Thursday, February 29, 2024

2024 Super Region III (Saturday March 2nd)


We got some tough brackets here at the Super Region III.  Wrestlers are going to have to really wrestle well in order to earn a top three showing this weekend.

125 lbs 

Right from the get go things are starting off tough here at the Super Region III.  We have five of the top twenty wrestlers in NCAA Division II wrestling & only three of these outstanding talents will get to go to the national tournament this year.  

Leading the way will be Tiffin's Anthony Aniciete, who at 24-3 on the season, has breathed fire many times this year.  He owns an 8-0 major decision, as well as a 7-0 decision over Luke Acuna of Ashland & a 6:05 fall over Graham Shore of Findlay. 

Acuna is 24-9 on the year, owning a 12-2 major decision over Aaron Lucio of Grand Valley State. 

If you followed my series "Gone, Lost & Forgotten" where I covered 462 discontinued collegiate wrestling programs, then you are aware of how good Grand Valley State was at one time before they dropped their wrestling team. Upon restoration, I wondered how long it would take GVSU to reestablish themselves as a successful team, with successful individuals.  Throughout '23-'24 they have given a very simple answer.  "No time at all."  Throughout duals & tournaments, they are right here & they are right now.  This includes the Super Region III & bet your bottom dollar, the Lakers will have some NCAA DII qualifiers this weekend.  Lucio may very well be one of them.  12 wins on the season, he owns both a 7-1 decision, as well as a 20-4 technical fall over Shore.  He also stuck Acuna in thirty-two seconds. 

Manuel Leija of Davenport was an NCAA DII qualifier two seasons ago with a runner-up finish here at Super Region III. He narrowly missed out on a second qualification last year with a 4th place finish.   This year he's wrestled a handful of matches, but enough to warrant a ranking.  He'll once again be a threat to qualification. 

As to Shore, he was 3rd here last season.  Sorta in the same boat now, only this tournament he'll enter with a winning record.  He also has a 3:49 fall over Acuna. 

133 lbs 

I hear NCAA DI wrestling fans get excited about upsets, guys coming out of nowhere & parity all the time.  If people like unpredictability, craziness & hit with an s in front of it that just plain doesn't make sense, then for the love of gawd I wish I could get these people to pay attention to Division II.   That's all NCAA DII wrestling is.  There are some predictable, nearer to guarantees, but the wackiness is far greater than the normalacy. 

Like here at 133 lbs, it would seem fairly cut and dry wouldn't it?  Glenville State's Gavin Quiocho was a Super Region III champ & an NCAA DII champ last year.  Should be easy enough to win another title right? After all he's 30-1 on the season.   Here's the catch.  He hasn't wrestled Vincent Scollo of West Liberty yet this year.  Scollo is a two time NCAA DII qualifier with Super Region III finishes of 3rd & 2nd. He was also 6th in the DII nation last season.  Over all Quiocho is 3-1 against Scollo, but Scollo does have that one victory over him. 

As to Scollo, one of his losses this year is to Gavin Ritter of Findlay.  Ritter pulled off a huge 2-1 upset in a dual back in December.   While studying that, Ryan Wehner of Lake Erie, 3rd here a year ago, has two wins (9-4 & 7-1) over Ritter.    The semi-finals here will be interesting & the consolation final could resemble a Daniel Day Lewis film about oil, as in There Will Be Blood. 

141 lbs 

Undefeated on the year, a Super Region III champion & an NCAA DII champion, I believe that gold is already spoken for.  The name is Zack Donathan of Tiffin. 

As to silver & bronze?  Seeding should give us a good semi-final between Corey Gamet of Lake Erie & Khyvon Grace of West Liberty.   Gamet was a champion here two seasons ago & 5th in the DII nation.  Grace was one match shy of NCAA DII qualification last year, placing 4th.   The last the two met, Gamet scored a 4-1 s.v. 

Our darkhorse here I believe is Sean Johnson of Glenville State.  While Gamet handled him fairly easily 11-0, he's taken Grace into sudden victory on two occasions this season.  Could make for an intense consolation final & this time one of the most important desires is on the line. 

149 lbs 

The top three wrestlers in the DII nation are at this weight!  Doesn't exactly make it easy for anyone else, does it?  Sheesh! Put on your Tom Cruise sunglasses, cause we're looking at a Mission Impossible

A Super Region III runner-up & an NCAA DII runne-up last season, Christian Small of Lake Erie is currently sitting on an undefeated record of 14-0.  Guess what?  Chris Donathan, is also sitting on an undefeated record, 20-0.  I'm a big fan of both of these guys & look very forward to this probable final.  Earlier this season I said that Donathan had been in the shadow of Zack & the matriarch of the Donathan family didn't care for my choice of words.  So I'll try again & hopefully get across what it is I'm meaning to say.  What I want to imply is that it has been very rewarding watching Chris, at a school that has reinstated its wrestling program, do so well.  He had such a promising '19-'20 & then things didn't go as well as hoped. Yet now he's back & he's better than ever. Looking to challenge Small, the #1 wrestler in the DII nation for an opportunity to be the Lakers first ever Super Region III champ. 

Gotta get past a very tough Nico Taddy of West Liberty first though & that in itself will also be a tough challenge.  Taddy is 13-2 on the year

Asto the rest of the bracket?  Whether these guys are capable of beating Small, Donathan or Taddy is beside the point.  The issue is, Gessler, Kuhn & Hardy are all very good wrestlers & they deserve recognition as being so.  There's no solution to the huge problem that 18 qualifiers per weight class, to put it plain and simple, is not enough.  This is one of many examples as to why. 

157 lbs 

Talk about another tough bracket.  Son of a gun.  We have four all American candidates.  Three of these guys have been Super Region III champions in the past! 

Ironically enough, the one with the highest ranking has not won a Super Region III title yet.  Go figure.  4th & 3rd the past two Regions, Jack Haskin of Lake Erie is currently 20-0 on the year.  He has a 5-3 decision over Drew Wiechers of Ashland & both an 11-4 decision & 12-0 major decision over Casey Barnett of Tiffin. 

Wiechers won a Super Region III title back in 2022 & finished 5th in the DII nation.  Competing at 165 lbs last season, he finished 2nd in the Region. 17-4 on the year, he has a 9-4 win over Guy DeLeonardis of Glenville State & 6:47 fall over Barnett. 

Barnett was the Super Region III champ here last season & one match shy of DII All American honors.  14-3 on the season. 

DeLeonardis won a Super Region III title at 165 lbs last year & he too was one match shy of DII All American status. 

Semis, finals, consolation finals.  This is a weight class to check out. 

165 lbs      

 I'm not really sure what to make of 165, but I do think that Sevi Garza of Ashland will be one of our qualifiers.  Tough wrestler & goes in undefeated against Regional competition. 

174 lbs 

Chris Donathan isn't the only Laker looking to become Grand Valley State's first Super Region III champion since reinstatement.  Campbell transfer Josh Kenny has been having a very good season, picking up 23 wins against only 4 losses.  Among his victories both a 14-6 major & a 15-8 decision over Nate Barrett of Ashland. 

Barrett 21-6, was a Super Region III champion last season, finishing 8th in the DII nation.   James Penfold of Lake Erie is a two time Super Region III place winner with finishes of 2nd & 3rd, as well as a two time DII All American, with finishes of 8th & 4th. 

184 lbs 

We have the two best wrestlers at 184 lbs in NCAA DII wrestling here in the Super Region III.  So in other words, gold & silver are already spoken for.   Ty McGeary of West Liberty, ironically enough was 2nd here in the Super Region III last year, but the NCAA DII champ.  He's currently 25-0.  

Twice 3rd in the NCAA DII nation, Daniel Beemer of Ashland was the Super Region III champ last year. He's currently 11-0.  We have some damn good matches (potentially) coming up this tournament  & this will be one of them. 

Considering that he's been pinned & tech'd by McGeary and pinned by Beemer, I don't see a huge upset in Seth Konynenbelt's future.  However, what I do see is the bronze medal with his name written all over it, thus becoming yet another NCAA DII qualifier for the first year back Lakers. 

197 lbs 

Now here's a weight class that defines irony.  Both the Super Region III champion & the Super Region III runner-up return & if we're going based off of probable seeding BOTH will have to "steal" a spot in order to qualify this year! Isn't that just nuts? 

Here you thought I was done talking about Grand Valley State crowning champions in their first ever Super Region III tournament since getting back on the mat.  Not done yet.  Wyatt Miller 23-3 on the year, a transfer out of Appalachian State has been having a great season thus far.  Owns 13-1 major decisions over both Nick Johnson of Glenville State & Brylan Clouse of Lake Erie.  He owns an 8-4 decision over Walker Uhl of Ashland. 

Johnson who competed for Sierra last season, owns a 3:42 fall over Jacob Noon of Tiffin. 

Now we talk of Uhl, who might single-handedly be the reason why 197 is as awkward and goofy as what it is.  One match from DII All American status in 2022, he unfortunately got injured last season.  Had he not been injured, as he is this year, he would have been a contender to make the Super Region III finals/win the tournament.  Thus far this season, he owns a 5-0 win over Clouse. 

Clouse the Super Region III runner-up last year, has defeated the Super Region III champ this year on two occasions. Sticking him in 32 seconds, he also has a 4-1 win over Noon.  


A 7th place NCAA DII All American in 2022 & R12 last season, Francesco Borsellino of West Liberty was a Super Region II runner-up last season.  At 14-0 & with a 6:34 fall over La'Ron Parks of THE REAL Notre Dame, it's very likely that he wins a title this weekend. 

Parks has been 3rd here the past two seasons. At 25-5 on the year, if he wants to trade in that bronze for silver (and maybe even avenge his loss to Borsellino for gold) he'll have to once against get past Gavin Shamblin of Glenville State whom he defeated 4-1 sudden victory earlier this year.   Shamblin has 27 wins on the year. 

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