(Second in a series of #NextLevel pieces)
By SHANNON HEATON
Northeast Florida Matmen
ALLEN, TX — Florida A&M didn’t send many wrestlers to the National Collegiate Wrestling Association’s national tournament this past weekend.
But the Tallahassee school came home with plenty of hardware — brought home by the first national champion in Rattler history, as third-seeded Rickey Carter won the 285-pound national championship last weekend at the Allen Events Center.
In so doing, Carter completed an undefeated season (14-0), becoming the first FAMU wrestler to earn all-American honors for the third time (only one Rattler wrestler, Hubert Poulard, had more than one AA finish prior to Carter doing it last year).
Carter started his road with a first-period fall in 1:03 in the round of 32 over RPI’s Jose Gandarilla, then followed that up with a fall over Michigan-Dearborn’s Victor Nitos, in 4:38.
Carter had a third bonus-point win in the quarters, ensuring his third all-American effort with a 10-2 major over sixth-seeded Steven Francisco of Apprentice School in the quarterfinals. That set up a semifinals matchup against second-seeded and 2016 finalist Dylan Stadel of Utah State, in which Carter moved through with a 5-2 decision.
That made the finals at 285 an all-Florida affair between Carter, the first wrestler at an HBCU institution to make the finals, against Central Florida’s Jesse Gaudio, a 2014 Hernando graduate. There were no takedowns in the match, with the pair going into sudden victory with a 1-1 tie. In double overtime, Rickey got a point and was able to keep Gaudio from scoring, winning by a 2-1 decision for the NCWA national championship in the weight class.
The University of Florida did have a local finalist in Beau Doerr (Gulf Breeze ’13). The 14th seed at 157, Doerr had a first-round bye, then pinned Richland’s James Moore in 54 seconds in the round of 32.
In the round of 16, Doerr knocked off third-seeded Cole Berg of Akron, 14-7, and then, to ensure a podium spot, Doerr downed Central Florida’s Clay Perry by an 8-2 count to earn all-American honors.
But he wasn’e done yet. Doerr decisioned Camden County alumnus and Emmanuel College second seed Jay Sheppard, 7-5, to put himself into the finals against Air Force Prep’s top-seeded Parker Simington.
Simington hadn’t had a close match all tournament, but Doerr stretched him to the limit before falling in the finals, by a 4-3 score.
Florida’s Cole Schreiber (Columbia ’13) didn’t get to the top of the podium like Carter was able to do or reach the finals like his teammate Doerr, but Schreiber did earn all-American honors in his final season with the Gator club team, placing fourth at 133 pounds.
Schreiber, the 13th seed in the tournament, pinned Sacred Heart’s DJ Crosby in 2:06 in the round of 32, then edged fourth-seed Ty Boyd of Apprentice School, 3-2, in the round of 16.
Schreiber earned his place on the podium with a win in the quarters, downing fifth seed Michael Perdomo of Penn State-Fayette, 9-3, in that rou8nd. That put together a semifinal matchup against top-seeded and eventual runnerup Darius Bunch of Emmanuel, and while Schreiber gave Bunch his closest match of the tournament up to that point, the result was a 14-3 major that sent Schreiber into the consi semis.
There, Schreiber had a rematch with Boyd and put together a bit more offense in the rematch, winning by a 7-4 score. Schreiber then lost by fall in the third-place match to Washington State’s Hunter Haney, in 50 seconds.
Kristopher Smith (St. Augustine ’16) competed in the 133-pound bracket for Grays Harbor College, taking a first-round loss against Georgia’s Adan Velasquez, in 2:31. That sent Smith into a consi second-rounder against Iowa State Wrestling Club’s Matthew Milder, where he was able to go a full seven minutes, but then fell by an 8-4 decision.
Coll Robertson (Ridgeview ’13) was entered at 149 for Florida as the 21st seed in the tournament. After a first-round bye, he lost by fall in the third period, in 6:38, to 12th seed Devon Rupp of Wayne State in the round of 32. In the consolation rounds, Robertson pinned Apprentice’s Jeremy Mosley in 2:22 in the second round, but then lost by fall in 6:30 to 15th seed Ike Podell of Liberty in the third round.
David Trigg (University Christian ’15) competed in the tournament for Liberty University, at 197. Trigg won his first-round match by fall in the first period, pinning Auburn’s Matthew Wall in 1:53. Trigg then lost in the round of 32 to third-seeded Kyler Slade of Ohio State WC, by a 12-1 major, sending him to the consis. Trigg majored Florida State’s Jacob Laurson, 18-5, in consi round 2, but then fell in consi round 3 to North Texas’ Luis Garcia by fall in 4:57.