Gettysburg, PA - The USMMA wrestling team had three place-winners Saturday at the NCAA Eastern Regionals and sophomore Branden Yeik (Bremerton, WA) qualified for the NCAA Championships at 157 pounds by virtue of his third-place finish. Tyler Russell (Georgetown, ME) captured fifth-place in the 197 pound bracket and Josh Miller (Jackson Hole, WY) placed sixth at 174 pounds to round out the Mariners' top individual performances. As a team, Merchant Marine finished 10th out of 18 teams in a powerful eastern region.
Yeik was the fourth seed entering the tournament and started his day with a decisive 14-3 triumph over Nathaniel Seals of Kings. The USMMA grappler then pinned the fifth seed of the weight class, McDaniel's Logan Yox, just 2:22 into the first period. Yeik would run into Chris Burdge of Centennary, who improved his record to 24-1 on the year to send Yeik to the consolation bracket.
Yeik immediately rebounded to knock-off Centennial Conference rival Gabriel Gleason from NYU in a 10-2 major decision. Yox worked his way back into the consolation final to earn another match-up with Yeik, this time with a berth in the NCAA Tournament on the line. The second meeting was much tighter than the first but Yeik closed out a 9-6 victory to take third-place and a spot in the NCAA Championships.
Russell got his day rolling by putting the shoulders of Washington & Lee's Connor Smithson to the mat in 2:28. The junior earned a spot in the quarterfinals by edging Ursinus' Christian Psomas, 5-3. But two straight defeats saw Russell meeting up again with Psomas in the fifth-place match. Russell did make it back-to-back wins over Psomas, this time dispatching his opponent in a 7-4 decision. to finish fifth.
Miller, the third seed at 174 pounds, opened the tournament with a second period pin of Scranton's Joe Weitmeyer. However, Miller was upset in his second match and forced to enter the consolation bracket. The junior got his second pin fall of the event followed by a comfortable 10-1 win to claim a spot in the consolation semifinals. Unfortunately, the day would end on a down note as two straight setbacks gave Miller a sixth-place finish.
Yeik will compete in the NCAA Championships beginning March 15 at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Delaware Valley 108
Johns Hopkins 64
Merchante Marine 47
Washington & Lee 4.5
Mt. St. Vincent 3