ITHACA, N.Y. (Feb. 25, 2018) – Junior Blake Bunce (Trophy Club, Texas) will represent the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at the NCAA Division III Wrestling National Championship Meet after his third-place finish in the 197lb. bracket at the Mideast Regional Meet this weekend hosted by Ithaca College. As a team, the Mariners came in seventh place with 65.5 points. Ithaca won the regional meet with 145 points, while Stevens (116pts) and Centenary (90.5pts) rounded out the top three in second and third, respectively.
Four other Mariners will serve as alternates for the national championships after finishing in the top six in their respective brackets – junior Victor Raigoza (Orland, Calif.) is a first alternate for nationals with a fourth-place finish at 285, while freshman Kieran Duggan (Woodbury, Conn.) at 157, sophomore Joshua Glantzman (Allenwood, N.J.) at 174 and classmate Kurtis Hahn (Winfield, Mo.) at 184 are all second alternates with fifth-place finishes.
Bunce had a 4-1 record over the two-day event, culminating with an exciting 5-4 decision to book his ticket to nationals thanks to the second tie-breaker (most accumulated riding time after two overtime periods) over SUNY Cortland senior Mike Beckwith in the third-place match. He scored 12.5 of USMMA's 65.5 points. The junior also had decision victories over opponents from TCNJ, Scranton and Elizabethtown, and his only loss was in the semifinals of the main bracket – a narrow 5-3 defeat to eventual bracket champion, Etiini Udott of Centenary.
Raigoza went 3-2 en route to his fourth-place finish, scoring 14 points for the Mariners. He reached the semifinals of the main bracket after a tech. fall and a pin, but suffered a major decision loss to bracket champion senior James Bethel of SUNY Oneonta. In the wrestlebacks, the junior earned a 7-4 decision to reach the third-place match. However, he fell just short of reaching nationals with a tough 3-2 decision loss to RIT junior Connor Calkins.
On their paths to fifth-place finishes, Glantzman had a 4-2 record and Duggan and Hahn both went 3-2. Glantzman had three technical falls along the way and led the Mariners with 15.5 points scored. Duggan scored 12.5 points with one tech. fall and Hahn finished the event with nine points.
Also picking up a victory for Merchant Marine on the weekend was junior Erik Beshada (South River, N.J.), who earned two points for the squad after going 1-2 in three bouts.
The 2018 National Championship Meet will take place March 9-10 in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Cleveland Public Auditorium. More information on the event can be found at this link.
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