Championships with a smile on his face. Heading up the most successful season in your program’s history will do that to a coach, and there were plenty of positives at Wichita State this season.
Check that – they all came in the regular season.
The Shockers put an exclamation point on their finest year yet Saturday by winning the NCWA Division II
Championship here at the Ocean Center, giving Myers a grin as bright and wide as the beaches across the street. WSU posted two All-Americans in Aaron Hynick (third at 165 pounds) and Pat Mosley (fourth at 157), and rallied around a successful early run that saw seven of its eight qualifiers wrestling deep into the second day.
Not bad for a team that had not formed until sometime last August.
“This was the most national qualifiers we’ve ever had by far, so we had had a great season even before nationals,” said Myers, who earned the NCWA’s Coach of the Year Award. “We felt good coming into the tournament. It’s pretty amazing how these guys came together. They became a tight group that pushed each other and had fun being around one another.
“We all knew that if we worked hard, we would be able to compete with anyone. We refused to believe that anyone here at nationals was inherently better than us.”
Wichita State placed 14th overall at the NCWA Championships with 57.5 points, but earned its championship as the highest-scoring Division II team. The NCWA wrestles both of its divisions in the same brackets at nationals, but separates the results into its divisions of school-sponsored or well-established programs (Division I) and emerging programs (Division II).
Hynick’s third-place showing was his second All-American finish after winning the national title at 165 in 2010. The senior reached the quarterfinals before falling to second-seeded Clayton MacFarlane of Lindenwood-St. Charles, whom Hynick had beaten earlier in the season at the NCWA National Duals Championships. He responded with dominant 15-2 and 12-1 wins in consolations, then upended defending national champion Dustin Tancredi of West Chester, 3-1, in the consolation semifinals.
Hynick won the third-place match 5-3 over Preston Brown of California Baptist to finish his senior season with a 27-2 record.
“(Hynick) is the essence of a champion,” Myers said.
Mosley (20-6), a former walk-on at Missouri and Kansas high school champion, became the third All-American in WSU’s history, following Hynick and Levi Younkin, who took fifth at 157 in 2008. Slotted into a pig-tail match to open the tournament, Mosley dispatched his opponent in 18 seconds, the seventh-fastest pin in NCWA Championships history.
The junior later lost in the second round, 6-4, to Daniel Breit of Lindenwood-St. Charles, another result reversal of a match that Mosley won at the National Duals. Mosley came back to win consolation matches by 6-1, 8-2, 7-4 and 10-4 counts before settling for fourth overall.
“It was a gutsy run for him to come all the way back to the third-place match,” Myers said. “(Mosley) is indicative of the kind of guys we have. It’s a different experience being able to coach a team that is full of good kids who just want to get out there and wrestle.
“It was rewarding to see all of the hard work pay off here by going home with a trophy.”
WSU’s entire roster made the NCWA All-Academic Team this season.
One of the turning points of WSU’s season came at the National Duals back in January. The Shockers faced long-established programs Liberty University and Lindenwood-St. Charles in back-to-back matches in the early rounds, losing both. They lost to Georgia Southern on criteria after a 27-27 tie, but rebounded to take 13th overall.
“The experience of traveling that far (to Georgia), wrestling some of the top teams early but still taking away some wins, and then having success at the end united us and showed us we could stay on the mat with anyone,” Myers said.
Myers said the Shockers met their goal at nationals of getting as many early wins as possible to get a lead on the Division II field. WSU still had four wrestlers alive by the start of the second day, and Mosley and Hynick stretched the Shockers’ stay into the finals rounds.
Evan Amaro (125 pounds), Kenny Tyler (149) and Dakota Denny (235) reached the consolation third round before being eliminated. Dusty Greer (133), Nick Thomas (141) and Jeff Graber (197) were the Shockers’ other qualifiers.
“We took notes from last year when Northwest Missouri State won the Division II title without anyone placing,” Myers said. “We figured if a few of our guys could place, we had the depth to be right there at the top.”
The Wichita State team has support on campus, Myers said, but it’s still a tough sell because his team is still regarded as a club team. It’s a familiar tune to most of the emerging programs in the NCWA’s Division II.
“We’re trying to escape that ‘club’ mentality,” he said. “We’re here wrestling Liberty and Notre Dame College and national championship caliber teams with scholarship athletes. And we’re competing with them. I don’t know of many other “clubs” that can say that.
“I hope that winning this national title changes the perception of our program, both on campus and in the eyes of other schools across Kansas and the region.”