LA CROSSE, Wisc. – Capping a historic season for the Castleton University wrestling program with another achievement, senior Zak Hale earned the Spartans' first-ever victory at an NCAA wrestling national championship competition before being eliminated from the 141-pound bracket Friday at the 2017 NCAA Division III Wrestling National Championships at the La Crosse Center.
In the opening round of the wrestleback bracket, Hale battled Dylan Van Sickell of Stevens Tech and took the early lead on a takedown and a near fall. Hale extended his advantage in the second period and then prevented Van Sickell from scoring significant points in the final period, as Hale advanced into the next round with a 12-5 victory.
In the next round during the evening session, Hale took on Adam Presler of Concordia-Moorhead, one of the top wrestling programs in the country. After a scoreless first period, Presler gained the advantage with a second-period escape, and then a takedown as well as extended riding time helped Presler solidify a 6-1 victory over Hale.
In one of the first matches of the day, Hale faced Gregory Warner of York College, an All-American after finishing fifth at last year's NCAA Championships. Warner gained the early advantage with a takedown and a four-point near fall in the opening period. Hale could not gain any traction against Warner, who advanced into the round of 16 with a 9-0 major decision victory.
Hale, one of just two seniors on the 2016-17 Spartan wrestling roster, finished the season with a 36-6 overall record. Combined with his career statistics while wrestling for Anderson University, Hale collected over 100 victories during his stellar career and made numerous trips to the NCAA Championships.
With one full season under its belt, the Castleton University wrestling program will aim to continue its growth in 2017-18, including sending multiple representatives to next year's national championships.