I don't know if collegiate wrestling fans realize how exciting, historical and monumental of an event this is. The Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) has been around since the 1975-1976 season, but only sponsored wrestling up through the 1979-1980 season. I wasn't even alive the last time we had an ODAC wrestling tournament! It has been 43 years since the conference has sponsored wrestling. How cool to know that it once again does! Heartbreakingly, I have to report that it no longer features Lynchburg, Eastern Mennonite, Hampden-Sydney or Guilford. We have regrettably lost those programs due to discontinuation. In the fight will be Averett, Ferrum, Greensboro, Roanoke, Shenandoah, Southern Virginia and Washington & Lee. Washington & Lee for the record won ODAC titles in '77, '78 & '79. Do they add title #4 to their long list of accomplishments? We'll find out this Saturday!!
On paper this looks like a rubber match final between #8 Mason Barrett of Averett & #9 Riley Parker of Washington & Lee. Parker who was 6th in the NCAA Division III championships last season is currently tied with Barrett at one match apiece. Parker owns an 4-0 decision over Barrett, as Barrett owns a 3-1 decision over Parker. This isn't a guaranteed finals however. Parker has also split matches with Mac Cafurello of Roanoke. Whereas Parker owns an 11-4 victory over Cafurello, Cafurello owns a 7-5 victory over Parker. Barrett on the other hand owns a 9-2 victory over Cafurello. I'd say between these three athletes we have our like gold, silver & bronze. I would look for a strong 4th place candidate in Trent Proctor of Ferrum.
I think we're looking at our top three place-winners at 133 lbs for the first modern day ODAC tournament. Sean Hall at 22-6 owns a 15-0 technical fall over 28-8 Sean Rinebolt as he's exchanged pins with David Rubin. Pinning Rubin in 6:38, Rubin owns a 2:18 fall over him. As Washington & Lee looks to try & add a fourth ODAC team title to their resume, it should be noted how improved of a wrestler Rubin is. Last year he finished with an 11-17 record. This year he currently stands 20-6.
Very tough weight class featuring three NCAA Division III qualifiers, including two All Americans. Without a doubt Greensboro's Josh Wilson is our forerunner here, but if anyone can challenge him, I think it'll be Ferrum's Levi Englman. Although Wilson did pin Englman in 2:32, their other match was much closer in a 6-4 decision. I'd also be anxious to see how rookie Evan Lindner ends up this tournament. 19-4 on the season, he survived a 7-2 match with Wilson earlier this season. With Englman owning both a 1:48 fall as well as an 8-2 decision over Morgan Robinson, I don't see Robinson sneaking into a spot in the top three. I do think though that if he meets up with Hunter Campbell of Averett again, he will give him a better match this time than the 8-1 decision we saw last time.
Formally a Greensboro Pride, now an Averett Cougar you tell me how many other collegiate wrestlers in the history of our great sport have also dabbled in collegiate tennis? Football, baseball, swimming, gymnastics, heck, I've even seen basketball (there was a time believe it or not) but Hai Siu is the first time I've ran across tennis. An NCAA DIII qualifier last season, I would say he stands a very good shot at winning this year's ODAC title. He owns a 2:22 fall over Southern Virginia's Elijah Blackwell who I believe will duke it out with Jarrod Pominville of Ronaoke in the semi-finals to see who meets Siu in the finals. If the match ends early, that favors Pominville who owns a 2:40 fall over Blackwell. If the match goes the distance of a full 7 minutes, it favors Blackwell who owns both a 3-1 & 4-3 victory over Pominville.
By all means, 4th in the DIII nation last season & currently 11-0, Ryan Luth of Washington & Lee should be ranked. I imagine he's not simply because he must not have had enough matches by the time rankings came out. None the less with both a 6-1 decision & a 10-1 major decision over Jesse Alvarado on his resume, I'd call him the favorite to win an ODAC title at 157 lbs. I think Alvarado has more than proven himself to be our top candidate for silver & as to bronze, I'd take Ryan Foutz of Roanoke.
Anxious to see how this one turns out. Morgan Peterson has the ability to give Southern Virginia an ODAC champion. 18-4 on the season, he's split two close matches with Harrison Kelly of Washington & Lee. A 5-3 decision for Peterson & a 5-4 decision for Kelly. Jack Campbell strikes me as one who might win this bracket as well. 20-10 on the season, he spent a year in the DI room of Appalachian State. Anxious to see what Averett's Nathan Mallery does this tournament as well.
Two time NCAA DIII qualifier, 7th in the nation in 2021, Averett's Alex Turley looks to be the forerunner for an ODAC title this weekend. Currently 11-3 on the season, he owns falls over both Kyle Lee (5:50) of Roanoke & Dylan Weaver (3:19) of Shenandoah. Weaver looks good for a spot opposite Turley in the finals with both a 5:31 fall & a 7-2 decision over Lee, as well as an 11-3 major over Jak Krouse of Washington & Lee. Look for Lee & Krouse to battle it out for bronze as the last time the two met, Lee took a 7-5 decision.
7th in the DIII nation last season & currently 20-1 on the season, our favorite for a ODAC title here is Roanoke's Mahlic Sallah. I do feel though that likely finals opponent Khalil Mitchell of Averett can give him a decent match. The two have met twice thus far, with Sallah taking both an 8-3 & a 3-0 decision. Against the competition, Mitchell has dominated Southern Virginia's Scott Chambers in both an 11-4 decision and a 25-10 technical fall. He does have a 7-3 loss to Cameron Blizzard of Washington & Lee, but in their more recent meeting completely dominated the General 15-3. Blizzard a candidate for 3rd here, owns a 6-2 victory over Chambers. For the record, Sallah owns a 9-3 decision over Blizzard.
Here's where things may get very interesting. I think it's safe to say that with three technical falls (21-4, 21-4 & 16-1) Braden Homsey of Ferrum pretty much has Billy Baldwin of Averett's number. Oddly enough though, Baldwin has managed to keep it close with Washington & Lee's John Sedovy & he's even managed to defeat him once. Scores have been in favor of Sedovy, 3-1, 5-2 & 3-1 s.v. Baldwin's win was a 3-2 decision. Then of course to make everything easy to follow & predict, Sedovy owns a 6-4 s.v. over Homsey. Norman Greenbaum's Spirit In The Sky only knows what this would do for Baldwin's confidence to win an ODAC title, but it'd be good for Homsey as well as Sedovy. Homsey an NCAA DIII qualifier in both '20 & '21, looks to make another trip to the national tournament this season. An ODAC title would only help.
I wouldn't call it a shoe-in, but I would say with the role he's been on that it is highly likely that we see Ferrum's RayShawn Dixon walk out of here with an ODAC title. He did lose 9-2 to Greensboro's Brandon Williams the first time they met, but he's defeated him every time since. This includes decisions of 7-3, 3-2, 5-3 & 4-2. Williams who has pins over both Matt Majoy of Washington & Lee (6:44) & Bryan Guzman of Shenandoah (1:44) looks to be a fine candidate for the silver medal. However he may have some challenge from Jamar Christian of Averett who took him into sudden victory the last time they met. Then there could also be challenge from Majoy who defeated Christian 8-4 & gave Dixon a close 4-2 match.
Very excited for our first ODAC tournament in 43 years, as I should be! This is great for the sport of wrestling. It's one thing to see wrestling reinstated at a school, but it's a whole new level when we get to see it restored at a conference!