CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Nolan Whitely represented Newberry, moving on to Saturday’s competition and earning an All-American honor. Three other Wolves saw their journey come to an end.
Nolan Whitely (133 pounds) – 1-2 (Consolations Round 3)
Whitely faced a loaded bracket in Cedar Rapids, with his opening match up being against top-ranked Darius Bunch of West Liberty.
The grapplers fought through a scoreless first period before Whitely chose the bottom to begin the second period. Whitely made a quick escape and countered that with a takedown to take the the 3-0 lead. Bunch would tally two escapes, but it would be Whitely to secure the match.
He would continue his day with a face off against fourth-ranked Bryce Shoemaker of Nebraska Kearney. Shoemaker would slide through Whitely with a 3-0 shutout.
With the chance to continue his journey on day two of competition, he would hold on for the win against Paul Garcia. In a low scoring match, Whitely would be able to finish strong and move on to the final day of play.
Austin Palmer (157 pounds) (Eliminated)
Palmer carried a 20-5 record and a No. 3 national ranking into the championship event. He began the day by squaring off against Zach Voytek of Seton Hill. Neither wrestler was able to put points on the board through the first minute of action. Voytek was able to get the match’s first takedown, but Palmer was able to escape with 22 seconds remaining.
The junior from West Columbia redeemed himself with a strong second period, accumulating three quick points on the board. With a two point advantage in the dwindling seconds of the second period, Voytek was able to release himself from Palmers’ grasp. With the choice being greens’ at the start of the third period, Voytek would select bottom to try to even the score. Recording one minute and 32 seconds worth of riding time, Voytek would take the 5-4 decision over Palmer.
Moving into the consolation bracket, Palmer faced twelfth-ranked Shawn Beiriger of No. 13 Western State. Palmer was the first to strike, with a takedown just a few seconds into the period. Beiriger would get an escape, but Palmer would return with a vengeance and get the win by fall.
His reign in Cedar Rapids would come to an end after a head-to-head battle with Ryan Strope of McKendree. Palmer and Strope have met before, competing against each other at the Midwest Classic back in December. The roles would change this time around, with Strope taking the comeback 12-9 decision.
Isiah Royal (141 pounds) (Eliminated)
Royal came to Cedar Rapids carrying a 22-13 record and was one of the two Wolves to make it to the second round of the championship bracket. He started his day off with Brock Thumm of Chadron State. Thumm has a 20-8 record on the year, and has wins over third-ranked Brandon Ball of Fort Hays State.
With an early takedown in the first period, Royal took the quick 2-0 lead. However, Thumm would release from the wraps of Royal to come within one. Royal would essentially finish the third with a quintessential takedown to award him the 5-3 victory.
He would move on to the second round to grapple with fifth-ranked Drew Walker of Notre Dame. Neither would score in the first period, but Walker would take the 3-0 lead over Royal. He would record two escapes in the match,but it would not be enough to seal the victory.
Royal then drew Tyler Werner of Wheeling Jesuit. The nation’s tenth-ranked wrestler would dominate throughout all three periods to complete the 3-1 win and eliminate Royal from contention.
Austin Neal (125 pounds) (Eliminated)
Neal faced off No. 3 Carlos Jacquez of Lindenwood in the first round of competition. He kept the match tight in the first period, with Jacquez holding the 3-2 edge. With the hopes of getting back in the races, his opponent would record three takedowns in the second to make the contest unreachable.
In the consolation bracket, Neal would take on Brandon Vu of San Francisco State. Vu comes into this season ready for redemption, after missing last season due to an injury. With a tight race in the top of the match, Vu would turn up the head in the second and tally six points to give him the 8-2 lead. Neal would fight to the end, but would not be able to overcome the slight lead. He finishes his second season with the Wolves with an 13-13 record.