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Wrestling has three athletes competing at nationals

by Paul Cifonelli - Sports Editor
Thu, Mar 5th 2020 04:00 pm
Sophomore Elijah Sims shakes his opponent's hand.
Sophomore Elijah Sims shakes his opponent's hand.

After a highly successful regular season that saw The College at Brockport wrestling team go 9—1 in dual and tri-matches, the Golden Eagles were ready to move on to their postseason. With nine wrestlers finishing on the podium at the NCAA Mideast Regionals on Saturday, Feb. 29, and Sunday, March 1, at Ithaca College, the team announced its presence on a bigger stage.

Three wrestlers entered the regional meet with nearly-perfect records and were able to assert their dominance over their competition. Junior Matt Caccamise, sophomore Elijah Sims and sophomore Richard Knapp all won their respective weight classes and earned automatic berths to the NCAA Championships on Friday, March 13, and Saturday, March 14.

Caccamise, an All-American last season, continued his winning ways in the 2019-20 campaign. Competing at the 125-pound weight class, he has accumulated a record of 30—2 on the season and breezed through the regional to earn a shot at regaining his All-American status. He received a bye through the first round, won the quarterfinal and semifinal by fall and the championship by sudden victory.

Sims competed two weight classes above Caccamise, at 141 pounds, and saw similar results. Sims did not have as easy of a time as his teammate, however, as he had to win five matches to be crowned champion. He won by decision four times, including the championship match, and tiebreaker once. Despite the close calls, Sims was still able to have his hand raised after the final match.

“It felt good [to win the region],” Sims said. “But, I said to [head] coach [Donald Murray] that I was going to win the whole week. I was more excited for nationals and I’m very grateful to have a chance to become an All-American.”

A year after finishing 15—10 and not placing at the regional meet last season, Sims went back to work and refined a few of his skills to help him to a 26—5 record to this point in the season.

“I had to work on my shots and takedowns,” Sims said. “I wasn’t taken down the whole tournament and my shots felt very clean.”

Knapp competed in the 285-pound division, the heaviest at the regional tournament. He also added a regional championship onto a stellar regular season record. Knapp, who is currently 34—3, captured four consecutive decision victories. He also knocked off a previously-unbeaten wrestler, Sam Weigner of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), in the semifinal. Knapp did not compete in regionals last year and, like Sims, has made some improvements to get himself to the top of his weight class.

“My top game has improved tremendously since last season,” Knapp said. “Also, I just understand that as long as I wrestle my best, no matter how hard the opponents come, they won’t and can’t beat me.”

No other Golden Eagle came in the top three of their respective weight classes, but six others finished in the top eight and earned Brockport team points. Sophomore Chris Eames finished in fifth place in the 175-pound division. Eames won four of his six matches but was never able to string together more than two wins in a row.

Sophomore Austin Reed, 149 pounds, junior Zack Brown, 157 pounds, and sophomore Joe Yanis, 184 pounds, all placed seventh in their respective weight classes. Freshman Devon Shader and freshman Austin Sergeant both came in eighth in their weight classes, 197 pounds and 133 pounds. All the seventh and eighth place finishers won three matches except for Sergeant, who only managed two victories.

After the individual scores were tallied up, Brockport ended up placing third as a team with 116.5 points. The Golden Eagles were one point ahead of RIT and 28 points behind The College of New Jersey, the runner-up. Ithaca won the event with 144.5 team points.

Even though Brockport was able to climb to #23 in the NWCA poll as a team, Caccamise, Sims and Knapp will take center stage for the Golden Eagles at the national meet in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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