ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Navy wrestling team will open the home portion of its 2011-12 schedule on Saturday when it hosts the annual Navy Classic at Westley Brown Field House beginning at 10:00 am. Having won the team title in 18 of the 33 years the tournament has been held, including last year’s 57.5-point decision over Bucknell, the Mids will battle six teams — Bucknell, The Citadel, Franklin & Marshall, Gardner Webb, George Mason and West Virginia — for the 2011 Navy Classic crown.
Among the field, there are eight ranked wrestlers, including Navy’s own Aaron Kalil (Salem, N.H.), Oscar Huntley (Stafford, Va.) and Luke Rebertus (Gloucester, Va.). Meanwhile, there are just 20 returning placewinners from last year’s Navy Classic, including defending champions Aaron Kalil (Salem, N.H.) (125, up to 133 this year), Joe Locksmith (Kissimmee, Fla.) (141, up to 149 this year), Eric Filipowicz (Elkridge, Md.) (149) and Rebertus (184) who all wrestle for Navy.
One of 15 Navy wrestlers who placed in last year’s Navy Classic, Kalil is in search of his third Navy Classic title after winning the 125-pound weight class in 2009 and ‘10. Up a weight class this season, Kalil would be only the fourth wrestler in program history to be a three-time champion, joining All-Americans John Reich (1980-81-82) and Matt Stolpinski (2005-06-07), along with John Cox (2004-05-06). Ranked 17th nationally, Kalil is off to a strong start to his senior season where he has put together a 7-1 record which features a third-place finish at the Eastern Michigan Open. Meanwhile, he swept his competition a week ago at the Wrestle for a Cure Duals in which he picked up wins over Justin Farmer of Buffalo (11-2), 17th-ranked Ridge Kiley of Nebraska (5-4) and Steve Mitcheff of Kent State (8-0). A two-time NCAA qualifer, Kalil will be challenged this weekend perhaps facing West Virginia’s Collin Johnston in the finals. Johnston is ranked 16th by InterMat.
Rebertus, also a two-time NCAA qualifier and two-time Navy Classic Champion (2008-10), has produced a 5-2 record this season, dropping a pair of decisions last weekend at the Wrestle for a Cure Duals. Buffalo’s Jake Waste scored a takedown in sudden victory over Rebertus in the first match of the day, while 10th-ranked Josh Ihnen from Nebraska dealt him a 6-1 blow. Rebertus got back in the winning column with a 5-3 victory over Casey Newburg of Kent State in the finale. Ranked 13th in the national polls, Rebertus, who opened the year with a title win at the Eastern Michigan Open, will likely face West Virginia’s Matt Ryan, ranked 17th, at some point on Saturday.
Huntley, ranked 20th by InterMat, took the Navy Classic title at 165 pounds as a freshman, just a week before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He came back to place fifth at last year’s Classic, this time wrestling at 174 pounds. Stronger and more experienced, Huntley will look to capture this year’s title again at 174 pounds. Standing in his way, however, is 12th-ranked Turtogtokh Luvsandorj from The Citadel who won last year’s All-Academy Classic. Huntley heads into the weekend with a 6-1 record, his only loss in the championship bout of the Eastern Michigan Open where he was defeated, 8-5, by fifth-ranked Nick Heflin of Ohio State. He picked up a pair of major decisions in last week’s Wrestle for a Cure Duals, while also rounding out the day with a decision over Nebraska’s Tyler Koehn.
Last year Locksmith became just the eighth freshman in program history to win an individual title when he scored an 8-7 decision over teammate and fellow rookie Raymond Borja (Virginia Beach, Va.). The second-year 149-pounder has struggled in the early going, posting a 2-5 record, however, four of his five losses have been by decisions.
Navy has crowned an individual champion who was a freshman in each of the last three years. Rebertus took the 174-pound title in 2008 becoming the first Plebe to win a title since Tyrone Neal in 1998. Meanwhile, Huntley won in 2009 and Locksmith in 2010. Ten Navy rookies will have the chance to add their names to that list this weekend, three of which were in the starting lineup a week ago at the Wrestle for a Cure Duals. Laurel, Md., product Patrick Prada is the Mids’ starting 125-pounder, while Quentin Leadbeter (Owings, Md.) has filled the 141-pound role. Meanwhile, 197-pound Paul Rands (Cary, Ill.) continues to improve after spending the last two years away from the mat doing missionary work.
Nine different teams have claimed the team title in the 33 years the Navy Classic has been held, while 78 different Navy wrestlers have earned individual titles. At least one Navy wrestler has won an individual crown in 31 of the 33 years (2000, ‘03), while there have been 14 multi-year winners.
Courtesy of Navy Sports Information