ROANOKE, Va. – The Castleton University wrestling team sent two members to the NCAA Division III National Championships on Friday, as Max Tempel and Jesse Webb competed on the big stage at the Berglund Center in Roanoke, Va.
Both wrestlers went 0-2 on the day as the Spartan wrestling season came to a close. The two were Castleton's second and third NCAA National Championship qualifiers in program history, following Zak Hale who qualified during the 2016-17 season.
Webb had a pair of tough draws on the day, competing in his opening match against Lycoming's Garrett Wesneski—who entered the tournament with just one loss on the season—before facing off with Konrad Ernst of UW-La Crosse, who suffered his only loss of the year to date in the opening match of the day. Webb's first-round matchup with Wesneski was a rematch of a bout on January 11, one in which Wesneski, who ranks sixth in the nation among 285-pounders, was victorious 6-0. The Lycoming heavyweight was in similar form on Friday, controlling the match from the outset to claim a 10-0 major decision, sending Webb to the consolation bracket.
In the consolation bracket, Webb squared off with Ernst—the nation's fourth-ranked heavyweight—in a tightly contested battle. After a scoreless first period, Ernst earned a point via escape after starting in the bottom position. That proved to be the match's only point, as Ernst held on for the 1-0 win via decision, eliminating Webb from competition.
Tempel also squared off with two 149-pound powerhouses, taking on Ryan Budzek of TCNJ in the opening round before facing off with Brockport's Ryan Snow in the consolation bracket. In the opening bout of the day, Tempel fell behind early and was unable to get anything going as Budzek, who entered the bout 21-2 on the season, got a quick takedown with ride time for more than two minutes in the opening period. Budzek again managed a takedown in the second period, before earning a penalty point for stalling on Tempel. Budzek capped a 7-0 win via decision with an escape point and riding time in the third period to send Tempel to the consolation bracket.
The junior drew Brockport's Snow in his second bout of the day, and battled closely throughout a match that went through two sudden-victory periods and into a first tie-break period. Snow got on the board first with an opening-period takedown, but Tempel made it 2-1 with a quick escape. The score was level 3-3 after two periods when the roles reversed, as Tempel got a takedown before Snow escaped moments later. Tempel took a 4-3 lead with a third-period escape, but a takedown by Snow flipped the edge to 5-4 in favor of Brockport with just 30 seconds left on the clock. Tempel escaped, knotting the score at 5-5 and sending it to overtime. After a pair of sudden-victory periods failed to produce a winner, the bout went to a tie-break period, where Snow came away with the lone point with an escape with 30 seconds on the clock, giving the Brockport 149-pounder a 6-5 win and eliminating Tempel.
The Spartans concluded the season with marked progress in just its third campaign, setting a program record with 15 dual-match victories while sending multiple wrestlers to the NCAA National Championships for the first time in program history.