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Two Builders Strike Gold In Texas As Apprentice Finishes Second By Half A Point

Two Builders Strike Gold In Texas As Apprentice Finishes Second By Half A Point

The Apprentice Wrestling Squad earned runner-up honors in heartbreaking fashion Saturday night, missing out on their second ever team championship by one-half of a point.  The Builders took command of the team race after the 133 pound championships.  In the final two weight classes, Liberty 235 pounder Austin Amos held the deciding match.  If Amos lost in the 235 lb final, Apprentice would lock up the team title.  Trailing 3-2 in the closing seconds, Amos found a reversal in the very last second of the bout to seal the 157 to 156.5 lead over Apprentice.  Central Florida finished in third place with 141 points.  This was the best finish for Apprentice since 2010, when they placed 2nd to Central Florida at Hampton University.

 
The silver lining: Two Builders were crowned NCWA National Champions, and the vast majority of the young team will be returning for next season!
 
At 125 lbs, Colton Messick became the first National Champion for Apprentice since Ty Holley won gold in that 2010 season.  On his way to the title, Colt defeated four of the seven All-Americans standing on the podium with him and six of the seven throughout the season, confirming his dominance of the division this year.  In the Championship bout, Colton faced 3x All-American Byron Smith of Middle Tennessee, the only NCWA opponent to defeat Messick all season.  In the opening period Messick successfully defended an attack from Smith, converting with a pancake to score a takedown and back points, nearly securing the pin to go up 6-0 early.  Smith was able to roll through and secure a reversal before an escape for Messick to lead 7-2.  In the second period Smith found a takedown of his own to trail 9-4 at the 5 minute mark.  In the final period Messick scored another takedown and nearfall to win 15-8 capping off his stellar season with NCWA gold!  He finished the season with a 33-7 record and a place in the Apprentice record books.
 
Ross Graham was the second Builder to strike gold in Texas, defeating 1st seed Robert LaPeter of Florida State on the center stage.  After giving up a takedown and scoring a reversal, Graham entered the 2nd period tied 2-2 as LaPeter elected to take bottom.  A reversal and back points from LaPeter left Graham trailing 6-2 going into the 3rd and final period.  Possibly the best wrestler in top position to wear an Apprentice singlet, Graham chose top which proved the key as an exhausted LaPeter was unable to defend six unanswered nearfall points.  LaPeter had riding time locked up, but it wouldn't be enough to stop Graham from bringing gold back to Bull Island with an 8-7 victory.
 
The third finalist for Apprentice, Chad Simmons was unable to aquire gold as Hunter Quinn of Emmanuel was able to stifle Chads offense.  In top position, Quinn was able to ride legs and not allow Chad to build a base and mount a comeback.  Chad is now a 2x All-American and is still in the hunt for a title of his own next year.
 
At 133 lbs Kolin Johnson capped off his freshman campaign with 5th place All-American Honors.  Kolin dropped to the 5th place bout after being pinned by defending champion Justis Griffiths of Central Florida while leading 12-4.  Kolin received a medical forfeit for 5th place, as his opponent from Brigham Young was unable to compete.  Kolin recorded 4 pins and a tech fall at the tournament, only dropping losses to the 2nd and 3rd place wrestlers.
 
Shalek Colon finished his season with a 5th place finish as well.  Shalek found a takedown in each of three periods to secure the 6-4 victory without giving up a single offensive point.  This was Shaleks first trip to the podium and will not likely be his last.
 
Junior Ty Boyd was pinned in the 5th place bout after scoring the first takedown early.  Ty is now the only 3X All-American on the team, and will look to cap off his senior season with a fourth medal and hopefully a title of his own.
 
The runner-up finish for Apprentice was a dramatic improvement upon the 6th place finish in 2017.  Second place out of 79 teams around the country is an outstanding achievement in itself.