Mar 10, 2018
The Apprentice Wrestling squad had an outstanding 4th round Friday, and currently lead the team race with 130 points, followed closely by Liberty with 128.5 and Central Florida with 110. A strong performance in the semi-finals and blood round allowed Apprentice to take advantage of several setbacks for the Flames.
All three semi-finalists advanced to the championship match in dramatic fashion. Apprentice has not had three finalists since the 2003 season when they placed 2nd as a team. The last time Apprentice had a single finalist, three of the four coaches were still competing on the team when lightweight coach Marcus Chevres and Ty Holley placed 2nd and 1st respectively in 2010.
2nd seed Colton Messick got the crowd fired up with a come from behind, last second victory. After giving up a takedown and back points in the first minute to Melvin Rubio of Queens Charlotte, Colton found a reversal and back points of his own before getting reversed again to finish the first period trailing 8-4. After Rubio chose bottom position in the 2nd period, Messick successfully rode top position to accumulate riding time and closed a scoreless period still trailing 8-4. In the third and final frame, Colton found a reversal and a takedown early. Still trailing 10-8 with 25 seconds remaining, Messicks hopes of becoming a national finalists appeared to be crushed. With 9 seconds remaining, a takedown and back points punched his tickets to the finals. "Pocket Hercules" became the first finalist for the team in eight years! He will now face Byron Smith of Middle Tennessee in the championships for a rematch of the MAC finals, where Smith won a narrow 5-3 decision.
Builder junior Chad Simmons dominated his bout from start to finish to become the second finalist for the team. Chad led 2-0 after the first period of action after a takedown at 2:18. In the second frame, Chad found an escape, a takedown and nearfall points to lead 9-0 going into the final period. Another escape, takedown and nearfall allowed him to finish the bout with a 17-0 technical fall. The 2017 MVP affectionately known as "Shaggy" by his fellow apprentices will now face 2nd seed Hunter Quinn of Emmanuel College for gold!
Ross Graham, the final Apprentice of the night, pinned Randolph Prud'homme of Central Florida in the first period for the second time this season. Ross successfully defended two deep shots from his opponent, keeping his composure enabling him scoot his hips and counter with a pin at 1:24. The "Prince of Poquoson" will now face 1st seed Robert LaPeter of Florida State in the championship finals Saturday night.
Three more Builders were victorious in the blood-round, the last chance to secure All-American honors and a spot on the podium. The total of six All-Americans is the most Apprentice has bagged since 2010 as well, where the Builders had seven place-winners in six weight classes.
At 133 lbs, freshman Kolin Johnson avenged teammate Anthony Monahan's heartbreaking loss to Emery Cline of Emmanuel, who caught Anthony on his back while he was leading. The 14th seed Johnson would not be denied, as his relentless pace led to a dominant 19-2 technical fall. Kolin will now face Micheal Perdomo of Penn State Fayette in the Consolation quarter finals. A win over Perdomo will guarantee Kolin a top-six finish.
Sophomore Shalek Colon earned his first All-American honors this season, after falling in the blood-round last season. Shalek scored a 11-5 decision over conference rival Daniel Clark of Middle Tennessee without giving up a single offensive point. Shaleks pace and attacks from neutral were too much for Clark as he recorded five takedowns to none. Shalek will now have Ashton Robinson of Liberty in the consolation quarters whom he defeated in sudden-victory at conference. The unseeded Robinson has upset the #4 and #6 seed on his way to the podium as Shalek will look to stop his momentum.
149 lb junior Ty Boyd became the first 3x All-American for Apprentice since Ian Jones won his third in 2014. After falling to 1st seeded Jay Sheppard of Emmanuel in the quarters, Ty rebounded with a 14-11 win over Jared Brathor of University of Las Vegas. With an early 8-2 lead, Boyd was able to survive an onslaught of offense from Brathor to secure the win. Ty will now face Nick Puliti of Temple who beat him 10-9 at the National Duals to secure a top-six finish as well.
With three finalists and three fighting for third place, Apprentice will look to hold off Liberty who has one finalist and eight in the consolations.