LAS VEGAS, N.M. – Eli Hale polished off a dominating weekend with a 16-4 finals romp to capture the 125-pound championship and lead Central Oklahoma at the NCAA Division II West Super Regional that concluded here Saturday, Feb 24.
The Bronchos also got a runner-up finish from heavyweight Caleb Cotter — a former Northeastern A&M wrestler — as both individuals qualified for the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships, which will be held March 9-10 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Former Norseman Bryan Dutton came in fifth at 157 and Mason Thompson placed sixth at 165 for UCO, which finished seventh in the team race with 59.5 points.
California Baptist, ranked fourth, won the 15-team event with 114.5 points, followed by No. 14 Nebraska-Kearney (111), unranked Adams State (90), No. 5 Colorado State-Pueblo (84.5) and No. 19 Western Colorado (73.5).
"Eli was a machine all weekend," head coach Todd Steidley said. "He just keeps going and is always putting pressure on guys.
Caleb lost a tough match in the finals, but I'm not worried about him and know he'll be ready when we go to nationals.
"Overall it was a very disappointing weekend for us. We expected to be taking a lot more guys to Iowa, but that's not the way it worked out. We'll go up there with Eli and Caleb and see if we can come back with a couple of national champions."
Hale overwhelmed four opponents in his relentless march to the title, outscoring his foes by a combined 60-8 in recording three major decisions and a technical fall.
The senior from Miami beat sixth-rated Josh Portillo of Nebraska-Kearney for the third time in a month in the finals, rolling to a 16-4 rout.
Hale had two takedowns in taking a 4-1 first-period lead and then gave up a two-point near-fall early in the second before escaping and adding another takedown to go ahead 7-3.
Hale added three near-falls in the final period in completing the romp.
The fourth-ranked Cotter dropped a 5-2 finals decision to UNK's fifth-rated Jarrod Hinrichs.
It was the third meeting of the season between the two big men, with Hinrichs winning in the dual before Cotter prevailed in the MIAA Tournament finals.
Cotter broke a scoreless tie with a second-period escape, but Hinrichs went ahead 2-1 with a takedown midway through the final period.
Cotter escaped quickly to tie it, but Hinrichs got another takedown with 20 seconds remaining to take the win.
Dutton lost in the consolation semifinals before the senior ended his career in style in the fifth-place match, picking up a pair of takedowns in building a 4-0 lead before scoring a third-period pin.